City Guide

Things to Do in Belfast

Ben Maples  · Jul 12th 2024
Belfast - Town hall with a field of people and a red building in the background.

The city of Belfast is one of the most popular cities in the UK to study in, not least because of it’s wonderful universities, but also because of what it has to offer.

In this guide, we’ll show you all the things to do in Belfast!

Things to do in Belfast


Belfast is, of course, the capital of Northern Ireland and it’s the largest city too. According to recent figures, Belfast boasts a population of around 335,000 people. The city is also the UK’s tenth largest primary urban area.

Things to do in Belfast

There are lots of things to do in Belfast.

In terms of nightlife, a good place to start is 21 Social, a restaurant in the city centre. The restaurant also has a bustling bar for those that are just looking for a drink too. Brennan’s Bar is another that is also worth checking out too. Despite the name, it is not just a bar, it also doubles a restaurant, with a particular emphasis on grilled food.

Citigolf is another popular attraction, as students can go in and play Golf and make use of the Wii system, and of course, most importantly of all for students, you can drink too!

There is a large selection of museums including the Ulster Museum, Belfast Exposed or the Irish Republican History Museum or SS Nomadic. Belfast also has a number of cinemas to visit as well, like the Odeon Cinema, Odyssey Cinemas and The Movie House.

Belfast plays host to a number of different festivals within the city, one of which is the Belfast Film Festival, which was founded in 1995. Also is the Belfast International Arts Festival which runs for 18 days in October as well as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, which is a visual and performing arts festival.

Those that are studying theory in a Music degree, will be interested in the Ulster Orchestra, which is Northern Ireland’s only full-time symphony orchestra and is based primarily in Belfast. You will also be able to visit the Oh Yeah music centre, which is a performance space for young artists and also has a recording studio for people to record music as well.


The transport in the city of Belfast is considered to be some of the best in the UK and arguably the best in Northern Ireland. As it is the country’s capital city, it will have a few advantages in terms of what it can and cannot offer.

There are black taxis throughout the city, some which operate on a “share” basis as well. There are also bus and public rail transportation systems which are provided by Translink and Translink Metro.

The city also has Belfast International Airport, which flies domestically, European and internationally, though some international flights are seasonal and at the discretion of the travel companies. There is also George Best Belfast City Airport, named after Manchester United legend, George Best. George Best Belfast City Airport however, does not fly internationally, as flights are restricted to national and European flights.

Since 2018, Belfast has had a new form of transportation, called Glider. Glider is a new fast-transit bus system that links East Belfast, West Belfast and a section of the city centre.

Things to do with kids in Belfast

Universities in the City

There are two universities in Belfast:

Queen’s University Belfast is a Russell Group university. Though the university itself has stood since 1810, when it was known as the RBA Institution, it did not receive university status until 1908.

The university has a main campus just south of the city centre and has a student union based on University Road.

The student union operates a little differently from other student unions, in that students are automatically members of the union from the moment they start, which makes QUB onene of the largest student unions in the UK.

There are over 50 different sporting clubs at the university and over 100 non-sporting societies. The university even has its own mountaineering club!

The International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences (AIESEC) also collaborate often with the university and offers students workshops and lessons in leadership, business and soft skills, they also work to provide international opportunities for students, much like the Erasmus Programme.

The university competes in a number of different sports, such as rugby, association football, cricket, camogie, hurling, gaelic football and hockey. In fact, the university’s association football team, Queen’s University Belfast AFC, play in the Irish second division, while the uni’s snooker team have won the British intervarsity title nine times!

As for Ulster University, the university has been around since 1865, when it was Magee College, and gained its university status in 1953. It is the largest university in Northern Ireland.

The university was one of the universities to offer global online distance learning programmes, which started with their Biomedical Sciences degree on the Campus One programme. As a result of this, the university was choised by the European Commission to deliver the world's first Higher Educational Programme in Hydrogen Safety Engineering.

Things to do with family in Belfast

History and Culture

Belfast has been dated back as far as the Bronze Age and was a small settlement throughout the Middle Ages, however, it became a more substantial settlement in the 17th century when Sir Arthurt Chichester established it as an English town.

The city eventually became an Irish city and was established as the capital of Northern Ireland since its establishment in 1921.

Belfast was repeatedly targeted during World War II. The city was initially thought to be safe, as the German bombers would not be within range of the city, but this was proven to be wrong.

Irish and Northern Irish history is a tough subject to speak about in broad terms, but the city endured a lot of violence in the 1970s, with bombings, assassinatiaons and street violence becoming a regular occurrence in the city. The Provisional IRA detonated 22 bombs in the city centre on 21st July 1971, killing nine people, with the day remembered as Bloody Friday.

The city has undergone a £500m urban regeneration, as part of a project called “Tribeca” to improve the city further.


The sport in the city is wide and varied.

The most well-known Northern Irish sports team, is the Northern Ireland national football team, and they play their home matches at in Belfast at Windsor Park, which is also the homeground of Linfield FC and is also where the Irish FA Cup final is held every year. The city has a good relationship with football, not least because of the national side, but also because it is the birthplace of Manchester United legend George Best. When he was buried, over 100,000 came out to pay their respects and the aforementioned airport was renamed in his honour.

The city also has the Stormont cricket ground, which has stood since 1949. Belfast is also home to one of the biggest ice hockey clubs in Britain, the Belfast Giants.

Who’s from Belfast?

Are there any famous people from Belfast? Why yes, there are including; Pat Rice, Van Morrison, Chaim Herzog, Jonny Evans and Kenneth Branagh.

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