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20 Fun Things to do in Belfast on a Weekend Break from Dublin

Learn about fun things to do in Belfast on a weekend city break from Dublin. Discover Belfast attractions and Belfast day trips.
Why visit Belfast from Dublin? 

Belfast Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom and is just two hours away from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland (Dublin to Belfast distance is 171 km or 106 miles). 

Belfast is an elegant city with great bars and restaurants. There are plenty of fun things to do in Belfast to easily fill a weekend city break from Dublin.
Why visit Belfast from Dublin: The Big Fish Salmon of Knowledge on the River Lagan

Getting from Dublin to Belfast

You should bring your passport if you plan to visit Belfast since the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are separate countries. 

There is no hard border between the Republic and the North but you may be stopped and asked for your passport at any time. 

We’ve visited Belfast on five separate occasions and on one of our trips, the bus was pulled over for a document check and someone was taken away because they didn’t have the correct papers.
Enterprise Service train from Dublin to Belfast
There are three options to get from Dublin to Belfast: car, train, and bus. 

The train from Dublin to Belfast can be more expensive (from 10.50 - 55.00 EUR return) than the bus, but is more comfortable in my opinion with the regular Enterprise service operating from Dublin’s Connolly station. 

In fact, Belfast is one of the top places I recommend in Ireland to visit by train

The bus is subject to traffic conditions and some of the bus lines don’t have a bathroom on board so make sure to go before you go. 

A car will give you some extra flexibility if you plan to embark on a Belfast day trip or two while you are in town. 

If you hire a car, make sure to read the fine print on your rental agreement as some car hire companies introduce an extra fee if you rent the car in the Republic of Ireland and driving into Northern Ireland and vice versa.

Things to do in Belfast at a Glance

Let's start our weekend away with my picks of fascinating and fun things to do in Belfast at a glance.

  1. Orient Yourself with an Architecture Walk Around City Centre
  2. Keep an Eye Out for Ulster History Circles
  3. Shop St. George’s Market
  4. Admire Belfast Street Art
  5. Seek Out Belfast’s Familiar Statues and Sculptures
  6. Explore MAC Belfast
  7. Learn about Northern Ireland History at Linen Hall Library
  8. Visit Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Mall
  9. Go See the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey Team
  10. Explore the History of the Troubles in Northern Ireland with a Self-Guided Tour of Falls Road
  11. Tour Queens University Belfast
  12. Walk Belfast's Maritime Mile on the River Lagan
  13. Visit The Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic
  14. Go to Titanic Dock and Pump-House
  15. Experience Belfast Castle by Public Transport
  16. Enjoy Seasonal Belfast: The Belfast Christmas Market
  17. Belfast to Bangor Day Trip
  18. Belfast to the Giant's Causeway
  19. Belfast to Derry
  20. Carlingford Lough Road Trip
Belfast Attractions: The Titantic Museum

Belfast Attractions and Things to Do in Detail

Now let's explore things to do in Belfast in more detail to help you plan your own Dublin to Belfast weekend. Belfast attractions are slotted into various 'Quarters' or distinctive cultural zones. 

My recommendations will take you to Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, Linen Quarter, Titanic Quarter, Queens Quarter, Gaeltacht Quarter, and more.

1. Orient Yourself with an Architecture Walk Around City Centre

Belfast boasts predominantly Victorian era buildings with a sprinkle of Art Deco mixed in. If you've been to Belfast before, you may remember a lavish Tesco supermarket operating in the former First Trust Bank. 

I was inspired by the work Tesco did to preserve the elegance of the space. The building was recently reclaimed by Dublin City Council and is now home to 2 Royal Avenue, an arts and culture centre. 

We admired the blue dome, tried a beetroot latte (yes, they are a thing and apparently beetroot is energizing without caffeine), and experienced a sound spa. 2 Royal Avenue is worth stopping by to see what's on. 

My regular readers know that I love doors, especially Dublin doors, and make a habit of seeking them out wherever I go. Don't miss the ornate door with a little head atop at the entrance to 2 Royal Avenue.
Art Deco architecture in Belfast City Northern Ireland
Ulster Hall (home of the Belfast City Council) sports a colorful crest on top. Life in Belfast centers around City Hall with green space surrounding the impressive facade. 

Make time to walk through Queen's Arcade.

