Where to Stay in Belfast, Northern Ireland 🇬🇧: Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Updated on June 7, 2024
by Alex Miller

Belfast offers plenty to do, from exploring its history to enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Finding the right accommodation in the best area is key for first-time visitors. That’s why I’ve put together this Belfast neighborhood guide – so you can discover the city’s highlights and find the best base. Whether you want a cultural hub like the Cathedral Quarter or a budget-friendly area like Queen’s Quarter, Belfast has an area to suit every travel style. Let’s check out the must-visit hoods!

Our Pick of the Best Hotels in Belfast 💎:

Quick Guide to the Best Places to Stay in Belfast

  • 👀 For the First Time: Central Belfast
  • 👪 For Families: Titanic Quarter
  • 🛍️ For Shopping: Central Belfast
  • 🎭 For Culture & Nightlife: Cathedral Quarter
  • 💰 For Budget Travelers: Queen’s Quarter

1. Central Belfast: The Beating Heart of the City

🏙️ City hub: Central Belfast is the vibrant core where you’ll find the city’s top attractions and best amenities. This neighborhood puts you right in the thick of the action, perfect for first-time visitors looking to soak up Belfast’s energy and culture.

🚶‍♂️ Walkable wonder: One of the biggest draws of staying central is how incredibly walkable it is. You can easily stroll to sights like:

  • Belfast City Hall
  • Grand Opera House
  • Ulster Hall
  • St. George’s Market

No need for public transport – just lace up your walking shoes and explore on foot.

🍽️ Foodie paradise: You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to dining out in Central Belfast. The area is packed with Belfast’s best restaurants dishing up local specialties and international cuisine. A few of my favorites include:

  • Made in Belfast (creative modern British fare)
  • Coppi (delicious small plates and killer cocktails)
  • The Muddlers Club (Michelin-starred restaurant showcasing Northern Irish ingredients)

🛍️ Shopper’s delight: Shopaholics, this is your paradise. The massive Victoria Square mall houses over 70 stores, from high-street chains to designer boutiques. Don’t miss the iconic domed roof where you can take in 360-degree views of the cityscape.

🎭 Nightlife hub: When the sun goes down, Central Belfast comes alive with a buzzing social scene. You’ll find an array of pubs, clubs, cocktail bars and live music venues to keep you entertained into the wee hours. Highlights include the Grand Opera House for shows and the Crown Liquor Saloon for a pint in an ornate Victorian gin palace.

🚌 Well-connected: Need to venture further out? No problem – Central Belfast is extremely well-linked by public transport. Hop on a bus or train from Great Victoria Street and you can easily access other neighborhoods and suburbs.

Where to Stay in Central Belfast?

⭐ Best Hotels to Stay in Central Belfast

  • Grand Central Hotel Belfast – Featuring the Observatory Bar, this iconic luxury hotel is the tallest building in Belfast. It offers modern rooms, an upscale restaurant, and a rooftop lounge with panoramic city views.
  • The Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast – Upscale hotel with stylish rooms, many offering great city views. It has a spa, gym and highly-rated restaurant on site.
  • Malmaison Belfast – Boutique hotel housed in a former seed warehouse, blending modern style with original period features.

🏨 Best Cheap / Moderate Hotels

🛏️ Best Hostels

  • Vagabonds – Popular hostel with a fun, social atmosphere. It has a bar, outdoor terrace and organizes events.
  • Belfast International Youth Hostel – Basic but clean hostel in a central location, offering dorms and private rooms.
  • Town Square – No-frills budget hotel with self check-in kiosks, located just outside the city center.

2. Cathedral Quarter Belfast: The Best Area to Stay for Culture and Nightlife

🎨 Artsy vibe: If you’re looking for the best neighborhoods to stay in Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter should be at the top of your list. This vibrant area is the cultural and creative heart of the city, packed with art galleries, live music venues, and trendy bars and restaurants.

🚶‍♀️ Easily walkable: One of the things I love about staying in the Cathedral Quarter is how easy it is to explore on foot. The cobblestoned streets and historic buildings create a charming atmosphere, and you’ll stumble upon hidden gems around every corner. Some of my favorite spots include: The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre), Black Box, The Muddlers Club, The Duke of York, The Dirty Onion.

🎭 Entertainment hub: The Cathedral Quarter really comes alive at night, with a buzzing atmosphere and plenty of options for a fun evening out. Whether you’re into live music, comedy shows, or just want to grab a pint in a cozy pub, you’ll find it all here. Insider Tip: Check out the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival if you’re visiting in May – it’s one of the best times to experience the neighborhood’s creative spirit.

🍽️ Foodie paradise: From Michelin-starred restaurants to casual street food, the Cathedral Quarter has something to satisfy every craving. I highly recommend trying some of the local seafood – Muddlers Club and Coppi are two of my favorites. If you’re in the mood for a quick bite, head to St. George’s Market on the weekend for a taste of the best artisanal producers.

🎼 Music scene: As a music lover, I always make a point to catch a gig or two when I’m in the Cathedral Quarter. The neighborhood has a thriving music scene, with venues like The Harp Bar, The Dirty Onion, and The Black Box hosting local and international acts. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like discovering your new favorite band in a cozy Belfast pub.

