Shamefully, I only made my first visit to Belfast a couple of years after I finished university I think – and haven’t been back since! But not because it’s not awesome. Belfast was more impressive and more interesting than I would have expected (sorry!) and was totally worth the very easy trip up from Dublin. It’s somewhere the Dublin GirlCrew have been up to visit a number of times now and we’ve had the girls from there down here too.
First stop should be The Titanic Museum. The building itself is stunning, the stories and histories within and interesting and intriguing and the surrounding areas are…suitably industrial feeling to give you a sense of the type of place the ill-fated ship was built in back in the day. Bonus fact, though a warning that some may find this irreverent. But you can totally stand in the middle of the ‘I’ in the giant Titanic sign outside the museum and arrange a photo that just has you bang in the middle of the word Tit. We aren’t judging.
If you’re a Back to the Future Fan (ie, everyone) could do with a trip to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum (Part of the National Museum of Ulster) which among many other exhibits, contains a Delorean. You can’t test drive it however. We’re sad about that too. Maybe we can all chip together to buy one? Bonus of the Ulster Museum – it’s free! As are the gorgeous Botanic Gardens, except for when there are special events on, so perhaps check that out in advance.
I’d almost never recommend going to a shopping centre for a trip to a city, unless you were seeking out something specific you knew you’d find there, but Victoria Square shopping centre is very much worth a visit to head up into the glass, dome roof and look out over the city. (Pictured at the start of the post.) Also a good spot to hide out in if it’s rainy 😉
If you like your views from mountains as opposed to from shopping malls, take a trip up Black Mountain or Divis. And if the weather is beautiful but you aren’t quite feeling able for a hike, Ormeau and Lady Dixon Parks are perfect for a casual stroll or some sunny weather book reading.
Food, Drinks & Music
If you’re looking for food, head to The Cathedral Quarter, roughly situated between Royal Avenue (near the Belfast Central Library building) and the Dunbar Link in the city centre. Lots of arts and culture organisations and groups are located in and around here so there’s a bit of a creative vibe and also offers some great restaurants and pubs.
When it comes to specific eateries in the city, the girls have recommended Albany, Coppi, Flame, Benedicts, Mollys Yard, Zen, Potted Hen, Vaudevilles and Ox.
As bar’s go, some of their favourites include Robinson’s, Spaniard, Perch, Harp and National. And if it’s a spot of late bight dancing you’re after, head to Ollies, 21 Social or McCracken’s.
If live music is your bag, check out event listings for Limelight, Empire, Black Box, Grand Opera House, Custom House Square, Voodoo, Menagerie, Oh Yeah Music Centre and Mandela Hall! Or simply wander through the Cathedral Quarter and discover some surprise live bands in pubs as you go.
Lastly, if you’re about on a Sunday, take the morning to head to St George’s market for food, music and local goods.
Can I also just say how amazing the Belfast crew were with their tips, it was like “Bam, bam, bam”, super concise, to the point and so helpful. So if you’re stuck for advice on anything, ask a local, or even join the GirlCrew group for the city and they might be happy to help you too 😉
Making Friends in Belfast
Whether you’re visiting, new in town, or have lived in Belfast forever, being stuck fora few pals to head off doing all this fun stuff with is a challenge for pretty much everyone at some point. GirlCrew was set up to solve exactly that problem and already has a well established and lovely crew. It’s definitely one of the easiest way to make new friends in a new city. It’s for women aged about 25+ and all you have to do is join the group for your city, post what you want to do, and then enjoy the fun of heading off on an adventure with some friendly new faces. Easy as pie.
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