A trip to Belfast gives you the chance to experience a Titanic city full of surprises and hidden gems! So whether your family are crazy about animals, mad for museums, wild about walking, batty about boats or always ready for action, we have 15 fun things to do in Belfast for you to choose from!
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Belfast
There are so many things to do in Belfast! Soak up the lively atmosphere, stroll along fine Victorian streets, enjoy world-class visitor attractions and indulge in a cafe, restaurant and entertainment scene that can rival any city in Europe.
With so much on offer, Belfast is a great choice for a city break or family day out!
W5 at Odyssey
If you do one thing in Belfast with the kids, we recommend this. Do you fancy launching a rocket, or flying a plane? Want to sneak up on a butterfly or discover what’s inside the rock beneath your feet? At W5, your imagination and curiosity are the keys to unlocking worlds you’ve only imagined!
W5 is a science and discovery centre, not a museum, so visitors of all ages are free to let their imagination turn, twist and fly through more than 250 hands-on permanent exhibits in the four incredible exhibition areas – Discovery, Go, See and Do.
Meet Robo Thespian, W5’s life-sized, humanoid, interactive robot who can move, speak, educate, interact and entertain! Or have an adventure on ClimbIt, a huge multi-storey climbing structure, which is a cross between a maze and a jungle gym.
Make sure to check the events schedule as there is a constant programme of temporary exhibitions and events, as well as a daily programme of live science demonstrations and shows included within the admission price.
Admission is valid all day and you can stay as long as you wish, which means a day out at W5 is good value for money – always useful on a family day out!
Sightseeing Hop on Hop off Tour
From a walk around the Titanic Quarter to hopping off at the award-winning zoo, wrap up all that’s brilliant about Belfast on one of the City Sightseeing Belfast Hop on Hop off Tours.
Firstly, over 20 tour stops, keep your eyes peeled for a few of the city’s 2,000 political murals which have become a powerful symbol of Northern Ireland. Belfast has traditionally been a hub of industry and the centre of Irish rope-making and shipbuilding. That much is evident in the Titanic Quarter – with its fantastic old factories and docks, it’s one of the world’s largest waterfront developments and well worth a nosy.
Kids will love the stop at Belfast Zoo with its curious creatures. From here spend some time strolling around the Botanic Gardens, or tour Belfast Castle which sits proudly on the slopes of Cave Hill Country Park. The Ulster Museum is also a great stop off (plus it’s free!) before enjoying a bit of family fun at W5 Interactive Science Centre.
Titanic Belfast Visitor Attraction
You can’t come to this family-friendly city without visiting its most famous export – Titanic.
Explore the shipyard, walk the decks, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the real legend of Titanic in the city where the story began. Housed in an iconic, six-floor building, filled with movies, interactive exhibits, memorabilia and fascinating facts, Titanic Belfast is located in the heart of Belfast, right beside the historic site of this world-famous ship’s construction.
The Titanic experience takes you through nine galleries, telling the story of RMS Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her famous maiden voyage and tragic end. The galleries are innovative and interactive to tell the story in a fresh and insightful way. You also get to go on a ride through an atmospheric shipyard (although if you have young children, it’s worth checking busy periods as queues can be as substantial as the thrills).
Whether or not you are interested in Titanic, you’ll find this an imaginative exploration of Belfast in the early 19th century, and watching the footage of the wreck today is a sobering experience.
The Ulster Museum is a firm family favourite where you can come face to face with rawesome dinosaurs, an exciting Egyptian mummy, and a huge array of curiosities and modern masterpieces from across the globe.
As Northern Ireland’s true treasure house of the past and the present, the Ulster Museum is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences. The museum tells the story of the people of the north of Ireland from earliest times to the present day. Their impressive galleries and interactive discovery zones bring history, science and art collections to life for visitors of all ages.
Free admission and a regular programme of events and exhibitions means the Ulster Museum always has something to capture the imaginations of kids and adults alike.
Belfast Zoo is now a leading and award-winning visitor attraction in Northern Ireland, with more than 300,000 visitors each year. Home to more than 1,000 animals and 140 species, many of which are on the verge of extinction in their natural habitat, the Zoo is one of the oldest visitor attractions in Northern Ireland.
