See what it takes to truly say you've been to Belfast. Whether you think you know Belfast or you’ve never been before, prepare for a whirlwind tour of the city. From hilltop heights to street markets, why not see things from a different angle? Swap taxi rides for black cab tours and meet the people that give the city its unique atmosphere. You’ve got 48 hours to check it all off, so let’s go…
5PM – First stop in Belfast? There’s nowhere better than the Duke of York. Set on a cobbled alleyway, this traditional pub is pure charm. Order an Irish whiskey or a pint of creamy stout and chat with students, hipsters, tourists and locals. It’s that kind of place.
7PM – Scoot over to the nearby Deanes Love Fish for a taste of Northern Ireland’s excellent seafood. The light, fresh space plays host to simple fish dishes with rock oysters, marinated sardines and fritto misto.
If you are a blues head, if you are a reggae head, if you are a techno head, if you’re just a wee groover – there’s always somewhere in Belfast that’s doing it.
9PM – Belfast has a legendary music scene, so next stop is The Limelight on Ormeau Avenue. Whether it’s the high-octane electronic sounds of Róisín Murphy or harmonious tunes from singer-songwriter Matt Corby, live gigs are the big draw here. Can’t get a ticket? No problem… the venue also keeps things lively with club nights six days a week.
11PM – Head over to Filthy McNastys, a cool grungy bar on the Dublin Road. Take a minute to let your eyes adjust to the quirky interior. With mannequin lamps to vintage vinyl on the walls, the bar is a great place for a late-night drink, and there’s live music every night from 10pm. Other places to take it late include Alibi on Bradbury Place, Cuckoo on the Lisburn Road, and The Perch on Franklin Street.
10AM – The best way to clear the cobwebs from a late night is by starting the day with an Ulster Fry. This local breakfast is legendary, and you can get one of the best at the George’s of the Market. Afterwards, wander around this charming Victorian building, which has a Saturday morning city food and craft market.
An Ulster Fry will always have fried soda and/or potato bread, and often a fried sweet pancake. Personally… I find this a complete stroke of genius.
11:30AM – It’s time to get moving, so jump on a city bike. Along the River Lagan from the Botanic gardens to the docks, you quickly get a sense of the cityscape. Or how about a Black Taxi Tour of the city’s murals. With local knowledge from the driver, buckets of charm and an authentic accent, it’s an experience that’s really unique to this quirky capital. Only in Belfast.
1:30PM – Back in the city centre, grab lunch at one of Belfast’s best independent cafés, Established Coffee. The simple industrial interior is the perfect backdrop for great brunch and lunch dishes, with excellent coffee to match.
2:30PM – After lunch it’s Belfast’s “big event”: Titanic Belfast. This incredible exhibition tells the story of the world’s most famous ship right at the place where she was launched into the water. Explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and see recreations of the cabins. You can keep the maritime theme going at the nearby Titanic Pump House and Dock, the SS Nomadic (one of the last White Star Line ships in the world) and the HMS Caroline (a WWI naval ship).
6PM – Grab a pre-dinner drink at of one the city’s most beautiful pubs – the Crown Liquor Saloon. With mahogany booths, beautiful tiling and hanging gas lamps, it really is one of a kind.
730PM – Sumptuous steaks cooked “on the stone” are a big feature at the buzzing Stix and Stones, a great spot for dinner. The modern menu also covers flavoursome dishes such as pan-roasted halibut, steamed monkfish and wild mushroom fettuccine. Finish up with a Toblerone espresso martini – it’d be rude not to.
9PM – Walk the short distance to the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast’s buzzing art and social district set amongst some of the city’s oldest and most beautiful streets. The good news is that the area is compact, and has some of the city’s best bars, so you can wander around and find something to suit. Maybe it’ll be the craft-beer-loving John Hewitt, with live music; the super-cool Spaniard; or the Dirty Onion, in one of the oldest buildings in the city.
9:30AM – It’d be a shame to stay in bed in a city so famous for its breakfasts, so make it an early one and head for Harlem, a quirky café next to the historic Ulster Hall. From glass tables of starfish to walls dressed top-to-bottom in picture frames, Harlem is more than a happening bistro – it’s like a work of art.
10:30AM – MAC Belfast is one of the city’s most exciting creative arts venues and it’s located right within the Cathedral Quarter, behind the beautiful St Anne’s Cathedral. The free-entry venue includes three galleries and it’s home to various changing international art exhibitions, so wander over and see what’s going on.
12PM – The Grand Victoria Square Shopping Centre is a good place for a last-minute shop, and not only that, but you can catch one of Belfast’s best panoramic views from the centre’s Dome. The free tours are great for getting a last look at this city’s great sights including the Harland & Wolff cranes, Parliament Buildings and the Albert Clock. Tours run on the hour from 10am to 4pm.
The Mourne Seafood Bar has built a reputation over eight years on serving top-quality, locally caught fish and seafood that doesn’t cost the earth.
2PM – It’s a short walk to the Mourne Seafood Bar for a relaxed, tasty lunch. Enjoy oysters, mussels and fish and chips, which work beautifully with a glass of Mourne Oyster Stout from the local Whitewater Brewery. Pretty much a perfect end to your 48 hours in the city.