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Weekend breaks in Belfast typically start in the very same manner as they do anywhere else on the planet: with a coffee! Grab your first caffeine fix at Established Coffee (54 Hill Street) and after fuelling up, let the sightseeing begin.
Focus your initial efforts on the Cathedral Quarter. Though predominantly known as a trendy dining and nightlife neighbourhood, this part of town has also got lots to entertain during daylight hours.
Check out Belfast Cathedral (Donegall Street), which features an eye-catching 150,000-piece mosaic, and the Metropolitan Arts Centre (aka MAC, 10 Exchange Street). Good news for those hoping for a cheap Belfast city break: the cathedral costs just £5 per adult, while the art-filled galleries of MAC are free.
If you’ve come to Belfast for a weekend break, you’re in luck. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the only days when Belfast’s gorgeous Victorian St George’s Market (corner of Oxford and May streets) opens its doors to sell tasty food, antiques and arts and crafts.
After an on-the-go lunch here, it’s time to get political during a tour of Belfast’s mural-dotted Peace Walls, which divide the Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods and serve as a sober reminder of the city’s troubled past.
Return to the Cathedral Quarter after dark to experience Belfast’s hip and happening side. For dinner, eat at Salt Bistro (St Anne's Square), an intimate little restaurant that serves up local produce with a continental twist.
After, head to the Dirty Onion (3 Hill Street) for craft beers amid chic clientele. Or, if you want a more classic Irish pub experience, The Duke of York (7-11 Commercial Court).
On a weekend break to Belfast, you can’t afford to let a hangover slow you down, so nip your booze-fuelled queasiness in the bud with a stomach-settling Ulster fry at Maggie May’s (50 Botanic Avenue).
Afterwards, take a detour into the nearby Belfast Botanic Gardens (College Park, Botanic Avenue) for a fresh air fix in floral surroundings.
Now is the time to visit what is undoubtedly Belfast’s superstar attraction: Titanic Belfast (1 Olympic Way, Queens Road). Having opened in 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the ship’s sinking, this state-of-the-art museum features captivating exhibits, including personal stories, projections and a thrilling ride that takes participants through a recreation of the shipyard where the ill-fated liner was built.
Toast the end of your cheap city break in Belfast with a pint at the city’s most famous bar: Crown Liquor Saloon (46 Great Victoria Street), an atmospheric Victorian watering hole complete with stained glass, tile mosaics, decorative carvings and gas lamps.
Arrive early to stake out a seat in one of the cosy snugs; they’re the perfect place for sipping on a creamy pint of the black stuff.