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What to see & where to stay during a weekend in Belfast, Northern Ireland

One third of Northern Ireland’s population call Belfast home, yet the city feels spacious and calm - a marked difference from its turbulent past. Easy enough to explore over a weekend, the city itself is roughly divided into four cultural areas known as quarters. First up, along the waterfront is the Titanic Quarter, an area that is currently going through a huge regeneration project with offices, new housing and hotels constantly springing up alongside the docks and River Lagan. It’s here you’ll find The Titanic Museum too, a whole building dedicated to the famous ship and its infamous journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Cathedral Quarter, known for its cobbled streets, quaint restaurants and namesake, St Anne’s Cathedral is a pretty area to while away a few hours on a sunny day. The cathedral itself is worth venturing inside too, for its intricately painted domed ceiling right above the baptism font. 

howard street and church view of belfast from the fitzwilliam hotel
View of Howard street, Belfast, from the Fitzwilliam Hotel

The Queen’s Quarter, names after Queen’s University is home to the cities flourishing botanical gardens that include the Palm House Conservatory, a cast iron glasshouse will appeal to anyone who appreciates Wes Anderson and of course botany lovers. The house, which predates the glasshouse at Kew Gardens, London, also reminds me of the pretty crystal castle in Madrid’s Retiro Park.

Lastly, and perhaps my favourite area for its history and political messaging is the Gaeltacht Quarter. This compelling place which sits around Falls Road and West Belfast is home to the murals of the Belfast city; huge paintings that depict the complicated past and struggles between Unionists and Nationalists due to the partition of Northern Ireland. I took myself on a walking tour of the area but i heard you can also take black taxi tours which could be all the more informative. 

mural of men wearing camouflage firing guns in belfast city
Street art in Belfast's Gaeltacht Quarter

Where to stay?

I booked a delux junior suite at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, right in the centre of town. My room in the five-star hotel had floor to ceiling windows that looked out across Grosvenor Road and Great Victoria Street - two of the main roads of the city - providing great views and an easy way to get to grips with my location. My room was blissfully quiet, well decorated and had a fabulous bathtub. 

bed and bathtub at the fitzwilliam hotel belfast
My suite at the Fitzwilliam Hotel

Even more exciting is the location, just a few steps from the hotel is one of the most beautiful pubs I’ve ever seen in my life. The Crown Bar, previously known as The Liquor Saloon, dates back to 1826 and is know owned by The National Trust. Once a Victorian Gin Palace, the pub know serves a range of ales and spirits in the most gorgeous of settings. Once inside you’ll be delighted by carmine painted shells, brocade walls, patterned mosaics and an exquisite gold ceiling, wherever you cast your gaze you’ll be delighted by creativity and colour and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place.

tiled walls and elaborate windows of the Crown Bar Belfast
The Crown Bar

Rooms at the Fitzwilliam Hotel start at £120 a night

Follow @fitzbelfast

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