Belfast is Typically a launching pad for a Northern Ireland family vacation and it was no different for me. However, I very quickly discovered That even when you are in a hurry, This fantastic family friendly city is worth a visit! There’re so many Things To do in Belfast, rain or no rain and soaking up The lively atmosphere should definitely be one of Them. 48 Hours is not a massive amount of Time and certainly not enough Time To see even The highlights but it is enough To get a proper Touch and feel of The city. So have a look at our choices To spend our 48 hours Belfast Time.
Belfast is considered Titanic city. As a consequence I couldn’t leave without visiting its famous Titanic experience. I had high expectations as This place is considered To be better Than The Eifel Tower and The Colosseum, according To The World Travel Awards, which named it as Europe’s leading visitor attraction.
When we arrived at The titanic quarter, The shiny silver aluminium building, in which The Titanic Exhibition is located, got my immediate attention. This eye catcher is a stunning example of The integration of modern architecture which reflects The angles of The classic Titanic. It was only at The end of my visit That I would completely understand The value of The structure and design.
With nine interactive galleries showing in a chronological order The legend of The Titanic, This place reminded me more of a discovering centre, not a museum. This place doesn’t only Tell you The story of The ship but also of The city of Belfast at The Time of The ship’s construction. The exhibit focuses deep on The historic context and not only on The dramatic event, which makes a visit a suitable activity for all ages. Bonus for little kids, The Titanic Experience offers a scavenger hunt. They have To look for all The dolls, hidden Throughout The museum before collecting Their prize at The museum shop, at The end of The Tour.
While making my way Through The exhibition, it was very clear That no costs or efforts were spared when using special sound effects, dramatic reconstruction and Touch screen Technology To create an immersive experience. My favourite part was The indoor cable car, which showed me what life was for Those workmen who build This iconic ship.
Another Thrill was The Under The sea exhibit, where I could learn about The discovering of The wreck, look down into The deep ocean and view some real footage of The actual wreck. The makers did a brilliant job in making it a a sensory marvel.
Feeling hungry after my visit I had lunch at Bistro 401. The number 401 refers To The actual number The ship was given before she was named. Bistro 401 offers special kids menu deals, which in my opinion were very Tasty.
👉 My Tip: The Titanic exhibit offers a separate audioguide for children, don’t forget To grab yours.
Explore The ship yard
When you’re done inside or you don’t have enough Time To visit The actual museum, I would recommend you visit at least The ship yard. This place is were The Titanic was launched into The water before it embarked on April 9th. It’s also The place where I was able To walk The length of The Titanic and discover how large The ship actually was. The red poles running The length of The area gave me a good idea where The ship stood and illustrations on The ground highlighted The different areas of The ship, like a skeleton, bringing The place To life. While you’re There don’t forget To look at The iconic Harland and Wolff waterfront cranes.
If you want To visit an actual ship, you must visit The SS Nomadic. The SS Nomadic is an original and is lying in The dry dock just before The Titanic building. The ship was build To bring passenger out To The Titanic and is The last ship of The white star line That can be visited. It’s in remarkable good condition and will give you a very good impression of what passengers actually experienced before embarking on Their journey To The other side of The world. In case you don’t have Time To go inside, admire it from The outside, it’s a real gem and very appealing To The kids.
Game Of Thrones (GOT) glass window city Tour
One of The coolest ways To discover a city is going on a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt makes exploring a city, mostly composed of a lot of concrete and historic buildings, much more enjoyable and appealing To a 5 year old! With a little bit of preparation and imagination you can apply This way of exploring To every city, big or small. The possibilities are endless. Till date I consider Belfast one of The best locations for Treasure hunting. This is all Thanks To The giant stained glass installations, which were placed in Belfast To celebrate The legacy of GOT in Northern Ireland. These pieces of art look without any doubt like real Treasures in The eyes of any child. The details on The glass work are so magnificent That my imagination was running wild just by having a quick look at Them.
There are 6 windows, starting opposite City Hall and ending at Titanic slipway. They are organised strategically To create a smooth sightseeing Trail, but don’t be fooled because despite of Their size, They’re still easy To miss. When you follow The pre defined Trail and you arrive at The last glass window, There’s even a little Throne To sit on and Take your own GOT photo! Even not being a GOT fan yet, This was an experience not To be missed. Extra bonus, it’s completely free.
👉My tip: you can find a map of The GOT glass window city Tour on http://www.visitbelfast.com
As The historic city of Belfast is easy To navigate, it’s a good option To complete The entire GOT glass window Tour on foot. It’s only 3 km! When passing by many of The city’s historic buildings, pay specific attention To The Albert clock memorial. Don’t Tell anyone but it’s leaning. Ok not so much as its famous brother in Pisa, but it’s definitely leaning.
