Belfast in Northern Ireland has gained quite a reputation as one of the friendliest places to visit in Europe, and it’s true.
The city is also a creative melting pot where Game of Thrones was dreamt up and where you can find some of the best street art in the world.
Alongside its heritage of linen, shipbuilding and ropemaking, modern-day Belfast has become a must-visit location for great food and great craic (the fun kind).
Multidisciplinary designer Karishma Kusurkar has lived in Belfast most of her life and co-founded Belfast Design Week, an annual design festival that takes place this November. If you know Karishma, you’ll know she loves finding out what’s going on in her home city and that she talks to a lot of local creatives, movers and shakers.
Karishma welcomes you to Belfast with a curated list of how to spend your time.
Brunch like a king
To kick off your day, start out at The Pocket, the home of the most delicious brunches. The coconut soaked chia seeds dish is a weekday and weekend staple for the sunny seasons ahead. The chia seeds are soaked overnight in coconut milk then topped with ginger-infused mango, coconut cream and turmeric crumb. In other words, yum.
Plus, its ever-changing weekend specials have included apple pie pancakes as well as chive and cheddar waffles. And its coffees are from 3fe, one of the best roasters in Ireland and if coffee is not your thing, check out its tasty prana chai.
Art and architecture in the Queen’s Quarter
Across the road from The Pocket is Queen’s University’s Lanyon Building built in the 19th century and modelled on Gothic and Tudor architecture. Walk around the campus and pop into The Naughton Gallery which features different contemporary art exhibitions from local and international artists throughout the year.
Next, take a short stroll to the Ulster Museum and check out the Games of Thrones Tapestry, a 77m hand-embroidered Bayeux-style Tapestry depicting episodes from the popular TV series, and look out for the cheeky messages, too.
The Ulster Museum is located in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Although Belfast isn’t known for outstanding weather, you can soak in the tropical heat and see some amazing plants in the newly refurbished Tropical Ravine. The nearby Palm House is full of amazing cacti and flowers and art students often come here to fill their sketch-pads with still life.
Fusion food at its best
Belfast has become a great place for food lovers over the past few years and some of the latest food offerings include fusion food. If you're after a lovely fusion lunch, travel down to Yugo where you should try the Crispy Pork Dumplings and sip on gorgeous cocktails or a kombucha drink.
If you’re a vegetarian, Jumon is a total treat for you. You’ll find a series of mysterious but delicious dishes on the menu inspired by places all over South East Asia.
Once you have eaten to your heart’s content, eat some more! Grab some Donuts from OH Donuts! and get that second coffee as well. The shop has some merchandise for purchase too including local magazine Turf & Grain and some OH! Branded goods.
Souvenirs can be beautiful too!
If you’re fed up of typical tourist souvenirs and want something authentically from Belfast, check out Studio Souk where over 85 makers sell their wares.
If you love vintage, pop in and pick up something unique at Young Savage where you’ll find everything from records and memorabilia to second-hand clothes.
Mike’s Fancy Cheese has recently opened a store in Belfast city centre and is a must-visit for cheese aficionados – its most famous cheese being a raw-milk blue cheese called Young Buck.
If you’d like to pick up something special for the home, then there’s nowhere better than Maven on the Lisburn Road where sisters Patricia and Catherine have curated beautiful pieces from all over Europe including a special collection of Irish products.
Local food at its best
For tasty food sourced locally, Belfast has some great offerings. Mourne Seafood is the go-to menu for seafood lovers – check out its mussels and oysters in particular and combine it with a stout! Two tasting menus worth trying are by Six by Nico based on a different theme every couple of months and Michelin-starred Ox Belfast. You can also eat on a boat in Belfast at Holohan’s On The Barge in a lovely intimate setting and their 'boxtys' (pancakes) are scrumptious.
For all the music lovers
Belfast is a creative and musical city and the best time to check out the music scene is usually at night in the lively Cathedral Quarter. The John Hewitt is a traditional Belfast pub with live music every night of the week. The Black Box Belfast and the Oh Yeah Music Centre put on an eclectic array of gigs and music nights by local and international musicians.
The Sunflower Bar, meanwhile, is a great place to hear folk and traditional music in a cosy setting and whilst you’re there, get a craft beer from Boundary, one of Belfast’s finest breweries. If you are still hungry after that, they do a fabulous woodfired pizza.