Last updated on January 02nd, 2023
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland is often overlooked as a city break destination. But those who take a closer look at this vibrant city are not disappointed. The city enjoys a lively arts and cultural scene with a wide variety of museums, galleries, and events to be explored. It also has a long and eventful history, being well-known the world over as the birthplace of the ill-fated liner, RMS Titanic.
From intimate cafes to Michelin starred restaurants, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out. The excellent St Georges Market allows you to sample the best of local produce, while the Belfast Whiskey Tour provides an introduction and a taste of a selection of Irish whiskeys.
Families too will enjoy Belfast. If you stay in the North of the city you have easy proximity to Belfast Zoo and Belfast Castle or climb high into Cavehill Country Park to enjoy panoramic views over the city. W5 is an interactive science attraction, providing over 250 hands-on exhibits to encourage budding scientists, both old and young. The city is full of first class and great value hotels. Check out our list of the best hotels in Belfast. When travelling by train, a hotel near Belfast Victoria train station can be one of the best options.
What’s the best area to experience the city for the first time, tourists, what’s the best district for shopping & nightlife, or where to stay when travelling by train? Read on below to find out more best neighbourhoods to stay in Belfast Northern Ireland..
What is the Best Area to Stay in Belfast?
Best for First Time (Sightseeing): Central (Belfast City Hall area, Cathedral Quarter, Titanic Quarter)
If you’ve never previously been to Belfast, opt to stay in the centre, where attractions, restaurants and events are on your doorstep. In the Cathedral Quarter you will experience a bustling arts and culture scene with restaurants, galleries and concerts, including free street entertainment. In The Titanic Quarter you will be close to the spectacular Titanic Belfast, named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction in 2016.
Where to Stay in Belfast City Centre
- Best Luxury Hotels in Belfast
The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast • The Merchant Hotel
- Best Great Value – Top Rated Hotels
Ten Square Hotel • Maldron Hotel Belfast City
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels in Belfast
ETAP Hotel Belfast • Hampton By Hilton Belfast City Centre
- Best Bed & Breakfast in Belfast
The Warren Unique Boutique Accommodation • Harpers
- Best Budget Hostels in Belfast
Vagabonds • Lagan Backpackers
Best Areas to Stay in Belfast
What’s the best to stay in Belfast for romantic stay (trip)? Bed and Breakfast Accommodation, Small Boutique Hotel or Luxury Hotel
Whatever your budget you can find idyllic accommodation for a romantic stay in areas across the city, with views overlooking lively squares, attractive gardens or sweeping waterfront. You can choose an intimate B&B or a chic boutique hotel, while a special trip calls for one of the city’s luxurious hotels. The countless restaurants, cafes and bars of the city provide plenty of opportunities for romantic meals for two.
Best neighbourhood in Belfast for nightlife & dining? Cathedral Quarter
The vibrant Cathedral Quarter provides plenty of hotels and B&Bs for those wanting to experience its lively arts and cultural scene. Enjoy shows and concerts at the MAC theatre and arts complex or see the free street entertainment and outdoor concerts of Custom House Square. The neighbourhood is crammed with restaurants, cafes and bars serving a variety of cuisines, while nightclubs allow you to dance the night away within easy reach of your accommodation.
What’s the best neighbourhood for students in Belfast? Queens Quarter
Named for Queen’s University, the Queen’s Quarter has many students living there, allowing visiting students to feel at home. While it is easy to get to the attractions of the city center, the leafy streets of this neighbourhood give it a suburban atmosphere. With attractions including the Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum, as well as some of the best restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the city, your stay can be as relaxed or lively as you wish.
Where to stay in Belfast when travelling by train? Great Victoria Street Railway Station
If you travel to Belfast by train, you will be likely to arrive at Great Victoria Street Railway Station and you will find plenty of accommodation close by. Belfast is a fairly compact city, so you will be able to walk to many of the attractions, restaurants and shops. Although the city tends to be quite car heavy, Metro runs a comprehensive bus service within the Belfast area and taxis too are readily available. Alternatively, there are over thirty docking stations where bikes can be hired with the first thirty minutes of every trip free.
The 4 Best Neighbourhoods in Belfast for Tourists
The city is divided into quarters, with each district enjoying its own unique character. These include the lively cathedral Quarter, the more suburban Queen’s Quarter, the Gaeltacht Quarter, where you will often hear Irish spoken in the shops and amenities and the newly developed Titanic Quarter.
As a fairly compact city, you will be able to walk to many of the attractions, no matter where in Belfast you are staying. However, a unique way to experience the city can be found on a Belfast Black Cab Tour, which includes the political murals telling the history of the ‘troubles’. The drivers of these tours are knowledgable, providing many snippets of information which you may not find elsewhere. You can customise the tour to suit your own interests or allow the driver to show you what they consider to be the must-see sights of this fascinating city.
Staying at the heart of the city near Belfast City Hall makes exploring the city easy, with countless attractions within walking distance.
As well as plenty of restaurants and cafes to enjoy, you will find yourself near St George’s Market. Built in the 1890s, this historic market sells the best of fresh local produce and local crafts. Among its many accolades, it was named the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market in the 2019 NABMA Great British Market Awards.
- Best Hotels: The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast • The Flint
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels: easyHotel Belfast • Travelodge Belfast
If you want to be in the middle of the arts and cultural hub, with the chance to enjoy a vast array of restaurants and cafes on picturesque streets, the Cathedral Quarter will be ideal for you.
From organ recitals in the Romanesque St Anne’s Cathedral to theatre and comedy shows at the MAC and the Black Box to alfresco concerts in Custom House Square, there’s something to suit every taste.
- Best Hotels: The Merchant Hotel • Bullitt Hotel
- Best Cheap / Affordable Hotels: ibis Belfast City Centre • Ramada by Wyndham Belfast
The Titanic Quarter allows you to delve deep into Belfast’s unique maritime history while enjoying all the amenities of this ambitious waterfront development.
The most famous attraction is the Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic experience housed on the site where this tragic ship was constructed. Guided boat tours can be taken allowing you to discover more of the fascinating history of this quarter.
- Best Hotels: Titanic Hotel Belfast • Ryan and Benjis Room (Guesthouse)
- Best Apartments: CK Serviced Apartments • Titanic Quarter