Most of the city tours leave each day from City Hall. There's a wide range of group tours, hop on and hop off buses and private tours. These can be arranged from your hotel or the tourist information office opposite City Hall. We opted for the Free Walking Tour. It leaves from City Hall at 11am and 1pm each day. The tour lasts about 3 hours and you decide at the end how much the tour is worth and pay accordingly. I first tried this type of tour in Copenhagen and I really find them to be very engaging tours. This one didn't disappoint and we had plenty of local knowledge to inform the rest of our stay in Belfast.
Part of that tour visited the top of the Victoria Square shopping centre. Every hour Gerry gives a free guided tour of the skyline of Belfast. If you haven't time for a full tour of the city, this is a great alternative. Find details here
The first night of our stay we ate in our hotel and it was excellent. On the other two nights we ate in the Cathedral Quarter.
Made in Belfast is a chain of three restaurants in Belfast city. We ate in their Cathedral Quarter restaurant. Very retro, great decor and very hipster! Food was great, really tasty and a wide selection.
Hadskis is right beside the Dark Horse and the Duke of York pubs and right in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter. You need some translation to understand their fancy menu but food was delicious and it wasn't any more expensive than the other restaurants we tried.
Just around the corner is The Harp Bar. We were lucky enough to score a window seat but it's a huge bar with plenty of seating and excellent music.
The Northern Whig was the official pub for the teachers conference so we visited it at the end of the night. Lovely bar, great music and a wide range of cocktails. Unfortunately the service was awful but they probably hadn't factored in the thirst of teachers on tour!
Across from the Europa is The Crown bar. It was bombed nearly as many times as the Europa during the troubles and has a very interesting history. Have a drink in one of its snugs and find out why they were needed all those years ago.
Rita's is a very cool retro cocktail bar. I visited it on the waterpolo trip on a Saturday night and it was a dance on the tables type of place. We also got free entry to the nightclub upstairs. On a Monday night it was a bit quieter but a lovely place for a cosy drink or a few cocktails.
We ate at The Bar and Grill on the waterpolo trip. Excellent food at great value and a dedicated cocktail bar.
Just before we left Belfast we ate in Granny Annies. We found it to be the cheapest place we ate in but the decor was unreal. Difficult to get a table at weekends, we were told there was a 45 minute wait when we tried it on the bank holiday Monday.
There is so much to read, see and listen to. It's very interactive. My favourite part was getting into the cable car which brought us through the making of the ship. You could even feel the heat of the fires!
As there is a lot of reading, under 10s might be a little young and might get bored. It does take at least 3 hours to take it all in so make sure you're well fed before you check in!
There was lots more we would have liked visit properly: The SS Nomadic, Crumlin Road Goal, City Hall tour, Black taxi tour and The Peace Wall to name a few. There is also great shopping, all within walking distance.
Overall it was an excellent break in a very welcoming city. We didn't find it very expensive considering we were eating and socialising in the city centre every night. Belfast is just over an hour and a half drive on the motorway from Dublin so there really is no excuse!