Northern Ireland is a destination to remember, but the standard of souvenirs can be poor. Stay away from the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirts, the turf incense burners, and the plush leprechauns in favour of something more unique. With our list of the best places to buy souvenirs in Belfast, you’ll be able to grab the perfect gift, whether for you or your loved ones!
In 2013, silversmith Linzi Rooney grew fed up with working from home, and established Studio Souk, a registered charity, artists’ space, and retail area. Studio Souk hosts up to 14 resident artists at a time, each of whom has an opportunity to sell their pieces in-store. If you buy something from here, not only do you get a souvenir, but you also get to rest easy, knowing that you’ve helped support Northern Ireland’s artists. The store also boasts a cafe alongside the studio space, so feel free to stop in and have a coffee, even if you don’t end up making a purchase.
Formerly known as Bog Standard, Field Day Candles are anything but bog standard. Made in Ireland using Irish ingredients, their candles and fragrance sachets can take the country’s iconic scents anywhere. Research has shown that scent is the sense most linked to memory, so no matter where you light your wick, these are sure to transport you right back to NI. Unfortunately, the candles can be hard to find, as stockists are limited, but they’re available online and at a display at Belfast International Airport, so if you’re flying in (or out) of the country, be sure to pick one up!
Titanic Belfast was recently voted the World’s Best Tourist Destination, so it’s no surprise that its gift shop is equally stellar. It might seem unusual to recommend a museum gift shop on this list, but the store carries books, exclusive clothing, and memorabilia alongside local crafts and produce. No Northern Irish holiday is complete without a visit to the Titanic museum, so you may well be in the vicinity anyway. Whether you’re looking for something Titanic-specific, or just a memento of your trip to Belfast, the selection will have something that suits your needs.
If you’re willing to drop a little extra cash on something more special, Steensons Jewellers are a strong contender. Bill and Christina Steenson set the business up in 1976, and recently, their daughter Brona and her husband have stepped up to the plate as directors. Steensons work in gold, silver, and platinum to bring personalised designs to the fore, while their collections also riff on traditional designs, putting a modern spin on much older pieces. Alongside their collections and bespoke work, the Steensons have created several pieces of jewellery featured prominently in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Something from Steensons would make a perfect memento to remember the North, and would also make an excellent gift for someone special in your life.
Avoca is an Irish chain with a dozen or so outlets around the island. The Avoca in Belfast’s city centre is the North’s only outlet, and is all the more popular for it. The store is well-known for its selection of homeware, clothing, and food, but the crown jewels in their selection are their lambswool throws. Avoca began life as a woollen mill in 1723, and the retail outlets only opened in the late 20th-century. The throws have been perfected over 300 years to be as comfortable (and aesthetically pleasing) as possible. As a result of this combination of history and practicality, we think an Avoca throw makes an excellent keepsake.
Ireland has a rich history of linen production, and the linen industry effectively led to the development of Belfast as we know it. Indeed, in the 19th-century, Belfast was known as Linenopolis. The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum sits a few miles outside of Belfast, and provides insight into this historic industry. The Centre’s Museum Shop stocks a variety of locally-manufactured goods, with an unsurprising focus on linen. The Centre even has its own exclusive Flax Flower design, a unique pattern available only in the museum shop. Whether you need a tablecloth or a napkin, traditional Irish linen remains exceptional, and it’s practical, too.