With its buoyant pub scene and abundance of restaurants on offer, Belfast is the ideal destination for an exciting weekend break. We look at some top spots to stay in and where to add to your culinary tour of the city.
One of the great things about Belfast is that most of its attractions are within walking distance of the city centre – or a short taxi ride away – so you’ll make the most of your time staying in a central location.
For example, the Ten Square Hotel overlooks the historic City Hall and offers elegant rooms and a gorgeous breakfast. Right beside the Grand Opera House, The Fitzwilliam Hotel will impress you with its luxurious rooms and outstanding service. If you want to feel like a local, go for The Flint and its stylish studio apartments.
Once you are settled, start by heading ‘off the eaten track’ with Taste&Tour. The award-winning Belfast Food Tour will take you on a four-hour, food-filled guided walk, where you will try some tasty produce in some of the top spots around the city centre. They also offer a Gin Jaunt, a Whiskey Walk or a Beer Crawl, if you feel like investigating the local tipple.
Recently awarded UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2019, St. George’s Market will provide you with an authentic Belfast experience. Open from Friday to Sunday, the Victorian indoor market showcases the best in local food, artisan clothing, crafts and memorabilia. Grab a bite in one of the 248 stalls and enjoy the great atmosphere!
If you fancy trying some high-end cuisine, Belfast hosts no less than two Michelin-starred restaurants as well as several Bib Gourmands. Crowned with a Michelin Star since 2015, OX, a local institution, offers a fantastic array of beautifully-designed and cooked, local ingredient-led dishes and fine wines, with the impressive Stephen Toman on the pass, while Deane’s EIPIC (named after the word Epicurian), focuses on seasonal produce of the finest quality, predominantly local. Created by the renowned Belfast restaurateur Michael Deane, this eatery has retained its star since Chef Alex Greene has been at the helm for the past two years.
With its beautiful red brick walls and classic bistro dishes, James Street South is perfect for a casual yet carefully crafted meal. If you are a meat aficionado, don’t miss the outstanding steak. Deanes at Queen’s is another great option for those who are after quality food at an affordable price. Located in the Queen's University, this restaurant offers a beautiful outdoor area if you are lucky enough to enjoy some Northern-Irish sun. For a friendly dinner in a warm and casual atmosphere, book a table in Home. With a menu catering for all food preferences, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, healthy and indulgent, this place is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Holohan's At The Barge is a family owned restaurant moored next to The Waterfront Theatre where you will taste some amazing Irish produce while feeling like you embarked on a fun cruise.
Alongside these local glories, Belfast also has room for an impressive international cuisine. On Ormeau Road, Bia Rebel is Northern Ireland's only hand-made locally sourced ramen shop and has gathered some glorious reviews in the past few months. Their £8 bowl of ramen will make for the most satisfying and affordable bite you could dream of. For an Italian fix, head to Coppi in the Cathedral Quarter and enjoy contemporary Italian cooking at its finest.
While a walk around Titanic Belfast to learn all about the history of the legendary boat is a thoroughly interesting experience, a great way to discover the city is to jump on board of one of Paddy Campbell's famous black cabs for a cultural tour, including the Belfast political murals.
After learning all about the food and history of the Northern Ireland capital, it is time to discover its pub scene. Established in 2006, The Spaniard Bar in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is a quirky spot for those who love a bit of rum. The Saturday afternoon music session is a local’s favourite for the great music and unique atmosphere. The Perch, located in the city’s Linen Quarter, is Belfast’s highest rooftop bar – don’t worry, blankets are provided if you get a bit chilly. With classic or more creative cocktails and a wide choice of gins, the place attracts a trendy crowd as well as movie fans with its outdoor cinema sessions.
Before your time is up, stop at Sawers food shop - Northern Ireland’s oldest deli, described as the “Aladdin’s cave of culinary delights” – then make your way to the Crown Liquor Saloon, a true Belfast institution. Also known as the Crown Bar, it is an outstanding example of a Victorian gin palace. Order a drink and sit in one of its ten snugs, but don’t lose track of time as your weekend is coming to an end. Don’t worry though, open in 1885, this beautiful pub will likely still be there for your next visit.
Belfast is a goldmine for those looking for a cultured weekend of history, food and more... these are truly only a few of the amazingly long list of places to eat, stay and drink. Check out the Northern Ireland Tourism website for lots more information and to plan a break soon.