The Complete Guide

BELFAST: Nightlife & Nightclubs

An Intro to Belfast

Belfast at Night
Belfast at Night

Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, standing on the banks of the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and second-largest on the island of Ireland, after Dublin. The Harland and Wolff shipyard was founded in 1862. The port of Belfast also boomed. West Belfast is mainly Catholic, in most areas over 90%. For many years, the Catholic population expanded to the southwest, but in recent years it has started expanding around the Shankill and into north Belfast. The east of the city is predominantly Protestant, typically 90% or more.

Belfast city center has undergone expansion and regeneration since the late 1990s, notably around Victoria Square. In late 2018, it was announced that Belfast would undergo a £500 million urban regeneration project known as “Tribeca” on a large city center site. Belfast and the Causeway Coast have together named the best place to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. Tourist numbers have increased since the end of The Troubles, boosted in part by newer attractions such as Titanic Belfast and tours of locations used in the HBO television series Game of Thrones.

As with the rest of Ireland, Belfast has a temperate or oceanic climate, with a narrow range of temperatures and rainfall throughout the year. The climate of Belfast is significantly milder than some other locations in the world at a similar latitude, due to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. The architectural style of Belfast’s buildings ranges from Edwardian, like the City Hall, to modern, like Waterfront Hall. Many of the city’s Victorian landmarks, including the main Lanyon Building at Queen’s University Belfast and the Linenhall Library, were designed by Sir Charles Lanyon.

Parks and gardens are an integral part of Belfast’s heritage, and home to an abundance of local wildlife and popular places for a picnic, a stroll or a jog. Numerous events take place throughout including festivals such as Rose Week and special activities such as bird watching evenings and great beast hunts. Belfast has over forty public parks.

The Nightlife

Nightlife in Belfast
Nightlife in Belfast

The Northern Irish capital is experiencing a huge resurgence in interest as a tourist destination. After many years of relative peace, and the recent centenary of the sinking of the Titanic; the iconic liner built in Belfast’s dockyards – the city is on the up. Belfast has an infectious atmosphere with a fabulous sense of humor, an ever-growing range of places to eat, drink and be entertained, and a small town feels which makes getting around easy. This is why it is loved for its amazing nightlife that it offers to its tourists and locals. You can enjoy the following activities especially music or visit the historical place and museum to delight your tour with the true experience of Belfast’s culture.

Belfast Giant’s Game in the SSE Arena

Belfast Giant’s Game in the SSE Arena
Belfast Giant’s Game in the SSE Arena

Belfast’s home Ice Hockey team is the Belfast Giant’s. They play their home games at the Odyssey Arena. Ticket prices are not expensive, you can usually get a ticket for about £10. It’s loads of fun and they usually have competitions and give out free Subway and Pizza during the breaks! Undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Belfast.

The Peace Walls

The Peace Walls
The Peace Walls

Another bizarre yet interesting part of this city is the fact that there are massive walls separating communities. It is hard to believe that in a modern European city in the 21st century that such walls exist. However, it is planned to take down these walls in the next 20 years so you should see them before they go.

The Europa

The Europa
The Europa

The Europa Hotel is a four-star hotel in Great Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland. It has hosted presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities. It is known as the “most bombed hotel in Europe” and the “most bombed hotel in the world” after having suffered 28 bomb attacks during the Troubles. But don’t worry, bomb attacks don’t happen anymore, as Belfast is a changed city and peaceful, so it is completely safe! Undoubtedly one of the most unique things to do in Belfast.

Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall

This is a stunning Edwardian civic building in the center of the city which was built during the early part of the 20th century. Take a tour around the beautifully decorated interior and learn about its history or walk in the gardens to discover the Titanic memorial and artwork and statues linked to everyone from Queen Victoria to President Clinton. If you are ready for a cuppa, there’s even a café, the Bobbin Coffee Shop.

Touch the Big Fish

Touch the Big Fish
Touch the Big Fish

The Big Fish an is a printed ceramic mosaic sculpture by John Kindness 10 meters long constructed in 1999 in Donegall Quay in Belfast, near the Lagan Lookout and Custom House. The outer skin of the fish is a cladding of ceramic tiles decorated with texts and images relating to the history of Belfast. Material from Tudor times to present day newspaper headlines are included along with contributions from Belfast school children.

And Cave Hill

And Cave Hill
And Cave Hill

This is another fantastic view of Belfast. It is a rewarding experience to climb to the top of this and to see Belfast in all its glory. It is definitely one of the best things to do in Belfast.

The Northern Irish Parliament Buildings

The Northern Irish Parliament
The Northern Irish Parliament

Stormont is often seen on the TV in news reports about Northern Ireland and you would think it is way out of the city in the countryside because of the surrounding green. However, this building is just 15 minutes from the city center, set in parkland, and enjoys imposing views across Belfast to the Black Mountain and Belfast Hills.

