It’s the capital city of Northern Ireland packed full of history, fun, and craic (the Northern Irish kind). Whether you’re here for the week, or just the weekend, these top spots should be on your list to make sure you get the full Belfast experience. 

To start, here are my top spots for an educational day out. 

The City Hall is an obvious choice and you can’t leave Belfast without taking a visit. Wander through the glorious halls and up the marble staircase in a free tour whilst learning about the tremendous history of Belfast. 

Queens University is Belfast’s version of Hogwarts, and even if you are not into Harry Potter it is worth a visit. The university is captivating with around 24,000 students in attendance, so take a brisk walk to Botanic and learn something new. 

Lastly on my to do list would be Crumlin Road Gaol. It is the only remaining Victoria era prison and it is situated right in Belfast! Become chilled during the tour as you learn about its 150 year history, where 17 men have been executed amongst other secrets to discover. 

Now onto the important stuff – where to eat?

Belfast is full of amazing food, from chain restaurants to local gems it has it all. Focusing on my favourites, I’d have to let Villa Italia take the top spot. It is the closest you will ever come to Italy without having to go there. Their carbonara is the best I have ever had, and the whole dining experience is very authentic. If your into garlic and into cheese, the garlic bread deluxe is to die for!  It is a restaurant suited to both romantic dates and family dining.

But after all you are in Belfast, so it is only right you get a good Irish meal in you. Thats where Made In Belfast comes in! The menu is a meat lovers dream which the word ‘Guinness’ also featuring several times. Take my word for it, this is a must visit while in the city.

If you are into burgers, Bunsen burger is the spot for you. A very tiny menu that only serves burgers, chips, shakes, soda and alcohol but this place will surely blow your mind. Without a doubt the best burger I have ever had. Big portion sizes and a quirky interior, worth every penny. 

Lastly on my food list comes a little lunch or breakfast spot called Snax and the City. They have a range of healthy and fresh foods but also the odd guilty pleasure! They serve a number of things including – porridge, fruit pots, scones, toasties, pannis, burritos, baked potatoes, noodles and some cute tray-bakes. If you head to Snax order the chicken curry with rice, it’s so tasty!! You can sit in or take out so its a great on-the-go stop. 

The part we’ve all been waiting for – The bars! Wondering where to have your first Guinness, or maybe your second? I have a lot of favourites throughout the city. The basic guide to drinking in Belfast is sectioned off into 2 parts – Cathedral Quarter and Shaftesbury Square. 

The more up-market expensive bars would be in Cathedral Quarter, these would be; The Dirty Onion, The Thirsty Goat, The National, The Harp Bar (A MUST), Duke of York, The Northern Whig and The Cloth Ear – all amazing spots, so best to do a bar crawl around them. 

At the other end of the city (but also still in walking distance) would be the cheaper bars with the same level of craic; Laverys, Filthy McNastys, Benedicts, and The Bar with No Name. 

If you wish to add another bar to that list don’t miss Kelly’s Cellars which is right in the middle of the city. It is the oldest Irish pub in the city and often described as a hidden gem. So take it from me, you should check it out for a pint or two. 

Every bar in Belfast has an authentic Northern Irish feel to it, so if you came looking for a pint and a bit of craic, that is exactly what you will get! 

Words Lauren Wilson

Stills Steven Carruthers

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