Think Belfast and it’s likely that you’ll be thinking big. Titanic big. This is the city where the entire story began way back in 1911, amid the clanking din at Harland and Wolff Shipyards. Seems a long time ago, but whizz through Titanic Belfast on the Gantry Crane ride and you’ll feel like you’ve hopped into a time machine without knowing it.
Get to daydreaming about Belfast and you might think Crown Bar Liquor Saloon, too. This is a pub of such importance it’s owned by the National Trust. Why so special, you ask? How about stained glasswork lovingly created by 19th century church craftsmen, individual booths with hand-carved doors, gunmetal plates for striking matches and buzzers for table service? Oh yes, and don’t forget the moody atmosphere created by the pub’s gas lighting.
Yes, Belfast is home to some classics. And you’ve got to love the classics. But that doesn’t mean you can’t love new stuff, too. Such as the following…
Take the food scene, for instance. Spots like The Barking Dog (check their Facebook page for a mouth-watering sample of the fare on offer), Made In Belfast (their breakfast of saddleback bacon and a Belfast bap could be the best start to any day ever) and Rocket and Relish (this no frills burger joint serves up no less than 15 varieties of hand-held deliciousness) are planting the city firmly on the culinary map.
Alternatively, follow Rihanna’s lead and pop into The Chippie on North Street for a battered cod and a single of chips. Just don’t forget the salt and vinegar.
Of course you can’t just eat for your entire Belfast visit (you could try, but we wouldn’t recommend it). You’ll want to get out there.
Take a trip to St George’s Market and wind your way through an endearingly eclectic gathering of vintage finds, design once-offs and the kind of quirky memorabilia your sitting room is missing. Have your phone handy, too. This place is an Instagrammer’s dream.
Belfast even does cinema differently. For a night at the movies with an independent twist, pop over to Queen’s University (former alma mater of Seamus Heaney) and snuggle up in the intimate surrounds of Queen’s Film Theatre. Depending on the day you can catchy anything from Gone With The Wind, to the latest blockbuster or the new indie movie everyone’s talking about.
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A wee dram
With the Crown Bar Liquor Saloon as its Commander in Chief, Belfast’s pub scene is a winner, too. Pop into the John Hewitt for a drop of Hilden Ale (from Ireland’s oldest independent brewery) before getting your “Hands In the Air!!!” at a gig of your choice over at Limelight. The Duke of York is another noted hostelry known not only for its epic whiskey selection, but also for hosting one of Snow Patrol’s first big gigs.
Quirky pubs, quirky cinemas and quirky food: check. Now all you need is somewhere to lay your head. You’ve got options. Football fans will likely jump at the chance of renting Belfast boy, George Best’s family home, meticulously maintained in it’s 1960s style. Over on Victoria Street, Malmaison brings the style in a big way but it didn’t exactly start out that way. The building began life as a former seed warehouse.
So there you have it. Belfast has thrown us a curveball, and we like what we see. And the good news keeps coming. Just browse the articles below for an even better handle on the buzz in Belfast.
You’ll like it. We promise.