Pop into Belfast Public Library to admire the 19th century Victorian architecture and make sure to look up at the ornate dome and lavishly decorated pastel ceilings.
Fun Things to do in Belfast: Admire the blue dome at 2 Royal Avenue

2. Keep an Eye Out for Ulster History Circles

Ulster History Circles dot the city of Belfast and explain some lesser known events and characters. My favorite was the Ulster History Circle for John Boyd Dunlop. 

He was a veterinarian from Belfast who also invented the modern tire. Who knew?

3. Shop St. George’s Market

We love a good food market so were excited to check out St. George's Market in the heart of Belfast. 

St. George’s Market ranks among my favorite farmers markets and food halls in Europe offering a variety of eye-catching crafts to buy and delicious things to eat. 

Musicians often play in the central seating area and add to the great atmosphere. The music choices vary widely from Blues to Big Band. 

You never know what you might find at St. George’s Market and that’s part of the fun.
Cool things to do in Belfast: St. George's Market
Our favorite experiences at St. George’s Market include:
  • Sampling excellent Indian food from Goloka Catering.
  • Ordering sausages with lots of onions from Greenmount Farm.
  • Getting a caffeine and sugar fix with a latte from Javaman and slice of coffee walnut cake.
  • Checking out S.D. Bell’s for potent drip coffee.
  • Drinking a lovingly crafted latte made from artisanal beans at Drop Hopper Coffee Roasters.
  • Browsing the great fruit and vegetables on offer at any of the produce stalls in St. George’s Market. Pick out something in season.
  • Tickling our sweet tooth with any of the bakeries on site. On one trip we discovered a peanut butter whoopie pie.

4. Admire Belfast Street Art

Cool things to do in Belfast from Dublin: Check out the street art in Commercial CourtWhy visit Northern Ireland from Dublin: Belfast Street Art
Belfast features a variety of edgy street art. Seek out Commercial Court for a concentrated dose of Belfast Street Art. 

Some of the street art is clearly inspired by Salvador Dali. I especially love that Commercial Court in Belfast is now covered in neon umbrellas. 

Belfast's Cathedral Quarter is home to some of the city's best street art so keep your eyes open.
Fun Things to do in Belfast: Check out the neon umbrellas in Commercial Court

5. Seek Out Belfast’s Familiar Statues and Sculptures

Looking down a side alley, we saw a familiar statue. Jim Larkin is on display in Belfast and also sits very prominently in the same pose on O'Connell Street in Dublin. 

Nearby we again got a sense of deja vu. We saw a ‘needle’ rising out of a local church that looks just like The Spire on O’Connell Street in Dublin. 

We enjoy reflecting on the similarities and differences between the two cities on our weekend trips from Dublin to Belfast.
Comparing Belfast to Dublin: Jim Larkin statue and the spireFun Things to do in Belfast: Check out the Exhibits at MAC Belfast

6. Explore MAC Belfast

Make time to explore the fantastic free exhibits at The MAC Belfast on St. Anne's Square. At the time of our visit, the open airy galleries featured Alfred Wallis and Ronnie Hughes. 

Hughes painted geometric shapes in incredibly bold colors, Wallis painted seascapes on cardboard to try to fill the void left when his wife died. 

7. Learn about Northern Ireland History at Linen Hall Library

Linen Hall Library is open on weekdays from 9:30 am - 5:30 pm. Definitely make time to stop here if you start your weekend in Belfast on a Friday or stay until Monday. 

The centerpiece of Linen Hall Library is 5 storeys of political posters from across the spectrum of views. For a crash course in the politics and history of Northern Ireland, this is the place to go. 

There is also a quaint cafe with dark wood paneling and antique chairs where you can stop and have a coffee if the timing is right.
Things to do in Belfast: 5 storeys of political posters at Linen Hall Library

8. Visit Belfast's Victoria Square Shopping Mall

As we were walking along the River Lagan, we saw a geodesic dome in the distance. We could only imagine what might be inside -- a biosphere project? a planetarium? 

After sundown, we saw the dome again in the center of the pedestrian district. We went inside and found that it wasn't a biosphere or planetarium but rather a mall! 

Trek to the top of the sci-fi-esque structure for panoramic views of Belfast.
Cool things to see in Belfast: Victoria Square Shopping Mall

9. Go See the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey Team

I'm a big ice hockey fan so we decided to go see the Belfast Giants play on one of our trips from Dublin to Belfast. The SSE Arena in Belfast has a nice feel to it -- not too large with decent sight-lines to the ice. 

