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10 BEST Hidden Gems to visit in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Updated: Mar 14

Your Ultimate Guide to exploring off-the-beaten track locations scattered in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Welcome to Belfast! Beyond its well-known landmarks and bustling city centre lies a bunch of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by curious explorers who visit Northern Ireland.

From charming unique pubs tucked away on quiet streets to breath-taking parks and cultural hotspots, we're going to showcase the lesser-known gems that add an extra layer of magic to this vibrant city.

Here are 10 of the best hidden gems located in Belfast, perfect for a short weekend trip in Northern Ireland!

Image of Cregagh Glen in Belfast

1) Sunflower Pub

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Belfast, the Sunflower Pub is a traditional Irish pub known for its friendly atmosphere and live music sessions (which is all you need for a weekend in Ireland!). It's a great spot to mingle with locals, enjoy a pint of local craft beer, and immerse yourself in Belfast's vibrant pub culture.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Sunflower Pub

1) What is the Sunflower Pub in Belfast?

The Sunflower Pub is a historic and iconic pub located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Known for its vibrant atmosphere, live music, and welcoming community, the Sunflower Pub has become a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike.

2) What makes the Sunflower Pub unique?

The Sunflower Pub stands out for its eclectic decor, friendly staff, and commitment to showcasing local talent. With regular live music performances, open mic nights, and a cozy beer garden, it offers a lively and inclusive experience for patrons of all ages.

3) How do I get to the Sunflower Pub?

The Sunflower Pub is conveniently situated in Belfast's city center, making it easily accessible by public transportation, car, or on foot. Located on Union Street, just off Royal Avenue, it's within walking distance of many popular attractions, hotels, and shopping districts.

Image of Sunflower Pub in Belfast
Photo by @taliena via Instagram

2) St. George's Market

Located in the heart of the city, St. George's Market is one of Belfast's oldest attractions and we'd say it's one of the more well-known hidden gems.

This Victorian market offers a diverse selection of stalls selling fresh produce, local crafts, vintage treasures, and even delicious street food. It's the perfect location to experience the city's bustling atmosphere and support local businesses at the same time!

FAQs/Things to know before visiting St. George's Market

1) What is St. George's Market in Belfast?

St. George's Market is one of Belfast's oldest and most iconic attractions. It's a vibrant indoor market located in the city center, offering a diverse range of stalls selling fresh produce, artisanal goods, crafts, antiques, and much more. It's a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.

2) When is St. George's Market open?

St. George's Market is typically open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. However, it's always a good idea to check the official website or social media channels for the most up-to-date information on opening hours, as they may vary on holidays or special occasions.

3) How do I get to St. George's Market?

St. George's Market is conveniently located in Belfast's city center, making it easily accessible by public transportation, car, or on foot. There are nearby parking facilities, bus stops, and train stations within walking distance.

Image of St George's Market in Belfast
Photo by @rradburn via Instagram

3) Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen

Enjoy a fantastic walk up into the hills above East Belfast when you next visit Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen. It offers great views across Belfast and a beautiful glen featuring a waterfall and cool unique trees. There's even a 1400 year old fort at the top of the hill!

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen

1) What is Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen?

Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen is a hidden gem nestled within the suburbs of Belfast. It's a picturesque wooded glen with walking trails, lush greenery, and a tranquil atmosphere. The glen is known for its natural beauty and scenic views, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

2) How do I get to Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen?

Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen is located in the southeastern part of Belfast, near the Cregagh and Castlereagh areas. Visitors can access the glen via several entrance points, including Lisnabreeny Road and Manse Road. There are parking facilities available nearby, and the glen is also accessible by public transportation.

3) What can I expect to see at Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen?

At Lisnabreeny Cregagh Glen, visitors can expect to enjoy peaceful walks along well-maintained trails surrounded by lush vegetation. The glen is home to a variety of wildlife, including birds and small mammals, making it a great spot for birdwatching and nature photography.

Additionally, there are scenic viewpoints offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, providing a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Image of Cregagh Glen in Belfast
Photo by @folklori_ via Instagram

4) Bog Meadows

Bog Meadows is a gorgeous hidden gem located in St James' Farm, offering visitors with views of the pond featuring cute little ducks and swans. It's an ideal place to come and spend an hour or so walking, however we wouldn't recommend coming here especially for this.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Bog Meadows

1) What is Bog Meadows?

Bog Meadows is a beautiful nature reserve located in the heart of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is an urban wetland oasis that provides a haven for wildlife and a tranquil escape for visitors.

The reserve features a diverse range of habitats, including ponds, marshes, wildflower meadows, and woodland areas, making it a hotspot for biodiversity and a popular destination for nature enthusiasts.

2) How do I get to Bog Meadows?