Best Bars in Belfast

Whether you prefer the traditional brick-walled Irish pub, a contemporary rooftop bar, or an unconventional cocktail menu, Northern Ireland’s capital has it all across the city. Don’t settle for less than the best bars in Belfast, which is never short of fantastic venue choices.

Bootleggers

Bootleggers
Bootleggers

Bootlegger is a Prohibition-themed bar with an attitude. The cocktail menu is a lengthy two pages of specialized gin and whiskey cocktails, and the bar carries an extensive range of American craft beers, fairly limited in other bars throughout the city. The bench seating in a funky Caribbean interior and sharing cocktails, along with a fantastic range of pub food (a full menu is served upstairs), make this bar one of the best spots for groups. The bar is located a few steps from Belfast’s major shopping district, Victoria Square, so make sure to grab a seat before the retail shops close because this bar gets crowded at night.

Muriel’s Cafe Bar

Muriel's Cafe Bar
Muriel’s Cafe Bar

Around the corner from Bootleggers is Muriel’s Cafe Bar, which also knows how to serve a stellar cocktail. Among their drinks menu is the Flaming Zombie, as much a show as a drinks order. Instead of string lights, Muriel’s has challenged its inner hipster and decorated the ceiling with underwear and lingerie along with red lighting, giving the bar a quirky atmosphere without feeling gimmicky. The accompanying bar snack menu includes a sharing anti-pasta-and-cheese platter for the most sophisticated of groups, and the bar is respected for its friendly staff, traditional-yet-modern aesthetic and a great location.

The Perch Rooftop Bar

The Perch Rooftop Bar
The Perch Rooftop Bar

Enjoy an afternoon drink on Belfast’s very best rooftop bar, The Perch. The cocktails range from the very classy – like the popular Bellini – to the bizarre – like the Margarita, served with a toppled larger bottle inside the glass. Most of the dishes are created with crowds in mind, so they are better shared, but customers can order personal pizzas in a takeaway box, too. Alcoholic drinks come in flower pots, paper cups, champagne glasses and everything in between, and the outrageous choices will not disappoint. While it’s a great way to spend a hot afternoon, jazz bands grace the stage at night, and The Perch is an extremely popular nighttime venue.

The John Hewitt Bar

The John Hewitt Bar
The John Hewitt Bar

First opened in 1999, The John Hewitt Bar is a cultural staple of Writer’s Square in the Cathedral Quarter and honors the legacy of the late Northern Irish poet and social activist. New to the city? Visit this bar for its excellent live music all week long, from Monday’s jazz night to Sunday’s local talent show. The bar has a simple philosophy – the live music and traditional atmosphere encourage old fashioned conversation, and there’s no television in sight.

The Duke of York

The Duke of York
The Duke of York

In possibly the most picturesque area in all of Belfast, the Duke of York sits on the Cathedral Quarter’s busiest cobbled pavement and Nightlife Street. The bar was blown up in 1972 by para-militant terrorists during The Troubles and was rebuilt to honor Belfast City and decorated with murals, pictures, Northern Irish slogans and more. On warm summer evenings, the outdoor seating fills up quickly as crowds pour in, but there’s no atmosphere like it anywhere else in the city.

Best Restaurants in Belfast

Take a wander around Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city, and you’ll find yourself in a hub of first-class food. The bustling port is famous for its seafood, so you can expect to find plenty of fresh fish, but the daily catch isn’t all that’s on the menu. Belfast has enjoyed a cultural and culinary renaissance in recent years and now you can find affordable meals, chilled-out dining spots and world cuisine in the center. Whether you love meat, fancy dining, local ingredients, vegetarian food or trendy hang-outs, you’ll be well catered for here.

Bar and Grill

Bar and Grill
Bar and Grill

For special occasions; this simple, elegant bar and grill has dedicated graduation and pre-theatre menus. This is not one for vegetarians, this place serves fresh game, mouth-watering steaks, and fish, with a focus on classic cooking, in a contemporary dining room. Its range of steaks is the real draw, but save room for one of the dessert cocktails – a lemon meringue martini is sure to go down a treat.

Molly’s Yard

Molly's Yard
Molly’s Yard

This restaurant is best for perfect beer pairings with your meal. Molly’s Yard is housed in a restored Victorian stable and courtyard near the university and is home to Belfast’s only microbrewery, so you can expect spot-on brews with your food. Its small menu changes regularly and is full of local produce – steak, fish, and vegetables – and there’s a dedicated vegetarian menu, too.

John Long’s

John Long's
John Long’s

If you are looking for a cheap restaurant, it is best for cheap, delicious fish and chips. John Long’s has been going strong since 1914 and is still Belfast’s favorite chippie. Whether eating in or taking away, you can enjoy fresh fish, burgers, chicken, and other traditional chip shop delights. Its booths fill up quickly but they’re great for traditional charm.

