A Weekend in Belfast Northern Ireland
Today we welcome Jonny of Don’t Stop Living. Jonny takes us for a weekend in Belfast, Northern Ireland sharing where to go, what to see, and food to eat. Megan lived in Belfast before leaving to travel the world for the past 10 years. Let’s join Jonny for a tour of a weekend in Belfast, Northern Ireland!
When your curious soul takes you to Northern Ireland’s capital city, you’ll be uncovering more charms than you could imagine as this city pulls you in. Tourist wise, it’s the least visited capital city in the British Isles. You might even have some of the tourist sights all to yourself for that reason.
Friday Night in Belfast Northern Ireland
It’s your first night in Belfast so you’ll want some decent food and to relax. You’re in luck food wise as Friday and Saturday nights are when the restaurants get busy and a wafting smell of local and international cuisine drifts through the streets. “Foreign food” took a while to get started in Belfast but now it’s a booming trade.
You’ll mostly want to try the local food, as well as get a taste for Belfast’s restaurant scene. However, Friday night in Belfast is the perfect time to head down to the pub for a few drinks, Northern Irish people love to drink, listen to some live music and get a pastie supper or a fish supper on a Friday night. This could be the option for you – a few drinks and grab some takeaway food on the way back to your hotel/hostel.
An endless array of bars in Belfast means you’re not short of options. I’d head down to Bradbury Place and Shaftesbury Square and take your pick. A local’s favourite is Lavery’s, which offers a typical pub scene downstairs with lively rooms upstairs and even a nightclub at the top. You’ll walk past countless other bars on route including Benedicts and the Taphouse. Further out of the city there are the student favourites such as the Eg and the Bot. Visit a local “chippy” on the way back and ask for a fish supper or a pastie supper. Bishop’s in Bradbury Place is famous for this type of cuisine, both for sit in and takeaway.
Saturday in Belfast Northern Ireland
While traditionally a market day for Belfast, you’ll want to get up early and make the most of Saturday for sightseeing. First up you need to try an Ulster Fry. This is Northern Ireland’s “all day breakfast” and is a must. Featuring bacon, egg, sausages, potato bread, fried bread, soda bread, tomatoes, and black pudding (plus other things depending on where you go). This is the meal of the locals. Find a greasy cafe that has a sit down option and try one.
Then take a black taxi tour to get a detailed look at the Protestant and Catholic areas of the city. Belfast is not shy of its cultural, religious or political history. Quite the opposite. On a black taxi tour you’ll visit Protestant areas such as the notorious Shankill area, which is a British Stronghold. Here you can see pro-British murals and proud Union Flags. Compare that to the Falls Road area which is proud of Belfast’s Irish roots. Irish tricolour flags fly high and the locals don’t see themselves as British. This will give you a taste of Belfast’s obvious divide.
After the black taxi tour (or as part of it, depending on the driver) head out of the city to visit Stormont, which is in an area called Dundonald. Stormont is an elegant building which was built for the Northern Ireland parliament. A statue of Dubliner Edward Carson, a strong unionist sits proudly in front on the road leading up to it. You can eat lunch nearby, or for a good fast food place that is only found in Belfast, try Arnold’s in Ballyhackamore on your way back into East Belfast.
East Belfast is a great place to see the birth places of three Northern Irish legends. CS Lewis, Author of the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” grew up here and is commemorated by a statue of himself opening a wardrobe, which is situated at the Holywood Arches. Also in East Belfast you can visit the Cregagh Estate and see the football pitches where George Best grew up. A mural of the famous Belfast Boy has been painted on the walls in the estate. If you’re a keen music fan you can also visit Hyndford Street, and the old house where singer Van Morrison grew up.
In the evening, head out to Bradbury Place and Shaftesbury Square again and find a great sit down restaurant for local or international cuisine. There are a lot of restaurants in this area. There is also the option to relax for sunset at Botanic Gardens and eat nearby. Belfast City Centre is not that big, which means a decent restaurant is never far away.
Sunday in Belfast Northern Ireland
Early morning, head to the Titanic Quarter. Not only can you visit the brand new Titanic Centre (only opened in 2012), but you can actually see the entire docks area where the Titanic was built and launched. Locals joke that it was built by the Irish and sunk by the English. You can buy T-shirts and other souvenirs in the Titanic Shop and also eat lunch there.
In the afternoon, take a trip up to Cavehill for an excellent view of Belfast City. You can go to Belfast Zoo while you’re there and also pop into Belfast Castle, which also offers great views of the city.
Then you’ll want to catch your last glimpses of the city centre before your weekend comes to a close. Head to the Albert Clock which tilts to the side and is Belfast’s answer to a “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and sits near Custom House Square. It’s a short walk to the Victoria Centre from there and it offers 360 degrees views of Belfast City from the top floor. The lift to the top is free entry. After that, admire Belfast’s turquoise domed City Hall and top it all off with dinner in the Crown Bar.
You’ll have had a busy weekend in Belfast, but you’ll have enjoyed it.
Thank you to Jonny Blair of Don’t Stop Living for sharing his wealth of information on how to spend a weekend in Belfast Northern Ireland.
Have you ever spent a weekend in Belfast Northern Ireland?
All photos provided by Don’t Stop Living.