The Belfast Giants mascot is literally a giant and is simply over-the-top awesome.

We started out with fabulous center ice seats and were settling in waiting for the first face-off when things went downhill fast. Apparently, they double-sold our seats! 

The other ticket holder was a season-ticket holder and of course got priority for those seats. Customer service proceeded to relocate us to another section -- this time much higher up with a view partially obstructed by a railing. 

Needless to say, I was not happy. To add insult to injury, this section of the arena smelled bad.

At the first intermission, we escalated our complaint to the customer service manager. 

It took the entire intermission and first 5 minutes of play in the second period to resolve the issue but we were ultimately satisfied by better seats plus free beer and snacks for our troubles. 

Double-selling our original seats shouldn't have happened in the first place but at least we got it taken care of.

I like how they played traditional music to celebrate the Belfast Giants' goals. It gave the match a totally different vibe than ice hockey games in the US. 

Our new seats were also close to two super-fans who would bang their drums to rally the crowd. This reminded us a lot of our experience watching ice hockey in St. Petersburg Russia.

I also found various giveaways conducted throughout the night to be amusing. They actually gave a Pizza Hut pizza away to a fan sitting behind me. 

He and his friends tore through it in about five minutes! I also liked how at the end of the game, the teams formed a line to shake hands. 

You only see that at the end of a playoff series in the NHL. I appreciated the great sportsmanship at the end of a great evening in Belfast.

10. Explore the History of the Troubles in Northern Ireland with a Self-Guided Tour of Falls Road

Visiting Belfast from Dublin presents an opportunity to explore the troubled history of Northern Ireland. Many people opt for a black taxi tour. 

We walked to King Street and then caught a black cab up Falls Road. Staunchly Catholic Falls Road was a key site during The Troubles that haunt Belfast's past and sometimes trickle into the present. 

While the conflict is often painted as a religious one, it's actually political but tends to fall along religious lines. 

Catholics tend to favor an independent Ireland while Protestants (originally from Scotland and encouraged to settle in Northern Ireland by the British) believe Belfast should remain aligned with the UK.
Why Visit Belfast from Dublin: Milltown Cemetery

Milltown Cemetery

The cab driver dropped us off at Milltown Cemetery where many members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) are buried. 

Those that died in the cause of Irish freedom are treated as martyrs in this neighborhood. The cemetery included a memorial to several freedom fighters like Bobby Sands who died in prison from a hunger strike that last more that 60 days!

The Murals of Falls Road

We decided to walk back to town and explore some of the political murals along Falls Road. Be aware: the murals along Falls Road can be a bit jarring.
Why visit Belfast from Dublin: the political murals of Falls Road

The Peace Wall and Garden of Remembrance

We walked past the Carnegie Branch of the Public Library on Falls Road. We then turned off the main road to see the "Peace Wall" that divides Catholic Falls Road from Protestant Shankill Road. 

We took a quick stroll through the Garden of Remembrance and were once again reminded of the lengths that people were willing to go in the name of Irish freedom making the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in some cases.

Walk Sandy Row

We wanted to see both sides of the story of Belfast's troubled past. 

We didn't have time to visit Shankill Road but Sandy Row, a unionist enclave, was on the way back to the bus terminal and a convenient stopping point before our return from Belfast to Dublin. 

Similar to Falls Road, there were memorials to those who died during The Troubles. We also saw a range of disturbing murals. 

I found the ones on Sandy Row to be scarier in general because of the ski masks and weapons that were featured prominently in the Protestant murals. Simply chilling.
Why visit Belfast: The loyalist murals of Sandy Row

11. Tour Queens University Belfast

We decided to take a walk from Belfast City Centre to Queens University and the Botanic Gardens to stretch our legs before the train journey back to Dublin. It's about a 30 minute walk each way. 

We walked through the Lanyon Building on the QUB campus. Inside, we spotted a stained glass window and sculpture of Galileo. I love exploring university campuses! 

We discovered more beautiful buildings bathed in light on the other side of the Lanyon Building at Queen's University. I saw a tempting sign pointing to the Great Hall, but apparently the building isn't open on Sundays.
Fun things to do in Belfast: Visit the Lanyon Building at Queens University Belfast
The entrance to the Botanic Gardens in Belfast is right behind the historic quad of Queens University. Look for a rather disturbing bust in front of the McClay Library and turn right. 

