The Best of Breckenridge, Colorado

A well known part of Colorado’s ski country, Breckenridge, or Breck as the locals call it, is a mountain town you’ve probably heard of. But there’s a lot more to do in Breckenridge than just skiing. It’s packed with an interesting history, and no matter what season it is, Breck will keep you entertained!

Established back in the 1850s, gold was found along the Blue River and Breckenridge began as a gold rush base camp. This was during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, and miners came looking for the “Blue River Diggins.” At this time, the town was actually named Breckinridge after Vice President John Breckinridge. The town was attempting to earn a post office because of this — and they did! But when John became a Confederate Brigadier General in the Civil War, the town changed the name to Breckenridge in 1861 to show their lack of support.

For accommodations, you can find plenty of Breckenridge house rentals to choose from for your visit. These luxury retreats are the perfect place to cozy up on a cold winter day, or cool down from the summer heat. Bring the whole family along or a group of friends — there’s something for everyone in Breckenridge! Kick off your trip planning with the best of Breckenridge and get ready for the ideal mountain getaway.

 

Let’s start with the obvious… Ski!

Or snowboard, whichever you prefer! Mother nature dumps an average of 366 inches of snow every year on Breckenridge. Back in 1898, it snowed for 79 days straight in Breckenridge and there was so much snow that people had to build tunnels in the snow to get around town. No matter your experience, there’s a wide range of trails for skiers and riders of all levels.

Best of Breckenridge Colorado Skiing

In 1960, the population of Breckenridge dropped to 393 people, causing concern that it would soon be a ghost town. But in December 1961, the town was revived with the opening of the Breckenridge Ski Area. This first season, nearly 17,000 skiers were recorded, and I-70 (the main highway between Denver and Breck) was not even finished yet! Fast forward to 1984, when Breckenridge became the first major ski resort in Colorado to allow snowboarding. Today, Breckenridge Ski Resort has 34 lifts spanning five peaks, and is home to the highest chairlift in North America (the Imperial Express chairlift at 12,840 feet).

Not into skiing or snowboarding? Don’t fret! Breckenridge offers plenty of other winter activities. Explore the backcountry on a snowmobile, take the kids sledding, give fat biking a try, or go fly fishing (yes, even in the winter).

 

Explore Main Street

Breckenridge Main Street - Best of Breckenridge Colorado

There are loads of shops, restaurants, bars, and more along Breckenridge’s Main Street, which isn’t surprising considering Breck is home to the largest historic district in Colorado. It may only take up a short stretch, but it’s packed with plenty to do and see for everyone in your group.

 

Go Underground at Country Boy Mine

Experience what it was like to be a Colorado gold miner with a tour of Country Boy Mine, once one of the largest and most famous gold mines in Breckenridge. Founded in 1887, the mine initially produced gold and silver. High-grade lead and zinc was later found, and was used in World War I and II. On the tour, visitors are taken 1,000 feet into the mine to really get a feel for what life was like for the miners. Country Boy Mine also offers gold panning, exhibits with old mining equipment, sliding down the 55-foot shoot that was used for bringing ore out of the mine, and burro petting.

 

Hike McCullough Gulch

This moderate hike is filled with flowing waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers, and beautiful views, and is a favorite of many locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of hikes around Breckenridge, so feel free to take your pick to fit your personal preference and skill level.

 

Get to know Breck on a tour

Main Street Best of Breckenridge Colorado

The Breckenridge Heritage Alliance runs a variety of fun tours around town. Try the Swinging Doors Saloon Tour for a behind the scenes look at the Breckenridge Distillery tasting room, the Victorian Tea Tour to enjoy Victorian tea service at the Briggle home along with a tour of the property, or Gold Panning at Lomax Gulch where you’ll get lessons on gold panning at the site of an 1860s mining operation. If you’re into spooky tales, they have a Breckenridge Haunted Tour and a Paranormal Investigation. In the summers, check out one of their hiking tours, like the Hike Through Gold Mine History or the Preston Ghost Town Hike.

 

Have a drink at Breckenridge Brewery

In 1990, Breckenridge Brewery was founded right on Main Street. At this time they were only Colorado’s third craft brewery. They opened up a second location in Denver, but moved to Littleton after they outgrew that property. Both the Breckenridge and Littleton locations are still running strong today, serving up tasty vanilla porters, agave wheats, avalanche amber ales, and much more.

 

End with another round at the Gold Pan Saloon

Gold Pan Saloon Best of Breckenridge Colorado

Right on Main Street, the Gold Pan Saloon opened in 1859 primarily to serve the miners in town. Not only does that make it the oldest bar in Breckenridge, but it’s also the oldest continuously-operated bar west of the Mississippi. If walls could talk, I think the Gold Pan Saloon would have a lot to say!

 

Regardless of what time of year you visit, the best of Breckenridge happens all year round. It’s only about two hours from Denver International Airport, so it’s easy to get there if you’re visiting from out of town. Enjoy the history, outdoors, and many activities of Breck that will keep you returning again and again!

