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This article will give you all the info you need for 48 hours in Belfast, including food, where to stay and things to do. Belfast has always floated around on the periphery of my life. And I’ve watched on in awe as it has changed, expanded and developed. Northern Ireland in general has rip roared its way into the fore front of tourism and its capital city has a large part to play in that success.
So, why haven’t you been there in AGES? Or even at all?! I mean, it’s only a 2 hour drive/train journey from Dublin. It has an international airport making it easily accessible from the UK and further afield. The food is next level, the street art is internationally acclaimed and there’s tourist attractions by the bucket-load but not in an obnoxious kinda way.
Plus, to top it all off, Lonely Planet has named it their NUMBER ONE must-visit region of 2018. With that in mind, I spent 48 hours in Belfast with my friend Gail to see exactly what sort of adventures it has to offer and whether it is truly worthy of this prestigious title.
48 Hours in Belfast
Things to do With 2 Days in Belfast
Belfast is FULL of incredible things to do and you can fit plenty of them into a short 48 hour trip! Here’s what we got up to.
First up was indoor sky-diving at We Are Vertigo in the Titanic Quarter, one of the more adventurous activities in Belfast. I was a little bit worried about vomiting up my lunch, to be honest. Otherwise, I wasn’t too nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it certainly exceeded my expectations.
To start, we watched a safety video (I was sure I’d forget all 3 of the hand signals). Then I hopped into my suit, put on my sexy hair net, helmet, goggles and popped in my ear plugs. After that I basically couldn’t hear anything and we did a little stretching exercise to limber up. Little did I know how much I was going to need that limbering up.
Then we all waited our turn to head into what was basically a giant wind tunnel. You only get 3 minutes, which seems really short, but LORD, I don’t think I could have done much longer. Turns out wind blasting you up into the air is actually quite intense and rough on the muscles. I felt like I’d be lifting weights for 2 days after. It’s definitely worth it though for such a unique experience. Anyway, I think video is the best way for you to see what it’s like so make sure to check out my video below. Sessions start from £45 per person.
After that we had a wander around the Titanic Quarter. We were looking for the Great Light which is a new installation on the Titanic Walkway. It’s a 130 year old giant lighthouse optic which produced one of the strongest lighthouse beams in history.
The Titanic Museum is also definitely worth a visit. I’d been there on a previous visit and it’s so interactive. There’s a little theme ride in there, you can watch them diving the actual wreck of the titanic on a giant movie screen, you can peer inside the rooms from the Titanic and more. It’s definitely one of my favourite museums that I’ve ever visited. It belongs on any guide to Belfast.
On Saturday morning we walked from our hotel to St.George’s Market. We’d previously been advised not to eat much because the food is SO good at the market. There were long queues of locals at quiet a few of the stalls, which is always a sign of great, fairly priced food.
We had a stroll around and checked out the local craft stalls. I picked up a few sets of earrings and a hand made card. There was so much to look at, take in, taste, smell and experience. I could have spent over an hour there. It’s super easy to walk to from the city centre, so if you’re in Belfast over a weekend I definitely recommend a visit.
Next stop was Belfast Castle. We were supposed to walk up Cave Hill too but the weather was NOT permitting that. Our taxi driver was adamant that if we tried it we’d end up lost and drenched due to the mist and rain. So, we headed straight to Belfast Castle. I’d heard that the place was filled with cat art/statues so I was obviously excited about that.
For some reason, inside the castle, they kept playing Celine Dion, which was also amazing. The weather really suited the castle, it made it look moody and eerie. It’s an incredibly popular location for weddings, but maybe on a nicer day. But sure, it wouldn’t really be Belfast if it didn’t rain. Anyway, it’s a great place to soak up a bit of history and get some great photos. There’s no entry fee.
Finally we took a street art tour with Seedhead Arts. When it comes to Belfast city tours, this was the perfect one for me. I LOVE street art. Adam was our guide and I swear he knew everyone in the city, and absolutely everything about the local art scene. We did a whirlwind tour because it was lashing, but we still saw so much.
