Extra Day in Belfast. What to do?
March 5, 2018 2:51 PM   Subscribe

We're doing a bit of a wirlwind honeymoon trip to both Scotland and Northern Ireland and I can't figure out what to do with the last Saturday (March 17) of the trip in Belfast. Also, it will be St. Patrick's Day. Is this a good or bad thing?

I really want to see the Giant's Causeway and other parts of Ireland, but given that we're doing Edinburgh and Inverness, it was either Belfast or Dublin. So I decided on Belfast. Our puddle jumper from Inverness gets in at 1:30, so I figure we could catch a black cab tour of the troubles that afternoon (not super romantic, but I'm really interested), do one of those coach tours of the Giant's Causeway and the Dark Hedges and other stuff on Friday, but then there's Saturday. I've read decent stuff about the Titanic Museum, but am unsure. I'm also unsure about the Ulster Museum.

The plane tickets are bought, we will be reserving hotels tonight, so please don't offer me advice like "this is dumb, go to Dublin." I'd rather of had an extra day in Edinburgh, but Flybe doesn't have flights to Belfast on Fridays.

So, what to see in Belfast beyond the Giant's Causeway and the murals from the troubles and the places where everyone got killed (please note, I will be a bit less blunt during the ride)? Of the two prominent museums, which is worth it, or should both be done in a day? Any interesting old architecture/castles/monasteries/etc. within an easy bus or car ride? Any easy nearby hikes? (Neither of us is interested in driving a car around there given how little we drive on the right side of the road in the first place.) An older AskMefi mentioned spending time at a morning market on Saturdays, is that around in March?

Also, as I said above, it's going to be St. Patrick's Day. I'm used to the NYC experience, which is avoid all the bars and hole the fuck up somewhere until the drunk revelers pass. I am hoping to avoid this sort of thing, any advice in that regard? (If the parade, etc. is actually fun and cool, that will be something to check out.)
posted by Hactar to Travel & Transportation around Belfast, Northern Ireland (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Someone more knowledgeable than I will probably chime in about Belfast, and St Patrick's Day, but I spent a very lovely weekend in a BnB in Portrush, exploring the castles and the causeway. I think it must be a bit of a rush to do it in one day from Belfast. It's a cliché, but it's a gorgeous coastline, maybe consider staying overnight? I spent the day walking the coast from Portrush to the Giants Causeway via Dunluce castle, and it was amazing. I would've made it to Dunseverick castle if I hadn't lazed over breakfast. There's a bus you can catch back.

I went to Belfast for work, and never really did the tourist thing there.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:29 PM on March 5, 2018

St. Patrick's Day is a holiday in Belfast so a lot of stuff will be closed. There will be a parade, music, drunken shenanigans etc. Its typically as safe as any big festival with lots of drinking, I wouldn't worry about sectarian violence breaking out or anything. But I'm sure it'll be rowdy so I think the suggestion to stay the night in Portrush is a good one.
posted by fshgrl at 5:02 PM on March 5, 2018

Titanic Museum is excellent and does appear to be open on St. Patrick's Day. Another option is to use the first day to go to Dublin and experience that and St. Patrick's day to do the Causeway.
As well as being a bit less blunt on the ride, maybe be a bit less blunt in posts where you're asking for advice from people who know the area.
posted by Iteki at 1:29 AM on March 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know many people who have been to the Titanic Museum and they all had good things to say about it. The Ulster Museum has its virtues but is probably not worth your limited time.

If you get the weather for it, maybe take a hike up Cave Hill from where you can see the whole city. Not sure if it that qualifies as an "easy" hike though.

I don't think I've ever spent St Patrick's Day in Belfast but it certainly gets messy! Mostly in a fun way but not exclusively so. Definitely steer clear of the area around Queen's University to the south of the city centre, where every year the students of Belfast misbehave (see here). The city centre itself may be OK; I don't know.

St George's Market is open on St Patrick's Day and is a good place to get a bite to eat and sample the atmosphere.
posted by EtTuHealy at 6:47 AM on March 6, 2018

You could spend March 15th in Belfast, then take a bus the Antrim coast on the 16th, stay somewhere up there and take the bus back on the 17th. The views from the coast are wonderful. If you go with a single day tour, get one that stops at Carrick-a-Rede bridge as well. Some include the Bushmills Distillery, too.

We did one day in Belfast proper and did both the Titanic Museum and took a black cab tour. I think those are both half day activities. You can probably fit in the Ulster museum since you have 3 days.
posted by soelo at 8:14 PM on March 6, 2018

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