The best areas to stay in Belfast for first-timer are Central Belfast, The Cathedral Quarter, Queen’s Quarter, The Titanic Quarter, Gaeltacht Quarter. These are beautiful and safe neighborhoods for tourists that offers a wide range of attractions and amenities.
This blog will tell you all about the where to stay in Belfast for the first time, as well as the safest areas to stay in Belfast.
No trip to Northern Ireland would be complete without a visit to its capital city, Belfast. With its origins dating back to the bronze age to its modern legacy as a major port and shipping town, Belfast has a vibrant history, that makes it an ideal destination for a city break.
Central Belfast is the best area to stay in Belfast for first-timers due to its prime location. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the heart of the city, close to city’s most famous tourist atractions such as the Belfast City Hall, Victoria Square shopping complex, and Golden Mile pub crawl, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.
If you are drawn to Belfast for its maritime history and connections to the titanic, consider the aptly named Titanic Quarter or the nearby Eastside district. To make the most of the city’s famous nightlife, you will want to stay in the City Centre, near the iconic Golden Mile. The road, lined with pubs, bars, and restaurants, draws visitors from all over to take part in the famous pub crawl route.
To get in touch with the city’s Irish culture and heritage, head to the Gaeltacht Quarter. Meanwhile, to appreciate the history of the area, consider the beautiful Cathedral Quarter or head further out of the city to the Cave Hill area, where you can find Belfast Castle and historic forts.
|💖 Best Area for first-timers:||Belfast City Centre (Central)|
|💎 Best luxury hotel:||The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast|
|🏨 Best mid-range hotel:||Maldron Hotel Belfast City|
|💰 Best budget hotel:||Hampton By Hilton Belfast City Centre|
🎬 To get an overall idea of where to stay in Belfast first time, check out this video:
📌 7 Best Areas to Stay in Belfast for tourists
1. Central Belfast, where to stay in Belfast for first-timers
Central Belfast is the best area to stay in Belfast for first-time traveler because it is the beating heart of the city. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to the top tourist attractions, as well as many restaurants, bars, pubs, tea rooms, cafes, and shops.
There are many interesting sights within walking distance of one another, and many pedestrianised streets, making it incredibly convenient to move between points of interest. Belfast City Centre is also home to two of the city’s major train terminals, making it easy to travel by train.
Belfast City center is a busy commercial area that is centered around Belfast City Hall, and spanning from Donegall Square to St. Anne’s Cathedral. Great Victoria Street is in the west, whilst Lanyon Street is in the east.
The Belfast City Hall opened in 1906 and is a beautiful building in its own right, but also worth visiting for the memorials that surround it. The Belfast Cenotaph and Titanic Memorial Garden can both be found on the grounds of this opulent building.
If you enjoy shopping, you should head to Victoria Square shopping complex, or historic St George’s Market, in the east of the Belfast City Centre. Established in the Victorian era, between 1890 and 1896, the covered market boasts stalls selling everything from clothes and books to flowers, antiques, and, of course, food.
In addition to the vendors, weekends see emerging artists performing live music and a range of events are hosted here throughout the year, such as concerts and conventions. You can also shops on Donegall Place and Royal Avenue, as well as many trendy cafés, cosy pubs and restaurants in the surrounding streets and avenues.
If you are looking for international art exhibitions, the best live theatre, you can visit the Metropolitan Arts Centre and the 1895 Grand Opera House, while The Linen Library and Ulster Hall also worth visiting!
For nightlife, head to the west end of the City Centre, to take part in the famous Golden Mile pub crawl. This area is well known and popular amongst both locals, the student population, and tourists.
Belfast City Center offers a wide range of accommodation ranging from budget backpacker hostels to luxury 5-star hotels that suit all budget travelers.
Stay in Central Belfast if It’s your first time visiting Belfast; You are staying for a shorter visit; You love shopping; You are traveling in or out of the city by train; A vibrant nightlife scene is essential.
Best places to stay in Belfast City Centre:
luxury ($$$): The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast This 5-star hotel is located on Great Victoria Street, next to Grand Opera House, within walking distance from Belfast City Hall, Ulster Hall, Belfast Central Station, St. George’s Market, and Castle Court Shopping Center.
mid-range ($$): Maldron Hotel Belfast City 4-star hotel, located within a short walk from The Waterfront Hall, Odyssey Arena, St. George’s Market, Grand Opera House Belfast, and Titanic Belfast.
budget ($): Hampton By Hilton Belfast City Centre Located just a few steps from Great Victoria Street rail station; close proximity to Victoria Square shopping center, SSE Arena, the Grand Opera House, and the Lyric Theater.
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2. Cathedral Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for art lovers
The Cathedral Quarter, along with Belfast City Center, is a popular destination for first-time visitors due to its prime location. Located directly north of the City Centre, the Cathedral Quarter is a slightly quieter and more aesthetic alternative to staying in the bustling inner-city district.
The star of the Cathedral Quarter is the eponymous Cathedral itself, St Anne’s Cathedral, also simply referred to as Belfast Cathedral. The towering Cathedral overlooks can be seen from many of the surrounding streets.
