Belfast City Break: 9 Things we learned about Northern Irelands capital
If you’re looking for city break inspiration, want a short flight time, and don’t want all the hassle of working out the pesky exchange rate, we’ve got a little cracker for you.
With multiple daily flights from our very own Liverpool John Lennon Airport, a flight time of less than 35 minutes and not one, but two local airports, (City & International) to fly in to, revel in the bustling nightlife and culture-packed streets with a Belfast city break.
Boasting the world’s leading visitor attraction, museums, parks, a zoo and a revamped waterfront, a Belfast city break is also a great choice for families too. We sent our Kate (and daughter Ellie) across the Irish Sea to check it out for themselves. After a hilarious weekend packed full of selfies, getting to grips with the accent and eating all the food, here’s their review.
Here’s 9 things we learned from 48 hours in Belfast.
1 – Getting Around
Regardless of whether you fly into International or City airport, the transport links are great. Taxi’s are a plenty and the Translink 300 service into the city centre (19 miles away) is just £10.95 return for adults and £5.25 for kids. With drop off points right in the heart of town there’s no need to hire a car unless you’ve going further afield. (Journeying down the M2 motorway on a double decker gave us school trip feels too).
2 – Prepare to fall in love…..with Tayto
Tayto crisps are to Belfast what Koka Noodles are to Liverpool. Once you’ve tasted these famous crisps (especially the cheese and onion flavour) Walkers will never be good enough! You can’t miss the bright yellow and red packaging and luckily for us, you can get them in some local Tesco stores in Liverpool. Anyone brave enough to try the new Tayto Cheese and Onion popcorn?!
3 – Hipster Central
As with many fashionable cities, Belfast has its fair share of Hipsters, but regardless of whether you’re a waist-coat wearing, chino-rolling, top-knot sporting hipster or not, beards are EVERYWHERE! Strolling down Donegall Place to Belfast City Hall we spotted no less than 87 beards! That’s like 500 yards worth of facial hair! Belfast guys you rock!
4 – Friday Night is All Right
…….if you’ve made reservations. If you’re planning to dine out in the city centre, whether it’s a franchise restaurant or a local eatery, make sure you book in advance. The humiliation of being turned away from Pizza Express, Victoria Square in front of a group of smug teenage girls sipping Pepsi’s wounded us deeply.
5 – The Scouse Connection
Belfast and Liverpool have a friendship that has spanned centuries and there is evidence of that present throughout the city. From one busy port to another, the similarities in people, trade, and raucous nightlife is uncanny. Ordering your first pint of Guinness with a scouse accent will get you a friend for life along with your change. Belfast even has its own Liverpool LFC store, complete with ‘This is Anfield’ window sticker and every time we passed, during our stay, it was rammed!
6 – The Wee-ans
Belfast isn’t a one trick pony. Nights out, gourmet dining and high end, luxury shops are just a small part of what it has to offer. If you’re travelling with kids (wee-ans in Northern Ireland) you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to activities to inspire and enthral. Check out the mechanical Alice Clock at the Fountain Centre (the tune is a bit creepy), there’s free tours of Belfast City Hall (which looks a little bit like the White House to little ones) and the awesome Belfast Zoo! Who’d have thought you’d find lions and tigers and elephants in Northern Ireland?
7 – Bring Your Trout Pout
Belfast is awash with public art and interesting landmarks to explore (and take selfies with). From the Salmon of Knowledge on the Lagan riverside (a huge fish sculpture that’s rumoured to impart all its knowledge in return for a little snog), to a host of CS Lewis character statues and Belfast’s tallest resident, a 15m tall steel woman with arms outstretched holding a ring representing peace and reconciliation. If you’re booking a Belfast city break, plenty of camera phone storage is a must!
8 – Culture Shock
What we loved most about Belfast is the mash up of old and new. The civic buildings, botanical gardens, ship yards, Victoria Square shopping arcade, courts, museums, old traditional pubs and swanky wine bars show just how much Belfast loves its traditions, but also likes to move with the times too. Keep your eyes peeled hilarious street performances and straight talking graffiti!
9 – Titanic
We’ve saved the main attraction until last because frankly, if you plan a Belfast city break and don’t experience Titanic Belfast, you’ve missed out. Voted the ‘World’s Leading Visitor Attraction’ this fully immersive, interactive experience will knock your socks off. The building itself is impressive, but prepare to step back in time, feel the heat of ship yards and dive under the ocean to fully understand and appreciate the Titanic story. Worth every single penny of the entry price, we were left gob-smacked (and that NEVER happens!) Our Must-See for definite.
Describe Belfast in three words…………Warm, Vibrant, Proud.
For more information on visitor attractions and accommodation for your Belfast city break, head to www.visitbelfast.com. Details on daily flights from Liverpool John Lennon Airport are available here.