The iconic 19th century Victorian-era Palm House anchors the Botanic Gardens in Belfast. They don't make buildings like this anymore. It's such a shame.

Palm House was closed when we visited, but the Tropical Ravine was open. What is the Tropical Ravine? 

It's a recently restored (sub)tropical greenhouse with ferns and related plants from around the world. The Tropical Ravine goes back to 1889 and was restored to Victorian era glory in 2018. 
Belfast Attractions: Palm House at the Botanic Gardens at Queens University

12. Walk Belfast's Maritime Mile on the River Lagan

A walk along the River Lagan and the Maritime Mile in Belfast offers great photo ops. You’ll discover beautiful Victorian-era lampposts and whimsical sculptures including a giant blue fish. 

"The Big Fish Salmon of Knowledge" is made up of tiles featuring various historical news articles. The Big Fish marks the way to the Titanic Quarter across the River.
Why visit Belfast from Dublin: fish lampposts on the River LaganFun things to do in Belfast: Glass of Thrones on the River Lagan
The popular series, Game of Thrones was filmed in Northern Ireland. 

Keep an eye out for Glass Of Thrones stained glass panels along the Maritime Mile in Belfast which feature scenes from the popular Games of Thrones series which was filmed in Northern Ireland. 

We spotted 4 of 6 on our walk to the Titanic Museum. We also had a bit of fun activating the SoundYard Maritime Belfast installation. 

The wind was raging so we didn't have to do much to activate the clanking meant to invoke the sounds of shipbuilding during Belfast's heyday.
Fun things to do in Belfast: SoundYard on the Maritime Mile

There she is! The Titanic Museum is a brisk walk across the River Lagan from Belfast City Centre. 

Admire the brightly painted buoys in front of brand new apartment buildings along the Maritime Mile in Belfast en route to the Titanic Museum. 

This area has been built up a lot since we first started visiting Belfast 10 years ago.
Red and white striped buoy on the Maritime Mile in Belfast
Walked a little farther along the Belfast Maritime Mile past the Titanic Museum to the Great Light. 

One of the largest optics ever built, The Great Light is 130 years old and has powered some of the world's brightest lighthouses.

13. Visit The Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic

The best reason to walk The Maritime Mile in Belfast is to visit the Titanic Museum, one of the best museums in the world. 

It costs 19.50 GBP per ticket for the Titanic Experience which includes the SS Nomadic, a 1000 person tender that brought first class passengers from shore to the Titanic in Cherbourg France. 

Nomadic saw action in two world wars and had many a celebrity passenger including Marie Curie and Charlie Chaplin. The SS Nomadic is the only remaining ship of the White Star Line still afloat.
Belfast Attractions: Inside the SS NomadicBelfast Attractions: The SS Nomadic

The Titanic Museum is a ‘must do’ Belfast attraction. The museum is quite popular but you can book a timed entry slot to ensure that you don’t have to queue excessively.
Belfast Attractions: Titanic Museum Belfast viewed from the Maritime Mile
The Titanic Museum opened in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that fateful maiden voyage. 

The museum itself rose strikingly from the flat surroundings and conjured images of both a ship and iceberg in my mind. We arrived at the entrance just in time to collect our tickets and set sail.

The entry hall was decked out like a grand ballroom. We wound our way through room after room of exhibits that started with the rise of Belfast as a linen-making and then ship-making hub. 

All the exhibits were multi-media and designed to pique curiosity and a sense of adventure. Get a glimpse into a linen weaving factory. 

Watch shadowy figures pass in front of old video footage of Belfast. We peered up into a replica of the scaffolding that would have surrounded the Titantic and allowed workers access to the construction site. 

The Titanic Museum even features a slow moving ride showing various aspects of building the ship including the work of countless riveting teams. It was something straight out of Disney's playbook.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other places to visit with ties to the Titanic? Why not spend 24 hours in Liverpool, home to the head office of the White Star Line or Cobh, Titanic's last stop on her fateful maiden voyage. Cobh is an easy day trip from Cork City Ireland.

We soon approached the more sombre parts of the exhibit. Copies of the communications to and from the Titanic after she hit the iceberg sent chills up the spine: CANNOT LAST MUCH LONGER. 

The final room of the museum shows underwater footage of the wreck on the ocean floor 100 years later.

