View from Cave Hill, Belfast
Lonely Planet's number one region to visit in 2018. A dynamic city that’s packed with history and a bustling pub culture – that’s Belfast.
There’s nothing like a new city, new restaurants and new culinary experiences. For a city the size of Belfast the choice of places to eat is surprising. Offering everything from fine dining, brasseries and bistros to gastro pubs, cafes, coffee shops and some of the best fish and chips around.
What to do
Belfast Food Tour with Taste and Tour NI
- Did someone say Food Tour? Explore Belfast city centre on foot and enjoy a number of stops to sample some local products. Exclusively offering the multi-award winning Belfast Food Tour, Belfast Gin Jaunt, Belfast Whiskey Walk, Belfast Bites, Brewery Tour, Belfast Bar Tour - Taste & Tour NI can't wait to take you 'off the eaten track' in Northern Ireland.
- Strap on your apron and unleash your inner Nigella or Marco-Pierre. As well as savouring their dishes, good foodies want to learn about cooking and serving food. That’s where Belfast Cookery School comes in. This place can teach you how to cook a wide range of international cuisines with style, plus everything from knife skills to bread making and throwing a dinner party. Lobster, fish and seafood courses are especially popular.
- For the chocolate lovers out there ensure you pay a visit to Co Couture. Partake in a chocolate masterclass to make your own chocolates or simply drop in and surround your senses with the smell of proper chocolate. The ultimate in chocolate taste experiences, this basement artisan ‘boutique’ is where award winning, luxurious chocolates are hand made in small batches using only the finest raw ingredients.
- Aside from the wide ranging food offerings in the city Belfast is renowned for its bustling cultural scene. A trip to the Ulster Museum is a must - meet the famous Egyptian mummy, Takabuti! Take a stroll through Botanic Gardens to visit the glorious Victorian Palm House and new Tropical Ravine. Catch a show or exhibition at The MAC, Lyric Theatre or the opulent Grand Opera House.
- Conquer Cave Hill. The walk offers beautiful vistas and natural scenic beauty. While you’re there, pay a visit to nearby iconic Belfast Castle.
St George's Market
- An absolute must on any foodie’s break in Belfast is a wander around St George’s Market. Known as one of the best markets in the UK and Ireland it has been voted for numerous local and national titles and awards for its fresh, local produce and great atmosphere. Friday’s Variety Market sells a variety of products including: fruit, vegetables, antiques, books, clothes and fish. Saturday’s City Food and Craft Market has a fusion of tempting speciality foods from around the world as well as handmade crafts, flowers, plants and local photography, pottery, glass and metal work. Sunday’s Market has a mixture of the Friday and Saturday markets with a special emphasis on local arts and crafts, offering more local craftspeople the opportunity to show off their talents. You can also expect live music from local bands.
- When in Belfast you simply must visit Sawers- a food mecca and Northern Ireland’s oldest deli. Described as an Aladdin’s cave of culinary delights and serving only the best in fresh seafood, olives, cheese, charcuterie, cooked meats, Italian pastries, deli to go, oils, game, preserves, marmalades.
- Indulge in a sumptuous Afternoon Tea at The Merchant Hotel. For the ultimate luxury afternoon tea experience, a visit to the 5* Merchant Hotel in Belfast’s City Centre is a must. The traditional afternoon tea is served with a selection of finger sandwiches, delicate pastries and scones with clotted cream, all gracing a silver tea stand and a choice of tea or coffee . A Champagne afternoon tea option is also available.
Where to stay
Titanic Hotel Belfast
- Check into one of Belfast’s newest hotels, the Grand Central Hotel with its exclusive cosmopolitan vibe. Conveniently located and perfect for exploring all that Belfast has to offer. And with a sky-high 23rd floor cocktail lounge, it makes for a truly memorable experience.
- Or why not stay in luxury in The Fitzwilliam Hotel, in Belfast city centre with wonderful views of the city. This boutique hotel is in the perfect location, next to the Grand Opera House.
- Enjoy a luxurious stay at the stunning Merchant Hotel, in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. A true haven, the spa provides a tranquil environment whilst the treatments will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
- Stay in the Titanic Quarter in Titanic Hotel, a deluxe boutique hotel offering a unique maritime experience with its exquisitely designed rooms reflecting the legacy of Harland & Wolff’s innovative design and craftsmanship.
