Belfast with Kids

Belfast with kids? That’s a good question… To be honest, we didn’t know much about Belfast prior to visiting, but it turned out to be a pretty fun place to take the kids. There are lots of kid-friendly attractions including a giant kissable fish, the modern Titanic Belfast museum, Game of Thrones filming locations and much more.

Here is how we spent two days in Belfast with kids (3 & 6 yrs):

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Getting into Belfast with Kids

Image of man and two kids walking to bus station

If you are bringing your own child seats (as we did), it’s super-easy to just hop into an Uber at the Belfast Airport, bus station or ferry station and get to your accommodation.

Normally we don’t travel with our own child seats, but knowing how much we were going to be driving in the UK on this trip, we bought some booster seats at Argos at the beginning of our trip and lugged them around with us.

If you are flying into Belfast without car seats and would like to avoid buying your own, we can recommend the Taxi2Airport service, who we used at the beginning of our trip in Glasgow with our kids.

Booking through Taxi2Airport provided us safety (free child seats for both kids) and convenience (our driver met us at the gate). These services come at a small premium to just taking a normal taxi or Uber, but when it comes to child safety we don’t mind paying a little extra.

For more thoughts on whether you should travel with your own car seats, read our Traveling with Car Seats post.

Where to Stay in Belfast

The historic town centre is home to most of Belfast’s attractions, restaurants and shopping and is our recommended area to stay. The convenience of staying in this area comes at a cost and accommodations can be quite expensive in this area. You can browse a wide-variety of family-friendly Belfast hotels and more on Booking.com.

We visited Belfast in late July and were surprised by some of the hotel prices. To find a little more affordable Belfast accommodation, we ended up renting a nice 2-bedroom riverfront Airbnb near the St. Georges Market, just a 5 minute walk from town centre.

If you are new to Airbnb, you can sign up with our link and get a $35USD credit towards your first stay.

Getting Around Belfast with Kids

image of boy sitting on seal sculpture in Belfast with kids

As mentioned, we arrived in Belfast with our own car seats, enabling us to take an Uber to our Airbnb. If you don’t have car seats, a Taxi2Airport private transfer will enable you to get to your Belfast accommodation safely.

Once you get to central Belfast, getting around without car seats was super easy.

Walking: Staying near the town centre made it very convenient to walk virtually everywhere we wanted to go in central Belfast.

Hop-On Hop-Off bus: There are a number of Belfast attractions outside of the Belfast city centre. If you don’t wish to drag car seats around with you, a hop-on hop-off Belfast sightseeing bus is a fun alternative.

We tried a City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus for the first time in Glasgow with kids and really enjoyed it. We loved the vantage point from the open-air upper deck and felt it was a fun way to get introduced to the city.

Ad for City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour

2 Day Belfast Itinerary with Kids

Belfast Day 1

We walked around a lot on our first day and discovered a lot of fun things to do in Belfast with kids. Walking is a great way to a good feel for the character of this interesting city.

Image of Beacon of Hope Sculpture in Belfast Northern Ireland

The Big Fish, the Salmon of Knowledge

The Big Fish is fun and quirky, making it a perfect place to start a walking tour of Belfast. Located on the riverfront pathway along the River Logan in Central Belfast, the Big Fish was commissioned in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the river.

Image of kids kissing the salmon of knowledge in Belfast walking tour

The Big Fish, also known as the Salmon of Knowledge, is 32 feet long and gets kissed all day long – lucky guy! From a distance, he’s got nice blue and white coloring, but up close you can see the special details. Each tile on the Big Fish contains a historic image related to Belfast.

Many of the images were provided by the Ulster Museum, while others came from kids who attend school along the river.

The Leaning Tower of Belfast – The Albert Memorial Clock

Once you are done taking selfies with the Big Fish, turn around 180 degrees and look at the clock tower down the street? Notice anything odd about it?  Yup – it’s leaning… 

Image of Albert Memorial Clock (or the leaning clock tower) in Belfast

Ok, so it doesn’t lean as far as its famous cousin in Pisa, which we saw when we stopped for a day in Pisa with kids, but it is still undeniably leaning. The top of the Albert Memorial Clock leans about 4 feet over the bottom and it creates an uneasy feeling – it is 113 feet tall after all.