At the Zoo the popular attractions include the Asian elephants, Rothschild giraffes, California sea lions, penguins, apes, Malayan tapirs, giant ant-eater, Malayan sun bears, Visayan warty pigs, Goodfellow tree kangaroo, red-backed bearded sakis, crowned sifaka and Sumatran tigers. The Zoo also takes part in over 90 breeding programmes, so if you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of some very cute babies too!
There’s a full programme of events on throughout the year, as well as a ‘zoovenir’ shop for your pride to spend their pocket money. Don’t forget a picnic to enjoy by the lakeside on sunny days.
Belfast’s Window On Wildlife
Nestled in the heart of the Belfast Harbour Estate, Belfast’s Window on Wildlife is home to birds and wildlife from all over the world, and you and the family can get up close and personal with them from the comfort of the visitor centre.
Two hides, constructed from shipping containers to tie in with their surroundings, offer different perspectives on the reserve and feature a members-only area, which is perfect for budding photographers. As you look out over the reserve towards the famous Cavehill, you might also be able to spot the resident konik ponies which graze the reserve to help keep it in the best condition for ground-nesting birds like lapwings.
RSPB NI provides lots of new homes for nature at the site, including a sand martin bank and a swift tower. There’s a lot to see at the reserve no matter when you visit. In summer, artificial islands give common and Arctic terns a safe place to breed and the reserve comes to life with the sound of the warblers arriving from Africa. In winter, the water is full of wildfowl like wigeon (a type of duck, and not us misspelling pigeon!) and teal, while black-tailed godwits can be seen digging in the mud for food.
Belfast WOW is open every day except Tuesdays, and is Free for RSPB members.
Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
If you fancy getting out of the city a little, take a drive along the coast to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Here, you can walk around the houses of people going about their business in the early 1900s. The museum is set in extensive grounds and you can spend all day walking to and from the various rural buildings.
Kids will love the secret door between the Bank Manager’s house and the bank, as well as the old school room. Explore thatched cottages, farms, schools and shops as you experience life from over 100 years ago. You can talk to costumed visitor guides as they demonstrate traditional crafts and meet farm animals in the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum.
However, it’s the Transport Museum that really shines for many families, with its brightly painted trains, new Titanica exhibition and transport cafe. This is the place to discover more than 500 original artefacts, climb on and off majestic steam locomotives and explore horse drawn carriages, electric trams, boats, motorbikes, fire-engines and vintage cars for an experience your transport lovers will treasure.
Take the kids out for some fresh air within easy reach of Belfast city centre at Barnett Demesne, located next to Malone House. The park features an arboretum, daffodil garden, eco-trail, orienteering routes and a children’s playground – or for those looking for a little bit more adventure, you can try the bike trails and jump parks.
The park, which is named after William Barnett who was the last owner of Malone House, is popular for family walks due to its proximity to the River Lagan, Shaw’s Bridge and nearby Clement Wilson Park. Barnett Demesne is also home to woodland and wildflower meadows, many wild animals (including rabbits, badgers and squirrels), and birds for your family to spot.
More than 70 species of wildflower grow in the meadows during the summer months which is a beautiful setting for any family picnic. It is also home to an annual Spring Fair, which offers music, entertainment and wildlife displays each April.
Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory
If your tribe have ever wondered what it would have been like for Charlie Bucket in the Roald Dahl classic, then this attraction is made for you! Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory in East Belfast is renowned as one of the finest providers of handmade chocolates, fudge and boiled sweets, made from 100-year-old recipes.
A visit to Aunt Sandra’s is like taking a trip back in time and watching old-time candy making at its best. A viewing window into the small, quaint factory allows visitors to see how chocolates and fudge are made, most of which (you will be pleased to hear) can be sampled as it’s being produced. The delights on offer will have the whole family salivating over treats like yellow man, raspberry ruffles, macaroons, Belfast fudge and brandy drops. They also offer workshops and shows, where you can make any kind of treat you can imagine.
