Dublin Vs Belfast: Which City Is Better To Visit And Live In?

The toss-up between Dublin Vs Belfast is a very real one whether you’re a tourist on a limited-time schedule, or someone looking to move to a new Irish city.

At first glance, both might seem very similar, being the capital cities of their various countries, Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively.

But when you look deeper, you’ll realize both cities are quite different and have their own charms and intricacies.

How do we know?

We’re Ger and Aisha and as a couple, we’ve spent a great amount of time in Ireland and also researching places around the world (including Ireland!) to decide where to settle in. 

Ger has also lived in Ireland most of his life and has a lot to say about each city.

If we had to pin a city down to travel to, then we’d say Dublin is where you should travel to, and Belfast is where you should live in.

Want to know why? Read on to find out! 

If you don’t have time, here’s a quick comparison between Dublin Vs Belfast! 

Public TransportRanked 28th globally for accessibility with the subway, buses, trams, and taxisNo underground rail network; only a suburban rail service
Affordability Expensive 
Cost of living for a single person is $1,120.20, without rent 
$867.60, without rent 
EducationPresence of top schools like Trinity College Dublin, a top university in EuropeDecent educational diversity with schools like Queen’s University Belfast 
SafetyGenerally safe with a moderate (57.99) crime rate and a slight presence of gangs in certain areas Generally safe with a moderate (49.66) crime rate 
Food OptionsMore variety Cheaper food, fresher produce
Size Of City117.8km²115km²
Population Density 4,588 people per square kilometer2,500 people per square kilometer 
Average Temperature Ranges from 38°F to 67°F and rarely goes below 30°F or above 72°FRanges from 37°F to 65°F and rarely goes below 29°F or above 72°F

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dublin vs belfast

Dublin Vs Belfast: Which City Is Better To Visit?

If you’re looking at the best city to visit between Dublin and Belfast, then Dublin is definitely the one to go for.

While both cities have a similar size, Dublin has a bigger population and is inherently home to a lot more attractions and amenities. 

Walking around Dublin as a tourist, you’ll be able to immediately feel the surge of Irish hospitality and energy as you explore the nook and crannies of the city. 

Dublin’s public transportation network is very well-established, making moving around a breeze for the average traveler.

dublin vs belfast

Dublin Vs Belfast – Attractions

Both cities Dublin and Belfast are the capital cities of each of their respective countries, Ireland and Northern Ireland, so both have a rich history behind them. 

Dublin is well-known for its literary history, considering that it was home to some of the best Irish writers – Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, and James Joyce.

With this accolade comes many literary-themed attractions like the Book of Kells in Trinity College, and even literary-themed walks and pub crawls.

On the other hand, Belfast is home to scenic spots like Giant’s Causeway and intriguing museums like the Titanic Museum

Depending on what you’re after, Dublin is great for travelers with a compact traveling schedule due to the proximity of its attractions to the city center. But hey, if you have lots of time, then Belfast should be on your radar too.

Better yet, why not check out the attractions on both sides? Take a Belfast city day trip from Dublin and get to see what both cities have to offer! 

Dublin Vs Belfast – Safety 

With a moderate ranking when it comes to crime rates across both Dublin and Belfast, it’s fair to say that both cities are generally safe to be in. 

However, it is worth a mention that Dublin does have a history rooted in drug use and gang violence though it is fast cleaning up its act. 

Some areas you should definitely steer clear of include Tallaght and Sheriff Street. 

Belfast, on the other hand, has a reputation for being extremely safe, even being recognized as a city where you can have a safe night out

We say, as with all cities, practice vigilance, keep your belongings close and use common sense when moving around – stay around brightly-lit areas and try to travel during the day as much as possible. 

PS: Aisha uses this luggage lock for all her Ireland travels and it’s not failed her yet!

Dublin Vs Belfast – Food

We might be biased but both cities have amazing Irish food. 

But we love that Belfast has an up-and-coming food scene while still staying true to its roots of using local produce.

