Belfast and beyond in 6 days

Titanic Belfast

Belfast is the perfect getaway, with warm city welcomes and exciting action-packed adventures

Buzzing nightlife, great restaurants and a unique history – Belfast has it all. And once you've explored the city, there's so much more to see and do. Make Belfast your base as you head off to discover nearby gems that will wow you with their lush beauty and intriguing history. Get ready to explore Belfast and beyond with this 6-day trip idea.

Belfast and beyond

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Day one

Stay in the city and explore Belfast’s rich history and warm hospitality.

A driving 9 mins
Black taxi tour
Black Taxi Tour

A local expert’s view

There’s no better way to get under Belfast's skin than with a Black Taxi Tour. So let a local expert guide you through the fascinating history and vibrant present of a city fast becoming known as one of Europe’s coolest destinations. Beginning with a complimentary pick-up at your hotel – or any city centre location – your tour will take in the famous peace wall, colourful political murals and some of Belfast’s most iconic attractions.

B walking 14 mins
Titanic Belfast

Titanic by name, Titanic by nature

Named as the World's Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards, Titanic Belfast is a beacon of modern design and stands on the actual site where the Titanic was built. Sunday afternoons are really quite special, as you can enjoy bygone tunes and be whisked away to an era of luxury and elegance with classic afternoon tea by Titanic Belfast’s sweeping Grand Staircase. Just across the road, you can continue investigating the legacy of Belfast’s maritime and industrial past at Titanic’s little sister, the SS Nomadic. Climb aboard and soak up the history of the world’s last remaining White Star Line ship.

C driving 10 mins
HMS Caroline

All aboard for a maritime adventure

Just a short jaunt from here you’ll find HMS Caroline, a Royal Navy ship used during both World War I and II. Part of the Belfast Waterfront since 1924, a crew member will reveal stories of the Caroline’s crew who lived and worked in confined spaces, the narrow corridors and tiny cabins. Hungry? Head back across the River Lagan for lunch at The Muddlers Club, which is tucked away in an graffitied alleyway in the historic back streets of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

D driving 6 mins
Crumlin Road Gaol

Dark history of prison life at Crumlin Gaol

Another era, another way to experience this city’s complicated social history. Walk in the footsteps of over 25,000 prisoners at Crumlin Road Gaol – Northern Ireland’s only remaining Victorian Era prison. Since it first opened in 1846, "The Crum" has held murderers, suffragettes and political rebels. Tours include the Ghost Walk Tour and the Victorian Tour.

E
The Dirty Onion

To The Dirty Onion for some ‘cheoil agus craic’

That means ‘music and fun’ in Ireland. Starting out by the fireside in The Dirty Onion, this tour takes you on a walk through Belfast’s cobbled alleyways with two professional musicians as your guides. You’ll discover why Belfast is considered one of the world’s best cities for traditional Irish music, learn about the instruments, language customs and history that make up a vibrant musical tradition. You’ll be hungry after all that touring, so check out Yardbird, which is above The Dirty Onion and is famous for its chicken. Finish your evening at the Crown Liquor Saloon – built in 1826, it oozes Victorian elegance.

Gobbins Cliff Path

Day two

Time to slow things down. Leave the city and discover diverse history and culture as you head north to The Gobbins cliff path.

F driving 5 mins
The Gobbins
The Gobbins

Tubular thrills at The Gobbins

Just north of Whitehead along the Causeway Coastal Route is The Gobbins: a spectacular narrow path that hugs the rugged County Antrim coastline. Step through Wise’s Eye at the beginning of the path and enter a timeless, magical place that is home to an array of seabirds and rich biodiversity. Pass a natural aquarium of seawater teeming with marine life, explore a secret smugglers’ cave, and cross the tubular bridge that’s suspended above the choppy waters of the Irish Sea below.

If you have more time

Detour to one of the best-preserved medieval structures on the island of Ireland, Carrickfergus Castle, and discover the tumultuous events of the town's history at Carrickfergus Museum.

G driving 1h 14 mins
Toast the Coast

Toast the Coast with Portia Woods

Like the sound of a foodie tour, instead? Then join Toast the Coast with Portia Woods from either Belfast city or the town of Whitehead, and get set for one seriously mouthwatering trip. Portia’s intimate knowledge of the region’s food and its exceptional bakers, chefs, brewers and distillers is enhanced by the sea views, rolling glens and pretty harbour villages that you’ll be enjoying on the way!

H
Shean’s Horse Farm

Go on a coastal canter

Take a trek on horseback and enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of the north Antrim hills and coastline in the company of expert local guides from Shean’s Horse Farm. Then stop off in Bushmills, where you’ll find the Old Bushmills Distillery – one of the few distilleries in the world to distil, blend and bottle whiskey under the same roof.

Day three

You’re surrounded by the jewels of the Causeway Coastal Route now, so don’t rush the journey declared a Best in Travel region by Lonely Planet.

I
People at Carrick-a-rede rope bridge
Causeway Coast Way

Get ready for some Northern exposure

There are some seriously spectacular sights along this stretch of coastline, including the big hitters of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the Giant’s Causeway, so expect large crowds and a wait at times, and definitely book ahead. Another way to explore is to tackle the Giant's Causeway Cliff-top Experience Walk, with local guides led by Eimear Flanagan. The five-mile walk takes you along quiet routes that allow the best views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway.

If you have more time

Jump on a ferry from the colourful village of Ballycastle and stay a night on rugged Rathlin Island, an untamed wilderness of shipwrecks, seabirds and one of Ireland’s great lighthouses.

