A low-down for anyone planning a relatively inexpensive weekend break in Belfast with a partner or small group of friends. We’ve tried it all out, so you can go and make the most of your trip.
In January 2020, my boyfriend and I spent a weekend exploring Belfast and just for you guys, we’ve jotted it all down in this useful guide.
Flying to Belfast
One of the best things about Belfast is (especially for the North of England) it’s sooo close. We flew from Liverpool and our flight took 34 minutes. Honestly, I’ve never been on a shorter flight. By the time they’d done all the safety announcements and switched off the seatbelt sign it was pretty much time to make the descent! Airport faffery is far easier as well because technically you don’t need a passport (although some form of photographic identification is required so you’re better off just taking it). Maybe it was the time of year but we breezed through security and our flights with EasyJet were around £20 per person each way. Bargain.
A little frustratingly, most flights from the UK are to the Belfast International Airport which is a fair distance from the city centre. However, to get to the city centre we found it really straight forward catching the Translink Airport Express which dropped us at the Grand Central Bus/Train Station in about 45 minutes. You can pick up a return ticket for £11.50 that’s valid for a month so it’s far cheaper than grabbing a taxi.
Staying in Belfast
Due to the time of year that we planned our trip (January) we found that hotel prices were fairly reasonable for a city centre stay. We stayed for 3 nights for a rate of £85 per night Bed and Breakfast at the Hilton Belfast (it helps if you’re a Hilton Honors member which is free to join). Cheaper or fancier accommodation can of course be found, but for those of you who are interested we would highly recommend staying at the Hilton. The location was pretty central to everything we wanted, the breakfast was delicious and had loads of choice and the rooms are a great size. The only down side to our trip was that they were refurbishing the reception so the front of the hotel was boarded up… this probably means it will be even better in the next couple of months though!
Giants Causeway Trip
One of the main reasons we wanted to a visit Belfast was because we’d heard such great things about the Northern Irish coastline. We hired a car for the day for around £25 (bear in mind you must be 25+ to hire a car in most places) and drove for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to the coast. If you don’t drive or are too young to hire a car there also are many coach trips to choose from.
Our first stop was Royal Portrush Golf Club. My boyfriend is a keen golfer and, as the Open was held there last year, he wanted to have a little look around. The location was absolutely gorgeous.
Next, we headed to Giants Causeway just 15 minutes following the coastline from Portrush. It took about 20 minutes from parking our car to walk to the area where Giants Causeway was. We arrived on a fairly windy day so the sea was pretty wild and it was really pretty to see.
Key tip: The National Trust have a visitor centre at Giants Causeway and they try to charge you £12 per adult just to walk through the centre before visiting Giants Causeway. We we’re told a little technique to help hack the system, park in the hotel at the Giants Causeway, go in and grab a coffee (£5 minimum spend) and get your parking ticket stamped and then you’re not obligated to pay to enter the visitor centre. If you park in the visitor centre carpark then expect to pay as they have a warden.
Lastly, on our little road trip, we headed to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. It’s absolutely stunning but again the National Trust charge you to walk over it.
Although we got to see the rope bridge (it looked quite scary), the bridge was closed when we arrived so beware that you might not get to cross in bad weather.
It’s easy to pass a couple of hours at the Titanic Museum in Belfast. We all know that Titanic famously crashed into an iceberg in 1912, but did you know that Belfast was where the RMS Titanic was built? You’re even able to see the former Harland & Wolff shipyard from the museum.
The museum celebrates the successes of building such an iconic ship and the heartbreak of it sinking. At £19 per adult, it’s not badly priced.
Key tip: Be the first to arrive when the museum opens, we arrived at 10am on the Sunday and walked right in. When we left at midday there were queues of about 50-60 people waiting to get tickets.
Eating out in Belfast
Our most favourite meal we ate was at Yardbird. It’s part of Dirty Onion, a pretty cool bar in the centre of Belfast and it was super busy on a Saturday evening. We had to wait a little while but it was so worth it! They don’t serve much other than spit-roasted chicken, so it’s not for vegans or vegetarians but otherwise an absolute must!
We also loved eating at Mumbai 27 because we’re obsessed with Indian food. It came highly recommend and actually we got turned away the first time we showed up there but booked for the following night. The food was super tasty, so much so, I ate it all before realising I hadn’t even taken a photo!
Drinking in Belfast
Our most favourite place we found to go drinking was Dirty Onion. It’s an outdoor bar located off Hill Street, a lively area of Belfast. They play live music and the guy that played whilst we were there was so talented!
If you’re looking for somewhere Instagrammable to have a drink then Babel is your go-to.
As it was January it was really quiet but we fell in love with the decor and started picking out what bits of furniture we wanted to take home for our house!
Shopping in Belfast
Who doesn’t love a spot of shopping on a weekend away! Victoria Square is home to a multitude of shops and with it being January we managed to pick up some bargains!
The shopping centre also has a really cool viewing platform that lets you see out over the whole of Belfast!
All in all, a fabulous trip, that we really enjoyed and even nailed it on a small-ish budget.
So what are you waiting for? Belfast has got to be top of your list to visit next. Make sure you let me know if you use this article to help plan your trip – it’s helps me to know it helps you!
All photographs taken by Gaby Mendes, if you’d like to use them please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.