How to Take a Belfast Day Trip From Dublin (2024)

Belfast day trip from Dublin
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It’s time to switch up the scene from Dublin and dive into a fresh landscape without straying too far from Ireland’s shores. While Dublin offers its own unique charm, the island of Ireland is a mosaic of cultures and histories. That’s why I recommend heading north to go on a Belfast day trip from Dublin, where, fun fact, you’ll suddenly be in a new country even though you’re on the same island!

Belfast is the vibrant capital of Northern Ireland and was one of the cities I visited on my first trip to Ireland way back in 2015 on my honeymoon. While it doesn’t get as much love as Dublin, it’s definitely worth a visit, even if just for one day. From driving along the Antrim Coast to exploring a part of the United Kingdom (as Northern Ireland is officially in the U.K.), you’ll love taking a day trip from Dublin to Belfast.

Wondering if Belfast should make the cut in your travel plans? The city is closer to Dublin than you’d think, making it a great day trip option when you want to get out of Dublin. This guide will show you the different ways to visit Belfast from Dublin, so you can choose which one is right for you. I’ll also list some of the best places to visit in Belfast, so taking your trip is easy, and you can just focus on exploring!

How to Get to Belfast From Dublin: The Best Dublin to Belfast Day Trip Options

hotels with balconies dublin

Heading from Dublin to Belfast isn’t just a geographical shift – it’s a transition between two dynamic worlds. As you contemplate this adventure, you’ll find a range of travel methods, each offering its own distinct flavor. Whether it’s the allure of rolling landscapes seen from a train window, the efficiency of a budget bus ride, or the luxury of a private tour, I’ll help you find the perfect transportation method.

Let’s look at some of the best Dublin to Belfast tours to get you started on your trip.

Flying into Dublin? Here are all the best ways to get from Dublin Airport to the city center.

Train Tours: The Scenic Route

For those who love beautiful views and comfort, train tours offer a perfect blend of both worlds. I always take the train when I’m in Europe if time allows because so rarely do I ever need to take a train in the States, and it’s always so relaxing.

Imagine gazing out of the window as you glide through the stunning Irish countryside, with green fields and cute little villages passing by. The direct train from Dublin to Belfast, also known as the Belfast train, takes just over 2 hours, making it a laidback, efficient way to travel between the two cities.

With stops at Connolly and Heuston stations in Dublin and Lanyon Place in Belfast, you’ll have easy access to the heart of both cities. To ensure a smooth journey, it’s a good idea to book your Belfast train tickets ahead of time so you can sit where you want on your Belfast day trip from Dublin, plus you’ll get the best ticket price on your journey.

Buy your Dublin to Belfast train tickets in advance to get the day and time you want.

Bus Tours: Budget-Friendly Exploration

Bus excursions are a fantastic option for individuals on a tighter budget who don’t want to miss out on any Dublin to Belfast tours. My husband studied abroad in Ireland and loved taking the bus all around the country, as it made traveling much more affordable for him at that time.

Taking a bus between Dublin and Belfast may take a little longer than taking the train, but you get to meet interesting people and hear their tales along the way (or you can always just plug those headphones in if that’s more your style).

Compared to train or private trips, the cost of Dublin to Belfast bus tours are more reasonable, and the guided experience, along with the opportunity to see the beautiful Irish countryside, are all added bonuses. If you want to see the sights of Northern Ireland but don’t want to spend too much money, a bus trip could be the way to go.

Here are some of the top-rated Dublin to Belfast day tours:

If you prefer taking the public bus and doing a self-guided tour, you can look up bus times in advance and buy tickets online.

Private Tours: Customized Experiences

Private excursions are perfect for those who want their Dublin to Belfast day trip to be as unique and adaptable as they are. You may make your trip as unique as you are by choosing to see the sights that most interest you and stopping anywhere you like along the way.

You can take private tours in the form of:

  • Walking tours

  • Bus excursions

  • Boat trips

  • Helicopter rides

  • Food and wine tours

  • Cultural experiences

Do your homework on the tour company, check reviews, and ask questions to make sure you get the most out of your Belfast day tour from Dublin private trip. Therefore, plan ahead to guarantee your spot and save money on your tailor-made excursion.

Here are some of the most popular private tours in Belfast:

You’ll love going on a 6 day trip to Ireland.