14. Go to Titanic Dock and Pump-House

After our tour of the Titanic Museum we wandered up the deserted road to Titanic's Dock and Pump-House. This is a truly authentic bit of Titanic history and marks where the ship was actually built in Belfast and then launched out to sea. 

Admittedly, the Titanic Dock and Pump-House seemed to have a smaller operating budget than the bigger museum up the road, but it was still fascinating. 

We wandered through rooms with all sorts of pumps and equipment. Actors recreated the experience of what it might have been like to work at the dock back in the day.
Why visit Belfast from Dublin: Titanic Dock and Pump-House
We braved Belfast's rainy weather once more and carefully negotiated the slippery stairway down into the dock itself. The sides of the dock were rusted and cracked with age. 

Markers along the wall indicated the height. We could see the blocks upon which the hull of the Titanic once sat. An assortment of stone blocks sat off to the side. 

After connecting with the Titanic in this place where she once set sail, we sought to get out of the cold weather and into a pub to reflect on our visit and warm up before our return from Belfast to Dublin.

15. Experience Belfast Castle by Public Transport

Belfast Castle is worth a short visit if you are a repeat visitor to Northern Ireland and ranks among my top castles to visit on the Emerald Isle

Belfast Castle can be a little tricky to get to on public transport but it is possible. You can take the bus for about 20 minutes to the Strathmore Park stop and then take a 15 minute walk uphill through a residential neighborhood and then a park.
Things to do in Northern Ireland: Visit Belfast Castle
Belfast Castle features a lovely garden with a cat motif. See how many cat sculptures you can find as you walk around the small space anchored by a fountain. 

Belfast Castle has a cafe onsite if you fancy a coffee or a snack. Parts of the interior are open at times but sometimes close for private events (most of the interior of Belfast Castle, aside from the cafe, was closed for a wedding during our visit).
Why visit Belfast from Dublin: The cats in Belfast Castle Garden
Check out the unusual spiral staircase at the back of the castle as you enjoy sweeping views over Belfast City. 

Finish your visit to Belfast Castle with a walk on one of the many hiking trails through the woods above the castle but beware, the trails are not super-well marked and it is possible to get turned around or lost.
Cool things to see in Belfast: the spiral staircase at Belfast Castle

16. Enjoy Seasonal Belfast: The Belfast Christmas Market

Belfast had advertised a 'Continental' Christmas Market near City Hall which is one of the key reasons we decided to make the journey to Belfast from Dublin in December. 

We were looking forward to a little gl├╝hwein to warm up from the cold rain. Getting into the spirit, we waved to Santa as the Santa Bus drove past. 

The citizens of Belfast are a hearty bunch and there were a decent number of people out despite the bad weather. The only thing missing was the signature souvenir mug that you'd expect to find at a 'continental' market. 

We were even more disappointed because the advertisement for the market specifically said that there would be mugs! Oh well...perhaps they were so popular that they sold out two weeks before Christmas.
Cool things to do in Belfast: Belfast Christmas Market

Belfast Day Trips

If you plan a long weekend in Belfast, there are plenty of day trips to take you outside the city and a bit further afield in Northern Ireland. Let's explore some easy and more ambitious Belfast day trips.

17. Belfast to Bangor Day Trip

Belfast day trip to Bangor: Bangor harbour
Take the train to the seaside town of Bangor if you visit Belfast in the Spring or Summer. The train ride from Belfast to Bangor takes about an hour. Take time to wander through Bangor Town to the harbour. 

Depending on the time of year (we visited in the Spring), you may see black guillemots nesting in the cracks in the concrete along the water. Consider renting a swan peddleboat at Pickie Funpark right next to the Bangor Harbour. 
Belfast Day Trips: black guillemot bird in Bangor Northern Ireland
Our favorite spot in Bangor was the Bangor Castle Walled Garden. Bangor Castle has been converted into the Bangor Town Hall with a regional museum (North Down Museum) immediately behind it. 
Belfast Day Trips: Bangor Castle
Hike through the enchanting Bangor Castle park through a lush forest until you emerge at the walled garden. 

Walk around the flowerbeds and keep an eye out for modern and edgy sculpture. Grab a coffee at the cafe in the Bangor Castle Walled Garden to keep your energy up for the rest of your Belfast to Bangor day trip. 
Belfast Day Trips: Edgy sculpture in Bangor Castle Walled Gardens

18. Belfast to the Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular attractions in Northern Ireland and is less than 90 minutes away from Belfast by car. 

