New year, new place and new memories. 2017 was one such year for me. I moved to London in January 2017. It was a big move and After setting everything up and exploring the city I was ready for a short break. Being a Game of thrones fan I already had a list of filming locations I was dying to visit but one of them won this time. And I have to admit it was another TV series that made the decision for me -The Fall. Absolutely loved this BBC drama that was filmed here. If you haven’t guessed it yet it was city of Belfast – the beautiful city in Northern Ireland.
Belfast is a city of beautiful sights, delicious food, cultural experiences and fascinating tours to suit every age group & interest.
I have picked up my top favourites from my weekend in Belfast. Here is my Belfast guide for you to make the most of your weekend city break.
Day 0 – Evening
- Winding up your work early for that flight to Belfast must leave you exhausted. How about starting your trip with pub crawl where you visit great bars, enjoy traditional Irish music and make some new friends?
Always start your day with a hearty breakfast!
Start your weekend in Belfast with some hearty Breakfast. That wee bit of drink from last night would have made you really hungry. Head out to St. George’s market and see historic market live in action. Reach early when the stalls are still being put up to see all the fresh produce coming in and fishmongers arranging the catch of the day on the tables. I loved the variety of food that was on offer and not to forget the live music!
Watch the mouth-watering breakfast of all times being prepared in the market. That’s ‘Belfast Bellybuster’ live in action. If this doesn’t make you hungry I don’t know what will!
If sea food is your thing, look for the stall that sells Oysters. Yes, Oysters for breakfast – you read it right. In fact I would recommend making most of your weekend in Belfast & taste fresh shellfish at every meal – fresh mussels, crayfish, lobsters..yummy!!! It is as fresh as you can get and at a very reasonable price as compared to what you’ll pay back home!
From market its a short walk to City hall & St. Anne’s cathedral. Absorb the hustle bustle of Belfast city centre. City hall offers free public tours everyday. See the timings of free tours here.
All that walking will surely make you hungry again. It’s time to grab a Guinness and Irish stew at Kelly’s Cellars – oldest traditional Irish pub in Belfast with all its original features still intact.
Visit Titanic Belfast – We all have seen the movie Titanic, saw the opulence in the ship and cried when Jack died! But to know the true history and how this massive ship was built, you need to visit Titanic Belfast. It’s not a museum but an experience in itself!
Belfast showcases some of Northern Ireland’s finest produce and ingredients. So much so that year 2016 was declared as the Year of Food and Drink in Belfast! With two 1-Michelin starred restaurants; OX and Eipic it was one of the top reasons why I wanted to visit Belfast. I celebrated my birthday at OX Befast and enjoyed their 5 course seasonal tasting menu. I will be writing about my experience in another post soon. Take a walk in shining Belfast waterfront after that delicious dinner.
Start your Sunday at University quarter. Breakfast at Maggie May’s will take you back to your university days with their epic Milkshakes and special hangover cure menu. With full belly now you will be ready to explore the beautiful Belfast Botanic Garden, Ulster museum and Queen’s university all of which is within walking distance of each other.
If you are up for something bit eerie yet full of cold hard facts, you must visit Crumlin Road Gaol (pronounced as Jail). They run guided tours and their guides are excellent storytellers. And if you still have the stomach to eat some lunch, head back to Mourne Seafood bar in city centre and order a seafood platter. Cooking enthusiasts can also learn how to cook the seafood in the cookery school attached to the restaurant.
The perfect last spot for your holiday in Belfast should be the Stormont estate. It is home to beautiful gardens, statues and walking trails. The Parliament building is open on weekdays but you can view it from outside and the road leading to it is a perfect photo stop.
You could extend your trip by a day or two and spend it cruising through the Causeway coastal route & see Giant’s causeway, Glens of Antrim and many other beautiful sights on the way. Many tour operators offer day trips to these locations. I loved my day tour with McComb’s Coach travel. Derek, the driver & guide kept the tour informative and fun with his ‘bad’ jokes 😄 If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you could see numerous filming locations on this route. Feel like a true northerner and in the Northern Irish weather 🙂
As I was boarding my flight back I repeated my words “It’s so cold here..But it’s the people who make this place a warm and welcoming place!” Hope you have whale of a time too 😉
Visa – You do not require a separate visa to visit Northern Ireland if you already have a visa for UK.
Weather – Layers, comfy shoes and rain-proof jacket. It can get pretty windy and chilly at times except if you are visiting in proper summer. A jacket is always useful while travelling in countryside.
Accommodation – From hostels, to BnB to luxury lodgings you have everything within walking distance of City centre.
I booked an apartment via AirBnB that was 10 min away from city centre and had everything that I needed for a short trip.
Using AirBnB first time? Get £25 off with my code. Sign up with AirBnB using this link HERE to get the discount
Travel – Flights from London to Belfast take around 1 hour. Everything in Belfast is mostly accessible by foot or a short cab ride by Uber or local cabs. To make the most of your weekend in Belfast you can take a Hop-on-hop-off tour ticket which is valid for 48 hours and that takes you to most of the attractions. They also offer combo tickets combining the tour with an attraction ticket at discounted rate
Resources – I always do my research and take tips from the Official Tourism websites before planning my weekend in Belfast. Also, speak to the locals as they are the best source of information in any place.
More Michelin star dining ideas? Read my gastronomic journey at Le Cinq Paris