Bog Meadows is conveniently situated just a short distance from Belfast city center, making it easily accessible by both public transport and car. There are several entrances to the reserve, including from the Falls Road and Milltown Road.

Visitors can use the extensive network of paths and boardwalks to explore the different areas of the reserve and enjoy its natural beauty.

3) What can I do at Bog Meadows?

At Bog Meadows, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities amidst stunning natural surroundings. Popular activities include birdwatching, wildlife spotting, nature walks, and photography. The reserve also offers educational opportunities, with interpretation panels providing information about the local flora and fauna.

Additionally, Bog Meadows is a peaceful spot for relaxation and picnics, allowing visitors to unwind and connect with nature in the heart of the city.

Image of Bog Meadows in Belfast
Photo taken by @djbonnart via Instagram

5) Colin Glen

Colin Glen is an absolutely beautiful place for a nature walk, and offers much more than just a park to walk around. There is also a really cool zip line which visitors can use and it's often overlooked by many visiting. We definitely recommend visiting if you're ever in Belfast.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Colin Glen

1) What is Colin Glen?

Colin Glen is a stunning forest park located in the southwest of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities and attractions for visitors of all ages, including walking trails, adventure playgrounds, ziplines, and a variety of wildlife habitats.

With its beautiful scenery and diverse recreational opportunities, Colin Glen is a popular destination for families, nature enthusiasts, and outdoor adventurers alike.

2) How do I get to Colin Glen?

Colin Glen is conveniently located just a short drive from Belfast city center, making it easily accessible by car or public transport. There are several entrances to the park, including from the Stewartstown Road and Glen Road.

Visitors can also access the park via the nearby Colin Glen Forest Park railway station. Ample parking is available onsite for those arriving by car.

3) What activities are available at Colin Glen?

Colin Glen offers a wide range of activities and attractions to suit all interests and ages. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the park's extensive network of walking and hiking trails, which meander through lush woodland, alongside tranquil rivers, and past picturesque waterfalls.

Thrill-seekers can enjoy the exhilarating treetop adventure courses, featuring ziplines, rope bridges, and Tarzan swings. For families, there are playgrounds, picnic areas, and interactive nature trails to enjoy, as well as opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting throughout the park.

Image of Colin Glen in Belfast
Photo taken by @thegreenmountaingoat via Instagram

6) Ormeau Park

Visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of the city when they visit Ormeau Park, a real hidden oasis of greenery. This expansive park offers walking paths and peaceful gardens, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Ormeau Park

1) What is Ormeau Park known for?

Ormeau Park is one of Belfast's oldest and largest public parks, renowned for its expansive green spaces, scenic walking paths, and recreational facilities. Located along the banks of the River Lagan, the park offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it a popular destination for picnics, leisurely strolls, and outdoor activities.

2) What amenities are available at Ormeau Park?

Ormeau Park boasts a variety of amenities to enhance visitors' experiences. These include playgrounds for children, sports pitches for football and rugby, tennis courts, and an outdoor gym. The park also features beautifully landscaped gardens, mature trees, and floral displays, providing a picturesque backdrop for relaxation and enjoyment.

3) Is there parking available at Ormeau Park?

Yes, there are several parking options available for visitors to Ormeau Park. On-street parking is available along sections of Ormeau Road and nearby streets, although spaces may be limited during peak times.

Additionally, there is a dedicated car park located off Ormeau Embankment, providing convenient access to the park's facilities. It's advisable to check for any parking restrictions or charges before visiting.

Image of Ormeau Park in Belfast
Photo by @martibo79 via Instagram

7) Cathedral Quarter

Immerse yourself in Belfast's artistic and cultural hub when you visit the Cathedral Quarter. This vibrant neighbourhood is filled with narrow cobbled streets, colourful murals, independent art galleries, trendy bars, and cosy cafes; perfect for those visiting Belfast for a long weekend.

It's the perfect place to soak up the creative energy, discover local talents, and experience the city's thriving arts and entertainment scene.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Cathedral Quarter

1) What is the Cathedral Quarter known for?

The Cathedral Quarter is renowned as Belfast's cultural and creative hub, celebrated for its vibrant atmosphere, historic architecture, and eclectic mix of arts and entertainment venues.

This dynamic district is home to numerous galleries, theaters, live music venues, artisanal shops, and trendy cafes and restaurants, making it a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.

2) What attractions can I find in the Cathedral Quarter?

Visitors to the Cathedral Quarter can explore a wealth of attractions and landmarks that showcase the area's rich heritage and cultural significance. Highlights include St. Anne's Cathedral, a stunning example of Neo-Romanesque architecture, and the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre), a contemporary arts venue hosting exhibitions, performances, and workshops.