The Giant's Causeway features an array of giant hexagonal stone steps that make it look as if a giant is about to walk out of the sea. 

The Giant's Causeway can easily be combined with the Causeway Coastal Route including 16th century Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, a great place to test your fear of heights as you bob across a swaying rope bridge and look down at the roiling sea below.
Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland

19. Belfast to Derry

Derry is about 90 minutes by car from Belfast and 2.5 hours from Belfast by train. Derry has rose to prominence in the minds of tourists thanks to the hit TV show, Derry Girls

There are plenty of things to do in Derry. You can explore the fraught political history of the city and the Northern Ireland peace process. 

Derry also has a fun side. Time your trip to coincide with the The Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival and you'll be in for a musical treat with free gigs in venues all around the city.

20. Carlingford Lough Road Trip

Head to Newry for a Carlingford Lough road trip. Newry is just an hour from Belfast by train, but you'll want to drive to fully experience this Belfast day trip. 

Drive the Mourne Coastal Route along Carlingford Lough in Northern Ireland and explore quaint towns like Warrenpoint and the world's of C.S. Lewis in Rostrevor. Rostrevor was believed to the inspiration for Narnia

If you are feeling ambitious and if your car hire agreement allows, take the ferry into the Republic of Ireland and colorful Carlingford Town. Stop for a short hike above Carlingford Town to stretch your legs before driving back to Belfast along the south side of Carlingford Lough.
Belfast Day Trips: Carlingford

Where to Eat in Belfast

Belfast has a vibrant food scene. Let's explore where to eat on your Belfast weekend. Options range from quick and on the go options to full on extravagance. We'll cover both ends of the Belfast food spectrum.

The Drawing Room 2

The Titanic Hotel in Belfast is situated adjacent to the Titanic Museum. The hotel was built in the historic Harland & Wolff Company drawing offices. 

Many of the colossal ships of the early 20th century were designed and documented here. We enjoyed a light lunch at Drawing Office 2 at The Titanic Hotel.

 The restaurant features beautiful vaulted ceilings and cozy tables in a historic room where many of the world's greatest ships were designed. A Caesar Salad and chicken burger washed down with a pint of Yardman's IPA made our day. 

Head to the loo from Drawing Office Two for an excuse to check out the historic decor and conference rooms at The Titanic Hotel Belfast.
Where to eat in Belfast: The Drawing Room 2 at the Titanic HotelBelfast Attractions: The Titanic Hotel

The Great Room at Merchant Hotel

Make a reservation for dinner in The Great Room at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast. What a sumptuous setting for a meal! 

Look up at the grand chandelier and domed ceiling featuring cherubs against a rich red backdrop. We enjoyed a cheese puff amuse bouche followed by venison ballotine and pumpkin souffle starters. 

Duck breast crusted with nuts in a rich sweet sauce with sliced root vegetables left us feeling incredibly full. We didn't have room for dessert but squeezed in a large glass of Cote du Rhone to aid with digestion.
Belfast Attractions: The Great Room at the Merchant HotelWhere to eat in Belfast: The Great Room at the Merchant Hotel

An Epic Meal at Deane's Eipic

You'll find the ultimate luxury dining experience at Deane's Eipic in Belfast. Eipic's 11 course Michelin Star tasting menu is definitely worth the splurge (85 GBP for the tasting menu at the time of writing). 

We started out with a glass of champagne to toast the occasion. Crispy chicken, crumpet with tomato and smoked Hegarty's cheddar, and cheese Panna Cotta and onion snacks plus amazing bread with Abernethy butter jumpstarted our culinary experience. 

Mackerel with ponzu, apple, cucumber, and dill; mushroom tartlet with bacon jam and brown butter; wild bass with artichoke and sea herbs; and Irish black Angus beef with parsley, onion, lovage, pearl barley and kale followed. 

