Often when travellers plan a stay in Belfast, it’s either as part of an epic Irish road trip or it’s a convenient place to stop over when crossing the Atlantic.
Most people that plan a city break in Belfast are from elsewhere in the UK. Very few travellers know much about the Northern Irish capital before visiting, the neighbourhoods, or where to stay in Belfast.
It’s not an overly large city. There are around 640,000 residents (compared to Dublin’s 1.25 million) and most landmarks are within walking distance of each other.
There is no metro or light rail/tram service, so buses, bikes, and taxis are the prime methods of transportation.
No matter where you find lodging in Belfast, you’ll have no problems finding Belfast’s street art, museums, nightlife, and everything else it has to offer.
|❤️ Best Area first timers||Belfast city centre|
|💸 Best Luxury Hotel||Titanic Hotel Belfast|
|👪 Best Hotel for For Families||Broadway Belfast!|
|🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotel||Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre, an IHG Hotel|
|🛏️ Best Budget Hotel||The 1852 Hotel|
|✨ Best Hostel||Lagan Backpackers|
But there are more preferable places to stay in Belfast depending on your style of travel. This guide will list the best place to stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland for first-time visitors or those on a budget.
It will also explore the best Belfast neighbourhoods, the best area to stay in Belfast if you’re travelling as a couple, with kids, or with a car.
We will cover off all types of Belfast accommodation options from Hostels to luxury Belfast hotels as well as how to decide where to stay in Belfast 2024, the best Belfast hotels, best places in Belfast to visit, the best places to stay in Belfast, hotels near Belfast attractions, Belfast neighborhood guide and many more.
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Belfast City Centre – Where to Stay in Belfast for First Timers
Belfast city centre is located on the west bank of the River Lagan in the very heart of the city. In Central Belfast, you’ll find landmarks like Belfast City Hall and St George’s Market as well as all the high street shops.
There are lots of performance venues like Waterfront Hall, Ulster Hall, and the Grand Opera House in this neighbourhood. If you have tickets to a show, this is probably the best location to stay in Belfast!
And the city centre is also where to stay in Belfast for first-timers and where to stay in Belfast with kids. There are tons of hotels, hostels, and apartments available in this area catering to various travel styles and budgets.
Because of its central location and pedestrianised streets, you won’t have to spend too long on buses or taxis with your kids. Plus, it’s easier to walk with your little ones or push prams/strollers on roads where there is no traffic.
Travelodge and Premier Inn Belfast are two budget chain hotel options that you can find all over Belfast, including the city centre.
They are what people from this part of the world would call, “cheap and cheerful.” Europa Hotel Belfast is an institution in this city if you’d prefer to stay in a luxurious yet cosy 4-star hotel.
Why Stay in Belfast City Centre
Belfast’s centre is considered the heart of the city. This is where most of the hustle and bustle happens, as it is filled with the city’s major attractions, restaurants, bars, and shops, making it an excellent place for first-time visitors.
You’ll experience the rich history and cultural heritage as you visit the historic landmarks like the City Hall museums and galleries at the centre.
But most especially, this is where you get to experience the vibrant Irish nightlife as it is home to Belfast’s best bars, pubs, and clubs.
Moreover, with the wide selection of accommodation at the centre, you’ll find something that will fit your preference.
All of this makes it advantageous for first-timers to stay in Belfast City Centre. In addition, it is an ideal place to remain in Belfast if you plan to take day trips to nearby cities and towns, as the train and bus stations are within walking distance.
Things to do in Belfast City Centre
- Wander the streets of Victoria Square
Victoria Square is one of Belfast’s most famous tourist destinations. It is home to many shopping centres, and at the same time, local and renowned restaurants.
With over 70 shops around Victoria Square, you’ll need at least half a day to wander the square streets. But aside from shopping and eating, you can also enjoy live music here as this is where most city buskers play.
Expect the place to be crowded but, at the same time, vibrant and lively. This is especially true during weekends and high season.
- Explore the Belfast City Hall
The Belfast City Hall is the prominent landmark of the city centre. It is a civic building located at the Donegail Square and is open for the public to visit seven days a week.
Many visitors see the Belfast City Hall for its beautiful architecture and interior and for learning about the city’s political state and cultural heritage. Some tours with a professional guide will take you around the City hall. But you can also visit the city hall for free.
