I love Belfast. I used to live there and my family still live there, so we are frequent visitors. Every time we go back there seems to be another restaurant or bar opened, or a new place to visit. Belfast is definitely on the up!
Belfast has 2 airports, George Best City Airport, and Belfast International. If you can, I’d recommend flying into the City Airport, as it’s a quick train journey from Sydenham station into the city centre, or the 600 bus only takes a few minutes. Unfortunately, you can only fly into the International from Newcastle Airport, but we’re very lucky and family will often come and pick us up. It’s only a quick 45-50 minute flight from Newcastle to Belfast, which isn’t even enough time to watch a downloaded episode of the Crown on Netflix! If you book flights in advance, you can often find really good deals. Charl and I try and book our flights around 6 weeks in advance, and they normally work out around £80 return for both of us.
Where to Stay
Worrying about where to stay is something we don’t have to worry about – we stay at Hotel de Pere. However, on our Slag Do, we did stay in a hotel so my poor dad didn’t have to listen to drunken girls coming back in at 2am. We stayed at Dukes at Queen’s, which is a contemporary hotel in the Queen’s University area of the city. The hotel was perfectly located, on Botanic Avenue and can be easily reached by any No. 7 Metro Bus (the pink ones) or train to Botanic. It’s right by Queen’s University and all the trendy bars that surround the university, some excellent vintage shops and Botanic Gardens.
There are other places in Belfast I’ve wanted to stay. If I had mega money, I’d be looking at The Merchant Hotel in the Cathedral Quarter, who apparently do an excellent afternoon tea. I’d also like to try The Titanic Hotel, which is in the former offices of Harland and Wolff, the company behind the legendary boat and The White Star Line.
Eat and Drink
Belfast boasts not one, but two Michelin Star restaurants. And I’m yet to try either of them! They are Ox Belfast and Eipic by Michael Deane. I had my graduation dinner at Eipic’s sister restaurant, Deane’s at Queen’s, which I’d highly recommend as well.
If your budget doesn’t stretch to Michelin Star dining, there are lots of different restaurants to try.
Also in the Queen’s Quarter is Molly’s Yard: I’d highly recommend their 5-10-5 menu, and if the cheeseboard is on offer, definitely get it!
A proper Belfast establishment is Boojum, They have three locations, one on Botanic Avenue, another on Great Victoria Street and one on Chichester Street. Their burritos are cheap, tasty and a student staple. In fact, I know of someone who moved from Belfast to Texas and missed it so much they named their dog Boojum.
For drinks, we’re big fans of Rita’s, Perch Rooftop Bar, and of course, The Crown Liquor Saloon. The Crown is on Great Victoria Street, and is an amazing example of a Victorian Gin Palace, with original snugs, beautiful tiling inside and a very nice food menu.
Sometimes it’s strange being a tourist in a place you used to live. It’s easy to take things for granted when you live there, and then be shocked by how much has changed when you go back.
- Tour of Belfast City Hall They’re free, they’re educational and entertaining. We did one on a rainy afternoon in the middle of winter. It rains a lot in NI, so it’s worth having indoor activities planned!
- Belfast Bus Tour £12 for an adult, and the ticket is hop-on, hop-off. The tours are informative and run frequently, meaning they’re an excellent way to get around Belfast and go explore things you find more interesting. I’d recommend visiting Stormont Parliament Buildings who also do a free tour when MLAs aren’t sitting (which, at the moment is all the time) and there’s an adventure play park on the grounds.
- Botanic Gardens Beautiful public gardens in the University Quarter, with the oldest curved glass greenhouse in the UK. In May and June it’s usually full of students, revising on the lawns and taking advantage of the sunshine.
- Titanic Belfast I couldn’t post about Belfast without including this, could I? Voted World’s Best Tourist Attraction in 2016, it’s an interactive museum about the ill-fated luxury ship. I still haven’t managed to go as pre-booking is essential! I’ve heard excellent things though, and I will definitely be going next time I go to Northern Ireland.
Have you any top tips for visiting Belfast?
Miss Bea x