Sometimes the tourist trail is too much. There may be too many people, too expensive a sight and maybe you’re just in the mood for a more locally flavoured experience of the city.
Belfast is home to gems locals love to frequent again and again without the crowds you might find at other sights in the city.
Whether you’re in the mood for a local hike, a local pub to have some craic or just a new way to see the city, these 5 things to do around Belfast will show you the unmissable local gems we all frequent. So live like a Belfastian for the day and hit up these spots.
5. The Dirty Onion – For the craic
Cathedral Quarter is a hit with tourists, but locals love it too. One bar, in particular, locals swear by visiting is The Dirty Onion, a beautifully designed bar nestled in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter.
What draws locals back again and again as well as tourists alike is the charming atmosphere of the bar.
Especially in summer months, the outside seating area is jam-packed with locals all with pints in their hands sharing a laugh and revelling in the joy of the local people.
And if you’re feeling a bit peckish, the delicious chicken restaurant, Yardbird, is situated just above the bar to soak up the drinks below.
That, and the monthly live comedy performances they host, make The Dirty Onion unmissable. Just be sure you can keep up, Belfastians are known for their endurance.
Address: 3 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LA
4. Ulster Folk Museum – To time travel
This one’s for the families but offers something for everybody. Locals love exploring their history and there’s no better place to visualise yester-year than at the Ulster Folk Museum – one of the best things to do in Belfast, no doubt.
Located outside Belfast on a scenic train ride to Cultra you’ll find the 19th-century replica village and surrounding countryside. Locals love wandering the streets to cast their mind’s back and imagine a simpler time of their ancestors.
The museum boasts a transport museum too showing old and new vehicles from the island. It even sports a DeLorean, the famed car from Back to the Future, actually produced in the Dunmurry factory just outside Belfast.
Address: 153 Bangor Rd, Holywood BT18 0EU
3. Botanic Gardens – To kick back and relax
Another favourite spot for the Belfast local, this time in the Queen’s Quarter of the city.
People come from all over Belfast to lie on the lawns and stroll through the rainbow of rose bushes best viewed in the Summer months of June and July.
You’ll see all sorts of locals enjoying the gardens, walking pets, exploring the Ulster museum on the grounds of Botanic or just exploring the greenhouse and newly refurbished Tropical Ravine.
Botanic offers a relaxed atmosphere, whether a place to sit and enjoy a take-away meal from one of the restaurants on Botanic Avenue, just off the gardens, or to enjoy an ice-cream cone from the ice-cream van that roams the gardens.
Address: College Park, Botanic Avenue, Belfast BT7 1LP
2. St. George’s Market – For a taste of the city
While being a popular stop on tourist itineraries, the award-winning St. George’s Market is frequented by locals for numerous reasons.
The market hosts special Twilight Markets at different points of the year when they light the place up like a Christmas tree. The market is bustling and open until the wee hours of the morning.
What’s more, locals love passing by the market to pick up the freshest fish all of Belfast can offer. As well as this there are crafts on sale and live performances of local bands and traditional music that we all love going to watch.
Here, tourists and locals mingle and all are welcome to dine from the local food vendors, buy gifts from the local artists and craftspeople or just enjoy the music and hubbub of the market.
Address: 12-20 East Bridge St, Belfast BT1 3NQ
1. Cavehill – For spectacular views
Cavehill is a mountain outside Belfast, easily recognised by the humorously-titled “Napoleon’s Nose” outcrop casting the distinguishable profile of French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
The mountain overlooks the entirety of Belfast and the surrounding ports and bay. It offers breath-taking views of the mountains and the city.
Locals love nothing more than a lungful of fresh air and a hike to the summit to gaze off into the distance. Somehow the view never gets old and, if you’re unable to complete the entire journey, halfway up is Belfast Castle, another great spot to take in the views.
We have a pro local tip, head up to Belfast Castle during sunset. This is our favourite time to take in the view. The lights of Belfast sparkle and shimmer from the height and cast a wonderful view of our city and the surrounding countryside.
These five things to do around Belfast are just examples the various activities, sights, and tastes us locals love. Be sure to explore the entire city and see what it is that makes us so proud of our home.