Some of our favorite places for great food in Belfast are St. Georges Market and just random restaurants in the bustling Cathedral Quarter

If you don’t know where to start, our go-to is always to start things off with a walking food tour, no matter where we’re at. 

Dublin Vs Belfast: Which City Is Better To Live In?

Dublin and Belfast are bustling and thriving cities to live in, and anyone looking to make a move to either city would most certainly enjoy both.

But realistically, if you’re looking for a better city to live in, we’d say Belfast edges out Dublin slightly in this one.

We’ll explain why in a bit!

dublin vs belfast

Dublin Vs Belfast – Affordability

Unless you’re rolling in big bucks, day-to-day expenses would be top of mind when you’re looking for somewhere new to relocate to.

For that, Belfast’s overall cost of living is a lot more affordable, at $867.60 without rent, compared to $1,120.20 without rent in Dublin. 

In fact, across the board, consumer prices, rent prices, restaurant prices, and grocery prices are lower in Belfast than in Dublin.

What this means, is that you can get a better bang for your buck in Belfast.

On the note of dollars and cents, do take note that Belfast uses the pound, while Dublin uses the euro. 

This means you’ll need to exchange both the pound and euro if you decide to travel to both the south and north of Ireland. 

Want to keep things easy? 

We use a multi-currency card and account called Wise to carry our cash and exchange currency easily! 

Dublin Vs Belfast – Public Transportation

Given that Dublin easily made the top 30 in the Public Transportation Index, it’s clear that public transport in Dublin is miles ahead of Belfast’s. 

In Dublin, there isn’t a shortage of transport options, from the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) to the local buses, tram services, and taxis. 

Belfast on the other hand, does not have an underground rail network and a relatively suburban rail service. 

The Glider, its bus rapid transit system, however, is fast gaining traction among city dwellers and has provided much access to those in Belfast. 

It is also worth noting that people living in Dublin and Belfast own cars. 

You’ll not be out of place not owning a car in Dublin, but those in Belfast are relatively car-dependent

So if you’ve not gotten your license yet, that might be something worth considering if you intend to move to either city! 

You can rent a car in the meantime using Discover Cars. We use them too and they save us so much time, not having to wait at bus stations and dealing with lengthy pitstops!  

dublin vs belfast

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Dublin Vs Belfast – Ready Access To Scenic Sites

Now, on a whole, Ireland is gorgeous.

And sure, Dublin has its greenery too, like Phoenix Park, easily the largest enclosed public park in Europe.

 But if we want to talk about easy access to scenic sites and natural beauty, then Belfast wins in this aspect. 

Driving along the North’s coastal roads to access sites like Giant’s Causeway, and other Game of Thrones filming sites like Ballintoy Harbour and Cushenden Caves, is also a lot smoother and safer. 

You just need to drive an hour out to see these beauties. (No car yet? You can always rent one to get around first for those road trips!) 

Introduction To Dublin

Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, and it is also the biggest city in Ireland, home to more than 1.2 million people. 

The city has a strong history, and cultural significance and is well-known for its Irish hospitality and vibrant pub-drinking culture. 

It’s also known for producing the world-famous Guinness beer from its very own Guinness Storehouse, and also for being home to many iconic literary figures like Oscar Wilde and James Joyce. 

dublin vs belfast

Want to continue learning more about literature and the arts? 

There’s the Book of Kells in Trinity College and the Dublin Writers Museum.

Enjoy drinking and want to meet some locals? 

Pop into a pub along Temple Bar and enjoy craic (Irish slang for fun and enjoyment) with some newfound Irish friends, or just go on a pub crawl with a local guide for some company and the best insights. 

If you prefer some peace and quiet, there’s always the option to lie down in the fields of St. Stephen’s Green and wander down the halls of Dublin Castle

There’s really something for everyone in the city of Dublin! 

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Introduction To Belfast

Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and is home to some 643,000 inhabitants. 

As the capital city, it is the largest city within Northern Ireland and is second just to Dublin when you look at the island of Ireland as a whole. 

