It re­ally is a cap­i­tal idea

The rea­sons why Belfast has been named world’s best place to visit

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - TRAVEL -

Whether you’ve been to Belfast lately or not, there is no doubt­ing it has be­come a vi­brant city break des­ti­na­tion with plenty to see and do. Top class at­trac­tions abound, there is a fan­tas­tic foodie scene, cool pubs and clubs light up the streets and the city is com­pact enough to get from place to place eas­ily. The dark nights of late au­tumn are the per­fect time to take some time to­gether to dis­cover — or re­dis­cover — the en­er­getic city that Lonely Planet named the best place in the world to visit in 2018.

One of the se­crets to hav­ing a great city break is choos­ing a good ho­tel and, with a wealth of new ad­di­tions to Belfast’s ac­com­mo­da­tion stock, the op­tions are ex­cel­lent. Go with one of the most re­cent, the lux­ury Grand Cen­tral Ho­tel, stand­ing tall in Bed­ford Street op­po­site the Ul­ster Hall. With 23 floors, 300 rooms and three restau­rants, the Grand Cen­tral im­presses with a fu­sion of glam­our, grandeur and a uniquely Belfast spirit.

All rooms and suites are con­tem­po­rary in de­sign with state-of-the-art fin­ishes. The bar and restau­rant choices range from the chic Grand Café on the ground floor to the de­sign-led Sea­horse Bar and Restau­rant over­look­ing Bed­ford Street. But the real star is The Ob­ser­va­tory, lo­cated sky-high on the 23rd floor. Re­lax in this small plates cock­tail lounge and be blown away by the spec­tac­u­lar views all across the city.

Once set­tled in, North­ern Ire­land’s cap­i­tal is your oyster. Re­lax, shop to your heart’s con­tent or even take a gen­tle walk in the path­ways of the sur­round­ing Belfast hills for amaz­ing views of the city and lough be­low. You could also take a trip around the land­marks in au­then­tic Belfast style on a Black Taxi tour, tour the City Hall or head to the Ul­ster Mu­seum or Crum­lin Road Gaol. Sign­ing up for a food tour is an­other op­tion, as is wan­der­ing around St Ge­orge’s mar­ket — a hive of food, craft and en­ter­tain­ment.

Belfast’s food scene has never been stronger and one of its stand-out in­dul­gences is the Miche­lin-starred Ox restau­rant. This fine din­ing des­ti­na­tion on Ox­ford Street was also re­cently named Ire­land’s Restau­rant of the Year by Food & Wine Mag­a­zine. Eat su­perbly, and dis­cover new depths of sea­sonal flavours, tex­tures and en­joy­ment. The east of the city of­fers self-guided trails fea­tur­ing three of the area’s most fa­mous sons — leg­endary singer-song­writer Van Mor­ri­son, foot­ball hero Ge­orge Best and Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia nov­el­ist CS Lewis. Lit­er­ary fans should look also out for the CS Lewis Fes­ti­val (to­day COS­MOPOLI­TAN CITY:

For a con­tem­po­rary cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence, head to the MAC in the Cathe­dral Quar­ter. The arts venue’s must-see MAC In­ter­na­tional 2018 ex­hi­bi­tion starts on Novem­ber 9, pre­sent­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional art from across the world. Be wowed and be in­spired by the am­bi­tious pieces from the 13 artists short­listed for this year’s MAC In­ter­na­tional prize. The ex­hi­bi­tion will in­clude pho­tog­ra­phy, film, in­stal­la­tion, sculp­ture and draw­ing,

Your city break must in­clude a ven­ture into the trendy Ti­tanic Quar­ter. It’s cen­tre­piece, the in­cred­i­ble Ti­tanic Belfast, tells the story of the world’s most fa­mous ship right at un­til Novem­ber 7), when venues across the city will be filled with magic and imag­i­na­tion in a se­ries of walks, talks, vis­ual art, mu­sic, the­atre, film screen­ings, faith and well­be­ing events. Soak up a tra­di­tional mu­sic ses­sion in one of the great beer gar­dens in the Cathe­dral Quar­ter home to some of the best nightlife in Belfast and buzzing with ho­tels, restau­rants and in­ter­est­ing street art. This his­toric part of the city has evolved from the place where she was launched over 100 years ago. Dis­cover the ship­yard, travel to the depths of the ocean and see recre­ations of the cab­ins and much more.

In the his­tory-laden quays, docks and river­side of Ti­tanic Quar­ter you’ll also find the Ti­tanic Pump House and Dock, the float­ing mu­se­ums of SS No­madic, which fer­ried pas­sen­gers to Ti­tanic, and the amaz­ing HMS Caro­line, the last sur­vivor of the Bat­tle of Jut­land in First World War.

Fi­nally, take a stroll down the Ti­tanic Slip­ways. This beau­ti­ful pub­lic plaza is a lovely place to spend a lit­tle time to­gether. an old trade and ware­hous­ing dis­trict to a bustling des­ti­na­tion with im­pres­sive en­ter­tain­ment, foodie, cul­ture and arts scenes. Take in the coolest game in town at the Friend­ship Four ice-hockey tour­na­ment on the US Thanks­giv­ing week­end (Novem­ber 23-24). This at­mo­spheric face-off in the SSE Arena sees the next gen­er­a­tion of world ice-hockey stars from four US Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion teams com­pete for the cov­eted Belpot Tro­phy. A great night out, even if the you know noth­ing about the game.

(clock­wise from main) the MAC arts venue in the Cathe­dral Quar­ter, a bed­room in Bed­ford Street’s 23-storey Grand Cen­tral Ho­tel and a Belfast Black Taxi Tour

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