The Best Areas to Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Best Areas to Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Best Areas to Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Where to Stay in Belfast – A Guide to the Capital of Northern Ireland

Belfast is the capital and most populous city in Northern Ireland and second-largest city on the island. It is situated on the banks of the River Lagan, on the east coast of the country. This city is known for being one of the cradles of the Industrial Revolution in Ireland and for being home to the Harland and Wolff shipyard, which built the world-famous Titanic. In this post, we will discuss the best areas to stay in Belfast.

This incredible town suffered pretty badly during the worst years of the Irish Conflict (known as The Troubles) and used to be considered the most dangerous city in Europe. Today, the NI capital is home to several world-class tourist attractions such as the Titanic shipyard, the Ulster Museum, St George’s Market, St Anne’s Cathedral and the Botanic Gardens, to name a few.

Belfast has interesting neighbourhoods shaped by its tumultuous history and industrial heritage. While districts such as the City Centre or Queens Quarter present its most classical face, other areas like the Titanic Quarter, Gaeltacht Quarter, the Cathedral Quarter or the Eastside offer a more rugged, post-industrial hipster-friendly atmosphere.

In Belfast, the summers are cool and cloudy, while the winters are long, very cold, humid… and also cloudy. Throughout the year, the temperatures fluctuate between 2ºC and 22ºC, though they rarely ever drop to subzero levels. The best time to visit Belfast is during the summer months (June – September), when the sun is out (sometimes) and you can enjoy outdoor activities.

The Northern Irish capital has two airports; Belfast City Airpoirt is located a 5-minute-drive from the city centre and offers connections to the UK and Ireland, while Belfast International Airport is located around 16km northeast and offers flights to European cities and resorts, as well as a few North American destinations.

Belfast, particularly its Historic Center, is a very compact city, very easy to navigate on foot. In order to move to other districts, you can use one of the many routes connecting the city and the suburban areas.

When it comes to the best areas to stay in Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter, along with neighbouring Smithfield and Union Quarter offer the best nightlife in town. Alternatively, Queens Quarter, located just south the City Centre is home to several city attractions.

For some seaside fun near Belfast, do not miss our guide with the best areas to stay in Bangor.

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The Flint

The Flint is located in Belfast, 350 m from City Hall and 850 m from The Waterfront Hall. The property is close to the Odyssey Arena, Victoria Square Shopping Centre and St. George’s Market, the Linen Quarter and the Cathedral Quarter. Free WiFi is available.

The Best Areas to Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland

1. Recommended area: Cathedral & Smithfield and Union Quarters

Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter takes its name from St Anne’s Cathedral and is located directly north of the city centre. Part of the area, centred on Talbot Street behind the cathedral, was formerly called the Half Bap.

The Cathedral Quarter used to be at the centre of Belfast’s trade and warehousing district, a product of its prosperous linen and shipbuilding industries. As such, this quarter still maintains some of Belfast’s oldest buildings and commercial streets such as Hill Street or Waring Street.

Nowadays, this lively area is home to over 50 cultural organisations and galleries, as well as luxury restaurants, fine cocktail bars and cosy cafés.

Home to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival (CQAF) (an annual festival of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature), Cathedral Quarter is a place for culture, leisure and entertainment.

Next to Cathedral Quarter lies the Smithfield and Union Quarter, the city’s coolest nightlife hotspot and Belfast’s LGBT area.

All and all, the Cathedral Quarter is a lively, artsy and hipster-friendly area and one of the best locations to stay in Belfast.

Accommodation in Cathedral Quarter - Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Cathedral Quarter – Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Belfast:

  • Artsy and hipster area
  • Industrial heritage
  • Very central
  • Gay area
  • Best area for nightlife

2. Queens Quarter

Queens Quarter takes its name from Queen’s University and it is located in South Belfast, directly south of the City Centre.

This part of Belfast is known for its leafy streets and, despite being a very central area, its quiet, almost suburban atmosphere.

Because of Queen’s University, North Ireland largest uni, this quarter is home to a youthful and vibrant student population. This fact, mixed with its wealth of cultural venues (the Whitla, Mandela and Elmwood Halls, Lyric Players’ Theatre, the Crescent Arts Centre, the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s and Queen’s Film Theatre, to name a few) makes it the most lively part of town.

The Quarter is centred on the Lanyon Building, QUB’s most instagrammable building. Meanwhile, Botanic Avenue and Stranmillis, University and Malone Roads are the main thoroughfares and public transport spots in the area.

Queens Quarter is also home to Belfast Botanic Gardens, a public park opened in 1828 which houses rare plants and the Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland’s largest.