The surrounding area complements the architecture of this beautiful structure, full of narrow cobbled streets, and small independent shops and cafes.
The historical vibe continues throughout the area. Across the street from the cathedral, you can find the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum. Further east towards the river you can view the stunning Albert Memorial Clock Tower, erected in the 1800s, and the Calder Fountain Memorial.
This area is known for being an epicenter of Belfast’s art community. In addition to some of the best examples of street art and murals in the city, The MAC art center is located just north of the cathedral, across the street from the Belfast School of Art.
A number of galleries and art stores are dotted around the area and every year the neighborhood hosts the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, celebrating a wide variety of performance and visual art.
Along the waterfront, you can spot a number of art installations, including Waterfront Hall, the iconic Belfast Buoys, and The Big Fish.
A number of bridges cross the River Lagan here, connecting the Cathedral Quarter to the Titanic Quarter. This is a convenient place to stay if exploring the history of the titanic is a priority for you but you wish to stay nearer the convenience of the inner city.
The Cathedral Quarter has plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs, pubs, and shops. Many of its cater to LGBT community. There are also a wide rane of accommodation options for travelers with a good choice of hotels, bed and breakfast, and guest houses.
Stay in Cathedral Quarter if You want to appreciate Belfast’s art scene; You love historic churches and architecture; It is your first time visiting Belfast; You want convenient access to both the City Center and the Titanic Quarter.
Best places to stay in Belfast in Cathedral Quarter:
- luxury ($$$): The Merchant Hotel
- mid-range ($$): Ramada by Wyndham Belfast
- budget ($): ibis Belfast City Centre
3. Queens Quarter, where to stay in Belfast on budget
The Queens Quarter, in the south of Belfast, is the city’s student neighborhood. The area is named for Queen’s University Belfast sits at the heart of the district. The Queen’s Quarter is a popular area for students, especially around Stranmillis Road, Botanic Avenue and Lisburn Road.
South of the university is the sprawling Botanic Gardens, stretching from the campus down to the River Lagan. Here you can appreciate an array of exotic plants, as well as the beautiful glass conservatory.
In the north end of the gardens, close to the university, sits the Ulster Museum, displaying a broad range of fascinating exhibitions.
There are plenty of shops along Botanic Avenue, Lisburn Road, and antique shops in Donegall Pass. Known as Belfast’s Bond Street, Lisburn Road is the busiest mile of retail area in Northern Ireland.
If trawling around the local pubs and restaurants isn’t enough to keep you entertained of an evening, there are a number of venues in the area hosting live arts performances.
The Lyric Theatre produces modern stage shows and boasts a riverside bar, where you can relax and chat about the show. Meanwhile, the Queens Film Theatre is an independent cinema showing a range of films from the classics to recent blockbusters. Queens Film Theatre hosts the April’s annual Belfast Film Festival.
Accommodation is typically cheaper here than in the city center, catering largely to those visiting the university or students. If you are working with a smaller budget but want to stay conveniently close to the city center, the Queen’s Quarter is definitely a place to consider.
Stay in Queens Quarter if you are on a budget but want to stay relatively central Belfast; you want to stay in a quieter but still trendy neighborhood; you are visiting the university or a student.
Best places to stay in Belfast in Queens Quarter:
- luxury ($$$): The Merchant Hotel
- mid-range ($$): Bullitt Hotel
- budget ($): Central Belfast Apartments Fitzrovia
4. Titanic Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for families
The Titanic Quarter consists of the docklands east of the River Lagan, where the infamous Titanic was built and launched. The area has undergone heavy renovation to accommodate and cater to the tourist crowds who flock to visit the site of the notorious ocean liner’s birth. The result is an ultra-modern district, with plenty to keep everyone occupied.
Titanic Quarter is located the world-famous birthplace of Titanic and home to the Game of Thrones television production. It is become the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland since opening in 2012.
The biggest draw to the area is the towering Titanic Belfast museum. Housed in a stunning post-modern, metal-clad building, the museum offers a range of exhibitions and experiences to let visitors learn about the story of the famous ship, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. c
From recreations of the Titanic’s living areas to rides that carry you through the bustling shipyard, this museum is ideal for the whole family. Children can enjoy a special version of this or challenge with a Family Explorer Trail for some fun throughout the experience.
If the museum doesn’t sate your appetite for Titanic-related entertainment, head to the north end of the docklands, past the Titanic Film Studios, to the Titanic’s Dock And Pump House. The historic building sits at the site where the Titanic was launched and offers tours, a café, and a souvenir shop.
Several other structures also stand as testaments to Belfast’s maritime heritage. The huge Samson & Goliath Cranes loom in the east, preserved to honor Belfast’s industrial past and shipbuilding legacy.
In the west, at the end of the Titanic Walkway, sits the 130-year-old Great Light, one of the largest and brightest maritime illuminations in the world.
The hotels here do cater to both smaller and more generous budgets, but there are few options to pick from. If the venues on offer don’t appeal to you, you may want to consider staying just a short distance away in the neighboring Cathedral Quarter or East Side.
