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7 Amazing Day Trips from Belfast

Posted 19/08/2021
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One of the essential parts of international student life is getting the chance to travel, explore, and practice your English in a range of settings. Luckily, you’ll have the chance to take day trips from Belfast to towns and cities all over the UK and Ireland.

Belfast is well connected by bus, rail, sea and air. Within a couple of hours, you can be in most of the major day trip destinations around the British Isles.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the most popular day trips from Belfast. We’ll look at some of your options close to home, as well as destinations further afield, which are surprisingly accessible.

Visiting different cities is a great way to improve your English, by immersing yourself in a variety of different accents and dialects.

With that in mind, here are our top day trips from Belfast.

The North Coast

Northern Ireland’s North Coast is a world-class tourist destination in its own right. The centre-piece of this is the Giant’s Causeway, one of the Wonders of the Natural World, which is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

The Giant’s Causeways is made up of over 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, which descend down to the sea. A number of providers offer tours from Belfast, or you can get to the Causeway by car in under two hours.

Elsewhere on the North Coast, you’ll find countless stunning beaches, quaint seaside villages, and top-quality pubs and restaurants. Many of these are dotted along the Causeway Coastal Route, which is regularly voted the world’s most scenic drive.

Day Trips from Belfast to Dublin

Ireland’s capital is probably the most popular day trip from Belfast. You can travel from city to city in around two hours, by bus, train, or car. With a population of over 500,000, Dublin is a bustling city, with a vibrant and accessible centre.

Whether you’re looking for music, culture, history, shopping, or food, Dublin is Ireland’s ultimate day trip destination.

Our students particularly enjoy a visit to the Guinness Storehouse, complete with a free pint with a panoramic view of Dublin city.

Day trips from Belfast Dublin photo
Dublin is just two hours south of Belfast. Image credit:
Dimitry Anikin

Derry

Northern Ireland’s second city can be accessed in just a couple of hours from Belfast, via road, bus or train. If you opt to travel by rail, the journey is a little bit longer, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views along Northern Ire;and’s North Coast.

Derry is a compact city of just 150,000 people. It’s inhabitants are famed for their warm hospitality and sense of humour. Many of our students choose to make a day trip, after seeing the hit comedy, Derry Girls.

It’s also a city with a rich and varied history, with a particular highlight being a walk around the City Walls. Afterwards, you might choose to relax with some pub grub and a craft beer at the Walled City Brewery in Ebrington Square.

Visit Galway

A little bit further afield, Galway is Ireland’s artistic hub. A small university city on the West Coast, Galway is famed for its nightlife, music and laid back vibe. It’s also a popular holiday destination for families, with easy access to stunning beaches at Salt Hill and Silver Strand.

Travelling to Galway from Belfast via public transport will require a transfer in Dublin. This can make the journey time a little long for a day trip, so you may want to consider lengthening your stay.

You can get to Galway by car in a little over three hours. Even so, you’ll probably want to stay overnight, as there are so many things to do in Galway.

Belfast to Manchester

In the age of cheap flights, more and more destinations have become accessible for day trips from Belfast. One of the most popular and convenient destinations is undoubtedly Manchester.

The flight takes just forty-five minutes, and tickets can be found for as low as £30 if you book in advance. Fly out first thing in the morning, and return that evening. This is a popular option for football fans, especially Manchester United and City supporters.

Of course, even if football isn’t your thing, there are plenty of things to do in Manchester. Take a stroll around the bustling boutiques and bars in the Northern Quarter, or visit one of the city’s many art galleries.

Manchester skyline
Manchester is just as short flight from Belfast. Image credit:
William McCue

Belfast to Bristol

Bristol is one of the oldest and most scenic cities in the whole of the UK, dating back to the Romans. The city itself is stunning, with a unique blend of medieval, gothic and modern architecture. Bristol is perfect for a photo opportunity.

It’s also one of the UK’s youngest cities, thanks in part to the students of Bristol University. This gives the city a lively atmosphere, with a wide variety of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and coffee shops.

Our students particularly enjoy browsing the quirky stalls and food trucks of St. Nicholas Market, which has operated at the heart of the city since 1743. For recently, it has been voted the UK’s best large indoor retailer.

Flights depart several times per day to Bristol, with journey times of around an hour. A return trip can be found for as little as £40 per person.

Belfast to Portsmouth

Portsmouth is the perfect destination if you’d like to visit England’s South Coast for the day. Just a short train journey from London Gatwick Airport, Portsmouth can be cheaply and easily reached by plane from Belfast all year around.

As the UK’s only island city, it’s also one of the warmest places in the UK. This makes Portsmouth the perfect day trip destination to enjoy sunny weather and a day at the beach. 

With countless things to do in Portsmouth, it’s hard to choose a favourite. Gunwharf Quays is a truly unique shopping and entertainment destination, with countless independent shops and cafes, as well as over thirty bars and restaurants.

Portsmouth skyline
A little further afield, it takes just over two hours to travel to Portsmouth via Gatwick Airport. Image credit: Bea Fladstad

Belfast: Your Gateway to the UK and Ireland

Belfast is probably the best hub for exploring everything that the UK and Ireland has to offer. With extensive transport links across the British Isles, you have countless options for amazing day trips from Belfast. 

Of course, studying abroad isn’t all travel.

Take a look at our information on life in Belfast to find out what you can expect from the city itself. There’s always something new to discover.