- Visit the St. George Market
Another thing you can do at the city centre of Belfast is to visit St. George Market. This is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions and is hailed as one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland.
St. George Market has been in town ever since 1604. It is also where the St. George Church was built, which is one of the many churches of the Christian community in Belfast.
When planning a visit to the market, make sure you schedule it during the weekends as it is only open from Friday to Sunday.
Where to Stay in Belfast city centre
Cathedral Quarter – Where to Stay in Belfast for Culture
Nextdoor to Belfast city centre is the Cathedral Quarter. It’s just north of Central Belfast on the west side of the River Lagan. It’s named after St Anne’s Cathedral which sits in the centre of this district surrounded by narrow cobbled lanes.
Some of Belfast’s best and most historic attractions are in this neighbourhood including the Crumlin Road Gaol, the Albert Clock, and Clifton House.
But the Cathedral Quarter is mostly known for being the cool, hip neighbourhood. As you wander down those cobbled streets, you’ll spot young people moving in and out of craft beer pubs and cocktail bars.
You’ll likely see pride flags hanging from the windows of this inclusive, tolerant district. And there are lots of art galleries like The MAC as well as independent stores.
It’s definitely not the best location to stay in Belfast if you value a quiet night’s sleep. But it’s perfect if you’re a young couple who don’t want to be far from their accommodation after a big night out.
Bullitt Hotel is a quirky, boutique hotel that encapsulates the exact vibe of the Cathedral Quarter. There’s also a Premier Inn Belfast in this neighbourhood if you need a budget option, and The Merchant Hotel is perfect if you want to splash out on 5-star opulence.
Why Stay in Cathedral Quarter
Just a few minutes away from the Belfast City Centre is the city’s artsy side, the Cathedral Quarter. If you enjoy learning about culture, tradition, and arts, staying at Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is your best choice.
On this side of the city, you’ll find many of Belfast’s famous street murals, museums, and city architecture. Some spots you can check out are the St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast Central Library, and the Metropolitan Arts Centre. All these destinations will share with you information about Belfast’s culture, history, and traditions with you.
Additionally, Cathedral Quarter is most known to be a hip and cool neighborhood. Here you’ll see a series of narrow alleyways where small bars and pubs are located. There are also lots of cafes to check out, including the National Grand Cafe and Established Coffee.
While it can get a little noisy at night, this might not be the place for those who want to relax during their vacation. Instead, Cathedral Quarter is ideal for outdoor and culture enthusiasts.
Things to do in Cathedral Quarter
- Take pictures at the Street Murals
As mentioned earlier, Cathedral Quarter is the area where most of Belfast’s famous street murals art. This is why; if you are staying in the neighborhood, you should not miss out on capturing some photos of the street art.
Although there is plenty of street art around the city, you must visit Talbot Street in Cathedral Quarter.
Here you’ll find a fantastic urban street mural and an image of a boy and a dove representing the city’s history. You can also check out Hill Street, where the mural art Duel of Belfast is located.
- Visit the St. Anne’s Cathedral
St. Anne’s Cathedral is considered the prominent landmark of the Cathedral Quarter. It was constructed years ago with a stunning Romanesque style, featuring semi-circular arches and other interesting features.
Many visitors, both locals and tourists, visit the cathedral to see its beautiful interior. Here you’ll see the Spire of Hope, the Titanic Pall, and the Tomb of Lord Carson.
You may book a guided tour (recommended) when visiting St. Anne’s Cathedral or not. This tour will have a professional guide explaining the cathedral’s features as you go around the area.
- Stroll around the Commercial Court
If you’ve ever looked up Belfast on the internet, you’ve seen photos of the famous umbrellas above the Commercial Court. While staying in Cathedral Quarter, this sure is hard to miss.
If you stroll around Commercial Court, this is also where you’ll find the Duke of York – the best bar in the area. So, if you’re looking for a trendy and hip place in the site, you should check Commercial Court and stroll around it to see what’s in store.
Where to Stay in Cathedral Quarter
University/Queen’s Quarter – Where to Stay in Belfast on a Budget
Just south of Belfast city centre is Queen’s Quarter, also known as the University Quarter. Belfast has three main universities but Queen’s University is the biggest and most prestigious.
