Categories: things to doBelfast

From banana inspired living museums to lavish bedroom bathtubs, there is a lot to experience in Belfast.  Social media star James Kavanagh recently visited Northern Ireland’s capital for a whirlwind tour of the city, which is just under two hours travel time from Dublin. 

If you are looking for city break inspiration, look no further. Here are James’s recommendations on what to see, stay and do...


The Harrison, Belfast

If you are looking for somewhere gorgeous to stay that is both quirky and fun, The Harrison Chambers of Distinction in Belfast is for you. 

The building is a restored, landmark Victorian merchants’ residences dating from 1879, and has been transformed into a lavish hotel with eccentric flare, by owner Melanie Harrison. 

My absolute favourite feature of the hotel is the Victorian free-standing bath in the bedroom, a feature I’d love for my own bedroom someday!

Free standing bath in The Harrison, Belfast


The Harrison’s Chamber of Distinction is located in a lovely leafy area and is very convenient for accessing some fab things to in Belfast. 

Just five minutes from the hotel are the Botanic Gardens which are beautiful for a cute walk. Within the area is the brilliant Ulster Museum, which was my favourite thing we visited during our stay. 

Ulster Museum, Belfast

In addition to a huge range of exhibits, there is a good LGBT+ collection, including a number of items relating to Pride parades throughout history in Northern Ireland. The first ever Pride in Belfast was held in 1991, and amongst the collection are t-shirts and programmes from that year and every year since. 

More recent items are on display too such as a pin created by visual artist and illustrator James Ashe to show support for the equal marriage campaign. Well worth checking out!

For all you aspiring cooks out there, Waterman House Cookery School was a fantastic experience with over 40 classes to choose from. I highly recommend the Vegetarian Indian Cooking class. 

Slightly further afield, Hillsborough Castle and Gardens in County Down is perfect for glorious walks. The home is a working royal palace built in the 1770s!

Eat and Drink

Ox Belfast

Belfast is brimming with places to satisfy your appetite. Yugo Belfast, Barking Dog and Ox Belfast should be high up on the list for any visitors. Each had a really good atmosphere, super food and a really strong drink game too. 

James Kavanagh's plate of food

Some of the more hidden treasures include Banana Block, a new addition to East Belfast. Why the name you ask? It’s banana connections go back to 1911, when east Belfast resident, William Richardson, became one of the first people to cultivate bananas in the British Isles! 

Part-living museum-part event space, Banana Block is worth a visit for the food alone, and there’s also a great little record shop called Sound Advice to explore. 

My favourite coffee place in all of Belfast is Established Coffee, in the Cathedral Quarter. The breakfast menu never fails to hit the spot. 

For something luxurious, The Merchant Hotel is a must see with its opulent interiors and impressive cocktail list.


Also located in Portview Trade Centre is a brilliantly quirky antique shop called Dandy Lion. It calls itself a ‘shop of unexpected things’ and it is exactly that.  Full of curios and neon signs, it’s a great spot for unusual gifts. I bought a gorgeous new robe for my mum here. 

Elsewhere, there are some lovely clothes on offer at Never Never on Donegall Street. The shop has brought together clothing labels, from all over the world and curated a shop full of superbly designed clothes to heart of the city.

Embrace a Giant Spirit in Northern Ireland - it's just a small step to a giant adventure!

The Harrison
Guest Accommodation
The Harrison

Heritage Victorian townhouse situated in the heart of the museum and theatre quarter. This boutique accommodation guarantees a luxurious nights stay in a tranquil setting. Unwind in our large four-poster beds and soak in our roll top baths.

Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House
Public Park
Belfast Botanic Gardens and Palm House

First established in 1828, the gardens have been enjoyed as a public park by the people of Belfast since 1895. There is an extensive rose garden and long herbaceous borders and the tree enthusiast can seek out the rare oaks planted in the 1880s.

Ulster Museum
Visitor Centres & Museums
Sign outside the Ulster Museum

Ulster Museum is home to treasures past and present. There’s something for art lovers, history buffs, inquisitive kids and the culturally curious! Come face to face with dinosaurs and for a fun family day out dive into the Discovery Zones of art, history and science where you can try on costumes from the past, explore the tree of life and create your own art to take home.

Waterman House Cookery School
Cookery School
cookery school set up

Waterman House Cookery school is one of Irelands leading cooking schools, offering a range of day and evening classes for all ages and abilities. We aim to enable you to prepare delicious dishes to be enjoyed with family and friends at home.

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Historic House / Palace
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

Explore Northern Ireland's royal residence, where worlds and minds meet. Relax in 100 acres of picturesque gardens, explore the State Rooms still used today and indulge in delicious food and drink in our café.


OX is a Michelin starred restaurant that offers relaxed dining overlooking the River Lagan, and is within walking distance of the Belfast Waterfront, Titanic Belfast, St Georges Market and SSE Arena. OX menus are designed to showcase excellent meats and sustainably sourced fish whilst equally careful attention is given to seasonal vegetables and fruit. Their uniquely enthusiastic approach to seasonal produce and close relationships with local suppliers means vegetables at OX are no longer considered just a side or a garnish, but as equal partners and occasional stars of the show.

The Merchant Hotel
The Merchant Hotel's Victorian Facade

Situated in the heart of Belfast city centre's historic Cathedral Quarter, The award-winning 5 AA Red star Merchant Hotel is a harmonious blend of Victorian grandeur and Art Deco inspired sleek modernity with award-winning restaurants and cocktail bar, a tranquil spa and rooftop gym and hot tub.