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Christmas in Belfast: Why this is the perfect city break

© Supplied by ShutterstockBelfast city centre looking up to City Halls.
Belfast city centre is stunning at night time.

Are you looking for the perfect festive city break? You probably want somewhere that offers great shopping, good food, fun events and an extra helping of seasonal cheer.

Well Belfast could be the perfect option for you. With Christmas markets, spectacular displays, great shows, designer shops and amazing international cuisine, it really has it all.

Even better, it’s only a bus trip away.

So what’s the best way to spend a Christmas break in Belfast?

Build your ideal Christmas break in Belfast

View from hills looking down on Belfast. © Supplied by Shutterstock
Could Belfast be your next city break destination.

First off, Glasgow to Belfast is not a long journey – that means you can feel like you’ve had a proper getaway, without all the jetlag that comes with an international holiday.

But the best thing is, Belfast really does have something for everyone. In fact, choosing what to do might be the only tricky part.

So, to help, we asked Belfast local Eve McStravick, who works for HANNON Coach, for her recommendations for spending a festive 48 hours in Belfast. Here are her top tips.

What to do for 48 hours in Belfast

Getting from Glasgow to Belfast

For a short trip, how you travel will make a difference – you want to get from A to B with minimal stress, so you’re in the mood to hit the ground running once you arrive.

When travelling from Glasgow to Belfast, HANNON Coach is an ideal option. The direct-through coach and sail service will take you from Buchanan Bus Station into the heart of Belfast, and the ferry is all taken care of too, as HANNON Coach pre-books its passengers in. You won’t have to worry about anything from the moment you step on board!

Day one in Belfast (arrival day)

View across water to Titanic Belfast. © Supplied by Shutterstock
View of Titanic Belfast, an unmissable attraction in the city.

With HANNON Coach, you can leave Glasgow at 08:30 and arrive at Europa Buscentre at around 14:30. Once you’ve checked into your hotel and dropped off your bags, you’ll have a few hours in the afternoon to find your bearings.

That’s the perfect amount of time to squeeze in one of Eve’s must-visit spots, before you head out for dinner and drinks: Titanic Belfast. Through interactive galleries, you’ll learn more about the history of this tragic voyage and its roots in Belfast, where the ship was designed, built and launched.

Reminder: you’ll need to book tickets for Titanic Belfast online in advance.

Day two of Christmas in Belfast

Christmas stall gifts. © Supplied by Shutterstock
Browsing Christmas Market stalls is a great way to get in the festive spirit.


Day two will give you a whole 24 hours in Belfast to play with. Now’s the time to really get yourself into the seasonal spirit.

First stop has to be the Christmas Market. This festive extravaganza in the heart of the city boasts a huge range of food stalls serving up delights from all around the world alongside handcrafted goods and bespoke artisan products.

You can enjoy hog roasts, tasty cheeses and delicious chocolates, all washed down with a mug of Glühwein. If you’ve got the kids with you then why not pay Santa’s Grotto a visit, jump on the vintage carousel or enjoy the thrill of the helter skelter?

After that it’s off to the shops to stock up on pressies or maybe treat yourself to something special.  You can do all the Christmas shopping you want in Victoria Square with its mixture of designer and high-street stores, right in the heart of Belfast city centre. While you’re there, be sure to check out its viewing platform The Dome, which offers panoramic views of the city. Castle Court is another must-visit destination for shopaholics with its range of fantastic stores and its own cinema.

Once you’ve filled your bags to the brim – and remember luggage goes free with HANNON Coach – it’s time to grab a bite to eat and what could be more Christmassy than a festive afternoon tea? The city’s Merchant and Grand Central Hotels both offer a seasonal menu and you can even get a glass of bubbly to add to the good cheer.

Night time

Now you’re well and truly in the Christmas mood, but there’s still something missing if you want to have that full experience. That’s right, a pantomime. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are coming to Belfast’s Grand Opera House this winter. Oh, yes, they are. Pop along to find out who’s the fairest of them all.

So you’ve taken in a show, but the night’s not over yet. There’s still time to enjoy the Christmas lights at Belfast City Halls. The city centre landmark looks amazing with these spectacular illuminations and you can pay another visit to the Christmas Market which sits in its shadow.

Day three of Christmas in Belfast (departure day)

Local market stall displaying freshly made bread. © Shutterstock / Serge Cornu
Sample local produce at St George’s Market.

With HANNON Coach, you can depart from Europa Buscentre at 14:30. When it comes to spending the last morning away in any city, there’s really only one thing for it – brunch! There are lots of great eateries to choose from.

Eve also recommends a visit to St George’s Market if you’re in Belfast for a weekend (it’s only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday). One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, it’s a great way to sample local produce, enjoy live music from local bands and discover local arts and crafts specialists.

Make sure you give yourself time to sit back with a coffee, soaking up the sounds, smells and lively atmosphere. Eve adds: “I’m always tempted to pick up a box of homemade buns from St George’s Market!”

Other things to do for Christmas in Belfast

Palm House in Belfast Botanic Gardens. © Shutterstock / Henryk Sadura
The Botanic Gardens in Belfast.

There are lots of other things to do during 48 hours in Belfast, including:

  • Take your camera and enjoy the stunning views from Cave Hill Country Park, which offers a playground, a visitor centre, walking trails and archaeological sites, including caves and Belfast Castle.
  • Did you know Crumlin Road Gaol is said to be haunted? Find out more with a visit!
  • Learn more about Belfast’s history with a guided taxi tour.
  • Visit the Botanic Gardens with its striking glasshouse and impressive collection of beautiful plant life, including some of the oldest seed plants around in The Tropical Ravine.

Book your travel from Glasgow to Belfast

So what are you waiting for? Book your HANNON Coach tickets and enjoy a festive 48 hours in Belfast.

Tickets from Glasgow to Belfast Europa Buscentre cost £44 each way, coach and sail, and bags go free.

Find out more about travelling from Glasgow to Belfast with HANNON Coach and book your next city break now.