The vibrant capital of Northern Ireland is proof that you don’t have to go far to enjoy an exciting getaway. Belfast city breaks will take you to one of the hottest cultural hotspots around. It’s brimming with fascinating historical attractions like the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the Titanic was built and you’ll find a wealth of bustling bars in the city centre and beyond. You’ve also got the beautiful Botanic Gardens in Queens Quarter, the perfect place for a relaxing stroll, as well as Belfast Cathedral and The Albert Clock. Beyond the city, there’s a stretch of amazing coastal scenery ready and waiting to be explored. Just follow the Causeway Coastal Route and you’ll stumble across such famous sights as the Giant’s Causeway.
Things to do
Wherever you go and whatever you do during Belfast city breaks, you can always expect a friendly atmosphere to make you feel welcome. There are plenty of fascinating sights to see, and when the sun goes down, it’s time to sample the buzzing nightlife scene. Beyond the city, you’ll find breath-taking scenery that has to be seen to be believed. Here are a few things to keep you busy during Belfast city breaks.
Visit the Titanic Quarter
The Titanic Quarter is Belfast’s bustling urban waterfront, and you’ll find the Titanic Belfast standing right at the heart of it. It’s well worth spending a few hours exploring this historic area of the city, where you can walk the docks of this world-famous ship, take a stroll on the slipways where it first entered the water, and even meet Titanic’s little sister (SS Nomadic). You’ll also find entertainment at The Odyssey: there’s a cinema, ten-pin bowling and more, and you can even try your hand at cable wakeboarding at the wakeboard park. When you’re ready for lunch, head to the maritime-themed Cast & Crew, or go for dinner at McHugh’s and enjoy the Irish music playing in the background.
Sample the nightlife
Believe it or not, you won’t find Belfast’s best nightlife right in the heart of the city. Most of the bars are located on the Golden Mile (yes, it actually is a mile long!), like the popular Crown Liquor Saloon, with its grand Victorian décor. Take a wander all the way down and you’ll end up in the lovely southern suburbs, near Queen’s University; which is where you’ll find classy wine bar, The Chelsea. You’ll also find a wealth of watering holes in the up-and-coming Cathedral Quarter, including the interestingly-named Dirty Onion. This pub is housed within one of the oldest buildings in Belfast, and serves up traditional drinks and live music every evening.
Hit the road
Fancy venturing out for a daytrip during Belfast city breaks? With some of Northern Ireland’s spectacular rugged scenery not too far away, it’s definitely worth heading beyond the city limits. You’ll find the start of the Causeway Coastal Route within easy reach of the city. It’s definitely worth hiring a car to drive along this stunning route, where you’ll pass through the breath-taking Glens of Antrim and make your way to spectacular Giant’s Causeway. Other must-see sights along the route include Carrickfergus Castle and The Gobbins.
Culture vultures: Head over to the Titanic Quarter (the city’s old docklands and shipyards) to see the famous Titanic Belfast for yourself. You won’t want to miss Crumlin Road Gaol either, a magnificent Victorian prison that’s been converted but still keeps some unique features.
Night owls: Whether you want a quiet night in the Golden Mile, or you want all-night entertainment at the Odyssey Arena complex, you’ll be spoilt for choice here.
Explorers: Using Belfast as your base, you can explore the rugged coastline of Norther Ireland. Within easy reach of the city, the Causeway Coastal Route begins, which will show you the way to the amazing Giant’s Causeway.
Currency: British Pound (£)
Local time: Same as GMT/UK time
Fly to: Belfast Airport
Flight time from UK: 1 hour 30 minutes from London
Tourist information: Further Belfast tourist information can be found at www.visitbelfast.com
Visa & health: Before Belfast city breaks, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ireland for recommendations and advice on visas and health.
Best time to visit: During summer, when the days are longer and the weather’s warmer
Summers are mild and sunny in Belfast, with average highs of around 15°C. July’s the hottest month of the year, and you can enjoy the most sunshine hours during June. January is the coldest month of the year, when the average temperature can drop as low as 4°C. If you’re booking Belfast city breaks for October, don’t forget your raincoat and brolly; this is the wettest month of the year.
On foot: Belfast is compact enough to explore on foot, and you’ll find all the main sights within easy walking distance, dotted around the city centre. Having a wander around is the best way to get your bearings.
Metro city bus network: If you’re planning on taking buses a few times during your stay, it’s worth picking up a Smartlink Travel Card. It costs £1, but you’ll get discounted tickets for every ride, so it’s well worth it.
Belfast Bikes: Why not do as the locals do and hop on a public bike? You’ll find around 30 docking stations throughout the city centre, where you can pick up and drop off your ride.
Belfast Maritime Festival: Held every May, this is a celebration of the city’s rich maritime past. You’ll have the chance to hop on board magnificent tall ships and naval vessel down on the docks, and there’ll be plenty of food and live entertainment, too.
Belfast Film Festival: This cultural event takes place during the month of April, and you can expect to find premieres, screenings and all kinds of cinematic events take place all over the city. This is a celebration of the best of world cinema.
NI Science Festival: This festival takes place in February, and it’s dedicated to the wonders of science, technology, maths, and engineering. You’ll find a whole host of fascinating events and talks taking place over the city, and lots of activities for the kids to get involved in.