Free things to do in Belfast

Although pints don’t value what they used to, Belfast isn’t an costly metropolis in comparison with its capital contemporaries in Western Europe.

And with public parklands, admission-free museums, fictional worlds recreated by artwork and sculptures on the town streets, and an architectural melody borrowing from numerous conventional European types, there are many free excursions for budget-conscious vacationers to Belfast. Try our prime 10 free issues to do there.

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Survey the cityscape from Cave Hill

At 368 meters (1207ft), Cave Hill would maintain much less significance in loftier ranges. However thrusting upwards from the fringes of low-lying Belfast unfold throughout the silty Lagan river basin, it’s one of the best vantage level within the metropolis; surveying the fragmented city expanse under and the massive estuary the place the River Lagan meets the Irish Sea. 

The 4.5-mile Cave Hill path is accessible even to novice hikers and can information you previous the 5 eponymous caves en path to the jutting peak, referred to as McArts Fort after an historical promontory protection that after surmounted the hill. Entry to Cave Hill Country Park is free, whereas Belfast Castle sits in its decrease reaches. On spring and summer season days, households flock to the manicured gardens dotting the fortress perimeter – entry to its 4 rooms of reveals can be free. 

Couple in front of Mr Tumus sculpture at C S Lewis Square Belfast
Seize a selfie with Mr Tumus and different CS Lewis characters in CS Lewis Sq. © Donal Moloney / Tourism Northern Eire

Enter Narnia at CS Lewis Sq.

Followers of the Narnia Sequence will need to put aside a day to go to CS Lewis Square. Indicated by the Luminaries and Legends mural, depicting well-known faces from east Belfast on a gable wall, the sq. and pine-dotted footpath showcase sculptures primarily based on the characters of Lewis’s fantastical creativeness. From a thorny Aslan to a metallic White Witch, the adored and despised of the Narnia pantheon take middle stage.

Eager walkers can then be a part of the Connswater Group Greenway, a 5.5-mile path connecting the parklands of east Belfast, funneling southward in the direction of the Castlereagh Hills. For pre-walk refreshments, there’s an artsy cafe called JACK – which additionally has east Belfast historical past and tour books on the market – on the nook of the sq.. You then’re free to enterprise right into a sequence of wildlife corridors and inexperienced areas that belie your location in Northern Eire’s most populous metropolis.

Go for a “dander” alongside the Lagan Towpath

Connecting south Belfast to Lisburn Metropolis, the Lagan Towpath charts an 11-mile-course alongside the centuries-old River Lagan canal system. It bisects humpy meadows, parklands residence to historical oaks and acorn-hoarding squirrels, and marshes alive with fungi, flora and cacophonous birdsong. In case you’ve endurance and a eager eye, you may additionally spot otters and seals taking refuge within the mild waters.  

Entry to the Towpath and its surrounding parks gained’t value you a penny, and if you wish to expedite your journey, the towpath can be accessible to cyclists. Good footwear or strong tires are really useful, particularly after heavy rainfall.

Chart the historical past of Westeros through the Glass of Thrones 

Sport of Thrones has an intrinsic connection to Northern Eire, the house of rural filming areas and artifical units used within the HBO present. Vacationers to Belfast can get a taste of Westeros with out dipping into their journey finances by the Glass of Thrones trail

Head for the 1.5-mile route alongside the waterfront, which connects six impressionist stained-glass artworks reimagining well-known scenes and characters from Westerosi lore. The Battle of the Bastards, Girl Melisandre, Daenerys driving fire-breathing Drogon, the Night time King, the Iron Throne, and the Lannister reign are all included. Guided excursions, led by extras from the TV sequence, can be found from £8 per individual, however you’ll be able to scrimp by taking up the journey your self. 

Punctuate the brief tour with a go to to The Dark Horse, a restaurant within the charming Cathedral Quarter. A part of the unique Journey of Doorways venture, you’ll discover a creative rendering of Baelor’s Sept engraved into one in all its inside doorways, constituted of varnished beech wooden sourced on the Darkish Hedges.   

Meet a Mummy at Northern Eire’s prime science and historical past museum

The Ulster Museum in Botanic Gardens is immediately recognizable: a neoclassical-brutalist constructing encircled by the leafy boughs of a tree-topped garden. However whereas its facade might draw your gaze, you’ll want no higher invitation than its free admission value and spectacular artwork, science and historical past collections to enterprise inside. 

Historical past reveals hint Northern Eire’s trajectory from the probably uninhabited Paleolithic period by the war-torn Twentieth-century Troubles, with excavated curios, inventive renderings, authentic images, and recovered paperwork. The pure sciences part focuses on animal and vegetation by the ages, displaying the fossilized treasures of archaeological digs, the one dinosaur bones found in Northern Eire, and an assortment of taxidermy mounts. Whereas the artwork collections deal with portray, sculpting, metalwork, textiles and modern artwork. You’ll additionally discover Takabuti within the museum, the mummified stays of an Egyptian lady from the Nubian Dynasty (746 – 653 BCE). 

