A lot depends on what your needs and expectations are. In terms of travel time to Acadia and environs, I doubt that there is much difference---Belfast is on Rte 1 which would afford faster driving than moving your way up the peninsula from Castine. Castine is smaller and more quiet; Belfast is larger, has more restaurants, etc. On the Belfast--Mount Desert Island route, an interesting stop is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, along with Fort Knox---just south of Bucksport.
1300 - 6600
CW has hit it right on the head....the best answer to your question depends on what you're looking for in a Maine coastal town.
Castine is a town of between 1,300 and 1,400 people.... It's home to the Maine Maritime Academy, which dominates some of the "downtown" waterfront....but other than that, it's a small Maine town on the coast with limited accomodation and dining options. But if you're more interested in "getting away from everything", it might be a better choice.
Belfast is a town of between 6.600 and 6,700 people. If offers a larger, more robust downtown with more restaurant choices than Castine and a growing collection of local shops and businesses (and has voted against "big-box" development on more than one occasion). Because of it's location, it probably offers more opportunities for day-trips to other parts of Maine besides Acadia than Castine would afford....for example, the mid-Coast area of Camden-Rockport-Owl's Head (museums, lighthouses, off-shore island ferry rides, etc) or the more inland Central Maine communities of Augusta-Hallowell (state museum, state capital complex, riverside historic community) are both easy day trips from Belfast. But even though it's on US 1, visitors to downtown Belfast really aren't impacted by the Rt 1 traffic because through traffic goes around downtown on a by-pass.
And depending on when in September you're here, if it's late enough in September that the fall foliage has begun to turn color in the western mountains, you could take a fall-foliage day trip from Belfast -- something that could be quite a trek from Castine.
Guess it's all a matter of how you want to spend your non-Acadia time....
both are nice choices; just a matter of differences in expectations/preferences.
Thank you both CW and Mainer- Very helpful- Belfast it is!
Have a great trip !
And if you think of it when you get home, come on back to the Maine forum and post a trip report to let us know how things went.... what you liked, what you didn't like so much, etc.... Will help others trying to make a choice similar to yours....and will help folks like CW and me give even more helpful suggestions the next time around....
And Happy New Year !!
IAgreed/ if you want it quiet: go to Castine. In any event: do not miss Castine. It has worked hard to protect its' Elm trees and is a beautiful little town well worth a regular visit.
How walkable is Belfast - if staying at the Seaside cottages - can you easily walk to where all the restaurants are on the water side? Is Belfast totally walkable?
Did you mean Seascape Cottages? If so, then no they are not within walking distance of the village area of Belfast, Maine. They are along busy highway one, well outside of town.
is there a good place to stay in town, so you can park the car and forget it...meaning walk to all the restaurants..etc...near the water? Not sure if this exists here? Thanks for all the tips!