16 Things Belfast is Known and Famous For

Northern Ireland has a life of its own, and Belfast is its beating heart. Take a walk through these streets and you’ll find interesting stories on every corner. 

Belfast is known for its many historical places like the Belfast Castle, Peace Wall, and the site where the Titanic was built. It also has a thriving culture that favors quaint pubs, bustling markets, and rowdy sports fans.

Let’s take a look at famous sites and other things that make Belfast famous:

1. Titanic

Sunset over Titanic Belfast - museum, touristic attraction and monument to Belfast's maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard.
Editorial credit: Nataliya Hora / Shutterstock.com

One of the most famous ships in history was built right here in Belfast. Although the reason for its fame is undeniably terrible, this city is still proud to have engineered such a massive and impressive ship. 

It took three years to build the Titanic, with over 3,000 workers contributing to the cause. As the ship was being built, it became the pride of Belfast. After news of the sinking, the town was understandably devastated.

Now, more than 100 years after the tragedy, there’s a museum and interactive exhibit in Belfast that honors those that were lost. 

2. Peace Wall

Falls Road Murals on the Falls Road

Northern Ireland has experienced its fair share of tragedy, including “The Troubles” that lasted nearly 30 years. This time of turmoil and violence, which started in the 1960s and ran all the way until 1998, divided the country. When peace agreements were finally reached, the city of Belfast began to heal.

One of the main symbols of unity that have emerged are the mural-filled peace walls around the city. Although they once symbolized deep division, they now show that the city is rebuilding.

The wall that divides Falls and Shankill Roads in western Belfast is one of the most popular places for people to come and learn about the dark past and brighter future. 

3. Belfast Castle

Belfast castle. Tourist attraction on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Another symbol of Belfast history is the iconic Belfast Castle. Originally built in 1870, this castle was commissioned by the third Marquis of Donegall. After his death, the castle passed to Lord Ashley and the Shaftesbury family. 

Eventually, the family presented the castle to the city of Belfast, and they made it into an impressive venue and tourist attraction. This stunning castle sits on a hill with spectacular views of the city, and it’s definitely a place that’s a must-see in Belfast.

4. Cave Hill Country Park

Landscape in Cave Hill Country Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland aerial View on grassy field

Once you’re done marveling at the castle, take some time to explore the surrounding Cave Hill Country Park. The park is aptly named, as there are five caves located in the cliffs that are equally intriguing and beautiful.

You can explore the grounds with miles of walking trails and enjoy stunningly scenic views. In addition to a beautiful view of the city, the park offers interesting archaeological sites and unique local wildlife. 

5. Cathedral Quarter

stunning Saint Anne's Cathedral or Belfast Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland (blue sky)

After you’ve seen the city from above, you have to see what the heart of the city is really like. Look no further than the Cathedral Quarter to experience Belfast at its finest. This district is known for top restaurants and trendy art galleries.

The Cathedral Quarter is the perfect blend of old and new. The vibe feels fresh and modern, but you are still surrounded by amazing historic buildings.

The district is named for St. Anne’s Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1776 but still serves as an important religious and cultural center. 

6. Obel Tower

View of Belfast with the river Lagan - United Kingdom

When you look at the Belfast skyline, there’s one building that will always catch your eye: Obel Tower. Belfast is known for this tower because it’s the tallest building in all of Ireland. This massive glass and steel structure is an impressive work of engineering.

Despite its impressive size, the building itself does not offer much in the tourism department. It’s mainly filled with apartments and offices, with a few retail spaces on the first floor. It seems the best way to enjoy this landmark is to admire its height from ground level. 

7. City Hall

Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

If you’re looking for a building with a bit more old-school charm, then Belfast’s City Hall is your place. The place where it stands was originally the home of the international Linen Exchange. However, when Belfast was officially recognized as a city in 1888, the site was designated as the site for the new City Hall.

Construction was completed in 1906, and the building has since served as an important landmark and government building. The exterior is breathtaking, but the interior also holds some impressive features. Beautiful stained glass and marble are found throughout the building.

8. Queen’s University

The Lanyon Building, Queen's University
Editorial credit: dvlcom / Shutterstock.com

In the southern part of the city, you’ll find another one of Belfast’s jewels: Queen’s University. This beautiful campus is filled with stunning historic buildings, including the impressive Lanyon Building. 

Queen’s University is ranked as one of the best in the world, with acclaimed programs in dentistry, pharmacology, food science, and accounting. It’s also known for a high level of research and a surprisingly reasonable cost of living. 

9. St. George’s Market

People shop at the St. George's Market in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Editorial credit: KMarsh / Shutterstock.com

If you find yourself in Belfast on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, don’t miss the St. George’s Market. This weekend fair offers a taste of local foods, drinks, and crafts. It’s always the best place to find new treasures and get your fill of delicious treats.

