History and culture ooze from the streets of Northern Ireland’s capital: Belfast. Beautifully contrasting age-old architecture and murals with contemporary cultural, food and entertainment spots, Belfast is a mesmerising city that offers something for absolutely anyone.
But exploring this must-visit destination doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether you’re a lone voyager or a family of budding adventurers, today the budgeting experts over at Jolly Good Loans will show you how to see every little nook and cranny Belfast has to offer, while sticking to a small and realistic budget that won’t leave you scraping the bottom of the piggy bank.
Getting around Belfast
The compact nature of the vibrant city centre makes Belfast a great place to get around on the cheap. With Shuttle Direct’s reliable, low cost airport transfer services from both Belfast International and Belfast City airports, getting straight into the hustle and bustle of the city has never been easier.
Once there, take in the real essence of the city by exploring on foot. For the history enthusiasts amongst you, submerge yourself in the city’s notorious past by taking the free Belfast Walking Tour, which provides a great opportunity for an educational sightseeing experience without even having to open your wallet.
Where to stay
As a fairly compact city centre, you’d be forgiven for thinking Belfast may have quite a limited variety of accommodation options. However, boasting everything from cheap and cheerful hostels to grand townhouse boutiques, the reality is very much the opposite!
To keep the costs down, look out for the special midweek and out of season deals that are often promoted by chain hotels. Alternatively, keep things super cheap by staying at one of the city’s many hostels. Plenty can be found just south of the city centre around Queen’s University Belfast, where you’re still in walking distance of all the major sights and attractions.
Lose yourself in culture
Belfast boasts a variety of ways to lose yourself in the culture of the city without having to spend a penny.
Located in the beautiful Botanic Gardens (which we’ll explore in more detail later), the Ulster Museum is split into three fun-filled discovery centres covering all things art, nature and history, meaning there’s something to tickle anyone’s fancy. Mixing unique oddities with a great collection of artistic and historical artifacts, the Ulster Museum is great for kids and adults alike, making it a must-visit for any family visiting the city.
Away from the Botanic Gardens, Belfast’s Metropolitan Arts Centre hosts ever-changing art exhibitions across its three galleries, while tours of Belfast City Hall and the Linen Hall Library offer a chance to delve deeper into the literary and historical heritage of the city – all this once again for free!
Soak up the entertainment
There’s always something going on to ensure you’re never bored when exploring Northern Ireland’s spritely capital.
The music lover will be spoilt for choice at night, with traditional Irish jam sessions taking place in many of the city’s cosy pubs – just remember you’re still on a budget once the stouts start flowing!
During the day, £10 will take you on the Belfast Music Tour, where you can really get into the heart of the city’s music scene. With musical icons such as Van Morrison and contemporary chart-toppers such as Snow Patrol both claiming the streets of Belfast as their old stomping grounds, there’s guaranteed to be something for music lovers young and old. If £10 adds a sizeable dent to your travel budget, consider visiting the free NI Music Exhibition at the Oh Yeah Music Centre instead.
If you’re more of a bookworm than a musical maestro, a trip to CS Lewis Square is an absolute must. Get lost in your own imagination amongst the large bronze sculptures of the Belfast born author’s classic characters from the beloved children’s literature series The Chronicles of Narnia.
Away from the dynamic urban hub, Belfast provides a wondrous opportunity to experience Northern Ireland’s natural beauty.
Belfast Castle Estate and Cave Hill Country Park offer challenging but rewarding walking routes, giving you the most breathtaking of views overlooking the city. For families, the eco-trails and woodland walks in Barnett Demesne provide a relaxing escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, while the Botanic Gardens offer the chance to lose yourself amongst a colourful oasis of exotic plants.
Belfast is a one-of-a-kind city that you simply must visit. By following the tips in this guide, you can enjoy everything this dynamic city has to offer, all while making minimal impact on your finances.