Our visit to Belfast started with a very quick bus ride from the airport to the centre of Belfast. We stayed in the Europa Hotel which is in a perfect location in the centre of the city, right next to the bus station. After checking in we went for a walk around the city centre, stopping for a look in the magnificent city hall and a bit of window shopping in Victoria Square.
Crumlin Road Gaol
We spent the rest of the day at one of Belfast’s top visitor attractions, Crumlin Road Gaol. The former prison closed its doors in 1996 and since then has been brilliantly adapted as a fantastic visitor attraction. Parts of it have been left as they were when it closed, you can see the reception area where prisoners were taken and asked to change into their prison uniforms. There is graffiti covering the backs of the changing room doors with the names of past prisoners. Other areas have been renovated to look as they did when the prison first opened in 1845. All visits to the prison are by guided tour so you can find out about the history of the prison and why it closed as well as hear some great prison break stories. I found it really interesting and would thoroughly recommend a visit here.
As the birth place of The Titanic, no visit to Belfast would be complete without the full Titanic Experience. We bought the White Star Premium Pass from Titanic Belfast which not only gave you entry to the museum but also a discovery walking tour and entry to the SS Nomadic. The museum was incredible, a very immersive experience into the history of the ship, the people who built her and her passengers. It even included a cable car ride!
On the discovery tour we learnt about the thought that had gone into building the museum which in itself was really interesting with the guide picking out particular features which you would never have spotted otherwise. We also walked on to Titanic’s slip where a silver outline depicts where the ship would have been and white lines show the plan of the deck, it really gives you an appreciation of just how massive it was.
The SS Nomadic is the last remaining White Star Line ship and was tender to the Titanic, bringing on-board passengers from Cherbourg. The SS Nomadic has had a very interesting life since its days as tender to the Titanic, which you learn about, but has now been restored to look how it did in 1912. There are original benches and tables and even a bar for the first class passengers. It really gives you a feel of what it must have been like!
Game of Thrones tour
Whether you’re a Game of Thrones fan or not, this is a brilliant value for money way of heading out of the city for the day and seeing some of Northern Ireland’s beautiful coastline. We did the Game of Thrones and Giant’s Causeway tour with McCombs Coach Tours. As well as seeing the filming locations of the show, some of which I have already spotted in season 6, you also get to visit the Giants Causeway which even in the wind and rain is breath-taking.
Ulster Museum and botanic gardens
The Ulster Museum is a brilliant free attraction and a great place to learn more about the natural and human history of Northern Ireland. As well as this there are great exhibitions on dinosaur bones, the elements and Takabuti, the museum’s mummy, plus over 12,000 works of art. If weather permits then afterwards enjoy a walk around the Botanic Gardens with a visit inside The Palm House.
Eating and drinking recommendations
- Tasty burger - Bulletproof Burgers in the city centre do a great traditional American burger, if you like spicy food then the angry fries are a must try!
- Local produce - MadeInBelfast offer a delicious menu focusing on local produce, they also have a great cocktail menu! Or if you are a seafood lover then you must go to Mourne Seafood Bar. For something a bit different, Indian Restaurant Nu Delhi Lounge offer a fantastic range of dishes and delicious cocktails. For a hearty breakfast visit Maggie Mays and try the highly recommended Ulster Fry.
- Proper pubs - The Crown and Duke of York are lovely pubs with a quirky feel. The Duke of York also regularly has live music but good luck getting a seat, it is very popular!
- Cocktail bars - For rooftop terraces and extensive cocktail menus try Apartment or The Perch.