What do you look for in your ideal city break? Well, if it’s just for a few days or the weekend, you must be able to get there quickly and easily. The city also has to offer memorable experiences, amazing sights, great culture, wonderful cuisine, warm hospitality and tick all the boxes that make it a must visit destination. Because of its closeness to the UK and the rest of Europe, its great holiday experience or short break that won’t break the bank.
However, in these strained economic times, another priority has to be value for money. In that case, Dublin and Belfast will definitely not disappoint. Flights to Belfast, one of the friendliest and most wondering cities in Europe, take just over an hour from the UK – and as the airport is only a mile from the city centre, you will be in town before you know it.
An arrival in Belfast you won’t have to go far in the city for some unforgettable sights, such as the Titanic Belfast. This ‘must see’, housed in a iconic six-floor building beside the historic site where the ill-fated ship was constructed, will take you back to relive the entire Titanic story, from her birth in Belfast to the fateful maiden voyage and her eventual discovery on the seabed.
But Belfast offers much, much more. Pop in for a drink at McHugh’s in Queen’s Square – the building the oldest building in Belfast – enjoy the up-and-coming arts and nightlife scene in the Cathedral Quarter, eat at the National Trust-owned Crown Liquor Saloon, with its ornate restaurant interior adorned with panels from the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, enjoy a lazy sightseeing boat trip along the Lagan, or take the whole family for an outing to Belfast’s very own version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory.
Don’t miss the MAC, the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast City Hall – a magnificent Edwardian ‘wedding cake’, the finest fresh local produce at St. George’s Market, the Botanical Gardens and Palm House or Belfast Zoo in its 55-acre site with panoramic views across Belfast Lough.
With so much to offer it should come as no surprise that this unspoilt treasure regularly tops the list of the world’s must see destinations.
Dublin need not introduction, it is also just over an hour from Belfast, with a fast shuttle service into the city making it ideal for quick getaway. The city has a strong literary tradition; the birthplace of James Joyce and home to Yeats George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett.
Dublin is a city of contrast, from the Books of Kells, dating back to AD800, which is on show at the historic and peaceful Trinity College, to the bustling eclectic covered markets, lively buskers along Grafton Street and the world-famous nightlife in the bars along the cobbled, narrow streets of Temple Bar.
Cruise along the Liffey, tour historic Dublin Castle, relax in the city’s tranquil green spaces and enjoy some great shopping.
For a thrilling view of the city ascend 44m above ground on the Etihad Skyline Tour at the Croke Park stadium, where you can also test your Gaelic football and hurling skills or discover the city’s Viking past at the Dublinia visitor centre. This cosmopolitan city caters for every taste with its vast variety of restaurants, buy you just have to try the local seafood – particulary oysters – a hearty Irish stew and colcannon (made with cabbage or kale).
However, before you go, don’t miss the Guinness Storehouse, even if you don’t want to sip on the beautiful black stuff.
It’s housed in a six-storey listed building with a pint glass-shaped atrium, and here you can learn about the history of Ireland’s most recognisable brand and explore the company’s famously imaginative marketing, with the tour ending with a complimentary pint, best enjoyed in the Gravity Bar at the top of the building, with it 360-degree window offering spectacular views.