Belfast on a budget: 7 free things to see and do

By Sarah Moyles,

Birthplace of the Titanic and arguably the best fry up in the United Kingdom, Belfast is a must for anyone visiting Northern Ireland. And, if you’re doing it on a budget, we’ve put together some ideas for great free things to do.

And don’t forget to check out our guide to the city’s best cheap eats here.


Ulster Museum


BOTANIC GARDENS, BT9 5AB

Free things to do in Belfast

Photo by Ulster Museum

Situated in the Botanic Gardens, the Ulster Museum boasts a range of exhibits, catering for families with its three Discovery Centres. The centres are each divided into themes of Art, Nature and History. Here, kids (big and small), can handle real bones, gemstones and even dress up as a Victorian.

You can also take part in the free Welcome Tours available. From mummies to modern masterpieces and everything in between, you’ll be sure to find something to peak your interest.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:00
Entry: Free


Botanic Gardens


COLLEGE PARK, BOTANIC AVENUE, BT7 1LP
Free things to do in Belfast
Photo by Robert Young 

After your visit to the Ulster Museum, why not take a stroll through Belfast’s Botanic Gardens which house a range of tropical plants, trees and birds. The most notable feature here is the Palm House which was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, who was also responsible for creating nearby Queen’s University.

The Palm House is a Victorian curved glasshouse where some of the gardens most exotic plants and birds can be found. When in bloom, a walk through the Rose Garden is a must for any visitor.

Entry: Free


Stormont


 BALLYMISCAW, STORMONT, BT4 3XX
Free things to do in Belfast
Photo by Iker Merodio

Parliament Buildings at Stormont is home to the Northern Ireland Assembly which has played witness to many political dramas and is a familiar image on our TV screens.

Free tours of this grand building are offered twice a day from Monday to Friday at 11am and 2pm. But if politics isn’t your thing, why not spend some time in the gardens. With acres of woodland walks and rolling lawns to enjoy, it’s the perfect spot to have a picnic.

Entry: Free


Queen’s University


UNIVERSITY ROAD BELFAST, BT7 1NN  
Free things to do in Belfast
Photo by Kieran Lynam         

Located just 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre, Queen’s University is recognised as one of the finest universities in the UK. Established by Queen Victoria in 1845, Queen’s has long been part of the fabric of Northern Ireland and has educated some of its best and brightest.

The Queen’s University Lanyon Building, designed in the Tudor-Gothic style, is synonymous with Belfast and is definitely worth a picture or two. Guided tours of the campus are available through the Queen’s Welcome Centre.

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 to 16:00
Entry: Free
Tours: Monday to Friday at 11:00 and 14:00


Belfast Murals


 FALLS ROAD AND SHANKILL ROAD
Luxury European shopping streets
Photo by Richard Leeming

The history of Northern Ireland will always play a large role in its future. However an interesting way to learn about both Belfast’s and Northern Ireland’s past is by visiting some of the many political murals dotted around the city.

Found in both Unionist and Nationalist areas, tourists can learn more about the history of The Troubles which deeply affected both Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland. Plan a walk along two of the most prolific areas in Belfast, the Falls Road and the Shankill Road to learn more.


Belfast City Hall 


 BELFAST CITY HALL, BT1 5GS
Free things to do in Belfast
Photo by Stephen

Belfast was granted city status in 1888. Then an industrial powerhouse, it was decided that a new city hall was needed to reflect Belfast’s new position.

The City Hall is one of Belfast’s most iconic pieces of architecture and the grounds surrounding it are also a great place to go and take a break from the bustling city centre. Free guided tours of the city hall are also available from Monday to Saturday.

Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday from 08:30 to 16.30 & Friday from 08:30 to 17:00
Tours: Monday to Friday at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:00 & Saturday at 14:00 and 15:00
Entry: Free


St George’s Market


12-20 EAST BRIDGE STREET, BT1 3NQ

Free things to do in Belfast

Photo by Ireland.ie

One of the best markets in the UK, St George’s Market is a hive of activity on the weekends and is the perfect place to soak up some lively atmosphere. Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, each day promises something different.

Fridays are traditionally a variety market with stalls selling fresh fruit, vegetables and antiques as well as serving as a fish market. The markets on Saturday and Sunday sell a mixture of specialty foods, pastries and crafts as well as offering live music, so why not grab a coffee and sit back and relax.

Opening Hours:
Friday: Variety Market 6:00 to 14:00
Saturday: City Food and Craft Market 9:00 to 15:00
Sunday: Sunday Market 10:00 to 16:00

Lead photo by Greg Clarke

What’s your favourite free thing to do in Belfast?

Comment below with your recommendations