- Stay in one of the world’s most famous hotels, Europa Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of the city centre. With a bistro, bar and piano bar lounge all on site, this hotel offers a truly elegant stay.
Check out our accommodation section for more ideas on where to stay.
Where to eat
Deane's Deli Vin Café
- Situated in the bustling heart of Belfast, Deane’s Deli Vin Café, is perfect for enjoying a leisurely breakfast before heading off to explore the city.
- The gorgeous Arthur Street cafe at Avoca Belfast in the city centre is the perfect spot to chill out. Spacious with an eclectic vintage style, it features lots of delicious, freshly-prepared favourites from an award-winning menu. With great baking and plenty of locally sourced seasonal ingredients, it's no wonder it's become such a popular rendezvous.
- Made in Belfast, a quirky restaurant with vibrant interiors and a focus on seasonal, quality and wholesome produce.
- OX, one of two Michelin star restaurants in Northern Ireland, offers relaxed dining overlooking the River Lagan and within walking distance of the Belfast Waterfront, St Georges Market and SSE Arena.
- EIPIC, the 2nd of the Michelin star restaurants, is the most recently opened and most sophisticated of the restaurants in the Deanes portfolio, serving top quality local ingredients cooked to the highest standard. Subtle flavours created using predominantly local, seasonal produce of the finest quality, delicately prepared and perfectly presented.
- Muddlers Club, named after the secret society that met there over 200 years ago, the Muddlers Club has become something of a Belfast institution. Enjoy the theatre-like open kitchen as you watch your chosen meal transformed into a mouth-watering yet simple dish.
- James Street South, in the heart of the city centre offers a modern classical blend of European cuisine, in contemporary surroundings.
Don’t miss out on….a visit to these Bars and Pubs
- Belfast’s most famous bar! The Crown Liquor Saloon. One of Belfast’s oldest and best known landmarks. Now owned by the National Trust, the pub, which dates back to 1826, has been restored to its full Victorian splendour. The Crown features original gas lamps, cosy snugs, a beautifully carved wooden bar and a unique scrolled plasterwork ceiling.
- Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter is the area for a great night out, offering a range of fantastic pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues.
- Right at the heart of this area you will find The Duke of York - An old-fashioned pub with its white exterior featuring old fashioned metal adverts for whiskey and Guinness and hanging flower baskets, the Duke of York is welcoming and warm and is one of Belfast’s Gems.
- Pay a visit to Belfast’s only jazz bar. Berts Jazz Bar encapsulates the sleek elegance of the art deco era, complimented by the very best in live jazz, fabulous cocktails and mouth-watering food. Transport yourself back to the Art Deco glamour of 1930’s New York and the Jazz Age in Belfast’s only dedicated Jazz bar and restaurant. Berts offers live jazz seven nights a week from 9pm as well as perfectly relaxed weekends complete with delicious brunch and all day dining menus from 11am and a live jazz pianist from 12pm to 2pm.
- Muriels Café – another quirky gem in the city centre. With its cosy interior and an array of cocktails and gins to sample, this is the perfect place to whittle away a few hours.
Belfast and beyond
Only 15 minutes from Belfast
- Hilden Brewery is a family run microbrewery located in Hilden outside the City of Lisburn and is the oldest independent brewery in Ireland. Visitors to the brewery can discover the magic of brewing and learn about this ancient craft from the master brewer.
- From grand family home to charming royal residence, Hillsborough Castle has welcomed the world and witnessed pivotal chapters in politics. This splendid late Georgian house, is surrounded by 100 acres of glorious gardens.
Only 40 minutes from Belfast
- Step into Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy and begin your journey through the life and literature of the poet and Nobel Laureate. Standing at the heart of the place and a people which so inspired him, HomePlace includes a stunning exhibition which interprets Seamus Heaney’s work.
- Mount Stewart, located on the shores of Strangford Lough is Northern Ireland’s much loved family home and a must-see attraction. Voted as one of the top ten gardens in the world, Mount Stewart reflects a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry bearing the hallmark of its creator. Each of the formal gardens exudes a distinct character and appeal. Mount Stewart is a delight for the senses with a series of formal themed garden compartments around the house including The Italian, Spanish, Mairi and Shamrock Garden.
For more inspiration visit discovernorthernireland.com