Summer Sundays: City Centre
A great day in the centre of a great town
Prepare for an action packed day with a hearty breakfast at the chic Ten Square Hotel by City Hall (10 Donegall Square South, tel: 028 9024 1001, www.tensquare.co.uk) between 8am and 10am before heading to the Belfast Welcome Centre (tel: 028 9024 6609, www.gotobelfast.com) around the corner at 47 Donegall Place to book your place on the various tours available. Read on for your choice.
Start off with the imposing Crumlin Road Gaol Tour at 11.15am where one wing has been restored to its authentic Victorian state and you can see where those sentenced to death were hung. Designed by Sir Charles Lanyon it’s one of the most impressive 19th century buildings in Ireland. Last tour starts 3.45pm.
Belfast has a fascinating Christian heritage with many churches, both Protestant and Catholic, worth a visit. Not least of these is St Malachy’s Church at 24 Alfred Street (tel: 028 9032 1713), which is famous for its fan-vaulted ceiling and Tudor-style exterior. Best time to visit is between 12.30pm and 3.30pm (Masses at 11.30am and 5pm).
You simply can’t beat freshly caught Northern Irish seafood and there’s no better place to enjoy it than the Mourne Seafood Bar at 34 – 36 Bank Street, tel: 028 9024 8544. Indulge with a glass of wine and a plate of oysters alfresco. It’s open 1pm to 6pm but there’s no booking.
There’s a host of fantastic tours to choose from this afternoon (book at the Welcome Centre). Here’s just three, all beginning at 2pm. Journey to the heart of the Titanic legend with the 75-minute Lagan Boat Company (tel: 028 9033 0844, mobile 07718 910423, www.laganboatcompany.com) tour which take you by boat to the old Harland & Wolff shipyard, where you can see the various locations where the world’s most famous ship was designed, built and launched (they also have tours at 12.30pm and 3.30pm). There’s also a host of walking and bus Titanic tours to choose from, ask at the Welcome Centre.
Narnian fan? Then you’ll prefer the acclaimed two-hour CS Lewis Bus Tour, leaving the Linenhall Library (opposite City Hall) at 2pm and taking you to all the key locations of CS Lewis’s Belfast childhood, including the family home and the church where he was baptised by his grandfather.
And if that isn’t too much choice already, you could also make for the Ulster Hall to enjoy its exhibition and pick up the Belfast Music Tour that takes you to the heart of the city’s amazing rock story. Starting with live music at the Ulster Hall at 2pm, it takes you to sites related to many local legends, from Van Morrison and Stiff Little Fingers to Snow Patrol.
When in Belfast you should really experience the Crown liquor Saloon (46 Great Victoria Street, tel: 028 9024 3187, www.crownbar.com), open 12.30pm to 10pm) and maybe enjoy a few oysters with your pint at the world’s most beautiful Victorian pub.
Just down the road is one of Northern Ireland’s finest restaurants, owned by TV chef Paul Rankin, the funky Cayenne (7 Ascot House, Shaftesbury Square, tel: 028 9033 1532, last orders 8.45pm), another great Belfast experience. Speaking of which, Belfast’s most historic pub, Kelly's Cellars (30 Bank Street, tel: 028 9032 4835) is renowned for its cracking sessions of Irish traditional music beginning at 8pm.
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