Rent a Car: Unlimited Freedom

Of course, you can always just take the Belfast to Dublin drive into your own hands, and rent a car for the day. I’ve done this multiple times (and the last time, I was in Ireland by myself, pregnant, and stuck in Belfast rush hour traffic, so trust me – if I can do it, you can do it!) and driving a rental car is much easier than you think.

In fact, I wrote a whole guide after that last trip to help others know how to drive in Ireland as a tourist.

Make sure to book your car rental in advance! I love using Discover Cars when I travel.

Must-See Attractions on a Day Trip From Dublin to Belfast

Belfast At Sunset

Between the two cities, Dublin and Belfast, lies a plethora of must-see landmarks that serve as a living testament to Northern Ireland’s rich culture and history. Natural treasures and cultural heritage abound in this area, from the impressive Giant’s Causeway to the majestic Dunluce Castle, built above craggy cliffs along the Antrim Coast that you’ll want to see on your Belfast trip from Dublin.

Whether you’re marveling at:

  • the unique basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway

  • delving into the intriguing history of Dunluce Castle

  • soaking in the coastal route of the Antrim Coast

You’ll find that each attraction makes you fall more in love with Northern Ireland.

Traveling without a vehicle? Here’s how to get around Ireland without a car.

Giant’s Causeway

giants causeway

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway attests to the grandeur and majesty of Mother Nature. This natural marvel, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption, is a sight to behold, with its roughly 40,000 interconnecting basalt columns.

A visit to the Giants Causeway will capture you with its beautiful scenery and intriguing legends, such as the one about the Irish giant who built the causeway so he could cross to Scotland.

Do one of the climbs that leads to a vantage point over the Giant’s Causeway so you can take in its full splendor. If you have time, I highly recommend visiting the adjacent Carrick-a-Rede Bridge, which was one of my favorite stops in Northern Ireland.

The Giant’s Causeway is a breathtaking natural wonder that boasts an intriguing history and otherworldly scenery and is one of the most popular day trips around Belfast.

Book your ticket from Giant’s Causeway from Belfast in advance.

Dunluce Castle

Dunlunce Castle Ireland

Perched dramatically on the edge of a cliff overlooking the wild Atlantic Ocean, the 500-year-old ruins of Dunluce Castle offer a fascinating glimpse into the past. With a history steeped in violence, intrigue, and rebellion, this medieval castle has captured the imagination of visitors and has even served as a filming location for Game of Thrones.

Anyone interested in diving deeper into the castle’s fascinating past can do so by purchasing a ticket to visit Dunluce Castle, which gives them 45 minutes to tour the castle grounds and take in the gorgeous scenery. The ruins of the castle will take you back in time, and you may imagine the lives of those who once lived in this imposing structure.

I almost didn’t stop here on my last Belfast day trip from Dublin, but I had some extra time in my schedule during my 10-day Ireland trip and was glad I chose this.

Antrim Coast

antrim coast

The Antrim Coast is a hidden gem in Northern Ireland, boasting stunning cliffs, sandy beaches, and quaint towns. Traveling down the shore, you’ll love the beautiful panoramas of both land and sea.

Balintoy Harbor, the Dark Hedges, and the Cushendun Caves are just a few of the iconic Game of Thrones filming locations that you can see as you travel down the Antrim Coast. The Antrim Coast is a beautiful place to visit, full of historic sites and scenic places to stop and stretch your legs.

Belfast Day Trip From Dublin: Things to Do

belfast river lagan

Belfast is a city full of life, history, and culture, and you’ll also find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Belfast. The Giant’s Causeway, the Belfast City Murals, and the Titanic Experience are just a few of the highlights of a day spent on a guided tour of Belfast and its environs. With knowledgeable local guides by your side, you’ll get a full picture of the area while also learning about the city’s history and culture.

As you learn about Belfast’s past, you’ll visit:

  • The Ulster Museum, where you can discover the region’s diverse history, from ancient artifacts to modern art

  • The Titanic Experience, an interactive museum that offers a glimpse into Belfast’s maritime legacy

  • A unique Black Taxi Political Tour, where knowledgeable guides share personal stories and take you to key sites related to the city’s political history on a Belfast city day tour.

There’s so much to see on a Belfast day tour that it’ll be hard to fit it all into one trip, but don’t worry – you can always come back! However, should you decide to stay longer, there are plenty of places to stay nearby, including castle hotels around Ireland.

