Great food. Amazing people. Views to rival those of your dreams. Game of Thrones settings for even the smallest of fans. A coast that screams magic. That and so much more, find out what my top recommendations are for your upcoming trip to Belfast!
How to get there: Ryanair flies from London Gatwick & most major International airports (£50 return for my flights)
Where to stay: Global Village / £15-25/night for a dorm bed / Breakfast included / Every night there are pool & beer pong tournaments before staff take you out to a new pub, Saturdays they host a pub crawl Airport connector: £10 return on the 300 to Europa Bus Depot & 15 minute walk to the hostel/city centre
Where to eat
Boojum - quick, easy & cheap Mexican
Bao by Dead Famous - top not asian style bao’s
Umi Falafel - One of the best Falafel pita’s I’ve ever had! (and around the corner from the hostel) Avoca - Orginal and gorgeous Northern Irish homewares & the cafe upstairs has the best scones I’ve had
What to see
Titanic Museum -
“The World’s Largest Tourist Attraction”, thats a huge description to live up & let me tell you it didn’t disappoint! Opening times change throughout the seasons, but range from 9/10am - 4/6pm depending on when you visit. You can book your ticket online or when you arrive at the museum and entry is £18/adult and this also gives you access to the SS Nomadic. The museum includes exhibits about the pre-Titanic era of Belfast & the boom in industry that led to it’s creation. You’ll be able to experience a day in the life of the builders on different sections of the ship with an interactive chair lift sort of ride in the museum & listen to the recounting of launch day in Belfast. There is also a section where you can read the actually hear a reenacted telling of the fateful night the Titanic hit the iceberg & read the transcribed S.O.S call right before she sank. I definitely ad goosebumps reading about all those lost & even more so those who survived. The last bit & probably one of the most interesting of the museum is watching a video of divers uncovering the wreckage of the ship. Whether you’re a huge Titanic buff or have no outside knowledge other than Leo & Kate it’s definitely somewhere not to be missed.
City Hall -
I can’t say I’ve visited too many City Halls in my life before, but Belfast sure does have a pretty one (from the outside) full of history on the inside. Whether you’re looking for some information of past relatives or wanting to get a better understanding of the troubles & how Belfast became the thriving city it is now this is a great place to do just that. And if you should find yourself with a sunny day (like I did) then be sure to grab a coffee and take a stroll around the grounds, they’re just as impressive as the inside of the hall.
C.S Lewis Park - This is somewhere I read about on the bus from the airport that I hadn't come across on my Google searches before I left. Being a huge C.S Lewis & Chronicles of Narnia fan I knew I couldn't skip it! Catch a bus from the city centre, & get off at the East Side Visitor Centre, & take a quick stroll through the park to find the characters from The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. The bronze statues give the park life, but other than that there wasn’t much else to see in the area. On your way out before to walk part of the way back to town..
East Belfast Murals -
While I was on the bus headed to C.S Lewis park I started to spot the iconic murals of East Belfast & knew that walking back would be my best bet to see them all (hence my walking suggestions above). The murals were absolutely incredible, the artistry alone was amazing & the stories they told were more than I could have imagined. It’s not unknown that Belfast has troubled past, and these murals tell parts of the story depending which side of the city you’re on (Loyalist or Nationalist). Here were a few that really got me from East Belfast.
City Centre -
Belfast as a city has quite a bit going on on any given day so be sure to give yourself some time to check out the street art, take in some music, or one of the dozens of awesome cafes along the street. Commercial Court is a god place to start, take in the charming cobbled lanes & great art styles outside the pubs and shops. Make your way to the shopping area and have a look around some great clothing or homeware stores. The info centre is right at the heart of the city and is a huge wealth of knowledge. Anything you need to know or never knew you wanted to know can be found there.
Ulster Museum -
I don’t tend to do a lot of museum touring when I travel unless 1 of 2 things happen - it’s free or it’s raining. Well when both of those things come to be then it’s the perfect reason to check out a museum, and I’m SO glad I decided to go to the Ulster Museum. Located in the Botanical Gardens (a nice place to stroll when the rain lets up) only 10 minutes from the Global Village Hostel, and free entry for everyone. The museum offers something for everything from art lovers, to history buffs, and people like me..aka the Game of Thrones obsessed. Taking you from Ancient Egypt, to Northern Ireland & the troubles, underwater life, and finally ending the experience with a a trip to the magical room that holds an insanely amazing Game of Thrones tapestry until February 2018. Recounting the monumental scenes from seasons 1-7, the 250 foot long tapestry is done by hand & weavers & if you haven't caught up to the most recent season I would shield your eyes from the photos to follow…
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge + Giants Causeway - A trip to Belfast would not be complete without a trip to the coast & these 2 equally stunning locations. So I saved the best for last in sharing them. I opted to do a guided tour of these locations which was actually sold as a Game of Throne + Causeway + Rope Bridge tour (something I'll be going into more detail in a second post) and booked through Viator. (click here for the exact tour) I'm not usually one for guided tours but I can honestly say this was the best I've ever been on. The guide (Charlene) is a local and has a sense of humour like no one else I’ve met, she’ll leave you in stitches before you even take off from the carpark. The ride out to the Bridge is about an hour and the coastal views are just incredible (be sure to sit by the window if you can). Cost for entry is £6/ person and you pay after parking. From the lot, the bridge itself is about 25 minutes by foot & the park rangers let 8 people at a time cross making sure everyone is safe & let you take photos as you go. I lucked out and of all days I was in Belfast this was the sunniest & most beautiful I could have ever imagined! Spent nearly 2 hours taking in all the views before getting back on the bus to the Causeway. This site is free, as long as you don't go into the visitor centre first, if you do that will cost you £10.50/person & is unnecessary. The walk down to the causeway is about the same as Carrick-A-Rede & to be honest you won't notice the strange rock formations until you set foot on them. The odd shapes were created by a volcano many years ago and legend has it there was a fight between two giants (Scottish & Irish) depending on who you talk to. Another 2 hours spent exploring this spot & was so grateful for all the time given on the tour (another reason I loved it so much).
And that my wandering friends is my round up on Belfast. 4 amazing days spent in the most beautiful of places, and to think I never really thought much about visiting in the first place. For as much as I heard about this place, I never thought much about actually going. But thanks to a super cheap fare - £50 return - & my wandering nature I found myself in love with yet another place. Now that I’ve been, I can honestly say that you’ll regret not visiting on your next trip to the UK. From here keep your eyes peeled for a total Game of Thrones round up next!