As I had two weeks for October half term this year, I really wanted to try and get away for a few days. This season is a really busy time for Ben with outdoor stages, fireworks and light switch-ons so I called upon my Mum as a travelling companion. Mum loves her city breaks too!
We flew from East Midlands airport to Belfast City on Monday morning; it only took an hour so travelling was light and easy. Once we arrived, we got the bus to the city centre before walking about 25 mins to our Air Bnb accommodation, out near the West Belfast area.
Once comfy and settled in, we had a quick change of clothes before exploring the city a little more. We headed to the Cathedral Quarter which is full of great bars and eateries, many of them old pubs with a great atmosphere or award-winning restaurants. We settled on Fish City – a fish ‘n’ chips with class and style! We highly recommend it for a twist on the traditional dish.
In this quarter, you can also discover the old ‘Entries’. They are old, short alleyways connecting different streets off the High Street. They were used in the olden days for quickly getting around the city in the industrial era. Many of them have great pubs hidden amongst quaint lights and decorations.
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Belfast was because of the Antrim coast and its famous Giant’s Causeway. I had visited with my family when I was a baby, but I can’t remember any of it!
We booked onto a tour Bus (Finn McCool Tours) which included Dunluce castle, Antrim coastal shots near Portrush golf course, Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede rope bridge and Dark Hedges, before dropping us back off in Belfast.
The Giant’s Causeway did not disappoint! I loved hearing the tour guide discuss the history of the causeway and the various myths surrounding the natural wonder.
We spent about 1 hour and a half walking down to the rocks, scrambling across the Causeway, getting photos, eating our picnic before heading off to our next stop.
Then we arrived at Carrick-a-rede bridge – an old rope bridge originally used in the 18th century by brave salmon fishermen. Now it has been safely re-engineered, but it’s still quite a bracing experience! It was also very windy going across it, just to add to the thrill of it all.
The final stop before we were back to Belfast was The Dark Hedges. This is a row of old trees that have defied odds and have remained over 300 years when the species is only known to last 100-150 years. Many Game of Thrones fans will recognise it as a set for King’s Road but it made for a lovely Autumnal walk and photo opportunity!
To finish the evening, we walked around some shops in Belfast and visited the free viewing platform at the Victoria Shopping Centre. We then walked around some more of the old Victorian buildings in the City centre, before settling on dinner at one of the oldest (and very decorative) pubs in Belfast called The Crown Liquor Saloon.
Today we had a lazier morning after a busy day walking around the Antrim coast the day before. To start the day, we picked up the Sightseeing tour (hop-on/hop-off) bus from near our apartment. We went all the way round to see key sites such as the Crumlin Jail, the Peace Wall, the International Peace Wall, Political Murals, Shankhill and Falls area, Stormont political buildings, C.S Lewis Square, City Hall, St Anne’s Cathedral, Queen’s University, Harland & Woolf cranes, and the Titanic Quarter.
After this, we walked the Water Front area over to the Titanic Quarter where we visited the Titanic Museum and the SS Nomadic ship. We spent a good few hours in the museum and ship as there was plenty to see and do; the Titanic experience has been really curated as a journey through the whole history of the Titanic.
As sun set, we walked back towards the city centre to get some food before walking home. We ate at one of the oldest buildings in Belfast (dating back to 1680!) where upstairs was a great rotisserie chicken place! Mum and I ‘suffered’ our way through half a chicken and a basketful of chicken wings!
Our final day in Belfast soon arrived. We took the morning to pack our bags and tidy the apartment, before walking down the International Peace Walls and the Belfast Peace Wall dividing the largely Catholic area (Falls Road) and the Protestant area (Shankhill Road) in the Troubles before the Peace Agreement. We were staying near this area, so we decided to walk the wall.
We then picked up the Sightseeing tour bus again (we had a 48-hour combo ticket with the Titanic museum), to spend the afternoon seeing some more sights in detail before heading home.
We explored the City Hall, St Anne’s Cathedral and did a little more shopping. We even had time to try out the Hotel Chocolat cafe before getting the bus back to the airport!