It’s easy to overlook how nice the clock is due to its lean, but once you stop taking pictures of yourself holding it up, take a moment to admire the clock itself – it’s actually a very impressive clock tower.

If you happen to be in Belfast on a warm, summers day, there’s a fun little splash fountain just east of the Albert Memorial Clock.

St. George’s Market

Image of the exterior of St George's Market in Belfast Northern Ireland

St. George’s Market is an award-winning market, widely considered as one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland. Our daughter especially loves to shop for interesting things and we all enjoy a good market, so we walked down to take a look.

Housed in a large, airy Victorian building, St. George’s Market has a little something for everyone. It’s only open Friday – Sunday, with the offerings a little different each day. We visited on a Saturday morning and were treated to a wide selection of crafts, produce and prepared food stands.

We had fun walking around looking at all the goods for sale; it didn’t feel like overly touristy junk that you see in a lot of city markets. Of course, there are lots of leprechauns and four-leaf clovers to be had, but it’s mostly local crafts, not mass produced in China.

image of kids walking in St George's Market in Belfast Northern Ireland

We were there around lunch time and had a super hard time choosing which food stands to try for lunch. We ended up getting the kids a cheese and tomato crepe from La Creperie and two pork-rib sandwiches from Lagan Ribs. The food from both stands was plentiful and excellent. We grabbed a couple of very large Millionaire Squares from the Jam & Olly’s stand for dessert.

Image of boy sitting at table eating in St George's Market in Belfast

The Lagan Towpath

image of building along the Lagan Towpath in Belfast

We had originally planned to hike up Cave Hill on the afternoon of our first day in Belfast, but we needed to buy a new camera to replace our DSLR which broke during our two days in Edinburgh with kids. After buying our Sony A6000, we didn’t have enough time to travel across town to Cave Hill Country Park, but we still wanted to enjoy some time outside on this nice July afternoon.

Image of father and boy running along Lagan Towpath in Belfast Northern Ireland

We’ve enjoyed many riverside walks in Europe and our Lonely Planet said some nice things about Belfast’s riverside walk, so we decided to go for a walk and play with our new camera.

The pathway is known as the Lagan Towpath and we had easy access to it from our riverfront Airbnb near the Albert Bridge. We enjoyed a nice, relaxing walk along the Logan Towpath for about 1.2 miles / 2 km before turning back. We had hoped to make it to the Botanic Garden, but to be honest, we spent too much time playing with our new camera and we ran out of time.

No worries though, it was a very enjoyable walk. The path is lined with lots of trees and thousands of flowers – many of which were roses. There were several fun bridges to cross, some interesting pieces of art, a busy recreational soccer field and lots of birds.

Image of boy next to sculpture along Lagan Towpath in Belfast

We keep a tighter grip on the kids in the big cities, so they always appreciate an opportunity to run wild a little bit, although with many cyclists also enjoying the Lagan Towpath, we still had to keep a close eye on them.

We stopped at this riverside playground for a while to give the kids some time to play. It’s not labeled on Google Maps, but when you check out the satellite shot, you can see it’s there.

Belfast Day 2

Despite the forecast predicting a nice, cloudy day we woke up to heavy rain. As luck would have it, we had booked tickets for mostly indoor activities for the day anyway.

Image of girl walking towards Titanic Belfast

The Glass of Thrones

image of boy in blue rain jacket sitting in front of the Glass of Thrones exhibit in Belfast

As we walked on the north side of the River Lagan towards the Titanic Quarter, we stumbled across a large stained-glass artwork on the walkway. We all admired it, but then something seemed familiar about it. I said, “Hey, that looks like Melisandre”, then Celine said, “And that looks like Joffrey!”

Turns out, we’d discovered the Glass of Thrones – a series of 6 stained glass windows throughout the city. Throughout the course of the day we had discovered 4 of the 6, with the final one at the far end of the Titanic property.

This one has a chair you can sit on in front of a stained-glass Iron Throne – great for some fun pictures of the family! Our kids had no idea what an Iron Throne was, but they didn’t care – they knew that we were excited about it, so they got into the fun!