Ulster Museum

Ulster Museum

The Ulster Museum, located in Belfast, offers a comprehensive look at the art, natural science, and history of Northern Ireland. As you wander through the museum’s diverse collections, you’ll be transported through time, learning about:

  • The region’s rich history

  • Cultural heritage

  • Artistic achievements

  • Scientific discoveries

From ancient artifacts to contemporary art, the Ulster Museum provides a fascinating insight into the past, present, and future of Northern Ireland. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or simply curious about the region, a visit to the Ulster Museum on your Belfast day trip from Dublin is a must for anyone seeking to truly understand the essence of Northern Ireland.

Titanic Experience

Titanic Belfast Museum

In Belfast, the birthplace of the ill-fated Titanic, you’ll find the Titanic Experience, an immersive museum dedicated to the city’s maritime legacy. Featuring interactive exhibits, videos, and audio recordings, the Titanic Museum offers a fascinating look into the lives of the ship’s passengers and crew that you’ll want to put on your day trip to Belfast from Dublin itinerary.

For a truly unique perspective, consider taking a guided tour of the shipyard where the Titanic was built, complete with original blueprints and artifacts from the ship. As you explore the museum and delve into the captivating stories of the Titanic, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for Belfast’s maritime history and the enduring legacy of this tragic vessel.

It’s worth dedicating at least a few hours to the Titanic Museum. I usually whiz through museums (a bad trait of mine), but you couldn’t get me to leave when I stopped here on my honeymoon in 2015. I think we spent at least three hours looking at every little artifact they preserved.

Book your Titanic Experience ticket in advance.

Black Taxi Political Tour

black taxi

For a unique insight into Belfast’s turbulent past, the Black Taxi Political Tour offers a truly memorable experience. Through the knowledgeable tour guide who shares personal stories and visits important sites related to the city’s political history, this tour helps you gain a deeper understanding of Belfast’s complex past while riding in a traditional black cab.

The tour takes you to key locations such as Stormont, Falls Road, and Shankill Road, offering a comprehensive look at the city’s political landscape. As you learn about the events and people that shaped Belfast’s history, the Black Taxi Political Tour provides an intimate and engaging way to explore the city’s past, bringing to life the stories that have defined this remarkable place.

Book your Black Taxi tour in advance.

Tips for Planning Your Day Trip to Belfast From Dublin

belfast train

It’s important to keep a few things in mind as you plan your exciting journey from Dublin to Belfast, two of the top Irish cities to visit. A little bit of planning, such as buying train tickets in advance, reading up on where to stay, and learning how to get around the city, can make for a stress-free Belfast day trip from Dublin.

Following this introduction to Belfast, we’ll explain how to get around the city by train, where to stay, and what other modes of transportation are available. You can now confidently and eagerly board the train from Dublin to Belfast, thanks to these helpful hints.

Train Tickets: Secure Your Seat

While traveling between Dublin and Belfast, booking your train tickets in advance is strongly recommended. Not only will you be able to guarantee a seat, but you will also save money. You can book your train tickets from Dublin to Belfast with ease and convenience by visiting either the Irish Rail website or Rail Europe.

You can also buy tickets for trains at the station or from a travel agent. Booking your train tickets in advance will allow you to sit back, relax, and take in the sights as you travel between these two fascinating cities.

Transportation: Getting Around Belfast

Navigating the vibrant city of Belfast is a breeze thanks to the various transportation options available, including:

  • Buses: Belfast boasts an extensive bus network that runs throughout the city and to nearby towns, with tickets available from the driver or at a ticket office.

  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Belfast and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance.

  • Walking: Belfast is a compact city that is easy to explore on foot, with many attractions within walking distance of each other.

Taxis offer another convenient way to explore Belfast, providing quick and easy access to various attractions and landmarks.

As a compact and pedestrian-friendly city, Belfast is ideal for people who like to take in the sights and sounds at a more relaxed pace. Learn the ins and outs of Belfast’s public transit system so you can make the most of your time in this fascinating city.

Is the Train Ride From Dublin to Belfast Scenic?

The train ride from Dublin to Belfast is very scenic, with beautiful landscapes along the way. The journey is a great way to explore the Irish countryside and take in stunning views.

You’ll love going on a Belfast day trip from Dublin, no matter which method you take!

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