Samson and Goliath, twin shipbuilding gantry cranes in the Titanic quarter. Goliath is in the foreground.
Meet Samson and Goliath, these shipbuilding gantry cranes, within the Titanic quarter © Nahlik / Shutterstock

Meet Samson and Goliath on the Titanic Quarter

As a low-lying metropolis, the yellow Harland and Wolff cranes, dubbed Samson and Goliath, commandeer most views of the Belfast skyline. To understand their dimension and scale – at 348ft and 315ft, respectively, each are taller than the Statue of Liberty – head right down to Belfast’s coastal Titanic Quarter, named after the ocean liner which met its icy destiny in 1912. 

The Titanic Belfast museum rises from the close by harbor, though common admission is £21.50 per head. In case you’re counting the pennies, the Maritime Mile walk is a free alternative, connecting historic implements used throughout Belfast’s industrial previous and the Salmon of Information art work on the fringes of the town middle. You’ll get cracking views of Belfast Lough from right here too, whereas early morning larks will probably be rewarded with watercolor sunrises. 

Don’t miss free reveals on the Trendy Arts Middle

One among a number of main building tasks accomplished in 2012, the Modern Arts Center, or “MAC” for brief, is a hub of tradition, theater and creativity, holding a spot of particular significance in Belfast’s arts scene. Dwell exhibits in its 120- and 350-seater auditoriums will value cash, however as lots of the exhibits are impartial and experimental, you’ll usually get higher offers than within the extra outstanding playhouses. 

The artwork galleries, nonetheless, are usually freed from cost (with donations welcomed). Visitor exhibitions showcase immersive modern artwork by native creatives and world-renowned virtuosos, whereas child-friendly tasks, like Creativeness Station (2022), permit youngsters to interact with their internal artists through free-to-use provides. The MAC rubs shoulders with St Anne’s Sq., a great place for a stroll when diners descend on the adjoining eating places come dusk, filling the air with a vibrant buzz.

Street art murals in Commercial Court Belfast
There are practically 2000 murals throughout Belfast depicting scenes, tales and icons of the town © Brian Morrison / Tourism Northern Eire

Immerse your self in Belfast’s historic murals

It’s a stark juxtaposition that the color-infused murals slapped throughout Belfast’s partitions usually depict the darkest intervals of its previous. The near-2000 murals evoke scenes and tales from Troubles-era Belfast, whereas extra fashionable works deal with peace, prosperity and cultural icons.

There are murals celebrating Belfast’s Gaelic roots, murals depicting political prisoners and Republican starvation strikers, murals drawing parallels between the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the British occupation of Ireland, murals commemorating paramilitary teams and the pro-union Orange Order, and murals symbolizing an finish to armed battle. It’s so much to absorb, and like as not for newcomers, tough to know. 

The Peace Walls, dividing Catholic and Protestant communities throughout Belfast, have the best congregation of political artworks, all of which you’ll be able to view at no cost. Paid guided tours, nonetheless, are really useful because the most secure and most instructional technique of viewing Belfast’s difficult avenue artwork.

Darkish tourism on the Northern Eire Battle Memorial Museum

A strategic hub of producing and business, and one of many UK’s most densely populated city areas in the course of the Second World Battle, Belfast was on the receiving finish of 4 Luftwaffe bombing raids – recognized collectively because the Belfast Blitz. This is without doubt one of the focal factors of the free-to-enter Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum, which sits in Belfast’s in any other case jovial Cathedral Quarter. Different reveals discover the function of the US Forces, girls in wartime Belfast, and the Ulster House Guard.

By way of 3D artworks, wood-carved tableaus, interval trinkets and preserved manuscripts, company are transported to one of many harshest eras of Belfast’s turbulent historical past. It helped sow the seeds of the town’s subsequent decline and irrevocably formed the lives of its inhabitants.    

Go on a self-guided structure tour of Belfast metropolis middle

Marrying Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian types with neoclassical constructions and fashionable architectural designs, the Belfast cityscape is a deal with for aesthetes. Belfast succumbed to Second World Battle air raids, and the next destruction of the Troubles, throughout which many authentic buildings had been broken or razed – the Europa Hotel, famed for its colonnaded entrance, is probably the most bombed resort on the continent, surviving 33 particular person explosions from the Nineteen Seventies by the Nineteen Nineties. 

Due to restoration tasks, nonetheless, many authentic facades have been recreated or preserved, that means companies within the metropolis middle usually sit inside the capacious halls and former antechambers of old-world buildings. Purple-brick arches, jaunty turrets and slim arcades set the scene on the primary excessive avenue, Donegall Place. Minimize by the central metropolis to alight on the gates of Belfast City Hall, an impressive Baroque Revival constructing topped by mint-green domes and stuffed with marbled interiors (free public excursions of the inside can be found). 

Different photo-worthy constructions embrace the Gothic, clay-colored Queen’s University Lanyon Constructing in south Belfast; the town middle Opera House, previously coined the “Palace of Varieties”, fusing Belfast’s endemic red-brick type with Oriental trimmings; the neomodern Titanic Belfast, trying just like the gleaming convergence of a number of ships’ prows; and the Victorian-era Albert Clock, Belfast’s reply to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.    

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