One of my work friends went to university in Belfast, and after hearing lots of great things, a group of us decided to head there for her birthday.
We found a great apartment on Air BnB, with a hot tub on the roof terrace and great views over the city. The price was really reasonable- only around £70 each for three nights. The flat was located on Crumlin Road and it’s really easy to get around using taxis, only around 10 minutes to the centre of the city. Sadly, I think it has been taken off Air BnB, as the owner was looking to sell the property.
Apartment’s roof terrace
Apartment’s hot tub
On our first day, we decided to take a tour out to Giants Causeway and other sights in Northern Ireland. We went with Allens and I cannot recommend them enough. We somehow managed to book a tour online with them for 2005 without realising and when we turned up the coach was full (oops!). The owner of the company very kindly offered to take us in their minibus, so that we wouldn’t miss out.
The scenery on the trip was absolutely stunning! We were really lucky with the weather; even though it was very cold, the skies were blue and the sun shining. During the tour we visited: Carrickfergus Castle, the Antrim Coast Road, Carrick- a – Rede rope bridge, Giants Causeway and The Dark Hedges (from Game of Thrones). The most famous of these sights is Giants Causeway and it’s not difficult to see why. Made up of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which were the result of a volcanic eruption, it really is a sight to behold.
Although not the most famous sight, my favourite by far was Carrick – a – Rede rope bridge and the surrounding area. The sea was so blue, if it hadn’t been so cold, I definitely wouldn’t have felt as though I was in Northern Ireland. The area was so pretty and it was fun to walk down to and across the bridge, although there were lots of other people around so it was very busy. Lunch was eaten nearby the rope bridge at a quaint café in a barn. I had steak and Guinness pie which was delicious and a necessary meal when in Ireland.
Carrick- a -Rede rope bridge
Carrick- a – Rede rope bridge
The tour cost £18pp, which was really reasonable considering that the tour lasted the entire day. Lunch was around £7 with a drink, so overall the cost was pretty small and a great way to see more of Northern Ireland during a short weekend trip.
Following our day trip, it was time to celebrate Cat’s birthday in style. We had lots of prosecco in the apartment with dinner and then headed out in to the centre of Belfast. We spent the majority of our night in Filthy McNastys, which was great fun. Don’t let the name put you off- first impressions can be deceiving. Filthy’s looks like an ordinary pub from the front but head through the door at the back and there is a “Secret Garden” and a chic cocktail bar- “Filthy Chic- which serves delicious drinks. Prices definitely weren’t as cheap as I had expected but they were still far below what I would expect to pay in London and for a capital city on a Saturday night, they were pretty reasonable.
On Sunday morning, we headed to Maggie Mays for brunch. They have an extensive menu but I went traditional and opted for a full Irish breakfast. It was so yummy, my only criticism would be that there was A LOT of bread; too much if anything. I shouldn’t complain- you can never have too many carbs. We also got milkshakes to take away which we a-maz-ing. I had Kinder Bueno and it was one of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had. Altogether I spent about £11 on breakfast, two drinks and a milkshake, what a bargain! The remainder of Sunday was spent relaxing in the hot tub and watching girly films. It felt like we were back at university- just with cleaner surroundings and much healthier bank balances.
We flew back to London on Monday afternoon but before we did, we squeezed in a trip to Crumlin Road Gaol, which was not too far from our apartment. The gaol (jail) opened in 1845 and closed its doors in 1996. The tour was really interesting, although the chamber where hangings took place was really creepy. The jail didn’t seem to be the most secure- despite holding dangerous criminals such as murderers- and there was over 15 escapes during the time it was open.
Crumlin Road Gaol
Belfast obviously doesn’t have the best rep but I absolutely loved it, along with the other places we visited during our trip. The people are super friendly, prices are cheap and the scenery is beautiful. I would definitely recommend it as a destination for a city break and I’m really looking forward to going back and seeing more of Northern Ireland in the future.