Categories: Belfastthings to doFamilies

Caroline (@diggmama) and her family had a great time exploring Belfast recently, using the recommendations of a famous local, Ibe Sesay (@radioibe). Over two days they set out to explore lots of the city's top attractions, suitable for all the family. Read on to learn what they enjoyed doing...

Day one

Our giant adventure started on Saturday morning and Pearse (9), Darragh (8) and Tess (4) couldn’t wait to sample the best of Belfast as we all love spending time here - the people you meet and the way all of it makes you feel, is really special!

It takes us just under an hour to get to Belfast from home, and Tess made sure everyone was ready to leave bright and early. As only a four year old can! Arriving into the city ahead of schedule also meant our rooms at the AC Marriott weren't ready, but thankfully they offer a bag drop service, so we were able to park, check-in and carry on with our day of exploring. And the location of the hotel makes it the perfect spot for families looking for somewhere close to Belfast’s Maritime Mile.

With lunchtime approaching, we walked over to the nearby Titanic Hotel, which is a beautiful setting for parents to relax in, with a kids’ lunch menu on offer in the main restauant. It's honestly the best of both worlds! We all loved inspecting the Titanic memorabilia on the walls, and when the food arrived, we all scrambled back to the table, where Gerard and I were delighted by the delicious Caesar salad we had, with a well deserved glass of wine of course.

After lunch we walked to the nearby HMS Caroline, a warship museum docked close to the Titanic Belfast building. This was a really unique experience, which my boys absolutely loved, and they certainly made the most of being able to explore an actual ship. I have to give credit to our incredible tour guide Chris, who was able to tell the boys all about its history and involvement in both World Wars and the Cold War. For older children, it's a great way to bring history to life, and gave us all a really interesting perspective on what life must have been like for all who lived aboard HMS Caroline. 

With a couple of hours until dinner, we consulted Ibe's list of recommendations, and decided to visit the nearby W5 interactive museum at the SSE Arena. Aimed at kids of all ages, there are three floors of educational activities which offer lots to see, do and learn (without them realising!) Our kids had so much fun, and could have spent many more hours here.

With all the running around, I was glad we'd opted for comfort when heading out the door that morning. My top tip would be to make sure you’re all wearing comfortable footwear, as there's lots to explore in Belfast and the kids will want to see as much of it as possible. Having made a successful dent in Ibe's list, we returned to our hotel to freshen up, explore our rooms and after a quick change, head out to enjoy a delicious meal at Novelli at City Quays.

This is Jean Cristophe Novelli’s Mediterranean and French inspired restaurant and the standard of food was nothing short of delicious. I just loved my ricotta gnocchi, while Gerard enjoyed his Novelli 6oz Chuck Steak Burger, and the kids devoured their cheeseburgers and chips.

With our tummies full of delicious food, and excitement building at the thought of what Ibe had in store for us the following day, we decided to treat ourselves to an early night and were all fast asleep at a very respectable hour.

Diggmama’s brilliant Belfast adventure

Day Two

After a great night’s sleep, we were up early to enjoy a delicious breakfast, and the AC Marriott had lots of choice - it was perfect for the kids who love their cereals, while Gerard and I tucked into the cooked breakfast which really hit the spot. It was then time to check out, which was very efficient and easy, and we headed off for our first adventure of the day to Cultra, to visit the Ulster Transport Museum. And I can definitely say that Ibe got this one right, the whole family loved this place!

There is so much to see and interact with this in the museum. From steam trains to vintage motorbikes, and even horse-drawn carriages, you can really get a feel for the history and stories attached to each form of transport on display.

The museum looks to the future as well as reflecting on the past, and our kids really enjoyed the virtual reality experience which had them riding jet skies and even flying tractors! We shared lots of laughs here and I'd say the kids won’t be forgetting this experience for a while - they are still talking about all the stuff they saw!

Ibe's top recommendation was for the We Are Vertigo inflatable park, which he said his family can’t get enough of, and in hindsight, it’s not hard to see why. The inflatable park is so much fun. We all got involved too, so its perfect for kids of all ages - including the big kids. Gerard might even have enjoyed bouncing around the place more than our three! The adventure climbing and soft play centre was great for the kids to burn off any remaining energy, and before hitting the road home, we stopped in at the on-site restaurant for pizzas, soft drinks and slushies. 

As if we needed proof that it was an afternoon well spent, all three of the kids were asleep within minutes of our drive home, and it’s possible I may have dosed off too!

Thank you Ibe, we really had the BEST weekend in Belfast and your suggestions of where to go helped us make giant memories that'll last a lifetime.

If you're inspired to start planning your own adventure in Belfast make sure to check out our accommodationthings to do and places to eat pages for inspiration.

>>> Catch up here on Part 1 of the Holiday Swap Challenge, when Ibe explores the best of County Fermanagh according to Caroline <<<

W5
Science Centre
A mesmerising exhibition at W5 with a young boy walking through an optical illusion

W5 is an award-winning science and discovery centre, firing the spirit of discovery with limitless fun for everyone including eight new zones packed full of interactive exhibits that will excite and inspire.

Ulster Transport Museum
Visitor Centres & Museums
Vintage double decker bus

Celebrate the history of invention and innovation through engineering, design, and technology at the Ulster Transport Museum. Check out the famous DeLorean, a Ferguson tractor and the motorbikes of some of Northern Ireland's biggest road racing legends!

We Are Vertigo
Climbing
Image shows various inflatables in the main area of We Are Vertigo

With inflatable floors, inflatable doors, inflatable walls, inflatable falls you are invited to bounce, ski, play and climb. at We are Vertigo. Explore The Mechanical sweeper, The Travelator, The Inflatable Ninja Area, The High Slides, The Wipeout Assault Course. Or for little daredevils that love to climb over everything? Bring them along to the adventure centre and watch them play and explore. For 2 hours, let them scale the 30ft climbing wall, conquer their fears on the high and low ropes course, or play in the 3-tier soft play village.

AC Hotel Belfast
Hotel
AC Hotel Belfast

With panoramic views over the iconic Belfast cityscape, design-led interior, large comfy beds and the only riverside dining in the city, the AC Hotel Belfast is an urban retreat for today's modern traveller.

Titanic Hotel Belfast
Hotel
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.

Novelli at City Quays
Restaurant
Novelli at City Quays riverside dining

Novelli at City Quays is a stylish Mediterranean and French influenced brasserie open all day offering lunch and afternoon tea through to dinner, a great place for after work cocktails and tapas at our bar.

HMS Caroline
Visitor Centres & Museums
HMS Caroline

The World War One warship HMS Caroline is the last surviving ship from the 1916 Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the conflict. Now a floating museum, it invites its visitors to experience the highs and lows of life at sea. By stepping onto its marvellous original deck, you are stepping back in time. Enjoy exploring real parts of the ship on your visit, like the Captain's cabins, the ward room and deck areas. Or try your hand at code breaking!