A weekend in Belfast
My friend an I decided we wanted to go away for the weekend, initially we wanted to go somewhere hot and with a beach but flights were super expensive. I did some random searching and Belfast came up with reasonable flights from Bristol – I am super grateful for that random search!
We started our weekend with a paddy wagon day tour.
Off to the giants causeway!
First we went to the dark hedges, which was very impressive! It would be even nicer without all the people in the way of the pictures! The friend I was with is a big Game of Thrones fan so she was super excited!
Next stop Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carrick-a-rede, initially the website it said it was closed but lucky for us it reopened on the day we visited. Beautiful walk to the bridge, luckily the bridge was quite short as I am not a fan of heights or bridges! However we got on and my friend says can you take a picture of me! I was like Yes, but quickly then just walk so that I can get off! Trouble is once your over you have to come back again! The scenery is beautiful and we had amazing weather it was about 26/27 degrees which made me super happy, good job we bought some last minute sun screen at the airport!
Then of to the Giants Causeway, again beautiful surroundings. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway We walked down and you reach a corner which is super windy! The rock formations are quite staggering, very impressive that they are a natural formation. I didn’t have time to do the whole walk which was a shame but the cliffs and sea are beautiful and we had the best day. I have always wanted to go to the Giants Causeway so this was quite a special moment for me, I would like to go back again, and start early in the morning before all the crowds and have as much time as I want to spend wandering around unfortunately the draw back of a tour is you are stuck to their time restrictions.
The following day we went on a free walking tour of Belfast (I love a free walking tour!) https://www.belfastfreewalkingtour.com/
The tour meets at 11am and 2.30pm at City Hall (do check the website before you go!), the tour is free but you are given the option at the end of the tour to give the guide a tip for what ever you think the tour was worth.
There is some beautiful art work in Belfast, I was excited to see a piece of work by an artist that I had seen the week before in Bristol.
I think walking tours are a great way to see a city, I’ve mostly (with one exception) found the guides to be really interesting and lovely people (the one exception makes for a good story!).
I like to try and do a walking tour early on in my visit as it helps me get my bearings, see my blog on walking tours in Dublin and Bristol (coming soon).
We went on a black cab political tour, we chose to do the tour with Paddy Campbell’s http://www.belfastblackcabtours.co.uk/index.php this is a tour in a black cab, the driver takes you around Belfast showing and talking about the political conflict. There are walking tours available, the free tour company above offer a political walking tour.
Our driver was very knowledgeable and was open to answering all our questions. I would defiantly recommend doing a political tour as it is such a huge part of Belfast’s history. Paddy Campbell’s also do a Game of Game of Thrones tour, we didn’t do this as I have only ever watched 2 episodes and refuse to watch any more (horrified sighs from my readers. However, my friend is a massive fan and was really envious when the driver showed us photos, and to be honest I was also a bit envious as even though I didn’t recognise the places from GOT the pictures looked amazing – next time I will go!
We spent a wonderful afternoon on a very large bike drinking wine peddling round Belfast with a hen do! My friend found this trip and we thought yeah that looks fun! When we arrived to met the ‘bikes’ we were with a hen do, initially I was a bit worried they would be annoyed at us for gate crashing their afternoon but they were very welcoming and by the end of the trip we were all sharing prosecco. Basically this is a bar on bikes! It’s a bring your own, the website recommends how much alcohol to bring (do read the recommendations!), there is a barman who is very attentive at topping up your wine! You cycle around Belfast having a drink and soaking up the views. https://weetoasttours.com/
Again I would defiantly do this again and recommend it to anyone visiting Belfast.
On our last morning we went to Crumlin Road Gaol, you have to be on a tour to see the jail, they run regularly throughout the day you can pre book your tickets online. We didn’t realise you had to go on a tour but luckily we turned up just in time for the next tour otherwise you could have to wait for up to 75 minutes. There is a café that you could grab a cup of tea (or other beverage) in whilst you wait. Again super interesting tour and learning about the history of the jail, the cell where people were hung can bring up some uncomfortable emotions. https://crumlinroadgaol.com/tours/daily-guided-tours/
Where to Stay:
We stayed in an Air B&B apartment, it was nice but small! We booked our trip very last minute and struggled to find any accommodation.
We walked everywhere! We stayed just outside the city centre so it took us about 20 minutes to walk into the centre, we were very close to Crumlin Road Gaol so we walked there, it was defiantly walkable from the centre (we had hideous rain the day we went!). The website gives the following information for Public Transport –
The Gaol is serviced by Translink’s Metro Service 57 and 12B Monday to Saturday and there is a stop outside the Gaol. On Sundays we suggest you use the 12A service and get off at Carlisle Circus which is only a short distance from the Gaol.
All the other tours started or picked up from central points in Belfast.
When we arrived we got a taxi from outside the airport, we took his number and he picked us up to take us back to the airport to go home.
Food and Drink:
We went to the Crown Bar which is a really old bar in Belfast with very ornate walls and ceiling. Defiantly worth popping in for a pint or two! https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-crown-bar
We stumbled across The National one day for lunch http://www.thenationalbelfast.com/, they had live music so we stayed and listened for a while.
Kelly’s Cellars – good for a drink and live music http://www.kellyscellars.com/
The Dirty Onion – downstairs for music and upstairs at the YardBird for dinner http://www.thedirtyonion.com/
Granny Annies – my favourite find! Good live music and cool aesthetics. http://www.grannyannies.co.uk/
That sums up my weekend in Belfast, we had a great time, we were exhausted at the end from all the walking! But it was well worth the visit. I’d love to go back and spend more time in Northern Ireland. We did quite a few tours as I feel that in a short space of time it’s often a great way to see a lot, however, it does restrict you in terms of being on the tours schedule and doesn’t leave much time for wandering. In between our tours we wandered around Belfast and also did some shopping in our spare time! During one of these wanders we were in a shopping mall and wondered what lots of young girls were queuing for, it turns out there was a famous (famous if your 13!) blogger visiting and signing autographs.
I’m sure there are plenty more things to do and see in Belfast that we didn’t have time to explore, we chose not to go to the Titanic Museum as we didn’t have time to do everything. I’ll just have to add it to my list for my next visit!