Categories: things to do

Louise Cooney, the Limerick City native, recently partnered with Discover Northern Ireland to recommend to her 215k followers on Instagram, some of the best spas, shopping and award-winning food experiences to enjoy in Northern Ireland.

Just two hours up the road from her home in Dublin, Belfast proved that it really is a small step to a giant adventure. Louise spent three days soaking up luxurious experiences and can’t-miss cultural tours. 

After the trip, Louise said “Just home from the best weekend ever in Belfast. This gorgeous city did not disappoint! Big thanks for Discover NI for having me.

If you're heading to the city of Belfast soon, follow in the footsteps of Louise and make the most of your trip by taking inspiration from some of the things she got up to...

Day One 

A slice of heaven in Cathedral Quarter 

Louise’s first stop was the five-star Merchant Hotel in the heart of Belfast's historic Cathedral Quarter. The rich history and heritage of this grade A listed building is complemented by a wealth of modern, multi-award-winning facilities and services with every comfort the modern traveller could wish for. Not to be missed is the hot tub overlooking the city, which Louise called “a slice of heaven”.

Take in the history of Belfast 

Louise joined DC Tours’ Stevie Malone for the award-winning tour explaining the Troubles and the peace process with honesty and great insight. Finishing up at the Beacon of Hope, it was time for a bite to eat...

Dine and Discover in the Titanic Quarter 

The vibrant Titanic Quarter provided the setting for lunch. Drawing Office Two, with its spectacular three-storey high barrel-vaulted ceiling, is a breath-taking room in the heart of the hotel, where many of the world’s most famous ocean liners, including RMS Titanic, were designed. 

After lunch, it was time for The Titanic Experience, the world’s most authentic retelling of the iconic story. The self-guided tour extends over nine interactive galleries where you discover the sights, sounds, smells and stories of the ship, as well as the people and city that made her.

Michelin starred hospitality 

Ox is a 1 Michelin star restaurant, with a sumptuous tasting menu with wine pairings. Belfast-born Stephen and Brittany native Alain met in Paris. Working in various influential and inspirational restaurants they have honed their skills, developed their talents and percolated ideas to put into practice against the backdrop of their own relaxed riverside restaurant.

Day Two

Belfast’s shopping mecca

Louise enjoyed a spot of shopping at the city-centre Victoria Square. With an A-Z of shopping and home to many designer and luxury brands, it’s the perfect spot for some retail therapy. Its unique Dome provides 360-degree views across the city to the famous Harland & Wolff Cranes, Belfast City Hall and Stormont Parliament Buildings.

Unwind at the Merchant Hotel 

The Merchant Hotel’s quintessential afternoon tea has garnered a reputation as a “must do” experience to enjoy when visiting the city. The breath-taking surroundings of The Great Room Restaurant boast a wealth of original Victorian features. 

Next up, it was time for the hotel’s spa. Located in the heart of Belfast city centre, the destination is unexpected and stunning. With five treatment rooms, a relaxation room and hydrotherapy area, this restful space is a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Louise enjoyed a back massage and facial, as well as the aroma steam room, a rock sauna with a magnificent view over the city and the “pièce de résistance”: a rooftop hot tub with panoramic city views

Colourful Flavours 

Yugo’s fresh vibrant food and classic cocktails served with flavours of Asia have it made it one of the must go restaurants in Belfast. 

Reconnect with nature 

Louise ended her trip to Northern Ireland with a trip to Montalto Estate. Nestled in the heart of County Down, the estate is the perfect way to reconnect with nature, in a natural, historical, and truly relaxing setting. The Café at Montalto is a stylish eatery which specialises in locally inspired dishes that people love – all served the Montalto way. And don’t forget to visit the magical Christmas shop!

Louise embraced Northern Ireland’s giant spirit safe in the knowledge that the majority of the places they visited had the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark which lets visitors know that the business adheres to government and public health guidance.

If you are following in Louise’s footsteps, we would encourage you to sign our Visitor Pledge. Tourism Northern Ireland is inviting people to #MakeAGiantDifference and join the movement to take care of Northern Ireland by signing the new Visitor Pledge. 

You can Embrace a Giant Spirit in Northern Ireland with a whole host of activities to explore, it’s only a small step to a giant adventure!

Louise's trip to Northern Ireland was organised by Tourism NI.

The Merchant Hotel
The Merchant Hotel

Situated in the heart of Belfast city centre's historic Cathedral Quarter, the grandeur of the original Grade A listed building is complemented by an elegant Art Deco inspired wing with a multitude of exciting amenities.

DC Tours - Belfast Walking Tours
DC Tours - Belfast Walking Tours

DC Tours run scheduled, private and group walking tours. Their flagship tour ‘A History of Terror’ is an award-winning and politically neutral city centre walking tour explaining the history of the Troubles and the path to peace and reconciliation.

Titanic Belfast
Visitor Centres & Museums
Recreation cabins in The Fit Out gallery of the Titanic Experience

Located at the very place where RMS Titanic was designed, built and launched, Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic tell the authentic story of the world-famous ship, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to its maiden voyage and subsequent place in history. Unmissable and unforgettable, just like the Titanic herself.


OX is a Michelin starred restaurant that most recently won best restaurant (in Northern Ireland) at the National Restaurant Awards 2022. It offers relaxed dining overlooking the River Lagan, and is within walking distance of the Belfast Waterfront, Titanic Belfast, St Georges Market and Odyssey Arena.

Titanic Hotel Belfast
Titanic Hotel Belfast

The world's most authentic Titanic hotel is now open. The transformation of the legendary Harland & Wolff headquarters and spectacular Drawing Offices is now complete. Belfast's deluxe-hotel offers an unforgettable experience.

Victoria Square Belfast
Shopping Centres & Retail Parks
Victoria Square Belfast

Northern Ireland’s biggest and brightest shopping centre. Inside Victoria Square, there are two floor levels, with ninety eight shops, Odeon Cinema and a dozen eateries. With Northern Ireland’s first House of Fraser store and Hollister.

The Great Room Restaurant at The Merchant Hotel
The Great Room Restaurant at The Merchant Hotel

The Great Room Restaurant offers a sumptuous space evoking timeless grandeur. A fitting setting for gastronomic delights inspired by the classics. One can taste the subtle flavours of each component, each element complementing one another perfectly.

Montalto Estate
Historic Sites, Houses, Castles & Buildings
Montalto House, Montalto Lake and Boathouse

A mystical and enchanting estate, set in magnificent natural surroundings. Visitor experience includes access to the estate's beautiful gardens; historic walks and trails and an exciting play area where children can engage, explore and learn.