Belfast: home of the Titanic, Game of Thrones and incredible street art. In May, Ross and I decided to treat ourselves to a weekend away. Naturally, a city break is perfect for this. Wanting to travel further than Scotland but still remain within budget, Belfast seemed like the perfect choice. Shamefully, we didn't know that much about Belfast other than it is key to a lot of very unique history so I was excited to learn more about this incredibly interesting city!
Starting with an early morning flight (where we were barely up in the air before it was time to land), we landed in Belfast and hopped on the Airport Express which dropped us in the middle of Belfast City. As our check in wasn't until 2pm we dumped our bags at the hotel (we stayed at the City Centre IBIS which was so handy for walking to everything) and headed back out to explore. After a quick walk around to find our bearings and admire the beautiful city hall, we decided to make the most of our morning and headed to the Titanic Museum — a must-see if you visit Belfast.
Built on the same ground that the Titanic was built upon over 100 years ago, this interactive museum leads you through 9 exhibitions that showcases the shipbuilding growth in Belfast, the construction of the Titanic and one of it's sister ships, the Olympic, and all the events that surrounded the tragic sinking. I was thoroughly impressed about the level of detail the museum went into and the interactive element made the whole experience a lot more interesting and easier to understand. Well worth the £18!
Ross and I thought we would be at the museum for a couple of hours max. and then would have to find somewhere for lunch to kill more time before being able to check into our room but we ended up being there for three to four hours — there was so much information to take in. It was quite astonishing to see how the whole story unfolded and learn about how different classes were treated during the tragic ending. If there was one thing I could recommend to see while in Belfast it would definitely be this!
Obviously, the street art was one of the key things I wanted to see when we were in Belfast. Almost every street you past had some exciting piece of art to see. I know a lot of them tell sad stories but the work is incredible and in a slightly ironic way the pieces brighten up the city and captures the strong sense of culture that this city has.
Using the evenings to explore the local eateries, we wandered down Great Victoria Street and visited Belfast's most famous pub, the Crown Liquor Saloon. Located a few blocks down from the Grand Opera House and across from the Europa Hotel, Europe's most bombed hotel, this little gem has been serving since 1826! Owned by the National Trust, this pub hosts a traditional Victorian atmosphere with gas lighting and cosy snugs which accommodated the pub's more reserved customers.
The restaurant part of the pub is situated upstairs and I would recommend booking a table to avoid having to wait. In the restaurant you will find traditional pub food, great after a day of exploring. After dinner, we headed downstairs to the main pub for a mandatory Guinness because you can't visit Northern Ireland and not have at least one pint (or a half pint in my case) of Guinness, can you?
I really loved exploring Belfast, we never ran out of things to explore and I can't wait to go back and see all the other places that we didn't have time for! Have you ever visited Belfast? What did you think? Do you have any other recommendations? — I'd love to know!