You might not have visited or heard of the city before your travel research, but you most certainly would have heard of the Titanic – Belfast is the building ground of the RMS Titanic.

It is also a place with abundant historical and cultural sites like the Belfast City Hall and Cathedral Quarter, as well as natural landscapes. 

Fun fact – The Belfast City Hall has a replica building right in Durban, South Africa. They obviously aren’t the same building, aside from being miles apart but the South African architect was inspired by Belfast’s version and so he built something similar. 

From Belfast Castle to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and the Dark Hedges, you really won’t run out of things to do or places to explore while you’re in Belfast.   

FAQs On Dublin Vs Belfast

How Far Is Dublin To Belfast?

The distance from Dublin to Belfast is 165.6km and will take 2 hours and 9 minutes by car if you drive via the M1 and A1 highways. 

You can also take a direct train from Dublin to Belfast via the Enterprise train for as low as $40, and just takes 2 hours and 15 minutes

How To Get To Belfast From Dublin?

You can get from Belfast to Dublin by car. The distance is just a mere 165.6km and will take 2 hours and 10 minutes if you take the M1 and A1 motorways. 

You can also take a train which will take you around 2 hours and 10 minutes, costing $17 to $24, or a bus which takes the same amount of time and costs $21 to $28

Do You Need A Passport Between Belfast And Dublin?

No, you do not need a passport to travel between Belfast and Dublin if you are a British and Irish citizen. 

For international citizens, while they do not have passport controls between both cities, it would be wise to bring a passport and any visa documents just in case. 

dublin vs belfast

Why Is Belfast Separate From Ireland?

Belfast is separate from Ireland as it is part of Northern Ireland which was partitioned away by the British after the Ireland civil war in 1920. 

Being part of Northern Ireland, Belfast is considered part of the United Kingdom instead of the Republic of Ireland. 

Is Dublin Or Belfast Bigger?

Dublin is bigger than Belfast and is the most populated city in Ireland, with 1.2 million people living in the city. 

Belfast and Cork are the second and third biggest cities respectively. 

Is Dublin Or Belfast Better To Visit?

Dublin is better to visit if you’re a fan of vibrant, cosmopolitan cities with a wide variety of attractions and food options. However, if you prefer quaint and traditional cities, Belfast will be your city of choice. 

Is Dublin Or Belfast Safer?

Both Dublin and Belfast are just as safe as long as you stay out of the rough areas and avoid exploring troubled areas on your own. 

If you’re traveling solo, you’ll want to stick to areas like Dublin and Belfast city center and engage a guide if you want to travel further out. 

Is Dublin Or Belfast The Capital Of Ireland?

Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, while Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Both cities share a land border. 

Is Dublin Or Belfast Closer To Liverpool?

Dublin is closer to Liverpool, being 218km away, while Belfast is 233.8km away from Liverpool. 

You can get to Liverpool easily from either Dublin or Belfast by car or by flight. 

A direct flight from Belfast International Airport to Liverpool takes less than an hour and costs less than a hundred dollars. 

Is Dublin More Expensive Than Belfast?

Yes, Dublin is more expensive than Belfast. To maintain the same standard of life, including rent you’ll need $4,184 in Belfast, but $6,424 in Dublin. 

Is Belfast Cheaper Than Dublin?

Yes, Belfast is cheaper than Dublin. Dublin is more expensive in almost all aspects, from the standard of living to rent, and daily expenses such as eating out in restaurants.

dublin vs belfast

The battle between Dublin Vs Belfast will always be one on the minds of those visiting the area because of how close these two cities are, and how similar they are in terms of what they offer.

As individuals who have stayed a considerable amount of time in each city, we think both cities have their charm and both deserve a chance if you have the time to explore them. 

However, if you’re truly pressed for time, then we strongly recommend you start with visiting Dublin.

If you don’t know where to start, we have a whole list of things you can do in Dublin, tours you can take, and even places where you can shoot the best photos for Instagram.

Convinced? Now start planning that trip itinerary to Ireland! Or reach out to us if you don’t know where to start! 

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