5 Reasons to fall in love with Belfast
Valentine’s Day may have come and gone but we’re still very much in the season of love. This love should be extended to your travels in 2015 and one city that is gaining lots of love and appreciation at the minute is Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland. Belfast is a city that has turned a corner in recent years following decades of political trouble, to firmly put itself on the European travel scene, and now welcomes visitors from all over the world to explore the sheer beauty of the city.
Visitors from America, Canada, Australia and even Asia, travel for hours to trace old Irish roots and enjoy the ‘craic’ with the locals. Indeed, the New York Times recently showed the world how to enjoy 36 hours in Belfast, so if you’re planning a trip to this little area of magic, here’s 5 things you simply must check out when there.
5 Experiences you’ll simply love in Belfast
- St George’s Market
If you’re planning a trip to Belfast anytime soon, then you simply must get along to the impressive St George’s Market. A Victorian inspired building in the city centre, St George’s Market has been the heartbeat of Belfast’s local food and craft industries for many a year.
For the food loving among you, the market will give you an array of sights, sounds and smells as you see food on show from all over the world. Open from Friday to Sunday with music at the weekend, this is the best place to start any weekend break to Belfast.
- Ulster Museum
The Ulster Museum is a free museum situated in the popular Stranmillis area of the city, just a short walk from the grounds of Queens University. The museum has an array of exhibitions on display including pieces from modern history, art, natural sciences and also human history. There are also a number of regular events and exhibitions at the museum, so for those of you who enjoy getting to grips with ancient history, be sure to add this to your list.
The Ulster Museum is part of the National Museums of Northern Ireland which also include the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, the Ulster American Folk Park and the County Armagh Museum. If you’re spending a few days travelling around Northern Ireland, I would strongly recommend visiting each of these museums. They all offer something a little different.
- Titanic Belfast
Opened in 1912 (100 years after the Titanic infamously sank), Titanic Belfast has gone on to become the most visited tourist attraction in Northern Ireland, and a sign of things to come in Belfast. It is a real focal point of regeneration in the Titanic Quarter, with hotels, apartments and restaurants all expected to follow in the coming years.
The centre shares the story of Titanic with an exhibition of the ship, taking you on a journey through the building of the ship from the very location that this building is located, right through to the sinking. There is lots of detail in the exhibition and expect to take an hour or two getting round it all. A great way to spend part of your day in Belfast. Adult tickets cost £10 and can be purchased online.
Take time to explore the area around Titanic Belfast including the sister ship of Titanic, SS Nomadic, and the famous slips from where the ship left Belfast. If time is on your side, take a Segway tour of the area with Segway NI and find out more about the history of the Titanic and what it means to the people of Belfast.
- Grab a pint
The Irish are famous for enjoying the odd drink and a good old fashioned sing song. You’d be crazy to visit Belfast and not explore its growing bar and club scene. From bars like The Crown and Bittles who have long been established in the city, to up and coming bars like The Dirty Onion, Filthy McNastys and The Harp Ear, there really is something for everyone in Belfast. The best place to start out on your drinking adventure is the Cathedral Quarter, home to some of the busiest and most popular bars in the city centre.
You’ll be able to get many of your favourite tipples in Belfast, but why not try something new and sample a local craft beer or cider. The local craft industry in Belfast is booming, and you can be guaranteed a craft drink of some sort in almost any bar in the city centre. Sit back and relax with your drink while you take in the sights and sounds around you. If you want to get the most from any bar experience in Belfast, pull up a seat to the bar and listen to the tales and stories of yester year from the bar staff and their customers – there’s certainly many a character in the Belfast bars.
- Grab dinner with a view
Belfast is enjoying a growing reputation when it comes to food and there are lots of great guides to eating out in Belfast. From the popular eateries of Ox and Deanes to the wonderful St Anne’s Square, Belfast provides plenty of food for thought when it comes to visitors deciding on where to dine out. But if you want a dining experience with a view, there are two places that you really must try out.
First is Robinson and Cleaver in Belfast City Centre. Once the home of the famous Robinson and Cleaver department store, this space has been transformed to one of Belfast’s most popular restaurants, and part of this reason is the magnificent Terrace restaurant. Enjoy some of the finest locally sourced produce as you stir out at Belfast City Hall and watch the world go by.
Next up we have The Ivory which is located at the top of the Victoria Square shopping centre. Another popular restaurant that not only serves amazing food, but backs it up with possibly the best view of the city (other than atop Cavehill). With a panoramic view of the city, this is dinner with a view is all about.
Have fun exploring
With so much to see and do in Belfast, you best come prepared. Plan out your trip to the city and be sure to explore it on foot. Belfast is a relatively small city in comparison to some of Europe’s heavyweights, so the best way to get familiar with it is to get out and about and start exploring. The locals are extremely friendly and will be only too happy to help point you in the right direction or make a suggestion or two for things to do.