The Friday market has actually been going on since 1604, and it specializes in fruits, vegetables, and antiques. Saturdays are for food and crafts, including meats and cheeses, handmade pottery, and live music. Sundays are a mix of everything, so everyone can find something to love here.

10. Pubs

Street view of the Crown Bar, a famous pub at great victorial street Belfast.
Editorial credit: Min Jing / Shutterstock.com

If mornings are for markets, then pubs are for basically any other time of day. Belfast is famous for having a wide range of pubs, from small local haunts to busy tourist favorites. Wherever you are in Belfast, you’re probably not more than a stone’s throw away from a good pub.

One of the most well-known pubs is Crown Liquor Saloon, famous for its ornately decorated interior. Whites Tavern is the oldest in Belfast, serving locals and visitors alike since 1630. There are countless others serving up a good Guinness and a hearty stew, so it’s always fun to find your favorite little spot. 

11. George Best

oyalist mural dedicated to Manchester United player George Best near Sandy Row.Belfast
Editorial credit: Federico Zovadelli / Shutterstock.com

When you find yourself in an Irish pub, you’ll inevitably get into a discussion about the local pastime: football. For our American readers out there, remember that we’re talking about soccer, not the NFL. In Belfast, the conversation usually leads to a discussion about their local football hero George Best.

Best is known as one of the best players in football history. He grew up in Belfast and went on to play for Manchester United in the 60s and 70s. He was a skilled dribbler and goal scorer known for his playing style and long, dark hair.

12. Rugby

Korea Republic players pictured during friendly match against Northern Ireland at National Football Stadium.
Editorial credit: Daniel.08 / Shutterstock.com

If you’re not talking about football in Belfast, you’re probably talking about rugby. The local team is Ulster, recognizable by their red and white colors and handprint logo. They play their home games at Kingspan Stadium in southern Belfast. 

Like any professional sports team, Ulster has had its ups and downs. The club made a big statement in the 1998-99 season when they became the first Irish province to win the Heineken Cup. While that feat hasn’t been repeated since, the team has been on the upswing in recent years.

13. Linen

Wrinkled linen cloth folded napkins. Linen fabric texture.

Belfast is known for more than just architecture and sports. Linen was a very popular fabric in the early 18th century, and Belfast embraced its production. By the late 18th century, Belfast was the largest linen producer in the world. It even earned the nickname “Linenopolis.”

As the textile world began to shift more to synthetic fibers in the 20th century, linen production in Belfast slowed. While the city may not produce as much linen as it did in the 1700s, it is still famous for its high-quality fabrics.  

14. Seahorses

The exterior of Belfast City Hall, Donegall Square, Northern Ireland with Coat of Arms, What shall we give in return for so much
Editorial credit: Joyce Nelson / Shutterstock.com

Another unexpected thing that Belfast is famous for is seahorses. Because the city is located on the water, it has a deep maritime history. In the 17th century, local merchants printed the seahorse image on their coins to honor their connection with the sea.

You’ll still find seahorses on the city’s official coat of arms, and there’s a large seahorse sculpture in the city’s port. These mythical animals have been known to represent protection, recovery, and health, which are all things that Belfast has needed over the years. 

15. Game of Thrones

The sign for the Titanic Studius at belfast docks.
Editorial credit: shawnwil23 / Shutterstock.com

The beauty of Belfast has given it a sort of magical, mythical quality. When HBO was filming their hit series Game of Thrones, they took advantage of this and used locations across Northern Ireland as sets for the popular fantasy series.

The Titanic Studio in Belfast was used for many of the scenes, and locations just outside Belfast were used as well. When visiting the city, you can take a Game of Thrones tour guided by an actual extra from the show and experience it all for yourself.

16. C.S. Lewis

The Aslan sculpture in Cs Lewis square in Belfast, United Kingdom
Editorial credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Before Game of Thrones, C.S. Lewis was Belfast’s claim to fame in the fantasy world. This accomplished writer is known for many popular novels, including the Chronicles of Narnia series. 

Many of the events in his books are inspired by the writer’s own life, specifically his childhood in Belfast. The city has embraced Lewis’ fame and created a walking trail that winds through some of the picturesque landscapes that inspired him.

There is also a C.S. Lewis Square that features bronze sculptures of some of his most beloved characters. 

The Belfast City Hall at Donegall Square in Belfast, Northern Ireland at Night

There’s a lot of history in Belfast, but it still feels like an exciting, modern city. There’s such a unique blend of tragedy and triumph here that you can’t really experience anywhere else.

Belfast is famous for many things, and it’s about time you go out and explore some of them for yourself.

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