The town of Belfast is a free spirit, kooky and a tad edgy due to its tempestuous previous. It’s the geographical equal of a punk rock woman in a fairly gown—fierce, gritty, a bit troubled, deeply inventive, and exquisite, all on the similar time. Because of the unbelievable road artwork scene, its turbulent and painful historical past is laid naked on the streets. That every one lies aspect by aspect with a brand new Belfast that’s jammed stuffed with hope, innovation, and refinement. The town and its folks have completed the final word pivot, forging a brand new legacy that’s shiny and buoyant—with a celebration scene to match.
She’s fairly simple on the eyes, too. In reality, in 2021, a mathematical formula known as The Golden Ratio declared Belfast the third most stunning metropolis within the UK. It’s no actual shock, given the quantity of architectural gems scattered all through town, from Georgian relics proper by means of to Modernist game-changers, together with its placing location on the banks of the River Lagan. Iconic is perhaps an overused time period, however on the subject of describing Belfast, it simply suits.
The town has all the time been a hub for creators. The Titanic was constructed right here in 1909 when Belfast was the shipbuilding capital of the world. This led to an inflow of cupboard makers, potters, and weavers. In reality, Belfast was as soon as generally known as Linenopolis, because it was the headquarters of Eire’s international linen trade. Right now, these outdated warehouses have been remodeled into the historic Linen Quarter, full with swanky worldwide design and tech firms in addition to hip cafés, bars, eating places, inns, and music venues.
Talking of music, rock aficionados will get a kick out of figuring out that Belfast’s Ulster Corridor was the place Led Zeppelin first performed Stairway to Heaven to a dwell viewers again in 1971. On condition that Belfast is a sister metropolis to Nashville, Tennessee, it’s no shock that dwell music performs a significant position within the metropolis’s DNA, whether or not that’s toe-tapping conventional Irish tunes, atmospheric easy jazz, or the unmistakable electrical energy of an indie gig.
From cutting-edge creative expression to expertly crafted cheeses and a few kickass whiskey, right here’s the place to seek out your jam in Northern Eire’s beautiful capital metropolis.
Lose your self in a kaleidoscope of artwork
One of the best ways to understand Belfast’s vibrancy is to get to know town’s huge creative aspect. Seedhead Arts has been on the forefront of native road artwork for over a decade, organizing strolling excursions that shine a light-weight on the world’s tense socio-political previous. Within the historic Cathedral Quarter, main arts venue Black Box sports activities an superior calendar of occasions protecting visible arts, theater, music, literature, and every part in between. And on the opposite finish of the spectrum, the freshly restored Grand Opera House gives a jam-packed program of performances in a formidable, regal setting.
Over within the Linen Quarter, Banana Block dubs itself a “residing museum and occasions area set inside a historic linen mill and impressed by the curious connections between Belfast and bananas.” That connection dates again to 1911, when Belfast resident William Richardson grew to become one of many ﬁrst folks to develop bananas within the British Isles. It’s robust to think about every other metropolis on this planet the place this tenuous connection could be so celebrated, however that sort of pondering is Belfast in a nutshell (or banana peel). The area hosts a collaborative neighborhood of artisan producers, entrepreneurs, and vinyl junkies—you should definitely try Banana Block resident Sound Advice for all issues vinyl-related plus dwell DJs on the weekends.
Get some tradition at a world-class museum
Museums are a implausible technique to get a greater sense of town, its storied previous, and its inspiring future. The Ulster Museum is a superb place to start out, boasting an enormous assortment of artwork, historical past, and pure science on show from trendy masterpieces to Egyptian mummies. In Omagh, The Ulster American Folk Park is an open-air venue that explores three centuries of Irish immigration to the US. Bibliophiles ought to make a beeline to the Linen Hall Library, which has been conserving bookworms enthralled since 1788 and homes the primary printing of the American Declaration of Independence outdoors of the States. Go determine.
