Cultural must sees in Belfast & Co Down
Strangford & Portaferry
Strangford is a tiny fishing village which is opposite Portaferry across the lough, at the very end of the Ards Peninsula. Both villages are picturesque, located on Strangford Lough and connected by ferry, with lots to see. There are small castles in both villages and a huge aquarium in Portaferry, that is worth visiting if you are bringing children!
Castle Ward is also known as "Winterfell" from Game of Thrones. However it also is a beautiful stately home that is perfectly preserved inside and a National trust venue. You can take tours of the house and explore the manicured gardens or children can dress up as Victorians and play in the courtyard.
St Patrick Centre
Visit the home of Ireland's Patron Saint in Downpatrick! An interactive museum and site of St Patrick's grave where you can learn about the history of St Patrick and Ireland.
Downpatrick also has a great Arts Centre and the Down County Museum which are both worth visiting if you are making a day of it.
Castles of Down
There are many many castle ruins along the coast of Co Down, most of which were used for a location or two in Game of Thrones at some point.
Castles stretch along the entire Ards Peninsula and coast of County Down, from Donaghadee to Warrenpoint and were built to strategically defend the coast and the mouth of Strangford Lough.
The Titanic Museum
Does what it says on the tin.
It is one of the best interactive museums I've ever been to and was voted the World's Best Tourist Attraction for several years so 100% worth a visit.
If you are titanic obsessed you can book for Afternoon Tea and get your picture taken on the replica staircase.
Belfast Bus Tour
Probably the best way to see all the key things in Belfast and learn about the history of the city.
You will see the Samson & Goliath cranes at Harland & Wolf, Stormont Assembly, Belfast Castle, HMS Caroline, Queens University, St Georges Market and of course Belfast's murals.
The Metropolitan Arts Centre is a super cool gallery space with cafe that features local and international exhibitions and installations. Located in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast's trendy regenerated hipster hang out, it serves high quality coffee and instagram worthy angles amongst beautiful art.
Featuring permanent exhibitions that are free this is a great visit for adults and children alike! There is usually a paid for exhibition on the top floor, with world class artists and exhibits on tour. But the rest of the museum is free and covers everything from Ancient Egypt to the dinosaurs to geology - like a natural history museum.
Ulster Folk & Transport Museum
A living museum located just outside Belfast.
You can print old newspapers, make soda farls over an open fire in an ancient Long House, explore an original stream train or just stroll around the picturesque location.
Black Cab City Tour
For the ultimate history of Belfast and the troubles you can take a private black cab tour where your guide will be a Belfast cabbie who worked the city during the troubles. Visit the peace wall, the murals and hear first hand stories from one of the drivers that shuttled passengers along the Falls Road and Shankill Road.
The Giants Causeway
Beautiful coastline formation which legend has it was created by the mighty giant Finn McCool during a row with a Scottish giant, Benandonner. A great day out that will take you along the stunning North Coast. Make the sure the weather forecast is good for this outing!
You can book bus trips from Belfast or hire a car and go yourself!
Game of Thrones Tours
Most of Game of Thrones was filmed around Belfast, County Down and County Antrim so you can take various tours of the filming locations from Belfast.
Visit places such as Winterfell, the haunted forest and meet some of the Dire Wolves featured in the show too!
Always one to recommend a castle visit, this is one that is a must see for any history/castle buffs! One of the most intact medieval structures in Ireland this Norman castle played an important military role up until 1928. The castle has opportunities to watch jousting, dressing up on their fete days and historical displays throughout.
The North Coast is a beautiful area if you are planning a road trip or a an extra few days in Norn Iron! With gorgeous wide sandy beaches and dunes as well as cute little seaside villages it's the perfect getaway from the city. Follow the coast road and visit must see places such as Dunluce Castle, Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge and the Giants Causeway.