Day four

It’s back to buzzing Belfast, as there is plenty more to explore in this energetic city…

J walking 10 mins
Belfast Food Tour

Food, glorious food

No need for breakfast because today starts off at St George’s Market (open Fri-Sun), where you’ll join the Belfast Food Tour with passionate foodie, Caroline. She’ll take you around the city’s quiet streets and behind closed doors where you’ll get to meet the inventive people creating world-class artisanal products – just make sure to bring your appetite!

K walking 10 mins
Belfast city hall
Belfast City Hall

Victorian grandeur aplenty

Situated in Belfast’s cultural Linen Quarter is the imposing architectural masterpiece of Belfast City Hall. Take one of the free daily tours and marvel at the sublime Baroque exterior and ornate stained glass windows – or just grab a coffee at AMPM Bohemian around the corner and admire the elegance of this showstopper from the front lawn. An oasis of calm, next stop is Queen’s University where you can wander the stately grounds that are home to 100 listed buildings. You’ll find a trip to the adjoining Botanic Gardens is like hitting the reset button – you’ll want to dedicate a few hours to this exotic oasis nestled in the heart of the city’s leafy Queen’s Quarter.

L walking 11 mins
St Anne's Cathedral

A spire of hope and inspirational writers

At the centre of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter and filled with everything your imagination could ever desire, the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) is a hub of creative diversity. Gaze up at the soaring crenellations of St Anne's Cathedral, before hopping across the road to celebrate Belfast's literary scene in Writer's Square, where quotes from famous local writers CS Lewis, Hanna Bell and John Hewitt are carved in the stone underfoot. Rather apt for an island that does get the odd shower or two, keep watch for 'Umbrella Laneway', AKA Commercial Court.

M
Ox Belfast
Ox Belfast

Michelin magic by the water

After all that touring, it's time for some refined refueling. With such incredible produce on its doorstep, it’s no surprise that Belfast’s has a reputation as a flourishing foodie haven. Overlooking the shimmering River Lagan, there's something for every palate at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Ox. Seasonal fare amidst a relaxed atmosphere is the name of the game here. Arrive hungry: you’ll want to try everything!

Don't miss

If there’s one thing Belfast does well, it’s great pubs. With its odd flat-iron shape and red-brick exterior, Bittles Bar is a picture-perfect curiosity not to be missed.

Day five

Travel around Strangford Lough and lose yourself in a unique landscape of ancient history, natural wonders and sumptuous stately homes.

N driving 25 mins
Strangford Lough

Glide with the Tide

Taking out a kayak is a beautiful way to explore Strangford Lough, so book a guided tour with Mobile Team Adventures, and they’ll arrange to meet you at Whiterock Killinchy. Seals and wild geese are just some of the wildlife you’ll see up close, as you paddle in the lough’s crystal-clear water. To top it all, if the tide and season is right, your guide will take you foraging for mussels, which you can cook together and enjoy with a local Irish whiskey cream sauce.

If you have more time

Try some traditional bread making in Tracey’s Farmhouse Kitchen. After welcoming people into her thatched cottage, you’ll be asked to roll up your sleeves, put on an apron, and start kneading dough for soda and wheaten breads in the traditional way.

O driving 50 mins
Mount Stewart Gardens
Mount Stewart

Enter a floral paradise

While the timeless design of the neo-classical 19th century house at Mount Stewart oozes elegance and charm, it’s the gardens that make this place special. Lush and enchanting, it’s easy to spend hours wandering around this collection of exotic plants, flowers and sculptures. Exploring in the blooms and flora here is a unique treat for green-fingered fans.

Don't miss

Explore Echlinville Distillery and get an insight into the workings of Northern Ireland’s first licenced distillery in over 125 years.

P
Castle Ward
Winterfell Tours

Board a ferry to Winterfell

Continue to journey around the eastern shores of Strangford Lough until you hit the pretty lakeside village of Portaferry and its striking 16th century castle. From here you can board one of the daily ferries across the lough to Strangford. Then it’s just a few minutes’ drive to another iconic Game of Thrones® filming location: Castle Ward, a 18th century mansion whose demesne doubles as Winterfell, the ancestral home of the Stark family. Step into a fantasy world and live the Game of Thrones® experience with Winterfell Tours, or grab a canoe and head out on the lough with Clearsky Adventure.

If you have more time

Enjoy the evening in County Down’s Balloo House on the shores of Strangford Lough – a prime example of why Northern Ireland has garnered a reputation for culinary excellence, so prepare for a taste sensation at this 400-year-old inn that exudes charisma and style.

Day six

These hidden gems at the heart of Northern Ireland provide both historical and natural wonders in abundance.

Q driving 20 mins
Montalto House

County Down’s big hitting houses and gardens

Nestled in the picturesque countryside of County Down, your eyes are drawn to the magnificent Georgian mansion known as Montalto House. Built by Sir John Rawdon – First Earl of Moira – the estate has been almost exclusively a family home since the 18th century. Despite an often-turbulent history, Montalto remains an exquisitely maintained, stylish and peaceful retreat, and this beautiful and tranquil haven created by Lord Rawdon is a treat to explore.

R
Hillsborough Castle

Afternoon delight at Hillsborough Castle

For more than 300 years, Hillsborough Castle has played host to some of Ireland’s most important visitors and has become a vital part of the island of Ireland's history. From Benjamin Franklin to the Dalai Lama, countless figures who helped to build the modern world have passed through the doors at Hillsborough Castle, enjoying the acres of astonishing gardens that complement the majesty of the royal residence. Take a tour with the expert staff, who’ll share fascinating stories of celebration, entertainment and diplomacy.

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