Its youthful nightlife, a wealth of attractions and peaceful atmosphere, along with its proximity to the attractions in the City Centre make Queens Quarter the best area to stay in Belfast.

Where to stay in Belfast - Queens Quarter
Where to stay in Belfast – Queens Quarter
Accommodation in Belfast Queens Quarter - Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Belfast Queens Quarter – Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Belfast:

  • Queen’s University
  • Botanic Garden
  • Good nightlife
  • Central location

2. City Centre & Linen Quarter

The City Centre is the business and administrative hub of the capital of Ulster. This regal looking district comprises the area around Donegall Square (home to the City Hall), High Street, Royal Avenue, Castle Junction and its surrounding streets.

As its to be expected from any European capital, the City Centre offers grand avenues, majestic palaces, ornate churches and leafy squares.

This business district is home to the city’s most luxurious hotels, upmarket restaurants and cocktail bars.

Located behind Belfast City Hall, the Linen Quarter used to be the hotspot for Ireland’s global linen industry. Its beautiful red-brick warehouses have been refurbished in recent times to host international businesses, award-winning restaurants and designer boutiques. This area’s main attractions include the Crown Bar, Grand Opera House, Ulster Hall, and St Malachi’s Church.

Over the past few years, the Centre has seen extensive redevelopment and gentrification. Some of the landmarks of the city include Waterfront Hall, BT Tower, Hilton Hotel, Odyssey Complex and several riverside residential complexes.

The City Centre is the best area to stay in Belfast for business travellers, as well as for those who want to discover the industrial past of this amazing city.

Best neighbourhoods in Belfast - City Centre
Best neighbourhoods in Belfast – City Centre
Accommodation in Belfast City Centre - Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Belfast City Centre – Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Belfast:

  • Main transport hubs
  • Business area
  • Industrial heritage buildings
  • Luxury hotels and restaurants

4. Titanic Quarter

Belfast is a world-known city in big part thanks to being the birthplace of the RMS Titanic. If you haven’t watched the movie, the Titanic was a transatlantic passenger ship which (spoiler alert!) hit an iceberg and sunk in 1912.

The Titanic Quarter sits in an area known until 1995 as Queen’s Island, and it’s one of the world’s largest urban-waterfront regeneration projects. It is situated 2 km north of the city centre area.

This renovated district around Belfast’s old harbour and shipbuilding facilities comprises historic maritime landmarks, film studios, education facilities, apartments, a riverside entertainment district, and the world’s largest Titanic-themed attraction.

Perhaps the biggest sight in this area is Titanic Belfast, an aluminium-clad museum and tourist attraction in the shape of ship’s hull.

This improved waterfront district is in constant development and is also the place to be for local and international hotel chains. Accommodation options have mushroomed in recent years, and, being a new area, hotel rates are (for now) much cheaper here than in other Belfast quarters.

The Titanic Quarter is the best district to stay in Belfast for nautical aficionados and those looking for a modern luxurious hotel experience on a budget.

Best location in Belfast - Titanic Quarter
Best location in Belfast – Titanic Quarter
What is a good area to stay in Belfast - Titanic Quarter
What is a good area to stay in Belfast – Titanic Quarter
Accommodation in the Titanic Quarter - Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area
Accommodation in the Titanic Quarter – Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Belfast:

  • Titanic Belfast
  • Renovated area
  • Cheap luxury hotels

5. Gaeltacht Quarter

Situated roughly 3 km west of the city centre lies Gaeltacht Quarter.

This quiet area is considered a hub for Irish language and culture in the Northern Irish capital. It is also notorious for its street art and political murals.

Gaeltacht Quarter is the place to go for local music, traditional pubs and homely food. It is also a place you should visit if you’re interested in Ireland’s turbulent recent history.

One of its key landmarks in its Peace Wall. During The Troubles, “peace walls” used to separate Catholic and Protestant districts in the city. After the Good Friday Agreement and the return of peace, they have become popular tourist sites.

Gaeltacht Quarter it is also home to the Irish Republican History Museum.

Gaeltacht Quarter is best explored with one of the many tours focusing on the Irish conflict and The Troubles.

Gaeltacht Quarter is a good area to stay in Belfast for visitors who want to learn more about Irish culture and contemporary history buffs.

The best areas to stay in Belfast - Gaeltacht Quarter
The best areas to stay in Belfast – Gaeltacht Quarter
Accommodation in Gaeltacht Quarter - Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Gaeltacht Quarter – Click on the map to see all the accommodation in this area

Why is this a recommended area to stay in Belfast:

  • Irish Republican area of Belfast
  • Political murals
  • Irish Republican History Museum