We Are Vertigo
Are your family in the mood for adventure and an action-packed family day out? Find it in abundance at We Are Vertigo, Northern Ireland’s first indoor ski and adventure park.
Don your skis or snowboard and take to the slopes at their indoor skiing centre, or reach new heights as you brave the high ropes or extreme climbing wall. We are Vertigo also houses Northern Ireland’s largest indoor trampoline park with dodge ball courts, basketball lanes, stunt pits, Gladiator balance beam and performance wall.
If bouncing isn’t your thing, then there’s plenty more adrenaline-fuelled fun to be had. Kids of all ages will be enthralled by the Alpine Swiss play village, the Sky Trail, the electric quads and, for those who wish to take adventure to new heights, try out the 40m zip line!
Streamvale Open Farm
Streamvale Open Farm is a family farm with plenty to offer, nestled in the rolling hills on the edge of Belfast. Try your hand at some baby animal cuddling, take in some of the many live shows and demonstrations, or just enjoy all the great play areas.
When you arrive, pick up a map and a full list of the activities running throughout the day. This includes puppy, rabbit and chick cuddling; bottle feeding the lambs and goats; dog agility shows; and tractor and barrel rides!
The Creamery Cafe has delicious homemade ice cream and snacks, and there are also several play areas for kids, including an innovative play village. This miniature village has a farm shop, vets clinic, milking parlour and much more for hands-on and interactive fun.
Belfast Castle Visitors Centre
We’ve called it Belfast Castle Visitors Centre rather than Belfast Castle because there’s no real ‘castle’ as such to explore: the interior facilities are reserved for weddings and other functions, so don’t let the kids go expecting turrets and spiral staircases! However, the other features here more than make up for it, with plenty to do if you’ve got good weather.
The Castle and its grounds are within Cave Hill Country Park, so you’ve got plenty of space to explore and plenty of things to look for – including the local landmark, Napoleon’s Nose!
Cave Hill Visitor Centre is inside Belfast Castle too, where there is also a gift shop. You’ve got the Cellar Restaurant and The Castle Tavern to choose from for refreshments, and everywhere on site is family-friendly.
Cave Hill Country Park
Pack up a picnic and head along to Cave Hill Country Park in Belfast with the children. Here you will be fully entertained with a visitor centre, a fantastic adventure playground, archaeological sites and orienteering routes. History buffs will love that the park has an assortment of historical and natural features, including the remains of a stone cairn, cashel and crannog.
If you have children that can handle a longer walk, the path leading to the summit from Belfast Castle car park passes beneath the five caves that give the hill its name (it’s a 7.2km circular trail; allow two hours). The view from the summit of Cave Hill (368m) takes in the whole sprawl of the city, the docks, Belfast Lough and the Mourne Mountains – on a clear day you can even see Scotland!
National Football Stadium at Windsor Park
Learn about the history of Irish football from the 1880s to today with a tour of the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. No football fan young or old can escape the thrill of the stadium, which makes this a great shared experience for both parents and kids alike.
The 45-minute tour takes you behind the scenes to experience what it is like for a professional footballer and the teams of staff that support them – from the players’ changing rooms, to the tunnel and of course the pitch. Kids love the interactive parts of the tour with the highlight being the opportunity to strike a penalty kick against a computerised Pat Jennings.
You can also explore the new Education and Heritage Centre with its awesome collection of memorabilia.
You may think that Belfast is all about the Titanic, but your boat-sized adventure continues on HMS Caroline, a five-star rated visitor attraction and a unique survivor of The Battle of Jutland. Lovingly restored as a must-see floating museum with an amazing story to tell, this impressively restored WWI vessel has a quayside visitor centre and plenty of interactive exhibits and family-friendly events to tell the tale of life at sea.
Step aboard the ‘Carry’ and experience impressively restored cabins and deck areas, as well as interactive exhibits to get your mini sailors fully involved. Soak up the atmosphere as you find out about communication at sea in the Signal School, and continue to the Torpedo School before finishing your visit at the galley café. On sunnier days you can relax at the new picnic area or let your little mariners loose on the naval-themed kiddies’ play park.