The Ulster museum has recently had a £17 million facelift. It's well worth a visit. It's right next to the compact Botanic Gardens and historical Queens University so you can do all three together.
The hometown of the Style Fair is Belfast but the fair travels to various locations across Northern Ireland. Each event has around 30 stalls packed with preloved clothing, as well as garments from vintage dealers. It's a great place to bag a bargain at a fraction of the original price. Some fairs specialise in style for the home and some have handcrafted items from local designers. Each venue is always different and there are often other features such as style makeovers and beauty advice from professionals. It is a great place to go with friends for a fun and rewarding shopping experience.
Cities across Northern Ireland, www.thestylefair.co.uk
Start at the Linen Hall Library to travel in time from the Enlightenment’s United Irishmen to today’s award winning poet Sinead Morrissey; travel in place from Louis McNeice’s drawing room on the Malone Road to C S Lewis’s East Belfast (wardrobe optional) via Van the Man’s Cyprus Avenue. Poets and writers abound, stories still being told and written.
Cheap and tasty Mexcian fast food on Botanic Avenue. With excellent vegetarian and meat burritos, tacos (hard and soft) and salad bowls, nothing costs over £5 and is extremely filling and tasty. Be aware it can be very popular with the local students at peak times!
73 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, County Antrim
+44 (0)28 9031 5334
It's a funky and friendly place with really delicious food. Staff are genuinely interested in their customers and make you feel at home and provide excellent food. I had a really good steak from their great menu. Is tucked away down a little road called Wellington Street.
Ask any taxi driver to take you on a tour around, it should cost about £20 for the hour. They will show you the cemetery and the murals as well as other historic sights, giving you a real flavour of the city and a strong sense of it's very recent history. Was the best £20 that I've spent in ages. Some drivers are willing to do it, others not. Just ask!
Best to get a taxi outside the city hall, but anywhere will do.
When my husband and I go home to Belfast we always go to Maggie Mays for breakfast. My husband loves the bumper breakfast which consists of two eggs, beans, sausages, bacon chips, mushrooms, potato and soda bread at a cost of £6.00.
A bookshop on Botanic Avenue in Belfast. The bookshop deals in crime fiction and the staff are knowledgeable and friendly. However, the bookshop (and fictionalized owner) are also a central character in the books "mystery man", "the day of the Jack Russell" and "Dr Yes" by Colin Bateman.
I downloaded a guide to Belfast off the website www.mytourtalk.com onto my MP3 player. The website does walking and driving audio guides for Belfast and Northern Ireland. You get a map as well. I wasn't sure what to expect as we hadn't done an audio tour on our own before - but we spent a couple of hours listening to the player and following the map all around the centre of Belfast. We got to see the Titanic Quarter and Waterfront Hall before we had a beer in the Crown Bar and headed up towards the University of Queens and back along Dublin Road into the back of the City Hall. Would do this again as we got to see all the main areas in our own time and came away feeling we hadn't missed anything.
This bus tour takes in 20 stops and lasts about an hour and a half. The tour takes in the Shankill and Falls Roads, as well as the Titanic Quarter, city centre, Stormont parliament building & the university quarter, with a live commentary.
Departures every 20 mins in peak season.£12.50 for adults, £6 for kids.
Pick up this red sightseeing bus from the High Street near the Albert Clock Tower.
The 'in your pocket' series of guidebooks are well worth recommending. The list of places is limited, but they are written by locals and are updated every two months. Even better, they are free and can be downloaded from the website.
The Belfast edition in booklet form is also free in the airport and other tourist locations.
In the light of the possible flight disruptions due to ash, it's worth knowing about the 'rail & sail' offer between Belfast and Scotland. You can book a train & ferry between Belfast and Glasgow/Edinburgh for £25 each way. Separate train and ferry tickets will almost cost double.
Train to other parts of the UKwill cost a little more but again far cheaper than if you get the tickets separately.