The street art in certain places will change from year to year due to festivals being held and new artists being invited to create art around the city. What I loved about the tour is that Adam is so involved in the street art scene of Belfast that he could answer any questions I threw at him.
I’ve always been so curious about how the artists keep perspective and proportion when face to face with a giant wall. And now I know. You can see a couple of my favourite pieces of street art in the photos above and below. Street art tours start every Sunday at noon, leaving from Commercial Court (beside the Duke of York). At only £8 per person it’s an absolute bargain.
If you want to see a lot of Belfast in a short period of time then your best bet is one of the Belfast bus tours. There’s the Belfast City Sightseeing big red bus. It’s your standard hop on hop off bus tour. If you want something a bit more unusual you can do one of the black cab tours around the city. A local cab driver will take you around all the top attractions in Belfast. It’s very authentic and means you can pretty much stop whether you want.
Eating & Drinking in Belfast
Belfast is known for its incredible food offerings. Northern Ireland in general is big on farm to table, local produce, seasonal offerings and all that good stuff. During my couple of days in Belfast I gorged myself in a few different spots around the city. Being vegetarian I always prepare myself to be just a little bit disappointed as I usually don’t have a choice about what I eat and most places aren’t very creative with vegetarian food. But lord, was I surprised!
On Friday I had lunch in Taylor & Clay, which is actually in the Bullitt hotel where I stayed. The food there is the kind of thing I’ll crave for years! I had the spiced roasted cauliflower with black lentil dahl and also ordered the black rice and feta salad as a side dish (best decision ever).
The cauliflower was so good that Gail wished she’d ordered it and the women sitting across from us wanted to know what it was and then ordered it for themselves. I cannot stress enough how fantastic it was. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. My main for lunch cost £11.
On Saturday Gail and I had lunch in Cafe Parisiene. We sat upstairs by the window with a stellar view of City Hall. The restaurant itself feels fancy but not stuffy. The cocktails are fantastic and pack a punch. Gail only discovered a “Dark and Stormy” (or a muddy water as she kept calling it, haha) on this trip, it’s now her favourite cocktail, so she ordered one of those.
I ordered a “Parisien Kiss”, containing Bombay Sapphire, apricot liqueur, mango purée, lemon and simple syrup and it definitely went down easy. For starters we shared the goat’s cheese and for mains we both had the risotto verte (risotto with asparagus, green beans and garden peas). Everything was delicious. They do a two course lunch special for £17.50.
Dinner on Friday was at Home Restaurant and I really fell in love with this place. It has a quirky, homey (duh) sort of decor with lots of funky fixtures and fittings. Food-wise, we shared the Mezze Sharing Plate (hummus, pitta, falafel, stuffed vine leaves etc) for starters. I’m drooling just typing this.
For mains Gail had the sweet potato curry and I had the salt and pepper tofu. The salt and pepper tofu is another one of those meals that I’ll be dreaming about for years. In fact, I’d nearly get the train back up to Belfast just to have that dinner all over again.
For dessert we shared a bowl of sorbet, and almost certainly looked like a couple! haha. I was so impressed with the flavours of the sorbet, coconut and pear. It was to die for. This is definitely another must-visit stop for your next dinner in Belfast! We spent around £69 total which covered two cocktails, two soft drinks, a large sharing starter, two mains, two herbal teas and a sharing dessert. I thought that was pretty great value!
Then, the one that came so highly recommended, the Muddler’s Club. We went for dinner there on Saturday night. I was surprised by the location, just down a little alley off Hill Street with street art on the walls all around it. Like Cafe Parisiene, it felt a bit fancy, but not stuffy.
We had the 5 course tasting menu, which can cater to any dietary requirements. I asked for vegetarian with no mushrooms and I was so impressed with what they served up. Everything was seasonal and delicious. Artichokes, mustard, onions, truffle, asparagus, egg yolk, cauliflower, carrots and more. The courses were small yet decadent.
