Belfast, Ireland, has certainly had its share of dark days, but these days things are looking much brighter for the city. My family and I recently returned from a 48 hour holiday and found it to be very interesting. This wasn’t a posh weekend getaway by any means, but it was definitely worth the trip. There was so much that we just didn’t have time to do but since we’re not far I know we’ll end up going back again.
If you’re going to be visiting Ireland, be sure to add Belfast to your itinerary. There is plenty of history and good food to be found and the people are some of the friendliest you’ll ever meet. I have never in my life had taxi and Uber drivers as friendly as those in Belfast. Even the Titanic Conspiracy Theorist who drove us to the airport on our way back to London was friendly, albeit a bit odd.
I found Belfast to be easy to navigate but much of it is spread out, so you’ll likely need to use some sort of transportation to get around. The city has public transport but we relied on taxi cabs and Uber. There is also a Hop On-Hop Off bus that will take you around the city – the tour lasts about an hour and a half.
Things To Do And Sights To See In Belfast, Ireland
The Salmon of Knowledge
If you’re strolling along the River Lagan you’ll definitely run into The Salmon of Knowledge on Donegal Quay near the Lagan Lookout. The big, blue, fish made of mosaic tiles was created by artist John Kindness and installed in 1999 to commemorate the revitalization of the river. Previously, the river had been polluted and a massive effort was undertaken to clean it up.
Each tile depicts something about Belfast’s history.
You could spend hours just wandering around looking at the murals. They are everywhere in Belfast.
Most of the murals are cultural or religious in illustration.
Even Queen Elizabeth managed to get a mural for her diamond jubilee in 2012!
The Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus
I’ll always recommend wandering around on foot as the best way to get to know a city but I also think HOHO busses have their place. I tend to view them as a good way to get the general lay of the land when I first arrive in a city, if they’re available. They are also useful in cities that are not easily walkable. Not every city has them, and they’re not always impressive, but I find they’re useful for seeing what a city has to offer and then making my sightseeing plan in places where I’m kind of undecided. But this tour was surprisingly good, probably because it had a live guide rather than an audio guide. Our guide was named David, and he was cheeky and hilarious. We used this company and we were happy with it.
The Titanic Belfast
Before I started researching this trip, I had no idea that the Titanic was built in Belfast. I was so excited to find out that it was though because I have always found its history to be so interesting. I’ve seen many documentaries over the years and I’m not sure why I don’t remember any of them mentioning Belfast. I’m sure they did, I clearly wasn’t paying enough attention!
The Titanic Belfast museum was fantastic, and was my favorite part about this holiday. It’s built in the shape of a star to represent White Star, the company that owned the ship. There was so much to see and it was quite interactive. Great for adults and children who have some knowledge of the ship.
Belfast has a lovely botanic garden with a palm house, rose garden and tropical ravine that make for a nice place to stop to and relax for awhile.
There is no cost to enter and it is a perfect spot for a picnic.
Located directly next to the Botanic Garden, Queens University has a lovely campus that’s nice to wander through. There are many famous Irish citizens that were educated there but Liam Neeson was the only one that I recogizned!
The Peace Wall
Its definitely worth taking the trip to see the peace wall.
It’s actually a wall that was originally constructed as a barrier to separate the Catholics from the Protestants but now there are murals and signatures on it from people all over the world.
It kind of reminded me of a much, much longer version of the Lennon wall in Prague.
Eating and Drinking In Belfast, Ireland
National Grande Café
We stopped at National Grande Café on our first morning in Belfast as we were wandering about for something to keep us going until lunch.
It’s a great spot for an excellent coffee and light breakfast.
When we entered Home, it was kind of an off time and the place wasn’t empty.
We took that as a good sign.
We all ended up having the lamb shoulder. It was served with potato gnocchi, cabbage, salsify and was topped with a salsa verde. The portions were very satisfying and it was absolutely delicious.
Not overly hungry as we had a larger lunch later in the day we ended up just coming to Town Square for dessert.
Both the chocolate chip skillet and Bounty cheesecake were so good.
For those who don’t know what Bounty is, its coconut covered in chocolate (for my American readers…it’s the same as an Almond Joy without the almond. Not Mounds because this is enrobed in milk chocolate. Not that you were even wondering!)
Kelly’s Cellars is one of the oldest pubs in Belfast.
We popped by for a pint and sat outside to take in the gorgeous weather that we had while on holiday.
The Crown is definitely one of the if not the prettiest pub I have ever visited.
Believe it or not its actually listed as a National Trust property. It’s the most famous pub in Belfast.
The outside has lovely tilework and the inside is like stepping back in time in the best of ways.
Tea at The Titanic Museum
This was a fun tea. No need to dress up to attend, either.
Its a nice, relaxed way to end the day at the museum.
The sandwiches, scones and pastries were fine but what I really enjoyed was the gazpacho, vegetable samosas and feta, pea and mint tartlettes that were included. They were flavorful and really shined.
Our two days in Belfast went by really quickly. It definitely has a different vibe than Dublin but its absolutely worth visiting. One thing to note if you’re going to visit is that many places are closed on Sundays. And most restaurants don’t open until 1:00. I thought London opened late on Sundays but Belfast has us beat!
Have you visited Ireland? I’m looking for other suggestions for places to visit. Tell me about your favorite areas and let me know what I shouldn’t miss in the comments below.
Thanks for reading! Cheers!