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Living in Belfast

Belfast is friendly, fun and affordable, making it the ideal student destination. Northern Ireland’s cosmopolitan capital may be compact, but it packs a lot in.

Here you'll find a lively social life, a growing food scene, natural beauty and tons of history. Easy and safe to explore, Belfast is a city that truly welcomes you.

What are the career opportunities in Belfast?

Business is booming in Belfast. The city has a growing tech scene and is a leading global location for investment projects. Along with the creation of 20,000 new jobs as part of the Belfast Region City Deal £1 billion+ investment, Belfast is a promising city for graduates.

Take advantage of Queen's links with some of the biggest employers in Northern Ireland, including:

  • Almac, world leaders in pharmaceutical drug development

  • Citigroup Inc., experts in global investment banking and financial services

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms in the world

  • Spirit Aerosystems, an international aviation engineering company.

What makes Belfast unique?

  • A coastal city filled with stunning architecture and surrounded by natural beauty.

  • The lowest cost of living for students in the UK (Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2023) – so your money goes further.

  • One of only three capital cities in the UK, with a buzzing cultural and social scene.

  • Described as one of the UK and Ireland's most vibrant and affordable cities, packed with energy, culture and history (The Complete University Guide 2024).

  • The award-winning Queen's University Belfast is just a 15 minute walk from the city center.

What is there to do in Belfast?

Rich in history and culture, Belfast is home to world-class attractions. From fascinating museums to breath-taking castles and stunning architecture, there’s something for everyone in this historic yet lively city. You can discover:

  • the Titanic Belfast museum, where you can learn about the famous 'unsinkable' ship

  • the Ulster Museum of Irish history, where you'll discover the heritage of your new home

  • the beautiful Botanic Gardens, which is perfect for relaxing or studying outdoors

  • Belfast Castle and its historic grounds

  • SS Nomadic, Titanic's fully-restored sister ship

  • Belfast City Hall, a building in the city center with stunning ornate architecture

  • Crumlin Road Gaol, Northern Ireland's only-remaining Victorian era jail.

Have you heard of the HBO series 'Game of Thrones'? Some of the show's key filming locations are in Northern Ireland. You can take a tour to visit the real Dragonstone, The King's Road, Winterfell and other landmarks made famous by the show.

What is the food like in Belfast?

Few things are more comforting than your favourite meal from home. And, because Belfast has such a vibrant international community, you'll find tasty and authentic global cuisine across the city - with options for every budget.

Just a few minutes’ walk from campus, there’s Botanic Avenue. On this street you can find cafés and restaurants serving foods from around the world. You could try:

  • Bao Bun, for Taiwanese street food

  • Boojum, for tasty Mexican burritos

  • Botanic Spice, for rich Indian dishes

  • Madame Pho, for authentic Vietnamese dishes

  • Maggie Mays, for a true taste of Northern Ireland

  • Umi Falafal, for a taste of vegetarian Middle Eastern cuisine

  • Sakura, for fresh Japanese cuisine.

Are there lots of places to shop in Belfast?

Whether you’re looking for designer goods, high street brands or unique souvenirs, you'll find plenty of choice in Belfast.

The main shopping areas include Victoria Square mall, CastleCourt shopping center and The Kennedy Center mall. And there’s the Dock Market – an artisan crafts market that takes place in the Titanic Quarter every Saturday.

Don’t miss the St George's market, held every week in the city center. You can snack on street food, listen to live music and stock up on fresh vegetables, meat and fish as well as local specialities like soda bread.

How much does it cost to live in Belfast?

Your money goes further in Belfast. As well as being a vibrant capital city and home to one of the world's top-ranked universities, it also has the lowest student cost of living in the UK (Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking 2023). In fact, compared to London, Belfast is over £300 per month cheaper for students to live in (Which? Student Budget Calculator 2022).

An education in Belfast is an excellent investment in your future, especially as Queen's University offers generous scholarships for international students. You'll save on fees and living costs – and still achieve a globally-recognized degree from one of the oldest universities in the UK.

The university has some tips on how to make your money go further on campus.

What is the best way to travel in Belfast?

Belfast is a relatively small city so you’ll find it easy to get around on foot. Queen’s University Belfast is an easy 15-20 minute walk from the INTO Center. There’s a good network of buses and trains for travel in and around the city.

The Metro operates around Belfast city center and offers discounted fares for students. Translink runs a regular shuttle service to and from Belfast International Airport. Plus, it’s easy to explore the rest of the UK and beyond, with London, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool about an hour's flight away.