The best parts to stay in Belfast for first-time tourists are the areas of Central, The Cathedral Quarter, Queen’s Quarter, The Titanic Quarter, Gaeltacht Quarter, Belfast airports. This blog will tell you all about the where to stay in Belfast and best things to do in each neighborhood.
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.
If it is your first-time visiting Belfast or you are staying for a shorter trip, you should consider the central districts of the City Centre or the Cathedral Quarter. These areas offer the most to see and do within a small area, as well as being central to other popular neighborhoods and attractions.
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:||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|
- 7 Best Areas to Stay in Belfast
- 📌 Central, where to stay in Belfast for first time visitors
- 📌 Cathedral Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for art lovers
- 📌 Titanic Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for families
- 📌 Queens Quarter, where to stay in Belfast on budget
- 📌 Gaeltacht Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for traditional Irish culture
- 📌 East Side, a trendy up and coming suburb in Belfast
- 📌 Cave Hill, family-friendly area with great outdoor activites
📌 7 Best Areas to Stay in Belfast
1. Central, where to stay in Belfast for first time visitors
Belfast City Centre is the contemporary heart of this historic town. This is where you will find the densest offering of commercial and hospitality offerings. There are several large shopping centers and high streets in the area, as well as a wide variety of dining options and cafes.
There is a wide range of accommodation on offer here, including both hotels and apartments, to suit a broad range of budgets. Staying in the Belfast City Centre would benefit both those visiting for the first time and those who are there for a shorter stay.
There are many interesting sights within walking distance of one another, making it incredibly convenient to move between points of interest.
Additionally, those traveling in or out of the city by train will find the Belfast City Centre convenient, due to the fact that two of the city’s major train terminals are located here. Great Victoria Street is in the west, whilst Lanyon Street is in the east.
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, 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
Another popular attraction, the Belfast City Hall, 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 are looking for international art exhibitions, the best live theatre, you can visit the Metropolitan Arts Centre and 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.
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 hotels in Belfast City Centre:
Best luxury hotel: 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.
Best midrange hotel: 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.
Best budget hotel: 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.
Check out my virtual tour of the best places to stay in Belfast in this video:
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2. Cathedral Quarter, where to stay in Belfast for art lovers
The historic Cathedral Quarter is a popular destination of choice for first-time visitors to Belfast. 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.
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.
3. 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.
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 life on the ship.
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.
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.
Accommodation here is limited compared to surrounding commercial areas. 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;
4. 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 sits at the heart of the district and the many students that reside here bring with them a demand for trendy cafes and affordable bars and restaurants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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Belfast is a vibrant, modern city, with a fascinating history and thriving culture. With iconic nightlife, world famous attractions, historic streets, and contemporary shopping district, Belfast is truly a city with something for everyone.
Ideal for a romantic weekend break, or a longer family vacation, you are sure to find your perfect where to stay in Belfast for your Irish adventure here.