“Your feet will bring you where your heart is” – Irish Proverb
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast has an ongoing and recent history of trouble but such a beautiful part of the UK also has so much to offer. A visit to Northern Ireland’s capital is a great idea for a short 2-3 day break. Don’t let the politics put you off. The Irish are happy-go-lucky souls who welcome you with open arms and are proud to show off their part of the world. Just an hour flight from London, it’s a super easy getaway idea for both city-lovers and natural-beauty-admirers.
Day 1 – A City Walk
On the day you land, hit the ground running and enjoy something around the city. We made a stop at impressive City Hall, buying a sandwich on the way, and sitting in the beautiful gardens to take in the feel around us. The Titanic Memorial Garden honours those that lost their lives in 1912 and lists each person by name on a memorial plaque. Stop to get acquainted with the locals before wandering the nearby streets in search of your hotel.
The Bullitt Hotel
We chose the Bullitt, a modern and trendy design with fantastic dining and ambience. The Bullitt was a 15-minute walk from Europa Bus Station, where you can shuttle to and from the International Airport every 20 minutes. A return ticket costs £10.50 per adult and is a great way to get a view of the countryside and the city upon arrival. The Bullitt staff were wonderfully friendly and engaging, from reception and security, to bar staff and waitresses. We loved this hotel and cannot recommend it enough. It’s a hidden gem on a worn looking street, with many great drinking and live music options nearby.
The rooms here are small but have everything you need, the breakfast bags contain light bites that are delivered to your door in the morning, and there’s a fantastic selection of tea and fresh coffee at your fingertips. The wonderful king bed guarantees a good nights sleep, the rain shower head is to die for and the complimentary toiletries include body lotion and conditioner from a reputable source. Even though it’s fab here, get straight back out into Belfast.
Day 1 – The Titanic Museum
We used our first afternoon to head to the Titanic museum, around a 25-minute walk from the hotel and easy to find following signposts and the water. The museum takes you on a journey through the ages of shipbuilding in Belfast. You learn about the occupations that the city enjoyed as it began to industrialise, the shipyard and its role at the forefront of the industry, and then the marvellous creations such as Titanic that really were world firsts. There’s a mix of reading and marvellous interactions so you can choose to take the museum in in whichever way suits you best. We loved the small ride that shows you how the ship was built, the floor level simulation that makes you feel like you’re aboard and the incredible underwater film that runs through Titanic’s discovery in the 80s. Don’t miss this museum. It’s one of our favourites and we rate it highly. Allow a good couple of hours and on the way back, wander into a pub for a Harp beer.
Food in Belfast
Foodwise, you are spoilt for choice in this up and coming area of Belfast. We loved Bootleggers and Taylor and Clay in the Bullitt hotel. The food is of high quality and the service is down to earth yet professional. The best thing about any bar, restaurant or pub in this city is the music. Each one is slightly different but all achieve the same result. You instantly feel transported into the local’s mindset and fall in love with your surroundings.
Day 2 – A Causeway Coastal Tour
We spent our one whole day on a fantastic, unmissable day tour to the Giant’s Causeway. Wow. We had no idea how beautiful Northern Ireland’s coastline is. The incredible tour company Irish Tour Tickets make a full, fun-packed day of this popular natural attraction and many other beauties on the way. See old castles and ruins, walk the causeway, drive the coastline, and stop at the oldest whiskey distillery in the world. With informative and light-hearted commentary from your driver and the perfect amount of comfort breaks and time to explore independently, we loved our day out with these guys and would recommend them to any traveller in the area.
Irish children are told the story about the giants who had a falling out and the coastline that ended up all over the sea. Sit back in comfort and enjoy the mythical magic of Irish story-telling. Grab a tea and a scone to-go from the Causeway Hotel and walk the rocky edge at your own pace without the guide. There’s also an incredible ice-cream stop here. Save lunch for the distillery at Bushmills accompanied by a tasting tray of whiskey. Being a little tipsy won’t hurt for the rickety old Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge stop that comes up next. Find the guts to do it and sit on the other side of the rocks watching the birds nest and fly above the crystal clear water.
Celebrations in Belfast
We were in Belfast over the 12th July celebrations to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne. On the evening of the 11th, bonfires are lit all over the city that burn into the small hours of the 12th. On the morning of the 12th, parades fill the streets and most shops and roads shut. It’s an experience but if, like us, you are making your way to the airport, check your routes and allow a little extra time. We experienced no real delays or trouble. Don’t let the heavy police presence deter you. Most celebrations are in good spirit and people come out to celebrate with their families and friends.
Belfast’s Recent History
Any tour in this area is an opportunity for learning about the troubles of Ireland and our Giant’s Causeway driver pointed out the wall that still divides the two parts of the city on our way out of town. For a more detailed guide of this part of Belfast’s history, take a black taxi through the streets, admiring the artwork from the political struggles and depicting the events of these times. We didn’t manage to squeeze this in but will be back for a Black Cab Tour in the near future as it comes highly recommend!
If you are planning a trip to Belfast, check out these Top Local Attractions.
We were blown away by the history and appeal of this Northern Ireland city. A day or two is enough in Belfast and then you will want to get out and about into the countryside. Make the most of being in County Antrim and enjoy one of the most scenic coastal roads in the world. Drink Harp beer, listen to live music in the pubs and on the streets and get into the spirit of the Irish. Thank you Belfast for welcoming us, in particular, our wonderful tour company Irish Tour Tickets and the Bullitt hotel. In the words of locals, may the luck of the Irish be with you.
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