See a map of the locations of all six Glass of Thrones artwork.

Visit all the Belfast Game of Thrones filming locations including the eerie Dark Hedges and Larrybane Quarry with a full-day tour through GetYourGuide.

Titanic Belfast

Image of the exterior of the Titanic Belfast Museum

The Titanic Belfast is an incredible experience and is a must-do Belfast attraction. Most museums in the world, and especially in Europe, are old and rely on the old “hang it and look at it” model. It’s a rare treat to get to visit a newly built museum which takes advantage of all of today’s best technologies and design ideas.

The Titanic Belfast has a very hard task – they need to fill a museum about a ship which is not available to be displayed. But they nailed it – they take visitors through every element of the process from the initial idea, design, building the ship, launching the ship, the fateful voyage and the aftermath. Much of this material could be very dry and uninteresting, but the way the museum tells the story is always interesting.

All your senses will be engaged at this museum. It’s highly visual, with large pictures everywhere, movies playing on the walls, holograms of characters telling stories, virtual tours of the ship, models of passenger rooms, etc.

They have a large contingent of interactive exhibits which kids will love and some hidden dolls for them to find throughout the museum.

Image of girl in pink rain jacket at an exhibit in the Titanic Museum

But it’s not just visual. Everywhere you go there is some compelling audio to listen to, whether it’s a passenger story, or listening to Morse code, sounds of the ship being built, etc. Once of my favorite spots in the museum is where you are standing on the deck of the ship – you can literally feel the ship moving – amazing!

Kids will love the ship building section of the museum as it’s more like Disneyland than a museum. Visitors get into a pod and take a ride through the construction phase of the story. It’s a very fun way to break up a museum visit and tell a story in a new and creative way.

image of replica of inside of the Titanic at the Titanic Belfast
image of father and two kids at Titanic Belfast looking out the window where the Titanic once stood

When you are done inside, be sure to go outside to the north of the building, where you can see where the Titanic was launched into the water. There are red poles running the length of this area showing where the ship stood and illustrations on the ground highlight the different areas of the ship.

If you want a sense for how large the Titanic actually was, this is the precise place to come and find out.

Image of area where Titanic was docked in Belfast Ireland

We loved the Titanic Museum – in our opinion it’s the best thing to do in Belfast!

Titanic Belfast mobile entry tickets

SS Nomadic

image of SS Nomadic ship in Belfast

The Titanic was too big to call at the French port of Cherbourgh, so the White Star Line (the owners of the Titanic), built the SS Nomadic to shuttle passengers from the port out to the Titanic. Tragically, she only performed this service once, delivering 274 passengers to the Titanic on April 10, 2012.

Needing a new purpose, the SS Nomadic went on to have an interesting career, serving the French government in both World Wars and as a floating restaurant in Paris.

Today, she sits in her original dry dock location just outside the Titanic Belfast museum. She has been repainted to her original colors and the interior has been fully restored to its original condition. Following the example of the Titanic Belfast, there are hidden dolls throughout for the kids to find, which keeps it interesting for them.

It’s the last remaining White Star Line vessel in the world, so it’s a great opportunity to get a taste of what it may have felt like to be on a White Star Line ship.

image of interior of SS Nomadic ship in Belfast

Best of all, admission to the SS Nomadic is included with a ticket to the Titanic Belfast.

W5

In the afternoon, I left the family to go see the Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition, which was visiting Belfast until September 8, 2019.

image of man sitting on replica of iron throne in Belfast Game of Thrones Exhibit
image of dragon eggs from Game of Thrones exhibit in Belfast

Celine and the kids escaped the rain at a nearby science centre called W5 (Who What Where When Why). It’s home to over 250 fun, interactive exhibits over six exhibition areas. W5 has interactive robots, a space-themed playground, a VR experience, a medical lab, a discovery area for under-8’s, a multi-story climbing structure and much more.

image of girl playing grocery cashier at W5 in Belfast with kids
image of boy putting a play tire on a car at W5 in Belfast with Kids

W5 Belfast is a great thing to do in Belfast with kids on a rainy day. Our kids had a great time!

image of kids playing at W5 - one of the best things to do with kids in Belfast
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