Stay in Titanic Quarter if you are visiting with family and children; you love maritime history; you want to explore the area where the Titanic was built and launched;
Best places to stay in Belfast in Titanic Quarter:
- mid-range ($$): Titanic Hotel Belfast
- mid-range ($$): AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast
- budget ($): Benjis Apartment
5. Gaeltacht Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for traditional Irish culture
If you are looking to experience the traditions and culture of Ireland, the Gaeltacht Quarter in West Belfast should be at the top of your list of considerations. The neighborhood has a thriving population of people who speak the native Irish Gaelic language, so if you want a high chance of hearing it, take a wander through these streets or stop for a drink in a local pub.
In the south of the district, you can find the Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich art center, offering Irish language tuition, as well as workshops for learning about the local culture. The center frequently hosts events and performances of Irish arts, from traditional music to Gaelic poetry.
The nearby Áras Uí Chonghaile James Connolly Visitor Centre is dedicated to the history and memory of local philosopher and freedom fighter James Connolly. The center also houses exhibitions in early 20th century Ireland.
Dublin was a center point for the violence of the Troubles in the latter half of the 20th century and the Gaeltacht Quarter, in particular, retains a number of artifacts harking back to that history.
In the north of the district, part of a wall erected as a defensive measure during the 70s still stands. Now known as the Peace Wall, it acts as a canvas for political street art and graffiti.
Just a short way away is the Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden, dedicated to local freedom fighters.
A largely residential neighborhood, the quarter has only in recent years begun to become popular with visitors. Accommodation is not as abundant here as it is closer to the city center, but rates are typically much more affordable.
Stay in Gaeltacht Quarter if you want to learn about traditional Irish culture; you want the chance to hear people speaking the native Irish Gaelic language; you don’t mind staying further out from the city center.
Best places to stay in Belfast in Gaeltacht Quarter:
- budget ($): CEAD MILE FAILTE WEST BELFAST
- budget ($): The Cozy HomeStay
- budget ($): Greenmount Bed and Breakfast
6. East Side, a trendy up and coming suburb in Belfast
East Side is, as you might expect, a largely residential district in the east of Belfast. Once a heavily industrial region, the area is now a trendy, up-and-coming neighborhood, filled with hip cafes and fashionable boutiques.
In addition to the independent, artisan stores that have been popping up around the area, there are a number of more contemporary shopping centers and retail parks.
If shopping is a priority for you but you would rather avoid the dense crowds of the City center, East Side is a good option.
Fans of C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia will want to visit C. S. Lewis Square, a plaza dedicated to the Belfastian writer and filled with bronze statues of his characters.
Somewhat removed from the City center, rates for accommodation here are generally more affordable. However, if you do have a larger budget, there are some stylish hotels and guesthouses in keeping with the fashionable vibe of the area.
Stay in East Side if You want to stay in a trendy up-and-coming suburb; Being right in the city center is not a priority; You are a fan of C. S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia.
7. Cave Hill, family-friendly area with great outdoor activites
Cave Hill is a large country park in the outer suburbs to the north of Belfast. The area is a great place to visit for those traveling with family, particularly children. The park boasts walking trails suitable for all abilities and the view across Belfast and the Irish Sea from atop the hill is spectacular.
The main attraction of the area is Belfast Castle. The Castle has a long history dating back to the 1200s and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries. A beautiful building set in manicured gardens at the eastern edge of Cave Hill park, Belfast Castle is a wonderful place to spend a day out with the family.
Further up the hill are several other historic landmarks that are worth the walk. McArt’s Fort in particular is an interesting ring of ruined castle walls to explore, with stunning views to reward you for the trek.
Not far from the castle is another popular family attraction, Belfast Zoo. The zoo houses a wide variety of animals and offers informative programs and workshops to educate visitors on conservation efforts and respecting wildlife, ideal for an educational and fun family day out.
Cave Hill is a few miles from the city center, so staying near here isn’t ideal for shorter trips or those visiting Belfast for the first time. I recommend it most for those traveling by car or with children.
Stay in Cave Hill if You enjoy walking and exploring the outdoors; You are traveling with family and young children; Visiting Belfast Zoo is a priority; You want to stay in or near Belfast Castle;
Where should I stay in Belfast for the first time?
Central Belfast is the best area to stay in Belfast for first-timers due to its prime location. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within easy access to major sights, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.
What are the best areas to stay in Belfast?
Central Belfast, Cathedral Quarter, Queen’s Quarter, Titanic Quarter, and Gaeltacht Quarter are the best areas to stay in Belfast because they are the most popular neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.
How many days in Belfast is enough?
Well, it really depends on your interests and what you want to see and do. But generally, 3-4 days in Belfast should be enough to explore the city and its main attractions.
What is the safest area to stay in Belfast?
It is generally recommended for tourists to stay in areas such as Cathedral Quarter, Queen’s Quarter or Titanic Quarter as they are considered relatively safe and vibrant neighborhoods. It’s always important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings while traveling.
Overall, Central Belfast is the best area to stay in Belfast for first-timers due to its central location and widest choices in accommodation. If you stay here, you will be located within walking distance to city’s most famous landmarks, as well as shopping, dining, and nightlife.