A Good Craic in Belfast

Head to Belfast for a great time and a good laugh with a list of places to visit. Find out what you can explore for free and what’s worth admission.

Craic (/kræk/KRAK) or crack is an Irish term for entertainment, fun, news, gossip, and enjoyable conversation.

Belfast is one of those rare cities that has a rich history, a great night scene, and amazing locals. It’s a must-see for any Titanic enthusiast since it’s where the ship with a tragic voyage was built. The capital city is also a great jumping-off point to see filming locations from Game of Thrones as well as natural picturesque views.

Where to Eat in Belfast

Head to any of the three Maggie Mays Stranmillis Cafes for an authentic Irish breakfast. Plenty of perfect hangover menu options, Maggie serves breakfast and all meals all day.

From black currant juice and avocado toast to a milkshake and Titanic burger, the eatery has something for every creating. The cafe offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options to satiate and accommodate any dietary restrictions.

For lunch, check out Granny Annie’s Kitchen. The restaurant is family-friendly and has live music while you dine and absorb the uniquely decorated environment.

To warm you up on a cold day, I recommend the steak and Guinness pie or the vegetable curry. Granny’s menu clearly marks potential allergens and has limited options for vegetarians and vegans.

Free Things to Do in Belfast

Just next door to one of the Maggie cafes is the Ulster Museum and Botanical Gardens. Walking amongst the art and history exhibits as well as through the Palm House conservatory.

Visitors can still see proof of the area’s civil differences in the infrastructure and records of yesteryears literally painted on the walls. Political art covers the Divis Street Murals and the Peace Walls, which note the historical split between the Republican and Loyalist communities.

In fact, you’ll notice gates between buildings that once locked residents into designated communities at night. Also known as “peace lines”, these barriers stopped vehicles and pedestrians from crossing through once locked. The most popular murals on peace walls are:

  • On Falls Road.
  • In Short Strand.
  • On Shankill Road
  • In Cluan Place.

On weekends, the St. George’s Market opens up with cute boutique goods and foods from local small businesses and vendors worldwide. Sundays combine Fridays’ Variety Market with Saturdays’ City Food and Craft Market.

Activities Worth the Price Tag

If you’re into dark tourism, then check out Belfast HM Prison — also known as Crumlin Road Gaol. One of the longest-running Victorian-era prisons, it held men, women, and children. The facility’s tour guides share morbid stories of young suicides, executions, and escapes.

If you’re looking for a unique experience, then book tickets to the cabaret show at Cabaret Supper Club. While the show is always changing, the performers will entertain you with songs, jokes, and some stripping.

Tours up the Northern Ireland coast along the Causeway Coast show travelers filming locations from Game of Thrones and other shows or movies. The Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede top bridge, and the Dark Hedges are popular sights.

Best Bars

Start your night out at the most bombed hotel in Europe, the Europa Hotel, which is conveniently located next to the Great Victoria Street Station and the Europa Bus Centre. Just inside this beautiful four-star accommodation on the right is the Piano Bar Lounge.

This area has some of the best walkable site-seeing locations including:

  • The Grand Opera House.
  • Belfast City Hall.
  • Victoria Square Belfast.

Head to the Cathedral Quarter for hip and trendy pubs. The bars you must go to in Belfast include:

  • Kelly’s Cellars – Duck into Kelly’s and you’ll probably hear the locals speaking Gaelic. The traditional speech goes hand-in-hand with the music and pub food available at the historical location. Built in 1720, it’s one of the oldest pubs in Belfast.
  • The Duke of York – You must squeeze a trip to this pub into your itinerary, but you will also need to prepare to physically squeeze into the joint, as its one of the most popular spots for a beer and live music. In addition to the other choice decorations, check out the poem on the steps.
  • Harp Bar – Originally a popular spot for local punk rock musicians, the Harp Bar is a gorgeous cocktail bar drenched in red velvet and vintage alcohol art. Be sure to check out the umbrella display outside in the alley for a great Instagram photo.
  • Love & Death, Inc. – Looking for live music and dancing in a hip atmosphere? Drop into Love & Death or book the cocktail bar, as it also serves lunch and dinner.
  • Voodoo – Not as spooky as the name suggests, this three-story dark bar plays everything from alternative music to songs from the 80s and 90s. depending on the night’s events.

If you are headed to Belfast, then be sure to check out other articles on visiting Ireland including visiting Derry during Halloween.

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