Cathedral Quarter Belfast
Cathedral Quarter Belfast
Metropolitan Arts Centre
Metropolitan Arts Centre
The Black Box
The Black Box
Bar in Cathedral Quarter Belfast
Bar in Cathedral Quarter Belfast

🚶‍♂️ Central location: Despite its distinct bohemian character, the Cathedral Quarter is extremely central and well-connected. It’s just a short walk from top attractions like Belfast City Hall and Victoria Square Shopping Centre. You can also easily hop on public transport to explore other areas.

Where to Stay in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast?

⭐ Best Hotels

  • 5-Star: Hilton Belfast – 🌉 Riverside luxury: Next to The Waterfront Hall convention center, this upscale hotel overlooks the River Lagan. It has a fitness room, modern bar and restaurant, with  city center under a mile away.
  • 💎 Luxury Hotel: AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast – 🌇 City views: A sleek and modern hotel located right on the riverfront, just steps from the Cathedral Quarter. The stylish rooms have contemporary decor and floor-to-ceiling windows with great views.
  • 🏩 For Couples: Bullitt Hotel – 🎨 Artsy boutique: This trendy hotel is one of the best accommodations for those who want to stay in Belfast if you’re looking to perfectly capture the Cathedral Quarter’s vibrant spirit. The industrial-chic rooms are quirky and comfortable, with creative touches like faux fur throws. It has multiple bars, a restaurant, and an outdoor courtyard.

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

3. Queen’s Quarter: The Best Place to Stay in Belfast for Students and Budget Travelers

🎓 Buzzing Atmosphere: As soon as you step into the Queen’s Quarter, the youthful energy is palpable. This lively student area surrounding Queen’s University Belfast absolutely buzzes with young people grabbing coffee, hitting the pubs, or just hanging out and soaking up the collegiate vibe.

🌳 Green Spaces: Despite the urban setting, Queen’s Quarter has no shortage of green spaces and beautiful scenery. The stunning Botanic Gardens offer a welcome respite, with its Palm House conservatory, rose gardens, and riverside walking trails along the River Lagan. I love grabbing a coffee and wandering the peaceful grounds when I need a city break from the hustle and bustle.

🍽 Foodie Paradise: With so many students around, it’s no surprise Queen’s Quarter is an amazing foodie destination. Botanic Avenue is lined with an incredible array of global cuisine – from Vietnamese to Mexican, you’ll find it all here. A few of my favorites are:

  • Holohan’s Pantry (authentic Irish boxty dishes)
  • Sakura (fresh, creative sushi)
  • Deanes at Queens (upscale modern Irish fare)

Insider Tip: For the best deals, check out the student-friendly cafes and pubs around campus like the Parlour Bar.

🎤 Nightlife Hotspot: When the sun goes down, Queen’s Quarter keeps buzzing with energy. You’ll find a mix of traditional pubs with live music (I love the cozy vibe at Cutter’s Wharf on the river), comedy clubs, and bumping student nightclubs. The Empire is one of the coolest music venues hosting up-and-coming bands and hilarious comedy nights.

🎭 Arts & Culture: Despite its small size, Queen’s Quarter punches way above its weight for arts and culture. Must-visits include the beautifully restored Crescent Arts Centre, the indie Queen’s Film Theatre, and the intriguing Ulster Museum. You’ll also find the vibrant Naughton Gallery and Seamus Heaney literary events right on campus.

Palm House, Belfast
Palm House, Belfast
Palm House, Belfast
Palm House, Belfast
Naughton Gallery
Naughton Gallery
Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum
Ulster Museum

🚶 Central Location: The best part about staying in Queen’s Quarter is just how central and walkable it is. You’re just a 10-15 minute stroll from the heart of the city center, with top attractions like the Cathedral Quarter and City Hall right at your doorstep. But you’ve also got a world of restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment right in the neighborhood.

In my opinion, Queen’s Quarter is one of the most energetic, convenient and all-around coolest areas to experience the authentic culture and craic of Belfast!

Where to Stay in the Queen’s Quarter?

⭐ Best Hotels

  • 🏩 For Couples: Tara Lodge – 🏡 Victorian charm: This charming Victorian townhouse hotel is located right in the heart of the Queen’s Quarter. The beautifully decorated rooms feature antique furnishings and modern amenities. There’s a cozy lounge area and a delicious made-to-order breakfast included.
  • 💎 Luxury Hotel: The Malone – 🌳 Leafy boutique: A stylish boutique hotel set in a renovated Victorian townhouse. The spacious, elegant rooms have luxurious touches like Egyptian cotton linens. The on-site restaurant serves up modern Irish cuisine using local ingredients.
  • 5-Star: House Belfast Hotel – 🌇 City views: This sleek, contemporary hotel offers bright, airy rooms with the latest tech amenities. The trendy lobby bar and restaurant have a lively vibe. It’s just steps from Queen’s University and Botanic Gardens.

