Five things you might like to do if paying a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Other attractions are available.)
1. Kaffe O
Nestled near the top of Belfast’s busy Ormeau Road, Kaffe O is a beautiful coffee emporium that feels like it has been transported from Scandinavia and dropped into South Belfast with a Nordic bang! Inspired by Danish coffee culture and modernist design, this cool coffee shop sells probably the best cup of coffee in Northern Ireland. Why? Well, they import their hand-roasted beans directly from Copenhagen, from master Danish roaster Ricco Sørensen. Now that’s dedication. Not only that but the food is pretty amazing, and healthy! A very alluring place to relax and unwind for a few hours.
2. St. George’s Market
St. George’s is the only surviving covered marketplace in Belfast. Built between 1890 and 1896, this ‘market’ was originally a meat market and slaughter house. Open Friday, Saturday and Sundays this unique Victorian market is home to a variety of artists, food vendors and crafts people. St. George’s Market is awash with locals and tourists alike; sampling the delicious food, the live music and indulging in hand-crafted trinkets from local creatives.
Be sure to visit with an empty stomach. The variety of beautiful food on offer makes choosing what to have, extremely difficult (not a bad thing). The atmosphere at the market is friendly and bohemian; a cosmopolitan hub of art, design and amazing grub (food).
3. Divis & Black Mountain
Divis and Black Mountain (along with Cavehill) are the most dominant parts of the Belfast skyline; at 1275ft high, Black Mountain overlooks the city and on a clear day it is well worth a visit. The barren landscape is akin to something from a Star Wars movie and the view as you meander along the mountain’s paths really is spectacular. On a clear day you can see Strangford Lough, Donegal and even Scotland from it’s peak. Sit at the edge, have a picnic and watch, as Belfast goes about it’s business below.
Perhaps not the easiest place to get to if you don’t have a car, but well worth making the effort.
4. Oh Yeah Music Centre
For such a small country, Northern Ireland has had a massive impact on the music industry. Situated in an old whiskey warehouse in Belfast’s ‘cool’ Cathedral Quarter, the Oh Yeah Centre was founded in 2005 by local music industry aficionados (including band Snow Patrol) and it has many strings to it’s bow. (Music Venue, rehearsal space for bands, recording studio, office space, café…to name a few.)
The most interesting part of this excellent venue is the permanent music exhibition on display. A real treat for any music fan wanting to uncover information about the rich musical heritage that Northern Ireland has to offer. Read interesting facts and figures about local artists, nosy at guitars and collectible items from the likes of Thin Lizzy, The Undertones and Van Morrison, and follow a timeline that offers great stories about some the biggest artists that have emerged from Belfast and beyond. A lovely way to spend an hour or two in the city centre.
5. Botanic Gardens
On a sunny day you should stroll around the hidden gardens and if the weather isn’t so good, Botanic Gardens offers a unique plethora of attractions that offers choice for locals and tourists alike. The gardens was originally opened by the Belfast Botanic and Horticultural Society in 1828 to showcase exotic plants and trees. However, financial issues saw the gardens sold to the city council who duly opened it as a public park in 1895.
Choices of what to do at the park are many, with the architecturally impressive Ulster Museumat the top of the list. The museum houses an array of antiquities from all corners of the world; including dinosaur fossils, an exhibition about Belfast’s violent past and also an Egyptian mummy! The gardens also contain a tropical ravine and the Palm House; a visually stunning ‘glass house’ built by Sir Charles Lanyon. Nearby you will find other notable attractions such as Queens University, Botanic Avenue (lined with numerous multi-cultural eateries) and also Friar’s Bush; an eery graveyard with an abundance of Belfast’s history hidden beneath it’s grassy banks.