Titanic Belfast is positioned on the slipways, the place the Titanic itself was constructed over 100 years in the past. The expertise tells the story of the fabled cruiseliner over six flooring of a surprising modernist constructing, mirroring the peak of the good girl herself. And people with even a slight curiosity in maritime historical past—or maybe merely followers of Leo and Kate’s on-screen portrayal—ought to try Titanic Quarter. There you’ll discover an interactive Titanic museum that guides you thru the historical past of essentially the most well-known ship on this planet. And for Recreation of Thrones followers, signing up for the Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones Location Tour looks like a no brainer.
Sit back at an elegant boutique lodge
In leafy Queens Quarter, hostess-with-the-mostess Melanie Harrison has created a small slice of heaven by the use of her completely Instagramable lodging debut. The cheekily titled Harrison Chambers of Distinction opened its doorways simply because the pandemic closed them, permitting Harrison the time and area to finesse the finer particulars of her bijoux townhouse. And what particulars—all of the rooms are named after literary figures and the little touches Harrison has carried out have made this boutique charmer the final word residence away from residence, in one of the simplest ways potential.
If riverfront stays are your factor, The AC by Marriott is a cushty, understated but elegant escape only a 10 minute stroll from all the principle sights. And for modern cool, Ten Square Hotel is located in a former linen warehouse from the mid-Nineteenth century, simply behind Metropolis Corridor. Location-wise, it doesn’t get a lot better than this.
Load up on alternative foods and drinks
Belfast’s most well-known restaurant is, certainly, the Michelin-starred Ox, which manages to supply impeccable service with out a trace of stuffiness. Count on some rattling effective cheeses, each as its personal course and woven into seasonal dishes off the tasting menu, just like the Pea Tartlet or Mountain Lamb with white asparagus and lavender. For a extra informal expertise, the adjoining Ox Cave is a serene wine bar serving up bites like charcuterie boards, salt-cured halibut, and squash and buckwheat bowls to go with your reds and whites.
Pizza lovers ought to chase down Flout Pizza for a slice alongside a number of beers picked up from Boundary Brewing throughout the street, or head to Reggies Pizza within the Queens Quarter, the place you possibly can carry your personal wine for a £3 per bottle corkage charge. Established Coffee is the place to go for espresso, pie, vegan bowls, and decadent milk buns with or with out accompanying black pudding. Elsewhere, Mike’s Fancy Cheese is the place to attain impeccable—you guessed it—regionally produced cheeses.
Maintaining to the Queens district, Deane’s at Queens is good on a sunny day, stocked with trendy European delicacies and a comfy terrace overlooking Methodist Faculty the place Jamie Dornan (of Belfast and Fifty Shades fame) went to highschool. For the non-conformists, afternoon tea at A Peculiar Tea is a deliciously magical expertise. Previous themes have included Roald Dahl and Cluedo, so that you get the drift.
Lastly, we will’t neglect the whiskey trustworthy, who shouldn’t sleep on a visit to The Friend at Hand for a personal tasting and a glance across the onsite whiskey museum. Don’t depart with out choosing up a coveted bottle from their assortment of over 600 top-shelf Irish whiskeys.
Marvel at fairytale castles
Regardless of its diminutive dimension, Belfast and the encompassing counties have extra castles than you possibly can rely. In all probability its most well-known, Belfast Castle has been residence to varied fort configurations because the late twelfth century. In-built 1177 by Anglo-Norman Knight John de Courcy, Carrickfergus Castle has the excellence of being fairly probably the biggest fort in all of Northern Eire. Enjoyable reality, in keeping with historic references, it was the positioning of the final witchcraft trial in 1711.
A bit additional afield, the ruinous Dunluce Castle is a fascinating tour, perched on a rocky headland overlooking the uneven sea. It was constructed by the second Earl of Ulster within the thirteenth century, and hearsay has it that C.S Lewis (additionally a Belfast native) took inspiration from Dunluce for Cair Paravel fort in The Chronicles of Narnia.