Additionally, the area is dotted with historic pubs, such as the Duke of York, known for their lively atmosphere and traditional Irish music sessions.

3) Is the Cathedral Quarter pedestrian-friendly?

Yes, the Cathedral Quarter is known for its pedestrian-friendly streets and pedestrianized areas, making it easy to explore on foot. The district's narrow cobbled streets and alleyways add to its charm and character, inviting visitors to wander and discover hidden gems around every corner.

Many of the area's attractions, shops, and eateries are within walking distance of each other, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere and unique ambiance of the Cathedral Quarter.

Image of Cathedra Quarter in Belfast
Photo by @dangerousbiz via Instagram

8) The Big Fish

The Bish Fish is a very nice monument made of ceramic tiles located in Belfast. If you look closely, each tile has a different scene from the history of Belfast City which is very unique. Overall, it's a great landmark that you should see if you're ever thinking of travelling to the city.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting The Big Fish

1) What is The Big Fish in Belfast?

The Big Fish, also known as the Salmon of Knowledge, is a striking public art installation located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Designed by artist John Kindness, this shimmering mosaic sculpture measures 10 meters in length and is made up of ceramic tiles depicting various images and scenes from Belfast's history and culture.

2) Where is The Big Fish located?

The Big Fish is situated in Donegall Quay, along the banks of the River Lagan in Belfast's city center. Its prominent location near the Lagan Weir and the Lagan Lookout provides visitors with stunning views of the river and surrounding landmarks.

3) What is the significance of The Big Fish?

The Big Fish serves as a symbol of Belfast's maritime heritage and cultural identity. Its design incorporates symbols and motifs representing Belfast's history, industry, and folklore, including references to its shipbuilding legacy, literary figures, and local landmarks.

Visitors often enjoy taking photographs with The Big Fish and exploring its intricate mosaic details, which offer insights into Belfast's past and present.

Image of The Big Fish in Belfast
Photo by @offthewallsof via Instagram

9) SS Nomadic

We absolutely recommended visiting SS Nomadic but we'd say it's better to visit after the Titanic Museum, as you will be more into it. It's a little sister of Titanic and is the last one left from the white star line.

FAQs/Things to know before visiting SS Nomadic

1) What is the SS Nomadic?

The SS Nomadic is a historic steamship that served as a tender to the RMS Titanic and RMS Olympic ocean liners. Built in 1911 by Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, it played a crucial role in ferrying passengers and cargo between shore and the larger liners. Today, the SS Nomadic is preserved as a museum ship and tourist attraction in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

2) Where is the SS Nomadic located?

The SS Nomadic is moored in Hamilton Dock, within the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its location near the Titanic Belfast Visitor Experience and other maritime attractions makes it easily accessible to visitors interested in learning about Belfast's maritime history and the story of the Titanic.

3) What can visitors expect to see at the SS Nomadic?

Visitors to the SS Nomadic can explore its decks and interior spaces, including the passenger accommodation, crew quarters, and engine room. The ship offers interactive exhibits, audiovisual presentations, and displays that provide insights into its role as a tender to the Titanic and the daily life aboard.

Guided tours offer a fascinating glimpse into the ship's storied past and its connection to Belfast's shipbuilding heritage.

Image of SS Nomadic in Belfast
Photo by @titanic_society via Instagram

10) Hazelbank Park

Hazelbank Park is a clean and well maintained park, offering visitors with varied paths to choose from; from gentle to steep incline. The park also presents lovely views of Belfast Lough.

Overall, it's an awesome walk and park for all ages, and the kids can even see squirrels in the trees and plenty of wild birds!

FAQs/Things to know before visiting Hazelbank Park

1) What is Hazelbank Park?

Hazelbank Park is a picturesque public park located along the shores of Belfast Lough in Newtownabbey, just north of Belfast city center. It offers scenic views of the lough and is renowned for its natural beauty, walking trails, and recreational facilities.

2) What amenities are available at Hazelbank Park?

Hazelbank Park features a range of amenities for visitors, including walking and cycling paths, picnic areas, children's playgrounds, and sports facilities such as football pitches and tennis courts. The park also has designated areas for wildlife observation and nature appreciation.

3) Is there parking available at Hazelbank Park?

Yes, Hazelbank Park provides ample parking facilities for visitors, including designated parking areas near the park entrances. Parking is usually free of charge, making it convenient for visitors to access the park and enjoy its amenities.

Image of Hazelbank Park in Belfast
Photo by @brendan_snaps via Instagram

There you have it! These are 10 of our favourite hidden gems located in Belfast, perfect for your next Northern Ireland adventure! Whether you plan to do a road trip in and around Belfast or are visiting for the summer, you should definitely check out some of these hidden gems.

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