🏨 Best Cheap / Moderate Hotels

  • Town Square – 💻 Self check-in: A modern, no-frills hotel with self check-in kiosks for ease and convenience. The simple but comfortable family rooms have free WiFi and flat-screen TVs, centrally located in the Queen’s Quarter near shops and restaurants.
  • Kate's B&B – 🏡 Cozy B&B: This budget hotel offers basic but clean accommodations at an affordable price point right in the heart of the Queen’s Quarter. The hotel also offers comfortable and contemporary rooms with private bathrooms and TVs.
  • Lux Lisburn Road – 🌳 Residential area: Set in a residential area of Belfast, these apartments have a balcony, free WiFi and private parking on site.

🛏️ Best Hostels

  • Botanic Avenue Hostel – 🏫 Student area: This hostel is less than a mile from the city center in the heart of the Queen’s Quarter. In addition to dorms, they offer affordable private rooms as well with shared kitchen and lounge areas.
  • Big Yellow Door – 🌳 Garden oasis: A unique adults-only hostel set in a charming Victorian townhouse. They have dorms, private rooms and even a self-contained apartment. It has a lovely garden terrace for relaxing.
  • Lagan Backpackers – 🚶‍♂️ Central location: A well-equipped place to stay in Belfast city centre, offering free parking and free WiFi. It’s conveniently located in the Queen’s Quarter area.

4. Titanic Quarter: The Great Place to Stay in the City for History Buffs and Families

🚢 Shipbuilding Legacy: Titanic Quarter is one of the best places for anyone fascinated by the city’s rich maritime heritage. This revitalized waterfront area was once the heartbeat of the legendary Harland & Wolff shipyards, where the ill-fated RMS Titanic was painstakingly constructed over four years. As you wander the rejuvenated docks and slipways, you can’t help but be in awe of the incredible feats of engineering and hard work that went into building these iconic vessels over a century ago. The air is thick with history!

🏛 Titanic Centerpiece: The crown jewel of the Titanic Quarter is definitely the striking Titanic Belfast museum. This ultra-modern aluminum-clad building, resembling a ship’s bow, is an architectural marvel. Inside, you’ll be swept through nine immersive galleries exploring the full story of the Titanic from her conception to tragic sinking and eventual rediscovery.

Don’t miss:

  • Walking the recreated decks and cabins
  • Plunging into the underwater exploration theater
  • Marveling at the 14-meter plan transfer drawings

⚓ Maritime Mile: But Titanic Belfast is just the start. The larger Titanic Quarter offers a “Maritime Mile” jam-packed with nautical attractions and activities to explore, like:

  • HMS Caroline – Britain’s last surviving WWII naval ship
  • SS Nomadic – The tender ship for Titanic and her sister Olympic
  • Titanic Slipways – Where you can walk in the footsteps of the shipbuilders
  • Titanic’s Dock and Pump-House – Original historic buildings from the era

Insider Tip: Take a boat tour along the Maritime Mile to appreciate the full scale of this colossal shipbuilding legacy from the water.

🍽 Eats and Drinks: When you need to refuel, the Titanic Quarter has your cravings covered. Grab a pint and some classic Irish pub grub at Hickson’s Point, an authentic Victorian-era bar. Or for a real splurge, indulge in the upscale dining and afternoon tea at the Titanic Hotel Belfast – housed in the original Harland & Wolff headquarters where Titanic was designed.

🌃 Lively Neighborhood: With hotels, apartments, a college campus and entertainment venues like the SSE Arena, the Titanic Quarter has transformed into a buzzing live/work/play neighborhood. Yet it still retains that unmistakable old-world maritime charm, from the historic dockyards to the iconic yellow Samson and Goliath cranes towering overhead.

In my opinion, no visit to Belfast is complete without immersing yourself in the Titanic Quarter. It’s a tangible link to the city’s industrial heyday and a true celebration of its shipbuilding legacy.

Where To Stay in the Titanic Quarter?

🏨 Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels

  • Titanic Hotel Belfast – 🚢 Maritime themed: This hotel is located opposite the Titanic Belfast museum, just 600 meters from the SSE Arena. Rooms feature an Art Deco theme and are equipped with flat-screen TV. There is a restaurant and bar on-site.

FAQs About Trip To Belfast

What is the best part of Belfast to stay in?

Answer: The best area to stay in Belfast for first-time visitors is Central Belfast. It’s centrally located, walkable, and close to top attractions like Belfast City Hall and Victoria Square Shopping Centre.

Where to avoid staying in Belfast?

There aren’t really any areas in central Belfast that tourists need to completely avoid. However, some of the outer neighborhoods like Falls Road and Shankill can feel a bit rough around the edges, so they may not be ideal for visitors.

What is the trendy area in Belfast?

The Cathedral Quarter is one of the trendiest, most bohemian area of Belfast. It’s filled with artsy and cultural vibe, pubs with live music, street art and hip restaurants and bars.

What are the nicest residential areas in Belfast?

Some of the nicest, most upscale residential neighborhoods in Belfast include the Malone Road area, Stranmillis, and the streets around Queen’s University in the Queen’s Quarter. The Holywood Road area is also very desirable.