For those who do not know–Belfast is most renowned for being the place where the shipyard that built the Titanic is located and is a destination to be discovered, experienced and enjoyed. The city which was formerly at its key during the Industrial Revolution is a bourgeoning capital with its amiable backstreets and cobblestoned streets. Text and Photographs by Rupali Dean

Belfast

There is a lot one can do here in Belfast; think of a day trip to the Irish legend, Giant’s Causeway — a UNESCO World Heritage Site right next door, and of course, the titanic quarters — a museum created in reminiscence of RMS Titanic, which sank on its first journey from Belfast in 1912, deserves a visit! Or, perhaps a Game of Thrones’ tour? People here are friendly and the city has a great vibe oozing art and music from all corners. It is as authentic as you can get. Think waking up to Irish music, having a fry up of sausages, beans and eggs every day!

THE MARKET

Belfast

As I poke my fork and knife at the delicious Irish breakfast, I listened to my guide talk about St George’s Market being one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. Built between 1890 and 1896, the market was named ‘UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014’ by the National Association of British Market Authorities. The excitement for the trip made me gulp down my coffee, and because I am conscious of missing out on something I leave my excellent sourdough bread unfinished.

Belfast

Open only on Friday through Sunday, on offer is a vast variety of local and specialty foods counting cheese, meat and fish, coffee beans, tapas, and organic products. St. George’s lingers to collect accolades. Interestingly, in their citation, the jury said that the market is “a yardstick for brilliance in providing a terminus market.”

Address: 12-20 East Bridge Street, Belfast BT1 3NQ

PUB HOPPING

It is not difficult to find an Irish pub, anywhere in the world, and to visit one in the origin country is the greatest experience ever. Pub hopping with a generous amount of old-style Irish music and Gaelic words is the best way to experience the city’s vivacious night life. Belfast offers an eclectic mix of the old and the new. For a pint of beer, I visit the oldest Irish Pub in Belfast — the historic Kelly’s Cellars in Bank Square! And, when I am done, I go pub hopping at these great places at the oldest part of the city aka Cathedral Quarter, which has experienced a rebirth over the earlier two decades with several pubs, clubs and hotels now trading in the area.

Belfast

Creative education and cultural prospects abound in the Quarter thanks to the many arts and cultural groups established in the locale. The Irish are also extremely proud of their whiskey and call it the water of life. Irish monks are ascribed with the roots of this drink, so when in Belfast, raising a toast is imperative. Located near The Merchant Hotel, down the cobbles of Hill Street at the soul of Belfast’s flourishing Cathedral Quarter is Friend At Hand and it demands your attention. I go for a tasting and come out impressed!

Belfast

You can also check out: Babel;  The Cloth Ear; The Dirty OnionThe National Grand; Sixty6; The Spaniard; The Harp; The John Hewitt; White’s Tavern; and McHugh’s

HANDCRAFTED GIN

Belfast

I also checked out Rademon Estate Distillery the next day and learnt that Shortcross Gin is the first gin to be distilled and bottled in Northern Ireland. A citric classic, Shortcross uses Northern Ireland’s plentiful native produce as botanicals: apples from Orchard County (Armagh) and wild Irish clover scavenged from the distillers’ garden. Shortcross has to be one of the best I have ever tasted; it has an inimitable twist, displaying floral meadow notes with green, wet berries and citric elder. A traditional style of gin, makes an outstanding gin and tonic but is also brilliant on its own over ice. I make a mental note to buy it on my way out of the country and turn my attention back to the guide. Sláinte!

Address: Church Rd, Crossgar, Downpatrick BT30 9HR T. +44 (0) 28 4483 0001

Belfast

READY RECKONER

BEST WAY TO REACH

A two and half hours’ drive from Dublin. By rail, by coach.

BEST PLACE TO STAY

Grand Central Hotel Belfast, 9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7FF T: +44 (0) 28 9023 1066

Related: Top 6 Adventure Ideas in Ireland