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My Favourite Must-Visit Spots in Northern Ireland

Living in Belfast for the past year has given me a great deal of time to explore the city and Northern Ireland as a whole. Below, I have compiled a list of nine spots that I highly recommend visiting when you are in Belfast and Northern Ireland! 

Student hiking Blackhead Coastal Path
Me after hiking up the rocks on the Blackhead Coastal Path

Belfast Giants Hockey Game 

For all the sports fans (and non-sports fans) out there, I highly recommend heading to a Belfast Giants hockey game! The community that you’ll meet is incredible and it’s heartwarming to see so many people come together over a love of sports (P.S. Don’t worry if you don’t know the song ‘Belle of Belfast City’ because every time the Giants score a goal, the entire crowd will erupt into song! From my experience, you’ll learn the song pretty quickly since the Giants tend to score a lot!)

Belfast Giants Hockey Game at SSE Arena

SSE Arena, Belfast

Giant’s Causeway 

It won’t come as a shock that this UNESCO world heritage site is on this list, but let me tell you why: you can read more in-depth about my experience and the history of the causeway in a recent post. There’s nothing as tranquil as climbing on the rocks and looking out over the water.

Student standing at Giants Causeway

Enjoying the views at the Giant's Causeway

Maggie Mays

For all the food lovers out there, Maggie Mays is the perfect spot. Maybe it’s because there are locations close to my residence (BT1) and the campus. Perhaps it’s because they make some of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved pancakes and it’s become a mini tradition to eat pancakes for brunch with friends. It’s probably a combination of all three, but I can honestly say that Maggie Mays never fails to disappoint! 

C.S. Lewis Square 

C.S. Lewis was a Belfast native and has been honoured with commemorations throughout the city. Through murals and statues, his work continues to be honoured (we even have a C.S. Lewis Reading Room in the library!) My favourite C.S. Lewis tribute is a square that has statues from his best-selling book, The Chronicles of Narnia. There, you can leave the bustling city of Belfast and walk amongst The White Witch, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the Robin, as well as other characters from the books.

You can read more about a recent trip I took to the square here.

CS Lewis Square

Statue at C.S. Lewis Square

Blackhead coastal path 

40 minutes outside Belfast is Whitehead, part of County Antrim, a small seaside village, where you can spot dolphins and see the coast of Scotland on the horizon. There’s also a walking path leading up to a lighthouse. As train tickets are less than 8 pounds, I highly recommend travelling down to this quaint little village!

Bao Bun 

Bao Bun is another food choice that never fails to satisfy my taste buds, while being affordable enough that I don’t feel like I’m breaking the bank when I eat there. For the Taiwanese foodies out there, I promise that Bao Bun will not disappoint! The Bao is fluffy, the meat is flavourful (and they also have vegetarian options), and their spiced fries are tasty! 

Botanic, Ulster Museum

Right next to Queen’s is Botanic Gardens, a beautiful park that is home to playing fields, greenhouses, and walking paths. When it’s warm outside, I love grabbing my computer or a book and doing some reading/work outside! 

Botanic Gardens

A sunny day at Botanic Gardens

Next to Botanic is the Ulster Museum, which is a free museum. Spanning 3 floors, there are many artefacts representing history, art, and the natural sciences! My personal favourite is the Egyptian mummy exhibition where the mummy within the exhibition was discovered to be a murder victim. 

Egyptian mummy at Ulster Museum

Takabuti the ancient Egyptian mummy


Along with the savoury food options, I have to also give a dessert option! Nugelato is a delicious ice cream shop in Belfast. I’m a big fan of the Nuggie Pot, where in a drizzled cup you receive 2 scoops of your choice of ice cream (I love the kinder bueno ice cream!), 3 toppings, and whipped vanilla ice cream on top. From nights out with friends, to when I'm just craving something sweet, Nugelato has never disappointed me! 

Mourne Mountains

I went to the Mourne Mountains back in October with the mountaineering club which you can read more about here. The Mourne Mountains remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve travelled to. Being less than 2 hours away, it is a great little weekend getaway or hiking spot for a day hike. 

Mourne Mountains

The Mourne Mountains

I hope that these recommendations will give you some ideas of places to go, food to eat, and what to expect in Belfast and Northern Ireland. This is not a comprehensive list and my biggest piece of advice is to take your own beaten path and find your own favourite spots within Northern Ireland!  

Find out more

Belfast's Hidden Gems

More student blogs about Belfast and Northern Ireland

Also from Sami: Sightseeing Tour of Belfast

USA Admissions Information

Sami Koitz

Conflict Transformation & Social Justice | Postgraduate Student | Maryland USA

I've always been interested in the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and non-profits that work towards building bridges between divided societies.

I am from Maryland, USA (about a nine-hour flight from Queens) and graduated in 2022 from Susquehanna University with a double major in Communication Studies & International Studies.

Outside of academics, I am a member of the equestrian team, Jewish Society, and wakeboarding club. I love meeting new people and I look forward to chatting with you.

Sami Koitz