I don’t have a very fancy/educated palette, but I loved everything. The dessert in particular was delicious (mocha tart, milk sorbet and espresso). The tasting menu changes regularly though so it will always be a bit of a surprise, which I kind of like. Just make sure you reserve a table in advance as the place books up really quickly. The tasting menu starts at £45 per person.
If you’re a foodie and want to get a taste of various food offerings in the city then a Belfast food tour is your best bet. Taste & Tour do an incredible food tour that comes highly recommended. They’ve won awards for their tours and also offer more boozy options like a gin, beer or whiskey tour. Tours start from £45.00.
I also asked for recommendations on Twitter and these spots came highly recommended – The Pizza Boutique, Coppi (I have been recommended this place so many times and I LOVE it) and Establishment Coffee (apparently the best coffee in Belfast). When it comes to afternoon tea in Belfast, Bullitt Hotel offer a Tipsy Tea (available Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from £29.50.
Where to Stay in Belfast
When it comes to accommodation in Belfast there’s a lot of choice. During my 48hrs in Belfast I chose to stay in the Bullitt Hotel. I’d read that it was central, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so perfectly located. It’s right beside the Victoria Square shopping centre and just a short walk from City Hall, Hill Street and the Cathedral Quarter.
On first impressions, it doesn’t look like much from the outside. You just see the BULLITT sign hanging off the side of an unassuming building. Then you walk through a small sort of alleyway, the walls covered in art, and emerge into a coutyard area full of seating and dominated by a Jameson Black Barrell statue.
I was totally taken aback, the place looked incredible. The design was modern and edgy and everything was just the right balance of modern, old and border-line industrial. Which is EXACTLY the kind of style I love.
The room had a view over Ann street and was very spacious with lots of room to move around. There were bright pops of colour and plenty of seating options. The shower was rainfall. There was a shelf beside the mirror, just above a plug socket which was designated for straighteners. GENIUS!
Bullitt has an in house bar (Michael makes a mean cocktail in there), a coffee shop, Taylor & Clay restaurant and the Babel rooftop bar. ANYWAY, I loved the place. Everything about it was pleasantly surprising. It looked slightly hipster, but felt warm and cosy. It was full of a mix of people from babies to grannies and everything in between. The more time I spent there the more I loved it. I 100% recommend it.
How to Get There & Getting Around
I got the Enterprise train from Dublin Connolly to Belfast Central. First class is stunning and you get free juice/water. Breakfast and hot beverages are available upon request for a fee. The wifi is great and there’s plenty of plug sockets for charging. There’s a free bus from the station to the city centre (walk out the main entrance/exit and go left. Just show your ticket to the driver).
Taxis can be hit and miss in the city of Belfast. I pre-booked a taxi a couple of times and it was a disaster. I’ve got to give a shout out to the lovely lady from The Titanic Museum who actually ended up giving me and Gail a lift back from the Titanic Quarter to our hotel after we had serious taxi issues. What a legend she was, I mean, talk about excellent customer service!
Maybe I just had a bad taxi experience and maybe they’re normally fine but it happened on two separate visits for me, so what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t rely on them too much. If you absolutely need to be somewhere look at buses or rent a car.
The city is very walkable and there are good local bus connections. If you have to use a taxi you’ll have better luck hailing one off the street than you will booking in advance. Personally, I think hiring a car is the best option as you can explore outside of Belfast as well. I have also been reassured that Uber works really well in Belfast.
See For Yourself
Here’s a little video of my time in Belfast. It’s just over 3 minutes long so not too time consuming. If you like it I’d love if you’d give it a like or subscribe to my channel. Thanks!
So there you have it, I think I can safely say that we thoroughly explored the city during out 48 hours in Belfast. I absolutely love Belfast and Northern Ireland in general. I’ll definitely be back to gorge myself on more of the delicious food and to search for some new adventures. I would say that the Lonely Planet title of “Best Region to Visit in 2018” is well deserved!
* I was hosted on this trip by Tourism Northern Ireland. However, all opinions are, as always, my own.