Belfast is an ideal city for a 1-day break. Not only is it remarkably compact, but it’s also packed with unique attractions, from the world-renowned Titanic Belfast to the colorful Falls Road murals. If you have only 24 hours to explore the capital of Northern Ireland, here’s how to best spend your time.
Before the 1998 peace deal that ended the Troubles—a 30-year period of conflict in Northern Ireland—many travelers were scared away from Belfast by tales of unrest. With the city now peaceful, revitalized, and rejuvenated, you can safely delve into its bullet-scarred past. One way to do so is by joining a guided tour, ranging from mural tours highlighting political-themed street art to historical walking tours around central and West Belfast. For a more flexible option, jump aboard a hop-on hop-off bus, which will carry you past Troubles-related sights, such as the Falls Road murals and the Peace Walls.
Head for the Titanic Quarter, the regenerated waterfront area where the famous cruise ship was built. The centerpiece attraction is Titanic Belfast, whose state-of-the-art multimedia exhibitions document the city’s shipbuilding past, most notably the construction of the doomed RMS Titanic. Take a themed walking tour of the area to see the Titanic Dock and Pump House, the last resting spot for the Titanic before she was launched to sea, or embark on a boat trip on the River Lagan. You can also climb aboard the SS Nomadic, tender ship to the Titanic, and the HMS Caroline, a WWI vessel that’s now a floating museum.
Belfast’s dining scene is fast gaining a reputation for greatness, with a high concentration of quality bars and restaurants found in the Cathedral Quarter. If you have time for only one drink, have it at the Crown Liquor Saloon, a Victorian-era, National Trust–run pub famed for its well-preserved interiors, which feature gas lighting, mosaics, and stained glass. It’s a common endpoint for evening walking tours of the city. For some spookier nighttime entertainment, venture inside Crumlin Road Gaol, which hosts evening tours and live music shows.