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Daytrip from Dublin: Belfast
Many people are surprised to learn just how close Belfast is to Dublin. Although it’s a different country, a different currency, and a different accent, it is easy for travelers to take a day away from Dublin to see the sites of Belfast. The ‘Troubles’ are now firmly in the past and once again Belfast is a safe city to visit where visitors don’t even have to worry about crossing a border. Climb aboard the train or the bus and in about 2 hours, you will be exploring the streets of Belfast!
The city is so close to Dublin that it has been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time now. Yesterday I finally bit the bullet, asked a friend from Northern Ireland to meet me and be my tour guide, and I climbed aboard a morning train to Belfast. I always think trains are the more romantic way to travel, so although the bus ticket is a little more affordable, I splurged on a train ticket. It is possible to book your tickets online ahead of time, and you can even choose your seat and see if upgrading to first class is within your budget. Trains leave from Connolly Station, right in the center of Dublin, and arrive at Belfast Central.
This daytrip is worthwhile just for the train journey. Slowly chugging through the northside of Dublin, across waterways, and finally out into the Irish countryside, the views out the train window are what you see in films set in Ireland. Rolling hills, farms separated by rock walls, and grazing sheep are the scenery all the way to Belfast. With only a few stops, the 2-hour ride passed quickly and we were pulling into Belfast Central.
Luckily, a friend was waiting for me at the station and I didn’t even need to bring a map. We started out with lunch in the Cathedral Quarter, visited Queens University, the Botanical Gardens, and City Hall. From historic sites such as the Belfast Cathedral to taking an elevator to the top of the dome at Victoria Square Shopping Centre for a panoramic view of the city, my day was full of strolling around and getting an introduction to this interesting and regenerating city.
After a quick drink in a cozy bar called Apartment overlooking City Hall, we walked around the corner to one of the coolest restaurants I’ve seen in a long time. The vibe was almost downtown New York City at ‘Made in Belfast’ with its eclectic decor and comfortable furniture. Beyond the atmosphere, the food was excellent. I chose the daily special, a honey and lavender glazed half-roasted chicken served with potato wedges, homemade gravy, and a salad. Affordable glasses of wine gave the whole evening a budget spin. Compared to the expensive city of Dublin, Belfast seems surprisingly affordable.
Like visiting any great place, I wasn’t ready to leave when it was train time. It is easy to take a trip up to Belfast for a day, but you might want to stay a bit longer once you’ve arrived. Affordable hotels and bed & breakfasts make staying for a night or two simple.
Address: Connolly Train Station, Amiens Street, Dublin 1. (map)
Photo Credit: Jessica Colley
ADublin Connolly railway stationConnolly Station, Amiens Street, Dublin 1, North City Centre, DUBLIN 1, Co. Dublin, IrelandView Details and Book