Ask Joan – Our First Trip to Belfast

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Myself and the wife are looking to book our first getaway to Belfast in the coming weeks. To ensure everything goes smoothly I was wondering could you inform me on the various travel restrictions (if any). And any of your favourite spots up there that you would recommend we check out? JMG. 

The good news is that most restrictions were removed on Monday May 24th.  Now Belfast is open for business again and you can enjoy all that the city has to offer. See this site for details of what is open. 

Belfast is a great walking city; the streets are wide and everything is within an easy distance.   A good way to explore the city is to take a walking tour.  The city has a great tradition of street art and a tour is an excellent way to hear some political and cultural stories.  A two-hour tour costs £10. The Black Taxi tour is also usually amusing and the drivers are knowledegable. 

Titanic Belfast

It is hard to miss Titanic Belfast, its shining façade dominates the riverside. Recently reopened it is a very interesting type of museum.  If you have any interest in history and, not just about Titanic, is gives a great insight to social history at the time. The whole riverside area is lovely to walk around. 

Another museum worth visiting is the Ulster Museum, home of NI’s art and treasures from the past. The MAC in the Cathedral Quarter is a cultural hub for music, dance, art and theatre. 


My favourite hotel in Belfast is the five-star Merchant Hotel, push the boat out if it is a special occasion.  Breakfast in the Great Room feels like you are on a film set.  Bert’s Jazz bar is lovely for casual dining. The food is exceptional in the Merchant.

first trip to Belfast
T he Great Room – Merchant Hotel, Belfast

My other favourite is the Europa Hotel, an historic landmark on Belfast’s Great Victoria Street.  The rooms are classy and nicely decorated, there is a nice selection of places to eat and drink.  It is the warm and friendly staff that make this hotel so special. 

When it comes to three-star hotels in Belfast, in recent years there has been a big influx of international brands. All of them are excellent, providing good, comfortable accommodation at great prices.   

Check out the Holiday Inn Express, Hampton by Hilton, Park Inn by Radisson, Travelodge and Ibis. You will not go wrong getting a value city break. 

Eating Out

There is a wealth of great places to eat in Belfast and more coming on stream. For high end dining Ox has a Michelin Star, James Street South serves lots of classic favourites, check out the crab and chilli linguine. Home on Wellington Place serves seasonal cuisine, real feel-good food. 

Howard Street restaurant serves seasonal dishes with a South East Asian undertones.  Coppi at St. Anne’s Square serves tasty food and good for well-priced lunches. 

A favourite place on a Sunday morning is St. George’s Market, on East Bridge Street.  There are stalls selling arts and crafts, and a good range of food.  Most Sundays there will be music and the Victorian surroundings make perfect acoustics. It is a lovely place to while away a few hours. 


Belfast is a great pub city there are lots to try, now that they are open again.  There are some traditional places that you should not miss, like the Crown Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street. It is a classic Victorian gin palace with polished wood and stained-glass interiors. 

Next door to the Crown is Robinsons one of the liveliest bars in Belfast and one of the oldest. When shopping on Donegall Place it’s always nice to take a break in Kelly’s Cellars, a traditional Irish pub. At night there is plenty of fun at the Duke of York on Commercial Court. It not just a pub but a series of venues with a lot happening. 

One thing I notice on trips to Belfast there is always another new pub or venue opening, to check out the latest list on, Tripadvisor 

Tourism information is available on visitbelfast.com. You can visit the Tourist Office at 9 Donegall Square, where you can get maps and book tours. 


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