Hadskis

Hadskis
Hadskis

From the man behind Bar + Grill, chef-patron Niall McKenna, Hadskis sits in the food-centric Cathedral Quarter serving fresh, local meat and fish all day along with Belfast beers and wine by the magnum followed by desserts like rhubarb and pistachio pavlova.

Boojum – Belfast’s most famous Burrito

Boojum - Belfast's most famous Burrito
Boojum – Belfast’s most famous Burrito

Boojum is undoubtedly Belfast’s best-known and most popular burrito place. The food is to die for and as a result, has almost gained a cult following! Boojum is located at Chichester Street and Botanic Avenue.

The Muddlers Club

The Muddlers Club
The Muddlers Club

This restaurant’s id best for impressive food in a secret spot.Tucked away between Waring Street and Exchange Place in Cathedral Quarter, The Muddlers Club (named after a secret society) is easy to miss, but the hype surrounding it since it opened in 2015 has given it a profile. And it lives up to that hype, serving flavorsome lamb and fish of the day as well as a five-course tasting menu with vegetarian and vegan alternatives.

Best Nightclubs in Belfast

One of the best things about Belfast is its nightlife – the compact city offers a great variety of pubs and clubs for visitors to choose from (though visiting more than one is easy enough). But not all clubs are created equal, so here is our list of the very finest nights out in Belfast. One thing to be wary of: Northern Ireland’s licensing laws mean that clubs close at 1 am. Northern Ireland’s nightclubs are legendary. Whether it’s dancing to a guest DJ, sitting back in a VIP booth, or getting to know the locals outdoors, there is no way you can skip this unmissable aspect of nightlife culture.

Alibi

Alibi
Alibi

Though a newer entry to Belfast’s club scene, ALIBI is still a popular one. Its ground floor is open during the days, offering spirits, cocktails, and food, and the upstairs club opens at night. As well as the two indoor floors, there is a three-tiered smoking terrace that’s especially pleasant on warm nights. ALIBI host various club nights throughout the week ranging from generous drinks promos on Mondays to live fire-breathing performances on Fridays and Saturdays.

Ollie’s

Ollie's
Ollie’s

Ollie’s is a more upscale option attached to (and beneath) Belfast’s Merchant Hotel. Located in catacombs that were previously used as bank vaults, space is subdivided into various different spaces, making the club feel intimate even though it has a capacity of 500. Door staff is a little more selective here than in other clubs, so take the opportunity to dress up a little.

The Coach

The Coach
The Coach

As Northern Ireland’s oldest nightclub, The Coach’s reputation proceeds itself. With an incredible atmosphere in-between the circus, celebrity, and burlesque performers, there is really no reason to miss a night at this electrifying location. If possible, try getting down on a Saturday for the club’s weekly ‘Please Don’t Tell’ night with guest DJ’s and live performances.

The Foundry

The Foundry
The Foundry

This is Belfast’s trendiest new addition to an already electric nightclub scene. Weekends are busy at any Belfast club, with Foundry being no exception. However, come down for their Thursday night where club-goers put on their most eccentric and edgy outfits in hope to be picked for the free-entry rewarding ‘Parful Humans’ of the week competition. Expect techno and dance orientated sounds as the backdrop to your night.

Cuckoo

Cuckoo
Cuckoo

Located in the heart of Belfast’s student area, this nightclubs name introduces the establishment aptly. With its jam-jar cocktails and indoor ping-pong tables, this venue truly is… well, cuckoo. Amongst the eccentric décor and electric atmosphere, you will find live music played regularly as well as a separate dancefloor with commercial pop and dance music. With its recent refurbishment, there is no reason to miss a crazy night at this even crazier club.

Conclusion

If we sum up things a little bit, it can be said that Belfast has a pretty high historical association with the war events. We went through a brief history of the city along with the details of how it came into being. We also discussed the renowned festivals, Architecture, Climate and events which are held throughout the year in the city.

We then discussed several places to hang out with your friends and family in the night time. The Peace Walk, Belfast City Hall and And Cave Hills topped the list.

Coming to the adult nightlife of the city, we established how easy it is to find a good bar to enjoy with your friends or family or a date. Such bars could really offer some great pre-made cocktails for you or you could just ask for a special drink to be served especially for you.

You don’t feel hungry during your tour that is why we also suggested some of the finest restaurants in the Belfast that offer exotic and delicious food along with your favorite drinks. You can really enjoy the taste of good food along with some great booze. And lastly, we went through a comprehensive list of Nightclubs that offered great music with some delightfully exotic options for drinks and cocktail that will polish your overall experience.

Make sure to check out the above recommendations whenever you visit Belfast so that you won’t miss the best options.