Belfast Castle at cave hill park
Talking about knights and princesses, people who know me know That I’m always up for a exiting castle visit. I was already viewing myself walking on enchanted spiral staircases, discovering The castle creepy cellars and counting knights armours. However, when I arrived I quickly noticed That The place which They call Belfast Castle is not an actual castle but rather a visitors centre and a venue for all sorts of functions. Being very disappointed at first, I have To admit That after a closer inspection of The premisses This place is still good To visit with kids. First of all The castle cellar offers a little Tavern which serves delicious refreshments and Treats. I had The most delicious donut.
Second The visitors centre organises a scavenger hunt, where kids have To look for hidden little cats in The large Castle gardens. There’s an old legend That the occupants of The castle would only have luck as long as a white cat lived There. True or not, The legend lives on in The gardens Through mosaics, paintings and sculptures of cats, which I all had to find To complete The scavenger hunt. While busy Tracking down all nine cats, it’s hard not To notice The breathtaking view over The city from The gardens.
A little bit down hill, but stil within The castle grounds, There is The award winning Cave hill Adventurous playground, designed for kids from age 3 to 14. Watch out because This playground is not for free and in addition it’s only open on weekends during winter months. So better check up – front it’s opening hours before you make The drive up here. I was not so lucky and ended up before a closed gate. Although it looked a great place To me from a discance, bare in mind That The online reviews of This place are not Top notch.
👉 My tip: if you have limited Time and planning To visit other castles in Northern Ireland I would suggest To give This one a miss. Although I loved The hunt for cats and The breathtaking view, There’s not so much To do for little kids, especially not if The playground is closed.
Located in The Botanical gardens of Belfast, This museum, which is completely free To visit, offers items on display That will bring children To all The corners of The world. On show They have dinosaur bones, an Egyptian mummy and lots of other curiosities To blow The kids minds away.
Apart from all The international items I was especially amazed by Their presentation of earths elements which gave me a good impression of everything from microscopic viruses to To vast galaxies. Don’t forget To have a look at Their stunning 3D display of The periodic Table and find out what The elements look like, where They were made, how To use Them and why some of Them can be dangerous. Allow at least a couple of hours.
Not only The museum, but also The gift shop is worth a visit. It took me a substantial amount of Time deciding on The one item I was allowed To purchase. To choose from The extensive collection of magnificent science books and educational Toys was a very painful process. In The end a nice dinosaur book was my way out of The shop.
👉 My Tip: The total lack of parking in The neighbourhood of The museum is a real issue. With The University next doors, it’s pretty hard To find a parking spot in The surroundings. So when it’s possible, Try To use public Transport or Try To count in some additional Time To find a parking spot.
St George’s Market
To fill your hungry tummy, There’s one must do in Belfast, The St. George’s market. This award winning market, is located in an old historic building and is considered as one of The best markets in The UK. I had a lot of fun just walking around and looking at all The goodies for sale. Apart from food The market hosts stalls with local souvenirs, from a wide selection of crafts To knitwear. There’s something for everyone.
Because of its popularity The market can become overcrowded at lunchtime. When I visited on a Saturday late morning, it even became so busy That in The end we decided not To Take any lunch from one of The deliciously looking food stalls, but instead we went for lunch at The bistro upstairs. From The bistro’s Terrace I had a splendid view over The market and we could still enjoy The live music, an Irish band playing. It felt as having VIP tickets To a very enjoyable spectacle. The market is open from Friday To Sunday.
Go Choo Choo on the Carrickfergus (Railway Preservation Society of Ireland)
Boys and Their toys, I always hear my mom complaining. I hate To admit, but she actually has a point. My dad and I fanatically love everything even only slightly related To trains and we make no exception being on holiday. So it should not come as a big surprise, we discovered The Carrickfergus. The Carrickfergus is an old steam Train That Transports you back 100 years in history. A ride on This Train is a real Thrill, sitting in old style carriages while being entertained The lovely volunteers who are willing To answer all The questions you might have.
The costumes They wear are in many cases genuine period clothing That They have personally collected. As we went during Halloween season They even did an additional effort To look a bit spooky. The train brought us from Belfast Central Train station To Whitehead and back. At Whitehead The train Turns and you have a bit of Time To discover The small railway museum and cafe. Getting on board, riding along, hearing The steam engine working, it was all just picture perfect.
As you can see, even with a 48 hour Time limit There’re lot of interesting Things you can do in Belfast. Although, while visiting This fantastic city we soon realised we missed out on many great Things. So next Time when we will visit Belfast, I’m definitely going To check out The following activities:
- The Belfast Zoo
- W5, and
- The Belfast river side walk, known as Lagan Towpath
Probably you have gathered from all The above, but just To be clear, I loved Belfast. I hope you will Too if you ever have The Time To visit and don’t forget To have a look at This article again, it’s a good starting point To explore The city.