Top 10 things tourists should never do in Belfast

We’ve all seen numerous articles on the things tourists should do when they arrive in Belfast. Not as many (nearly none in fact) explain what not to do. So, here are ten things you should never do in Belfast.

Belfast can be a tricky city and, not so long ago, it was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Things have come a long way since then, but large parts of the city are still divided by religion.

To keep you out of trouble (hopefully), we’ve made a list of ten things tourists should never do in Belfast.

10. Don’t mention flags – flegs in the native tongue

Don't mention flags.

An extremely ‘touchy’ subject in Belfast, most Irish people will know what we mean. 

For everyone else, you will notice an abundance of flags around the Belfast area, the two main ones being the Tricolour and the Union Jack.

The reasoning behind all of this is a conversation for another day.

We suggest not parading around with any flag unless from another country. Even that can be dangerous… never mind, just don’t do this in Belfast!

9. Forget your manners on the road – a cardinal sin

Forgetting your manners on the road is one of the things you should never do in Belfast.

It’s such a simple thing to do, but showing your appreciation to other drivers can go a long way. If someone gives way to you, or allows you to enter their lane, give them a wave or a flash. 

Many people won’t do this, and you’ll understand how annoying it is when it happens. So, acknowledge the good folks that do.

Please don’t litter our great city whilst driving, either (there are bins everywhere).

8. Think you’re going out for one pint – it won’t happen

Don't think you're going out for just one pint.

The system of drinking with people in Belfast pubs is simple. If someone buys you a drink, you buy them one back and vice versa. 

Very few people will go to a pub by themselves, and if they do there is no chance they are going for just the one.

We Irish all know this but still think each time it will be the miraculous night where it’s one pint and home (it won’t be).

7. Be insensitive about the troubles – a sombre period in history

Being insensitive about the troubles is one of the things you should never do in Belfast.

To-do lists when visiting Northern Ireland advise people to avoid speaking about the troubles, especially in Belfast.

Usually, people are willing to have this conversation if you’re respectful and sensitive.

Although, approaching a group of teenagers dressed from head to toe in Celtic/Rangers gear for conversation is something you shouldn’t do in Belfast.

You’ll probably be greeted with a few choice words and told to go on your way. So, pick your target audience wisely. 

6. Complain about our weather – YES, OUR WEATHER

Don't complain about the weather.
Credit: / Kenneth Allen

In Northern Ireland, we all know that it’s ok for us to complain about our own families, but others shouldn’t. Indeed, this is another one of the things tourists should never do in Belfast.

If it’s lashing rain in Belfast and a visitor complains to a group of locals about it, you may be greeted with a slight smile and a nod. Go on about it, and you could be in for a more extended conversation. We won’t reveal the specifics!

5. Go on about how Irish you are – your great, great grandfather from Co. Antrim?

One of the things you should never do in Belfast is talk about how Irish you are.

So, your family hails from Ireland? Reckon you’re 100% Irish? We advise not to mention this to every person you see in Belfast.

Don’t get us wrong; it’s nothing personal. We’ve just heard it so many times and if people who were born in Ireland aren’t 100% Irish, someone here on a two-week holiday almost certainly isn’t.

Belfast can also be tricky on the nationality front. So best try a different conversation starter.

4. Take offence to swearing – it’s our second language

You shouldn't take offence to swearing.
Credit: / @denialucia

We are well known for our sharp wit and sense of humour (having the craic basically). Don’t be confused if you hear a few swear words or a bit of ‘slagging’ as this can be the Belfast way of greeting someone.

Sounds unusual but give yourself an hour walking around the city’s streets and you will find out what we mean.

We can ‘give it’, and we can certainly ‘take it’, so don’t be afraid to join in on the ‘craic’ either.

3. Plan a trip during marching season – check the dates

Visiting during the marching season is one of the things you should never do in Belfast.

Ah, the famous marching season, one of the riskiest times to travel in Northern Ireland.

During the Twelfth of July holidays, things can get pretty dangerous in the wrong areas.

Even though they aren’t as dangerous as before and not as bad as the news may present, if possible, we would still advise avoiding these dates.

2. Don’t drive in the bus lanes – sounds obvious

Don't drive in the bus lanes.
Credit: / Albert Bridge

Driving in the bus lane is another one of the things you should not do in Belfast. Drivers caught straying into bus lanes have been fined over four million since 2016. 

CCTV is the weapon of choice for catching bus lane enthusiasts. Very hard to avoid these anywhere in the city, so it’s best to sit in traffic like everyone else. No matter how tempting a free lane may look, it could cost you £90 if caught.

1. Drive too slow – don’t frustrate other drivers

Driving slowly is one of the things you should never do in Belfast.

A touchy topic so we won’t go into too much detail on the specifics of what makes a slow driver; otherwise, you could be reading about yourself.

A seriously slow driver can cause issues due to the amount of traffic in a condensed area.

Belfast is known for being a friendly city for the most part, but drive too slowly in front of heavy traffic, and you’ll definitely hear a choir of horns. This is, without a doubt, one of the ultimate things you should not do in Belfast.

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