Belfast is the perfect weekend getaway. While it’s cheap and cozy, it’s plentiful with beautiful food, endless bars, and historical sites to satisfy any visitor – and it’s one of the most affordable UK destinations in 2017. We’ve created the ideal weekend itinerary to get you started.
Skip the airport breakfast and head north of the city to St. George’s Market, only a few minutes walk from Belfast’s Central Train Station. This award-winning market will spoil any visitor with the best gourmet breakfasts, fresh produce, baked goods, and snacks from the city’s local vendors. Over 240 stalls come together every weekend in this market, which first opened in 1890. Don’t miss out on the range of international and local cuisine at one of the UK’s leading fish and bakery markets. Be sure to leave time to leisurely browse the craft stalls, local independent art, and homemade cosmetics on show in this beautiful market.
St George’s Market, 12–20 E Bridge St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9043 5704
Spend the afternoon walking through Belfast’s famous Titanic Quarter, the building site for the RMS Titanic in 1912. For a taste of Belfast’s maritime history, be sure to visit the esteemed Titanic Belfast museum and exhibition, followed by a tour of it’s original tender ship, the SS Nomadic. For a more compact experience, hop aboard The Mona, a harbor tour by Titanic Boat Tours, for the best view of the entire Quarter and a coastal cruise. For an afternoon tea, stop at the DOCK Market and café and choose from a quaint selection of fresh pastries and local crafts, before heading back into the City Centre.
Finish off the day with a visit to some of the busiest pubs in town at Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. With a bar on every corner, this lively area is famous for their craft beer, amazing cocktail concoctions, and talented live musicians each weekend. Situated beside the decorated walls of St Anne’s Cathedral and courtyard, the Cathedral Quarter is a premier site for culture. If a pint of Guinness isn’t in the cards, then the public art is worth a visit – The Duke of York features its own courtyard of public art and umbrella ceiling. Pack warm, as crowds usually fill the streets all year round.
St Anne’s Cathedral, Donegall St, Belfast, UK, +44 28 9032 8332
The Duke of York, 7–11 Commercial Ct, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9024 1062
Kick off day two with a visit to Belfast’s university hub, Queen’s Quarter, in the south district of the city. Arguably the most lavish and beautiful area in the entire city, this quarter includes a national museum, Botanic Gardens, and five-star eateries (that don’t come with a five-star price tag). Take a walk into the exotic Palm House and Revine Tropical House before paying a visit to Northern Ireland’s national museum, the Ulster Museum: five floors of local and international art, natural history – even its own mummy! There are plenty of great cafés and restaurants to stop for breakfast and brunch along the way, including the student favorite, Maggie Mays.
Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9044 0000
Maggie Mays, 2 Malone Rd, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK + 44 28 9066 8515
Only 15 minutes from the South Quarter, Victoria Square is the perfect central shopping destination. This center includes House of Fraser, Rituals Cosmetics, ODEON cinema, and a top-floor viewing gallery that overlooks the entire city. Belfast has one of the best shopping districts in the UK, which runs from Royal Avenue to North Street.
Belfast might be an exciting city today, but most tourists will know of its troubled history – when the city became a war zone between Irish nationalists and Ulster unionists in the 1970s. This complicated history is beautifully documented on the International Peace Wall in West Belfast: a collection of murals from political movements, activists, and artists who lived and lost during this conflict. This landmark continues to awe visitors from the international community.
Short on time? Settle for the view by taking a trip to Cave Hill and Belfast Castle on the last evening. This walking route treats visitors to a 180-degree view of Belfast’s skyline, the dockyard, and Northern Ireland’s famous Mourne Mountain range. If there’s time left, book a tour in Belfast Castle and peruse the surrounding gardens and wildlife on the estate – the perfect ending to a busy weekend!
Cave Hill Visitor Centre, Cave Hill, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9077 6925