We capped our meal with a blood orange palate cleanser and a rhubarb, white chocolate, stem ginger, vanilla, and hazelnut dessert. Of course, we also couldn't resist the small tray of sweet snacks which included an elegant truffle and financier.
Where to eat in Belfast: Michelin-Starred Deane's Eipic
We splurged on the Incredible Edible Book at Deane's Eipic which was made with chocolate ganache, coconut, and whimsical scenes printed on edible rice paper. The book costs an extra 20 GBP. It's a bit gimmicky, but we thought it was worth it to get the complete experience.
Belfast Attractions: The Incredible Edible Book at Deane's Eipic
We opted for the specially selected "wine shots" to accompany each course at Deane's Eipic. A wine shot is a 75 ml pour and cost 6 GBP each. The wine pairings were not a bad value for the opportunity to taste the somelier selected pairings for each dish and not overdo it on the drinking.
Sweet snacks at Deane's Eipic in Belfast

Common Market

Head to Common Market if you are looking for quick comfort food and a beer. Grab a crunchy dog from Ball and Roll or choose from one of about 10 different food outlets ringing a group of long picnic tables. 
Common Market feels like a covered food truck area and is a great spot for a late lunch.
Keep an eye out for the cool bollards that look like coins outside Common Market in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.
Crunchy dog from Ball and Roll at Common Market in Belfast

Home Restaurant

Home Restaurant is a great place to stop for lunch in the center of Belfast. Situated just a block away from Belfast City Hall, you can't get more central than this. 

Sip a glass of wine with a chickpea-based vegetarian stew or enjoy grilled chicken with quinoa. The fresh, simple dishes are quite satisfying. 
Where to eat in Belfast: chicken and quinoa at Home RestaurantWhere to eat in Belfast: red velvet pancakes for brunch at Harlem Cafe

Harlem Cafe

Sit down to a decadent brunch at Home Cafe including American-style red velvet pancakes with bananas and pecans. Balance that out with a stuffed omelette and side of toast for a bit of protein. 

Harlem Cafe is extremely popular so go early or be prepared to wait for a table.

Fish City Belfast

Grab some award-wining fish and chips on the go in the central Belfast shopping district at Fish City Belfast in the pedestrianized core of the city.
Where to eat in Belfast: fish and chips at Fish City Belfast

Molly's Yard

Nestled in the Queen's University Quarter of Belfast, Molly's Yard restaurant offers high-end cuisine in an intimate setting. 

Imaginative seasonal ingredients go into each dish. Molly's Yard is pretty small so make sure to book ahead, especially on the weekend. Pair your meal with a local craft beer or a gin-based cocktail.
Where to eat in Belfast: Gin bottles at Molly's Yard

Where to Drink in Belfast

Belfast has a number of fantastics bars and pubs for you to try. Let's explore some of my favorite places to get a drink in Belfast.

Bittles Bar

Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is home to the intriguing Bittles Bar. The place was packed but we timed it well and managed to find a small table tucked in the corner. 

We tried a few of the craft brews and ciders on offer including Pig Island Pale from Ards Brewing Company and MacIvor's Cider. 

We admired the paintings of various Irish writers and politicians surrounding us on all sides. 

We definitely felt an additional bit of Christmas spirit when the family at the next table busted out McCoy's Salt and Malt Vinegar Potato Chips and proceeded to hand us two personal sized bags. My favorite!
Where to go for a drink in Belfast: Bittles Bar

Crown Liquor Saloon

The Crown Liquor Saloon has the best entrance. We walked by before it opened on a Sunday morning and I was able to get a beautiful picture. Make sure to come back later to step inside. Crown Liquor Saloon is equally impressive on the inside.

We enjoyed soup and a beer at the Crown Liquor Saloon. The interior of the Crown Liquor Saloon was particularly impressive with stained glass by the entry. 

Belfast is known for its pubs and most importantly for snugs. At Crown Liquor Saloon we got to see a snug first hand. Belfast is known for pubs with these cozy booths with doors that close for privacy.
Fun things to do in Belfast: Have a drink at the Crown Liquor Saloon
The Crown Liquor Saloon is one of the best period pubs I've seen. We got lucky when we arrived. 

All the snugs were full but we met a nice couple from the UK who were just getting ready to leave and invited us to sit down. We settled in for a relaxing pint of Harp. 

Snugs are like a mini-oasis with dark wood paneling, stained glass, and a door that closes out the any rowdy lads at the bar. In the good old days, you could even ring this bell and someone would come to take your order and deliver your drinks. Unfortunately, it's all self-service now but still good fun!

John Hewitt Bar

Grab a sneaky afternoon pint of Yardsman, a local craft beer brewed in Belfast, at John Hewitt Bar in the Cathedral Quarter. You may even encounter some live music on a Saturday afternoon. 
Things to do in Belfast: Drink Yardsman craft beer at John Hewitt BarThings to do in Belfast: Have a drink at the Perch Rooftop Bar

The Woodworkers

The Woodworkers Bar in the Queen's University Quarter of Belfast is a great spot to relax at the bar with a newspaper while the world buzzes around you. Serving local and imported craft beer, the Woodworkers Bar is a modern boozer.

