Northern Ireland doesn't strike to many people as the most exciting country, however you would be very surprised. With Belfast being the capital, there can be more that meets the eye in this little city with a lot of culture. Yes, many read this title and the word 'Belfast' can set off a stereotype of violence and a bad history but today, tables have turned and things are looking much brighter.
(This isn't an order of preference, simply a list of ideas to chose from, enjoy!)
1. Titanic Museum // Harland & Wolff
Belfast holds the heart of Titanic with its history. It is understandable that Titanic is a sombre part of our history, however the legacy remains with some amazing monuments to remember it by. This museum stands in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, right next to the SSE Arena and overlooks the infamous Harland and Wolff cranes, Samson and Goliath. The museum was built using the exact measurements as the front of the ship, it is also in the shape of a compass, creating a magnificent building in the end (definitely Instagram worthy!). Tickets cost £15 for a student, £18.50 for an adult and free for children. The museum explores the story of the ship from the shipyard to the bottom of the Atlantic using creative and interactive ways such as a floor view of the sea bed and a short ride in the dark. It is for sure a great day out for all the family if you haven't already been or are planning to visit.
2. The Crown Liquor Saloon
As one of the most famous pubs in Northern Ireland, this one definitely sticks out to the rest. It has well preserved historic features of stained glass windows, individual booths and old Victorian style tiles. Many celebrities have visited this traditional pub (even some of the Royal Family), with it also being a much loved film and TV production location, so it definitely stands as a favourite!
3. The City Hall
The centre of Belfast holds the City Hall with public gardens around it. Every Christmas, this most definitely is the heart of Belfast with a cozy and traditional Christmas Market which surrounds the City Hall. Inside is accessible to the public with a stunning grandiose interior along with guided tours of its history with a cafe inside to stop by afterwards.
4. Cathedral Quarter
This area of Belfast is brimming with culture in every angle. 'Duke of York' is a hearty pub situated in this area which, like The Crown, is filled with culture of Belfast with traditional decor. The street in which this pub is situated, is definitely a tourist hot spot due to its traditional features.
St. Anne's Square is also a popular spot with elegant architecture and restaurants. In the center of the square lies a statue facing St. Anne's Cathedral which is worth the visit too.
The Quarter also holds the oldest building in Belfast, The Dirty Onion, which is the oldest timber-framed building in Belfast, it contains a restaurant and bar holding live music and entertainment, perfect for a chill night out.
5. Vintage Shops
If you're searching for vintage shops around Belfast, there are many quirky little shops with a lot of character. Fresh Garbage, Young Savage and Octopus Garden (sick names right?!) all feature vintage clothing of top designer brands, there's also vinyls and cassettes too! I definitely recommend these shops for a little blast from the past with hipster and classy fashion.
6. Botanic Gardens
Nearly every city holds its beauty within the Botanic Gardens. In Belfast there is a beautiful glass building called 'The Palm House' where it is free to walk around and enjoy the tropical plants and flowers (bonus is that its pretty toasty in there too). It is a lovely area to have a quiet stroll around after a busy day to wind down. Next to the gardens is Queen's University Belfast, an enchanted building that definitely gives Hogwarts vibes!
7. Ulster Museum
Right by the Botanic Gardens lies the Ulster Museum, carrying over 5000 years of history from across the world. Tune into their upcoming exhibitions, I was fortunate enough to have an analysis class on the paintings of Rembrandt which was so interesting. Every year, the museum holds the top GCSE and A-Level pieces from all over Northern Ireland, highlighting the true talent of the students here, it really is a must see. And the best thing is that entry to this museum is completely free, however there are containers around the building for kind donations.
8. Victoria Square
If vintage clothes shops just ain't your thing, there are 2 main shopping malls situated in Belfast. One of which is Victoria Square which you can honestly spend the whole day in with restaurants, shops and a cinema. The center of the mall has an impressive dome feature where you can take an elevator (or walk up) to the top floor and see over the Belfast cityscape, it's an impressive view! To add, going in the evening has the bonus of seeing the dome lit up creating a beautiful atmosphere.
9. Peace Wall
Belfast is overflowing with history. When I meet people from around the world, many associate Northern Ireland with The Troubles which lasted from 1960's to 1990's. The Peace Wall separates what is presumably Unionist/Protestant to Nationislt/Catholic. Although this wall was built in 1969 during the times of The Troubles, it was meant to only last for a short while however today, the wall stands as a symbol and is covered in murals, graffiti art and historic plaques.
10. St. Georges Market
This old fashioned indoor market caters to all your needs from natural herbs and spices to homemade crafts. It is especially good during the Christmas period as it is decorated beautifully and gives a real festive feel. There's numerous different meals from around the world that you have to try and if you're lucky there sometimes is live acoustic music sessions. Opened every Friday-Sunday.
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Hidden Tresaures // Insta Hotspots
These places, although didn't make the list, are fantastic Instagram hotspots for you to enjoy and take pictures of until your heart's content. #aesthetic
Although it is outside Belfast on the surrounding hills, this place allows you to see a wide angle of the whole of Belfast. Breathtaking.
(Photos Captured by: @iamc_bear)
Situated in the Cathedral Quarter (beside Duke of York pub), is the perfect place of Belfast art and culture with murals of history.
Mac Theatre and Arts Centre
This Theatre holds may different talks, plays and art features. The surrounding walls are covered in this amazing work of art, perfect for a backdrop which I took advantage of for sure.
You can't get more aesthetic than this. The student university hotspot is situated near St. Anne's Cathedral and Ulster University- (check out their student art shop it's class!).
The National Grande Cafe
Although there is a pretty interior, the outside garden area is beautiful and tranquil, a perfect lil' picturesque place (on a clear day obviously...).
And for the grand picturesque finale, this bar is my favourite in Belfast and has the most beautiful decor you've ever seen. The picture speaks for itself!
With all of these ideas in mind, why wouldn't you want to spend a day (...or three or four) exploring Belfast with all it has to offer, we aren't just a little city after all!
I highly recommend you to visit these Instagram accounts featured in this blog, each and every one is amazing!
Current Status: Northern Ireland
Next Stop: Donegal, Ireland
Disclaimer: All photographs from Instagram have been taken from amazing individual accounts focusing on Photography and Travel. I have asked for permission from the individual accounts with full consent given to use these photos in my blog.