Unsurprisingly, this area has a lot of bars and activities that cater for penniless students and lots of low-cost accommodation options. If you want to know where to stay in Belfast on a budget, it’s here!
There aren’t too many attractions here except the beautiful Botanic Gardens and the stunning architecture of the university buildings.
There are tons of cheap eats like Maggie May’s Belfast Cafe and Press 29 Coffee House, but few museums. Luckily, the city centre is a short 20-minute walk away.
There are lots of hostels in this district to help you keep your travel costs down. Lagan Backpackers, Vagabonds Belfast, and Botanical Backpackers Belfast are all great options.
If you’re staying in Belfast during the summer, check out the Queen’s University Student Accommodation website. They often rent out student dorms to backpackers at very low, long-term prices.
Why Stay in Queen’s Quarter
Queen’s Quarter is known as the most affordable neighborhood in Belfast. It is where most universities are located, making the area considerably cheap compared to other places.
Now because Queen’s Quarter is where most students are, the place has a young and hip vibe to it.
Here you’ll find several trendy cafes, restaurants, second-hand bookstores, and vintage shops. While there are not so many attractions here, it is actually home to the famous Belfast: The Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens.
Queen’s Quarter is also a great place to party, especially if you are on a budget. It has many affordable hip bars and Irish pubs, perfect for a night out.
Things to do in Queens’s Quarter
- Discover art at the Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum is one of Belfast’s famous museums. It is located inside the Botanic Garden and is free to visit. This makes it a great catch, especially if you are on a budget.
Inside the museum, you can check out various collections covering everything from the city’s natural history, war, and local art. You’ll need at least an hour or two to check out the museum.
Additionally, you do not need to make a reservation or booking in advance if you want to visit the museum, as no admission fees are required.
- Walk around the Botanic Gardens
Another famous attraction in Belfast situated in Queen’s Quarter is the Botanic Gardens. It is a 28-acre public park near Queens University, providing a beautiful green space for people to visit.
Botanic Gardens houses the Ulster Museum and is free of charge when you visit. Expect many students, workers, and tourists to stroll around the area, especially on weekends.
You’ll get to enjoy a vast space of lush green plants and a look into the Victorian-era tropical horticultural room at the Palm House inside the garden. You might even come across an open-air concert inside if you’re lucky.
- Check out local Universities
Queen’s Quarter is also known as the University’s Quarter. It houses some of Belfast’s most prominent universities, including Queen University. So, if you are staying in the area, you should definitely check out the local universities.
While you won’t be able to visit the buildings inside these universities, you can just check out the Instagram worthy architecture of the buildings. You might even get a chance to score a free theatre ticket while strolling around the area.
Where to Stay in Queen’s Quarter
Titanic Quarter – Where to Stay in Belfast With a Car
As mentioned at the beginning, many travellers who are staying in Belfast are road-tripping around Northern Ireland. After all, if you’re visiting the country from far afield then you have to hit up the Giant’s Causeway and the top Game of Thrones filming locations too!
So if you are travelling to Belfast with your car, either a rental or your own if you’re travelling by ferry from Great Britain, you should stay in the Titanic Quarter.
The Titanic Quarter doesn’t have as many bars or restaurants as other neighbourhoods in Belfast, In fact, this is where the old docks and harbour are so you are more likely to stumble across warehouses and business estates.
But there are plenty of parking lots and garages in this area and it’s next door to the M3 motorway, the A2, and other major roads. Its location on the east bank of the River Lagan in the northern part of the city means you can stay well clear of city centre traffic.
And even though it’s a quieter neighbourhood, this is where the Titanic Belfast museum is! The HMS Caroline and SS Nomadic, two other maritime museums on boats, are in this neighbourhood as well as the W5 science museum.
George Best Belfast City Airport is only a few minutes away too (though most travellers arrive and depart at the International Airport).
One of the best places to stay in Belfast in this quarter is the Titanic Hotel Belfast which dates back to the 1880s. If you’re looking for a more budget option, there’s a (yes, you guessed it!) Premier Inn in this neighbourhood too.
Why Stay in Titanic Quarter
If you are one of those who are traveling around the northern part of Ireland with a car and are staying in Belfast for a few days, then you should definitely stay in Titanic Quarter.