The Perch Rooftop Bar

For the ultimate upscale drinking experience in Belfast, check out The Perch Rooftop Bar. Take the lift to the top of an office building that has seen better days and emerge into a light filled bar. Grab a specialty cocktail on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Katy's Bar

Katy's Bar is a great spot for a quiet drink on a weekday afternoon in Belfast. Bask in the old school wood-paneling and hunting trophies on the wall while sipping a pint of stout.   
What to do in Belfast: Have a pint of stout at Katy's Bar

Where to Stay in Belfast

There are a variety of accommodation options in Belfast that run the gamut from economical to luxury. Let's explore where to stay in Belfast.

Belfast Hilton

The Hilton Belfast is an excellent choice for a comfortable stay in a central location. 

The Hilton Belfast is conveniently located about a five minute walk from Lanyon Place Station making it an ideal home base for a weekend in Belfast. 

We stayed on the executive floor (upgraded from a room that cost 135 GBP per night) for Belfast City views.

Premier Inn

When visiting Belfast, I recommend staying at one of the three Premier Inns located in Belfast City Centre. Premier Inns are no frills but clean and comfortable with a guarantee of a good night’s sleep. 

I also owe the Premier Inn a debt of gratitude. On a business trip to Belfast, I had booked the posh Hotel Europa. 

Apparently, I got my dates mixed up and had booked in for the next day. Hotel Europa was fully booked. The staff was actually quite rude to me as we slowly troubleshooted the reservation and figured out what happened. 

Hotel rooms in the city were super hard to come by since Dolly Parton happened to be in Belfast that evening. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. 

I called up the Premier Inn and they miraculously found a room for me and at a very reasonable rate. The Premier Inn staff is always incredibly friendly and I’ve been a loyal customer ever since.
Where to stay in Belfast: Hilton BelfastBelfast Attractions: The Europa Hotel

Hotel Europa

Hotel Europa has the distinction of being Europe's most bombed hotel. I considered staying there on one of my trips to Belfast as discussed above. 

Given the unprofessional treatment after an honest mistake, I can’t in good conscience recommend them. Take a photo from outside or pop in to see this historical site in Belfast but in my opinion you should stay elsewhere.

Map of Belfast Things to Do

For more details about the fun things to do in Belfast referenced in this post, check out this handy Belfast map.

Fun Things to do in Belfast Map

Is Belfast Safe?

I have generally felt safe during my five visits to Belfast. There are still bomb threats on occasion but the people placing the bombs generally give ample warning so that bystanders can clear the area. 

The authorities in Belfast are good at getting the word out about any bomb threats, clearing the area and diffusing the situation.

It’s clear that in some cases Belfast is still struggling to escape the past. On one of our weekend trips, our bus was actually delayed and sent on a significant detour because of a bomb threat on a bridge along the highway. 

On another trip, we logged into the free wi-fi at a pub and discovered that a bomb had gone off in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter the night before (the very neighborhood in which we were sitting at that moment). 

Fortunately, no one was hurt. It's sad that The Troubles still continue in this part of the world. 

The good thing is that most people seemed undeterred by the previous day's excitement. The city appeared normal and calm to us -- like any other in Europe, but clearly tension still rests just below the surface. 

We accidentally planned our most recent trip to Belfast to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. While the Bloody Sunday massacre took place in Derry, I was concerned that there might be repercussions in Belfast too. 

Once again, it turned out to be like any other day in the city from our perspective.

This tension tends to reach a peak in July in the lead up to The Twelfth (celebrations by protestants in Northern Ireland beyond that involve marches and parades that have provoked violence in the past). 

I recommend avoiding Belfast specifically and Northern Ireland in general at this time of year.

In general, don't let the rough history of Northern Ireland deter your visit. Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings but tourists generally won't have issues when visiting Belfast.

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Why Visit Belfast from Dublin: Street Art
 Why Visit Belfast from Dublin: St. George's Market

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 20 Fun Things to do in Belfast on a Weekend Break from Dublin
20 Fun Things to do in Belfast on a Weekend Break from Dublin
Learn about fun things to do in Belfast on a weekend city break from Dublin. Discover Belfast attractions and Belfast day trips.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog