One of Belfast's most popular spots for a drink, the Duke of York in the city's Cathedral Quarter
Craic, atmosphere, bustling bars and contemporary restaurants - Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has all the ingredients for a great night out.
But it’s not all about modern culture, it's also steeped in history.
The area was once the literary heart of the city with The Northern Whig, a popular satirical 19th century newspaper based on the corner of Waring Street and Bridge Street, and the Belfast Central Library building and the headquarters of local newspapers the Belfast Telegraph and The Irish News, all close by. You could call it Belfast's Fleet Street.
The literary influence of the area is still evident today – the popular pub The John Hewitt is named after a local Belfast poet and Writer’s Square, immediately opposite the beautiful St Anne's Cathedral, celebrates Belfast’s literary past with quotations from famous local writers carved in the stone underfoot.
Named after the cathedral, the oldest part of the city has evolved from Belfast’s old trade and warehousing district to a bustling area with an impressive culture and arts scene.
The narrow cobbled streets are a joy to wander around and explore – duck into one of the alleyways near The Duke of York and see the famed piece of wall art illustrating some of Northern Ireland's famous faces.
A taster of restaurants to try
- Hadski’s - This eclectic little dining room with a great kitchen counter is nestled between Hill Street and Donegall Street - you can taste an ever-changing menu of daily specials alongside some classic European dishes
- 2Taps - Nestled in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter facing the magnificent Merchant Hotel, this little gem offers al fresco dining serving traditional Spanish tapas and fine wine.
- Coppi (pictured above) - Right in the heart of Belfast’s buzzing Cathedral Quarter, Coppi is Belfast’s first cichetti bacari/restaurant inspired by those found in Venice and named after cycling legend Angelo Fausto Coppi.
- House of Zen - House Of Zen is an exciting venture which combines dark and moody elegant décor with a Chinese menu never before seen in Belfast.
- 4th Wall - This sleek, modern restaurant offering modern-Irish style of cuisine takes its name from the theatre term referring to the invisible wall separating actors from their audience and as it's right opposite the MAC arts venue in beautiful St Anne’s Square, the name is apt.
Try out this selection of bars
- Duke of York - Nestled along a narrow cobbled alleyway in the historic Half Bap area, the Duke offers a traditional Belfast welcome of craic, music and humour.
- The Spaniard - Hidden within the Cathedral Quarter is this little gem of a bar. Priding themselves in offering the most intimate atmosphere along with an outstanding selection of rum. Sip on their famous Dark n Stormy or Extraordinary.
- The National Grande Café - Boasting an extensive drinks selection and the largest beer garden in the city this is the perfect spot for an after work drink, an evening get together or a break from a hard days shopping.
- Bert’s Jazz Bar - Belfast’s and Northern Ireland's first authentic Jazz Bar offering live Jazz seven nights a week - located within the elegant Merchant Hotel, Bert's offers great live entertainment and mouth watering food.
- The Dirty Onion (pictured above) - Belfast's oldest building, dating back to 1780 offers a modern take on a traditional Irish pub, delivering a varied music programme seven nights a week.
- 21 Social - This modern, lively 3 storey building situated opposite The Merchant Hotel, right in the heart of the Catherdral Quarter offers a ground floor bar and restaurant serving food 7 days a week, middle floor club and top floor bar.
- The John Hewitt - Named after the famous late poet and in the bustling Cathedral Quarter area this tradtional pub is perfect for the after-work drink and offers a great selection of craft drinks as well as live music.
- The Cloth Ear - The Merchant Hotel's comfortable public bar has a warm and welcoming interior providing the ideal environment to relax in style. Combining both modern and traditional design features with a healthy dose of eccentric.
- The Northern Whig - This specialist cocktail bar is bright, stylish and chic, with the square bar on the central floor being the focal point. Carefully planned seasonal menus and locally sourced ingredients on offer for dining.
- Aether & Echo - This old victorian pub has been reborn as a cool drinking, dining and nightlife hub with a US-style gospel brunch happening each Sunday.
For those who prefer clubbing then Ollie’s club at The Merchant is the place to go. A lavish space with state of the art light and sound systems, generous quantities of deep red velvet and leather seating, mahogany walls and restored original vaulted ceilings all make this a classy clubbing venue.
The area has a selection of hotels to cater for all budgets and tastes. The opulent five star Merchant Hotel, a Grade A listed building offers a truly luxurious experience, boasting a rooftop hot tub with unrivalled views of the city.
Named after the famous Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt Hotel, Belfast's newest and quirkiest addition is designed to epitomise urban chic with king-sized beds and simple, pared down furniture in all rooms. The hotel also has an apres-ski themed courtyard bar, Baltic, and a restaurant, Taylor and Clay on site.
Also in the area are the Ramada Encore which overlooks St. Anne's Square and within walking distance to the nearby bustling nightlife. The Premier Inn on Waring Street is centrally based for a visit to Belfast with shopping and nightlife all nearby.
Things to see in the area
- St Anne’s Cathedral (pictured above) - Sitting at the heart of the Cathedral Quarter stands the impressive Cathedral Church of St. Anne. Take a self-guided tour and find out more about the Spire of Hope, a 40 metre spire built into the roof of the building, learn about the fine needlework on display, or just discover its impressive history as you make your way around the beautiful surroundings.
- The Mac - Situated in the heart of Belfast’s bustling Cathedral Quarter, behind Saint Anne’s Cathedral, The Metropolitan Arts Centre is one of Europe’s leading art centres and houses three art galleries, two theatres offering regular shows and productions, a bar/restaurant and family room.
- Black Box - A home for live music, theatre, literature, comedy, film, poetry readings, live art, circus, cabaret and everything in between, the Black Box is a hub of all things culture and is ideally situated off the cobbled streets within easy reach of the other popular bars nearby.
- The Oh Yeah Music Centre - A converted warehouse in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, its aim is to encourage music making and music enterprise in Northern Ireland. For the music fan who wants to explore the story of music from this prolific part of the world it provides a welcoming space and also a music bus tour though the heart of the city, taking in the haunts of Van Morrison and James Galway, plus many other infamous locations important to local music.
- Northern Ireland War Memorial - The museum is a must see for anybody with an interest in Northern Ireland’s role in World War Two. Objects, uniforms, photographs and oral histories all help to tell the story and various original artworks are on display including a stained glass memorial window.
- Belfast Exposed - Belfast Exposed houses contemporary photography galleries, bookshop, and an iconic archive of images.
The area is known for hosting big outdoor and indoor events, such as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Festival of Fools, the ever-popular Culture Night and Belfast Pride - check out our Events section for more details on these as they are announced.