Who doesn’t love a weekend getaway? Now that we're in the last few weeks of summer, our thoughts are turning to fun weekend minibreaks, where we can get caught up in another city’s culture, explore delicious new restaurants and take in all of the sights.
Our little island has some wonderful cities to offer, and one of our favourites is Belfast! There’s lots to see and do here, it is incredibly accessible via bus, train or car, and it has everything that you could ever want for a city weekend getaway. Whether you end up going with your favourite group of girls or a few family members, here are our top suggestions of things you need to see and do during your stay in Belfast:
1. Explore the Titanic
Out of all of our suggestions, this would be our number one choice on how to spend an afternoon! The doomed Titanic was built in the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, and in 2012, the city opened a dedicated museum to the history of it, from its creation right up to its tragic sinking in 1912. The museum is wonderfully laid out and has lots of interactive features. You will be able to experience the Titanic’s entire lifespan, everything from a 3D re-designed layout of the interior of the ship, to exclusive footage of the shipwreck underneath the Atlantic ocean. You can also find out exciting facts about the hit 1997 film, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Even the museum’s building is designed to look like the front of the boat!
2. All aboard the tour bus
You can usually find these kinds of tour buses in most cities, and Belfast is no exception! If you don’t want to walk or drive to see all of the fabulous sights and landmarks, then this bus tour is a great alternative. You can hop on and hop off wherever you like, giving you total flexibility and allowing you to exclusively choose the sights you want to see. On this bus, you will be able to spot up to 19 iconic landmarks, such as the International Peace Wall, Crumlin Road Jail House, and the prestigious City Hall. Just take one piece of advice from us – don’t sit on the open top deck when it’s raining!
3. Shop till you drop
If there’s one thing we love in Belfast, it’s the fantastic range of shops! The city centre has an incredible high street which has all of your favourite stores, making them perfectly accessible. The high street also branches off into multiple different side streets with even more shops, which you can endlessly explore to your heart’s content. At the centre of the shopping district is Victoria Square. This shopping centre is rather unique as it is partially outdoors, and it even has a rooftop glass dome which you can visit for free. The dome has glorious views of Belfast – even on the cloudiest of days! Victoria Square has a mixture of everything you need, including high street shops, luxury brands, popular bars and restaurants, and even a cinema. It also has adorable decorations at different times of the year, such as Halloween and Christmas. If shopping during your minibreak is your number one aim, then Belfast won’t disappoint you!
4. Go behind the scenes
If you’re a TV fanatic, then this suggestion is for you! In recent years, Belfast has become an active hub for popular TV and film productions, which means that almost everywhere in the city is recogniseable from the screen. If you’re a Line of Duty fan, you can go to iconic exterior locations such as the AC-12 office building and the Central Police headquarters building (which, fun fact, is actually a library!). If Game of Thrones is more your style, then there is a dedicated tour company which will take you to all of the show’s famous sites, including the eerily spooky Dark Hedges forest. These locations will make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into the TV screen!
5. Taste all the free samples
One of Belfast’s oldest attractions! St. George’s Market is a particularly special treat, as it only opens on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Throughout the market, you will be able to find everything from tasty foods and drinks, to unique gifts and souvenirs to bring back home with you. There is also usually a busking musician in the market, which gives it a wonderful, cosy atmosphere as you wander around and soak in all of the stalls. You’re guaranteed to find lots of treasures at St. George’s Market!
6. Curtains up
Throughout Belfast city, there is a constant hive of entertainment! Whether it be a West End musical tour in the recently restored Grand Opera House theatre, a trip to see the Belfast Giants hockey team in action, or an electric concert at the SSE Arena, there is always something on to entertain you in the evenings. There is also an endless array of bars and restaurants close to these venues, meaning that you can treat yourself to a fabulous meal or a delicious cocktail either before or after the show. What’s not to love?
7. Smell the flowers
Finally, if being amongst nature is more your cup of tea, then the Botanic Gardens is a must-see attraction! The gardens have been open for almost 200 years, and are a staple of Belfast’s identity. Not only is the structure of the garden’s main building beautiful, but it also plays host to the Palm House and Tropical Ravine, which allows you to experience plants that don’t ordinarily grow in our climate. Spend some time away from the city’s hustle and bustle with this glorious nature display!