Titanic Quarter is one of the upcoming areas in the city. It has a vibrant vibe, with several shops and activities to offer.
While backpackers can also stay in Titanic Quarter, it’s much more advisable for those with a car to stay here.Only because it is near renowned locations – including Game of Thrones sites.
If you think there’s not much to do in Titanic Quarter because it is an area where the old docks and harbour, it still makes a great base for people going on a road trip. You’ll find many wide parking spaces and ways to major roads here.
Now despite all that, Titanic Quarter still has something to offer. It is home to one of the world’s leading attractions places, the Titanic Museum.
Things to do in Titanic Quarter
- Go on an Immersive tour at the Titanic Museum
Titanic Quarter was called as is because it houses the famous Titanic Museum that honours the history of the ill-fated ship and the story of its passengers. Considered one of the World’s leading tourist attractions, you should not pass on this opportunity.
One of the most notable attractions inside the museum is that you get to experience what it’s like to be inside the Titanic itself. You’ll even see the iconic staircase where Rose and Jack first met in the movie.
Moreover, the museum has many immersive and interactive areas where you learn more about the real story and behind-the-scenes of the movie Titanic. So, whether you are a movie fan or want to know the real story behind the tragic incident, you should visit Titanic Belfast when in the area.
- Get entertained at the Odyssey Complex
Another famous destination in the Titanic Quarter is the Odyssey Complex. This is perfect for those traveling with their family, as it hosts many concerts, exhibitions, and sporting events almost every week.
The Complex also has a bowling alley, a cinema, and restaurants (and bars). This makes it a great place to visit, especially if you want to spend a day with your loved ones.
- Visit a Science Centre
There is also a science centre located in Titanic Quarter. Called the W5, it is an interactive discovery centre that you can visit with your kids. The W5 is definitely worth the visit because it is an award-winning centre.
The Science centre is just inside the Odyssey Complex. If you want to get away from the tourist crowd, and at the same time, learn more about science while enjoying activities, then you should check out W5.
Where to Stay in Titanic Quarter
Gaeltacht Quarter – Belfast’s Off-the-Beaten-Path Neighbourhood
Want to dig deep into Northern Irish culture during your stay in Belfast? It wouldn’t suit young families or travellers wanting to explore the city’s top landmarks, but Gaeltacht Quarter is the best neighbourhood where you can live like a local.
You’ll find this quarter to the west of Queen’s Quarter on the other side of the A12 road so it’s right on the edge of the city.
Here, they champion the Irish language so don’t be surprised if you see restaurants and businesses with Irish names. And don’t be surprised when locals laugh at you for mispronouncing the names too! It’s all part of the experience.
The Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich cultural centre and the Irish Republican History museum are both situated here. Plus, the best political street art and murals like the Peace Wall, the Solidarity Wall, and the Bobby Sands mural are all here too.
Because it is a much more residential area, there are few hotels and hostels. The Springfield Bed and Breakfast is one of the only guesthouses in this area. But there are plenty of AirBnBs and other short-term rentals so you can really experience what it’s like to live in Belfast.
Why Stay in Gaeltacht Quarter
Are you looking to experience what it’s like for the Irish every day? Well, you should consider staying in Gaeltacht Quarter of Belfast then. Gaeltacht Quarter is the off-beaten path neighborhood compared to other areas of the city.
Only a few tourists come to stay here, which is why there is a higher chance of getting to know more about the Irish community. Gaeltacht Quarter is home to a sizeable Irish-speaking community!
While some tourists may be getting attention, it still maintains its authentic Irish feel. In the area, you’ll see different murals here depicting the city’s history.
Moreover, this area is home to a sizeable Republican community, so expect to meet politically inclined locals.
Things to do in Gaeltacht Quarter
- Experience an Irish festival
As mentioned earlier, Gaeltacht Quarter is known for maintaining its authentic Irish practices. This is why, if you plan to stay here and visit the area, ensure you come when there’s an Irish festival scheduled for the month.
Irish festivals showcase the culture and traditions of the city. They show it through performances, singing, and dancing. If you’re lucky, you might even experience a traditional practice during a heritage festival in the area.