Newly opened, this cafe, bakery and deli is a welcome addition to the Queen's Quarter area of Belfast.
There is an instant glow of expectation when you step inside as the colours, comfy sofas, tables and chairs create a wonderfully warm ambience. Being new, the staff are welcoming, keen as mustard and seem genuinely pleased to see you. I popped in intending to have a quick sarnie but was tempted by the all day breakfast which was plentiful, filling, came with a large coffee and was a mere £4.95! The menu seems to have all sorts of light bites and more substantial dishes too.
I rather suspect this is going to become a firm favourite with the nearby university staff and students not to mention visitors to the newly opened Ulster Museum. My advice is to hurry in and sample the pleasures before too many other folk want in as well!
The French Village Cafe, Bakery & Deli,
Botanic Avenue at the juntion of Botanic and University Street.
(two mins walk up from Botanic station towards the University)
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye24ot8
Every Thursday night in the Empire Bar see the Rab McCullough blues band from 10.30pm to 1am. It's free admission and it's a consistently good night out in this historical bar which is in an old church. Also every Sunday night in the same place you can see Glen Haddock (classic rock and pop) from 10 to 12pm, which is always good and free. Rab McCullough plays an acoustic set in Madisons bar on Fridays from 7.30 to 9.30pm.
A 20 minute train journey from Belfast Botanic or Central station to Helens Bay station. When you leave the train at Helens Bay walk straight down the road for five minutes to the beach. Then turn left and walk for 90 minutes along the coastal path to Hollywood. It's a very pleasant walk if the weather is fine and you can finish up in the Dirty Duck pub (beside the sea) where they have better than average food and four real ales on tap (its unusual to have any in Northern Irish bars). The train station is a five minute walk from the pub.
The huge paint hall at the Harland & Wolff shipyard that built the Titanic is proving a versatile remnant of Belfast's industrial fame. It has attracted various Hollywood productions in its four massive 85-foot-high cells.
Five minutes from the city centre and the near-by George Best Belfast City Airport. Sightseeing open top buses depart frequently from Castle Place at the heart of Belfast City Centre.
Belfast is in essence a small town with little to sustain tourists for more than a day or two. However there is an aspect to the city which has benefited from the isolation of the past – the nightlife. Try and get beyond the dated, formulaic dance/rock scene, the tedious traditional music and the dull bars and you will find a scene unrelated to anything you can find in Europe. A triumvirate of underground clubs form a loose association to provide a unique scene – Fresh & Clean, Section 29 and Victory Over The Sun. The clubs are constantly on the move never returning to one location and dancing is forbidden! Belfast is littered with old Victorian buildings, warehouses, tunnels and rooftops providing a safe haven for the uber-cool. Dub-step and modern classical provide the current sound track and champagne (in one event served in blood transfusion bags) provides the fuel. Admission is on average £80.
Most of the venues seem to be off the city centre. If you have difficulty tapping into the scene try leaving your contact number on 07546585801
The Belfast taxi tour takes in the history of the troubles, the murals, the peace wall and the areas of significance. As an Englishman visiting Belfast for the first time this was by far the most striking, memorable and humbling part of our trip. All driver-guides have been involved in the troubles from a political or paramilitary standpoint in some way. Hearing from them firsthand, in an unbiased and even-handed manner, the rich detail of such recent struggles and resolutions is worth every penny.
Taxi tours are easily bookable through the tourist office.
It is a market that takes place every Saturday in Belfast. Good selection of produce to buy, whether it be food, art, clothes or photographs. There is usually a band playing. With loads of food stalls you can buy you lunch or a coffee and sit down and relax.
12-20 East Bridge Street
St George’s Market is located opposite Belfast Waterfront Hall and the Hilton Hotel in Oxford Street, which runs parallel to the River Lagan. From the rear of Belfast city Hall walk eastwards down May Street for a few minutes, cross over Victoria Street and St George’s is directly in front of you.
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