How to do Belfast in a day…..
- Arrive in Belfast but don’t stop to unpack, the key is to keep moving! If you arrive via central station you can catch a big pink bus into town making it even easier to start your adventure.
- Breakfast: If you’re staying overnight then save this one for the next morning, but otherwise, ditch the typical breakfast fry-up in favour of some delightfully hipster brunch fare at Established Coffee, and include a visit to the Belfast Cathedral nearby.
- Markets / Morning Tea: Start with a visit to the St George Markets, even better on a Friday / Saturday as the usual craft tidbits are accompanied by local food producers. Be sure to talk to an old lady about her antique jewellery collection for sale and grab an fancy cupcake on the way out!
- Shopping / Lunch: Head straight to Victoria Square for a healthy dose of retail therapy. This MUST include a stop to Studio Souk to stock up on artisan chocolate, alcoholic jam (yes, gin and tonic marmalade!), oils, vinegars etc, all of which are made in Northern Ireland with local supplies. You can even turn your selection into a gift box for someone back home! The studio also includes local ceramics, clothes etc and a rather cute cafe which serves usual cafe fare as well as a “muddy chai” (the beautiful love child of a hot chocolate and chai latte).
- Museum: Keep walking through the city across the footbridge and down the picturesque harbour to the titanic museum. Leave yourself an hour or so and if the kids / partner aren’t so keen, go yourself and leave them at the cinema / bowling alley in the W5 nearby!
- Tour: Belfastology does walking tours every 2 hours from 7am but if you’d like to rest your feet with the luxury of a born-and-bred local guide, do a famous black taxi tour instead!
- Drinks: Head back towards the city via Kelly’s Cellars for a pre-dinner pint in the oldest pub in Belfast
- Dinner: If you were like me and weren’t quite lucky enough to score a reservation at one of the two Michelin star restaurants in town (OX and EIPIC), then the next best thing is one of the Deanes venues. If you’re after steak and staying in Cathedral quarter, definitely give Meat Locker a try. There’s also Bar and Grill if you’re in Queens quarter. However, as a pescetarian staying in the city centre, I had to try the variety of small plates at Love Fish. It was just incredible! I definitely recommend the smaller dishes as they are entree sized and allow you to try more than one without being sickly full. Be sure to try the mussels cooked in dry cider and served with sourdough, they are an unexpectedly divine flavour explosion and a pot of pure heaven! The saffron shellfish risotto and smoked makarel pate are also absolutely superb (as I’m sure is the rest of the menu). The bitter chocolate pudding is popular for dessert but I preferred the rhubarb panna cotta with pistachio crumble as a lighter way to finish the meal.
- Go back to your hotel to rest your food baby or help it settle by meandering through the streets. If you visit in summer like I did, the sun won’t set until 10pm anyway!
- Cocktails: obviously there are plenty of pubs in Belfast but if you love cocktails, you will find refuge in Sweet Afton and their insane cocktail menu! Don’t dare ask for something as boring as a cosmo when you can try something you’d expect to see in a bar tending competition; foam, smoke and all!