- Try local art, music, and food at Culturlann McAdam O’Fiaich
The Culturlann McAdam O’Fiaich is an Irish language centre that holds several performances yearly. It is situated within the neighborhood of the Gaeltacht Quarter, which means it can easily be accessed if you’re staying in the area.
While you can watch music performances here, you can also sample traditional Irish food if bazaars are organised inside the centre.
- Learn from the locals
Meanwhile, if you want a more lowkey and laid-back experience, you can always walk around the streets of Gaeltacht Quarter and explore the area. By doing this, you’ll have the chance to listen to the region’s local language (Irish Gaelic).
This also allows you to interact with the locals and fellow travelers and learn more about Belfast. You can also visit local art murals and maybe ask around or research each art and what it means to the city’s history.
Where to Stay in Gaeltacht Quarter
Belfast Airport – Best Belfast Neighbourhood for Stopovers
Belfast International Airport is a 40-minute drive or bus ride from Central Belfast to the west of the city near Lough Neagh (a lake).
If you’re flying in and out of Belfast, you’re more likely to travel through this Belfast airport than you are through the city airport.
If you have an early flight, you might prefer to stay closer to the airport so you don’t have to wake up so early the next day.
Luckily, there are lots of hotels right by Belfast Airport so you can hop on a shuttle bus straight into departures. And they aren’t run-of-the-mill, chain hotels either. Crookedstone House and Ballyrobin Country Lodge are both cosy bed and breakfasts.
Once you enter and shut the door, you’ll feel worlds away from a busy international airport and will be able to enjoy a relaxing stay.
Why Stay in Belfast Airport
The Belfast International Airport is just a few minutes from the center of the city. Now if you are having a long layover at the airport, or flying in the said airport to visit another city, then why not stay over for a day or two here?
Since the airport is very accessible to the city of Belfast, when you stay here for a stopover or layover, you can easily explore Belfast without the need to travel so far.
Another great reason why you should stay here is if you have an early flight the next day at the airport. This way, you don’t have to rush to travel from your accommodation in the city.
Luckily, there are several choices for accommodation and hotels around Belfast Airport.
Things to do in Belfast Airport
- Book a half-day tour of the City
Given that you’re staying near Belfast Airport for a short period, you can still explore the city for a few hours. To lessen your burden, you can easily book a half-day city tour.
This way, you’ll only have to think about what to do to the places you will be visiting and the food you will eat throughout the tour. There are also several customizable tours for a specific price, and you can choose the stops you will make.
Booking an excursion is a must if you stay a day or two near the Belfast Airport. You definitely would want to experience what the city has to offer.
- Relax at your Hotel
After a flight (or before one), you should rest at your hotel. While it may seem like a waste of time, it’s a great idea, especially if you have a hectic schedule.
This is especially perfect for travelers who have already been in the city and are staying at a hotel nearby the airport just for a stopover while waiting for their next day’s early flight.
- Dine at a nearby local restaurant
If you are staying at Belfast Airport for a layover or stopover, you should try the local delicacy. Although you might be visiting another neighbourhood, it’s still a must that you eat at a nearby local restaurant in Belfast.
Just among the restaurants, you can check out that are near Belfast International Airport are The Cloth Ear, Taylor and Clay, House Belfast, and Tetto.
Where to Stay in Belfast Airport
Budget Hotels in Belfast Airport
Ballyrobin Country Lodge
Family Friendly Hotels in Belfast Airport
Glendaloch B&B Belfast Int Airport
Bonus: Areas of Belfast to Avoid
There are very few neighbourhoods in Belfast that you shouldn’t stay in or visit at all. The Troubles, which was a low-level war that lasted from the 1960s to 1998 in Northern Ireland and particularly Belfast, is well and truly over.
Though there are still some simmering tensions between different religious groups and the unionists and loyalists, heated debates are far more common than actual violence.
There are some areas of Belfast to avoid at night, despite being just as safe as any other part of the city during the day. East Belfast and the area around Short Strand, in particular, is traditionally a working-class neighbourhood.
It sank into deprivation once the ship-building yards closed so there experience some rare fights and drunken brawls. As with any student neighbourhood, drug use is common in South Belfast near Queen’s Quarter.
If you avoid talking politics, stay on well-lit roads, and use your common sense, then you should feel safe staying in any Belfast neighbourhood.