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Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Cleveland, Ohio
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Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Hi everyone. My husband and I are going to be in Belfast August 4-7, 2013. Our reason for being in Belfast is that we are attending is the World Police and Fire Games, in which my husband is competing. We will basically have all day on August 4 (the day we arrive at 9 a.m.) and the afternoon of August 5 to explore. We are staying at a private residence in Holywood (booked through airbnb).

What are the must see sites? We are definitely going to go to the Titanic Quarter but other than that, we have no concrete plans (other than hanging out at pubs). Should we visit Dublin? Giants Causeway and Bushmills distillery? Belfast Castle? Mount Stewart Estate? Derry? Carrickfergus Castle?

Any Belfast pubs or restaurants that are recommended? What time do pubs close in Ireland?

Thanks so much for any help you can provide.

Edited: 26 July 2013, 03:55
North Coast, N...
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1. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

You have less than a day and a half so to be honest, you're going to have very little time to do anything outside of Belfast. If arriving at 9 am, you may have flight delays, immigration to clear etc etc..

If you have your own car, the causeway area would be an option as you can explore the stones in the evening so you"re not tied to a 5pm cut off. If relying on public transport, then it's not an option.

In addition to the Titanic area, I would consider a hoho bus tour (or black taxi tour) to see the city and learn a bit about the history. The free guided tour of belfast city hall, crumlin road gaol are also popular attractions in the city. Belfast castle isn"t worth visiting unless you go up to have a hike at cavehill countryside park for views of the city. Carrickfergus castle would definitely be an option if you like history and castles, Mount stewart is somewhere I have never been but the gardens are famous. Another possibility would be the ulster folk and transport museum at cultra. In all honesty, there is enough in belfast to keep you busy for a day and a half!

Re pubs, lots of historical, quirky ones eg The Crown, Kelly's cellars, White's Tavern, the morning star, the kitchen bar, Bittles, the John Hewitt to name a few. Some may have traditional sessions on - Bobby W w

ill advise on that if it interests you:)

North Coast, N...
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2. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Can you be more specific re restaurant requirements? Mourne seafood bar and Ginger bistro are very good. Made in Belfast is quirky. There"s the likes of zen for japanese...You've pub food, cheap and cheerful or more expensive fine dining type restaurants

Groomsport, United...
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3. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

As you're staying in Holywwod, why not try the `Dirty Duck' alehouse...wonderful views over the Lough (1st floor) or Koi Asian.

Mount Stewart House and gardens are well worth a visit (if you're not NT members it wil cost you £6.63 each to get in). Unless you're desperate to do the North Coast, I would stay around Belfast for your brief stay.

Enjoy the Games

Cleveland, Ohio
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4. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Thank you both for your replies! I would say we are interested in more casual restaurants for food. And we definitely like quirky and fun so we will have to check out your suggestions for pubs! What about renting a scooter or a motorcycle? That may be a way we could see some of the countryside.

Belfast
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5. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

We had a lovely meal in Coast in Holywood itself recently. It's fairly casual and Dirty Duck has good views on a clear day. Both can be busy so best to book.

I agree with the others, I wouldn't waste time travelling too far beyond Belfast. What is your husband's sport?

Cleveland, Ohio
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6. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Thanks for the info Scott!

My husband is a wrestler. So we will pretty much have to wait until the weigh-ins are over to really enjoy ourselves at the pubs/restaurants, haha.

Belfast, United...
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7. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

I agree that even if you do hire scooters or a car, the time you have doesn't leave much time for exploring outside the city. Also you must remember that the trip from Holywood to Belfast and back will take time in itself. I would second the recommendation to take one of the hop on hop off tour buses around the main city sites on your first day - one of the stops is in the Titanic Quarter anyway so you could combine both.

There are lots of great bars in Belfast but which ones you'd like depends on what you're after. We have jazz bars, traditional Irish bars, alternative music bars, gay bars... you name it :-) Most bars close at 1am here.

Good luck to your husband!

Belfast, United...
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8. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

For restaraunts I would try Molly's Yard near town.

For trips the open top tours are ment to quite good, you can have a tour a water bus which turns in to a boat and goes down the lagon I think.

Belfast, United...
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9. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Do you also have the early evening of Monday free? I see the wrestling doesn't start until Tue. Here's a great way for you to explore the historic pubs of the city, including many Bridget has mentioned:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvfkAutI1RI

Cleveland, Ohio
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10. Re: Belfast Trip - Recommendations Needed

Thanks everyone! I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond.

Bridget: It looks like the Titanic and then the bus tour will be the perfect way to spend our first day! All those types of bars sound fun but I guess traditional Irish and jazz would probably be at the top of our list. We really enjoy meeting and chatting with new people.

K98davies: Definitely will add that restaurant to our list. It sounds great, as does going on the boat tour.

Drumlough: Thanks for the tip on the pub crawl, that sounds like a great idea! We will have Monday evening free (I'm assuming weigh-ins will be early in the day. We don't find out the exact times of events until we check in).

Additional question - what is the policy on tipping in Belfast (restaurants and bars)? I am finding conflicting information and I want to be sure we are following the customs! Some sources say don't tip anyone, some say tip 10% in a restaurant if there is no service charge already added, some say never tip a bartender but you can buy him/her a drink instead.