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Tuesday, June 7, 2011
By Waheeda Harris
A visit to the Emerald Isle isn’t complete until a visit to the Northern Ireland capital city. With a burgeoning art scene, plenty of tempting places for a pint or to indulge in modern Irish cuisine, Belfast is a perfect getaway spot for girls.
Where to Stay
Historic Europa Hotel is a centrally-located four star accommodation, with easy access to the high street for shopping. Classically styled, the Europa’s Piano Bar Restaurant is a happening after-work drink spot for the ‘hood’s young and fashionable. For design-lovers, make a reservation at the trendy Fitzwilliam Hotel, a stylish boutique boite.
What to Do
Satiate shopping desires by heading to Victoria Square , four floors of tempting boutiques filled with Irish and European designs. Take the central elevator to the lookout for 360 views of the city, before heading off to Donegall Square with its mix of high and low fashion shops. Stop at historic City Hall to see an exhibit on the infamous Belfast-built ship, The Titanic or for a cuppa tea at The Bobbin. For a dose of culture, the Ulster Museum features a wide selection of art, history, fashion, and anthropology, with several exhibits showcasing Northern Ireland’s history. Adjacent to the museum is the Belfast Botanic Gardens and the stately grounds of Queen’s University, where visitors can take a break from the city in tranquil surroundings. Plan a tour of the murals of the city’s east and west neighbourhoods, telling the tales of the city’s history during Na Trioblóidí (the Troubles) thanks to local artisans and residents; make sure to stop at the Peace Walls, for its unique graffiti and art installations.
Where to Eat
Consider a historic pub tour of the city, starting with the famous Crown Bar Liquor Saloon to sample local faves such as Bushmills Whiskey or Caffrey’s Irish Ale. For delectable seafood make tracks to modern Mourne Seafood Bar or for Irish haute cuisine, make a reservation at the Merchant Hotel’s elegant Great Room. Late night revellers will appreciate the chippers – just be prepared for more options than salt and vinegar such as curry sauce, garlic sauce or coleslaw with your fried spuds.
Photos courtesy of Belfast Visitor & Convention Bureau (BVCB)