Surprising murals and caramel squares – why Belfast should be your next city break

There has always been art on the streets of Belfast. The political murals on gable walls in nationalist and unionist neighborhoods are famous around the world, and art has often offered a way to bring people together and create an alternative view of the city that was never just the stereotype of bombed-out buildings and armed soldiers before the peace accords of 1998

Think about it as you sit on a caramel square in the Linen Hall Library café and gaze at the political posters that span several floors of the stairwell.

Established in 1788 in a former linen warehouse, Linen Hall is the oldest library in Belfast. Not only does it have a large collection of books and cozy places to read them, it also hosts regular exhibitions, events and tours, and houses the definitive archive of the riots.

“The words Linen Hall Library alone represent not just books, but better hopes for the way we live,” said poet and former patron Seamus Heaney.


Belfast’s Linen Hall Library. Photo: Tourism Ireland / Tony Pleavin

And its Caramel Squares are the best in Belfast, says author Jan Carson, whose latest novel The Raptureswas released earlier this year.

“I should know, I’ve tried most of them,” she tells me. “I have a soft spot for the linen hall. Not only was it the jewel in the crown of Belfast’s literary landscape, it was also one of the first places I read my work publicly, and wonderful lectures and readings still take place.”

Alongside the famous political murals, rabbit and RuPaul paintings are just as common on the streets these days as artists travel from all over the world to make their mark on the city. Follow a handy guide from VisitBelfast or join a two-hour walking tour every Sunday seedhead art. Political mural tours are still available – let the ferry take you around black cab or go on a hike Experience Belfast for an insight into the city’s broader history and iconic sights.


Walking Tour of Seedhead Arts Street Art, Belfast, Photo: Tourism Northern Ireland / Donal Maloney

I spent a very enjoyable hour tracking down art in the streets around St Anne’s Cathedral, from Dan Kitchener’s urban streetscape to Conor Harrington’s men dueling over a convoy of garbage cans. The ‘Cathedral Quarter’ is home to many quirky restaurants, bars and venues Late Night Art Belfast takes place on the first Thursday of every month when over a dozen local galleries open their doors until 9pm.

Alongside the famous political murals, rabbit and RuPaul paintings are just as common on the streets these days

Among them is Belfast Exposed, founded in 1983 by a group of photographers and activists to challenge negative media portrayals of the city. It is not only a gallery, but also a training center, workshop and event location with strong local ties and a regularly changing program.

The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) across the street is a chic gallery and theater space, and its mezzanine cafe is a stylish lunch spot. I’ll have a pint at John Hewitt on Donegall Street, one of the best pubs in Belfast where your money goes to charity so you can drink guilt-free. Named after the famous Belfast socialist poet, it is owned by the Belfast Unemployment Center and was Northern Ireland’s first social enterprise bar. It is now operated by the community cooperative Boundary Brewing in East Belfast.


The Duke of York in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast

Around the corner down a light-filled lane is the Duke of York, another great pub with an arty vibe, or grab a drink in the Green Room at the Black Box arts centre. Enter the artistic courtyard of the Dark Horse on Hill Street, or step inside to enjoy the elegant dark wood interiors game of Thrones-like decor. Enjoy drinks nearby with a straight up burger from Bunsen Burgers or at Pizza Punks, where you can have as many toppings as you like at no extra charge.

I even buy some art at St George’s Market, a print of John Hewitt by Belfast artist Danielle Morgan, who also shows me the tea towels the Queen bought when she visited in 2016 (printed with Georgian doors and the Queen’s University if it was you). wonder). The market is a light-filled Victorian brick building that sells art, antiques, fashion and food every Friday through Sunday on East Bridge Street near the river.

From here it’s a nice walk down to the Ulster Museum in the Botanic Gardens with its history, science and art collections, including one that is 87 meters long game of Thrones Tapestry and the wonderful Lavery Room. Named after Belfast artist Sir John Lavery, it is a favorite spot of Belfast author Lucy Caldwell and is featured in her excellent novel The Belfast Blitz Nowadays.

A famous local writer, his ties to Belfast are often overlooked, but you can stand next to his statue in East Belfast and peer into the magical wardrobe he created. You’ll also find out Aslan, the White Witch, Mr. Tumnus and other characters The chronicles of Narnia at CS Lewis Square, honoring the famous author and theologian who was born and raised in the city.

Cozy and traditional, it looks like not much has changed at Maddens in the last 50 years

Drive along the Antrim Coast Road to see Dunluce Castle, believed to be the inspiration for Narnia’s Cair Paravel, and a short drive from the 50-million-year-old Giant’s Causeway, where 40,000 basalt columns rise dramatically from the sea.

Jonathan Swift wrote his first books while living in Antrim and as locals will tell you he found inspiration for them Gulliver’s Travels from Napoleon’s Nose Mountain near Belfast. Well, it looks eerily like a sleeping giant. Seeing is believing; Tour of Belfast can organize day trips from town.

I end my day at Madden’s Bar, down the road from Annatomix’s golden rabbit mural, where eight musicians spice up a frenzy of Irish tunes. Cozy and traditional, it looks like Maddens hasn’t changed much in 50 years, from the Irish-language posters to the accordions hanging from the ceiling.

Whilst it is a different Belfast, the city has retained its unique identity, a testament to its strength to endure and thrive.

Where to sleep


Wolff Grill at the Titanic Hotel Belfast

While you may not be able to stay in one indeed Museum, Hotel doesn’t get much more museum-like than the Titanic Hotel, the 19th-century red-brick building that was once the headquarters of shipbuilders Harland & Wolff.

The hotel is located in the Titanic area of ​​Belfast in the redeveloped Docklands. Stepping through the glass-fronted entrance into a stylish, black-and-white tiled foyer is a bit like stepping onto a ship.

There are 119 rooms; Mine is outfitted like a luxury cabin, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the slipway where Titanic once stood. And don’t miss a visit to the huge attraction Titanic Belfast next door. Doubles from £119 B&B;

For more things to do in Belfast, visit and Surprising murals and caramel squares – why Belfast should be your next city break

Fry Electronics Team

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