To some, Belfast still lingers in the minds as a destination to avoid, rife with images of militants toting rifles and touting tube bombs. But the days of the IRA and what they call the Troubles are long behind them. Nowadays, what strikes the wandering traveler is how quickly Belfast has transformed itself into a beacon of nightlife and a young cultural hotspot.
Day 1: Welcome to Belfast
Upon securing your arrival and departure transfers, get settled into your new surroundings and get ready to explore the city. Consider starting the day walking around Belfast’s old-town streets, and soaking in some of the local architecture and culture. Be sure to appreciate the skyline, because at the rate this city is renovating, the next time you visit, it will undoubtedly have changed. The Belfast Hop-on Hop-off Tour is a good way to get your bearings, as it will sport you around in an iconic omnibus while letting you visit the famous Wall Murals, Botanic Gardens, City Hall, Albert Clock, and many more Belfast landmarks.
Day 2: Eat and Drink Belfast
One of the best time-honoured traditions of travel is to eat and drink your way through the town. If this is your idea of travel, then you’re in luck, because Belfast offers both in extravagance. Consider starting your day off in Victoria Square, Europe’s biggest urban regeneration project, and see for yourself this massive city-center tourist attraction that includes Victorian architecture, a modern waterfront art walk, foot-stomping good music and packed pubs. Then take dinner at John Hewitt, a pub named after the Belfast poet and socialist, known for excellent food and traditional Irish atmosphere. From there, make your way to the famed Crown Liquor Saloon, which was built in 1885 and still boasts the trappings of that Victorian age, including working gas lamps.
Day 3: Day Trips from Belfast
Northern Ireland is known for its villages with thatched roofs, rolling fields of green, and its stunning rocky coast flecked with puffins. Take some time out of your trip to see what all the talk is about. Consider a trip to neighboring Brown’s Bay, where a sandy beach is cradled by rolling hills. Good photo opportunities here. Carrickfergus Castle is nearby, and is the site of notorious King John’s siege upon Ireland. This castle is remarkably still intact after 750 years of continuous military occupation. Another good escape is south of Belfast, to Castlewellan Forest Park, where 450 acres (181 hectares) of tranquil parkland encapsulate a castle, numerous lakes, and an internationally renowned arboretum which dates back to 1860.