A Canadian Weekend in Québec City

It’s a magical place, Québec City. It’s like a trip to Europe without ever leaving North America. Its quaint city streets, Québécois culture, and traditional cuisine have all the charm and history you need without crossing the pond. Don’t worry about renting a car — it’s a walkable city and Uber is readily available for any trips further out of Old Quebec. The city is predominantly French speaking, but many people also speak at least some English as well. Still, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some basic French skills! Spend the perfect weekend in Québec City with these things to do to get you started.

Explore Old Quebec

Old Quebec in Winter

Québec City is charming in the winter too!

Right in the heart of Québec City, you could spend an entire day walking the streets through this historic district. Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico, and the entire area of Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can actually walk along the top of the wall or on the path next to it for a great self-guided walking tour. If you walk the entire wall, it’s 4.6 km (just under 3 miles), but you can also choose to just walk a portion of it. For a guided tour, this Québec City walking tour will give you the complete details on the highlights of the city, or if you’re hungry give this small group food tour a try.

Discover the Huron-Wendat Nation at Wendake

Huron-Wendat Nation at Wendake Québec City

This was one of my favorite things to do when spending a weekend in Québec City. To spread awareness and respect for the Huron-Wendat Nation, the Huron Traditional Site was built to re-create a typical village in Wendake where Huron-Wendat ancestors moved in 1697. This site is called Onhoüa Chetek8e, which means “from yesterday to today.” Guided tours are led by an aboriginal guide who will share details on the traditional way of life for the Huron-Wendat people and what their lifestyle looks like today. The tour will take you into the smokehouse and drying tent to learn about food preservation methods, the sweat lodge to learn about traditional purification techniques (this is where their ancestors would go to meditate and make important decisions), and will highlight other important parts of their history and culture.

Visitors will also walk through the Annonchia longhouse, which is the traditional Huron dwelling. People lived in longhouses from 500 AD all the way until the mid-1700s. This means that the Huron-Wendats never actually lived in teepees — other aboriginal people from different tribes did live in teepees, and the tour also covers how these tribes differ from each other.

Annonchia longhouse Wendake Quebec City

Inside the longhouse

I especially loved learning about the Huron-Wendat women, as they played an essential role in their society. A clan mother was selected from the older women and she was in charge of all parts of domestic life — everything from distributing the food to appointing the Nation’s political leaders.

Today, there are just over 3,000 people in the Huron-Wendat Nation, and about half of those still live in Wendake. They nearly lost their language, but they are still thriving — their community even has their own police force and elementary school. The younger generations are turning more to the traditions of their ancestors and are keeping the culture alive and strong.

Eat a BeaverTail

BeaverTail - Weekend in Quebec City

A trip to Canada is never complete without a good BeaverTail! This fried dough in the shape of… you guessed it… a beaver tail, is a Canadian pastry that will give you your sugar fill for the week. BeaverTails are traditionally topped with cinnamon sugar and lemon, but there are plenty of other topping options to suit your preferences, like chocolate hazelnut, maple, or apple cinnamon.

And eat poutine, of course

Poutine - Weekend in Québec City

Another Canadian staple, poutine actually originated in the province of Quebec. If you haven’t heard of poutine, it is the simple combination of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy that is nothing short of amazing. Many restaurants have been getting creative in recent years and are creating their own spin on the traditional poutine, so you might as well just order it everywhere you go to test out the different variations.

Buy all the maple things

Maple in Québec City

Whatever you do on your Québec City trip, don’t leave without something maple in your luggage! To get your fix, Délices Érable & Cie will have everything you need. They sell everything from maple sugar to maple mustard to maple vinegar, plus plenty of other products I never imagined would be made with maple. There’s even a cute little maple museum upstairs where you can learn more about all that maple you’ll be purchasing. I discovered that maple products are actually good for you because they contain natural sugar, and you can use maple sugar in place of white sugar in all recipes!

Find your wellness haven at Le Monastère des Augustines

Le Monastère des Augustines - Weekend in Québec City

Now that you’re ready for a cleanse after all that sugar and gravy, spend some time at Le Monastère des Augustines to connect with the legacy of the Augustinian Sisters and focus on holistic health. The mission of Le Monastère des Augustines is to heal the bodies and souls of their guests, and to also support those caring for the sick. In 1639, this is where three sisters from the Augustinian Order established the first hospital north of Mexico in North America. The Augustinian Sisters went on to found 12 hospitals that are still a part of Quebec’s public healthcare system today. The monastery now primarily serves as a museum that features the work of the Augustinian Sisters. Throughout the museum, you’ll find artifacts from these hospitals that tell the story of the sisters caring for the sick and information that sheds light on their way of life when they lived at the monastery.

You can even book a room here to stay overnight that will take you back to the simplicity of the lives the Augustinian Sisters led. They also offer regular yoga classes and other wellness activities for the public, and they take place in a peaceful vault that was used in the past to keep food fresh. They have a restaurant right on site that serves up fresh food options that include raw and vegetarian dishes, sprouts, nuts, grains, and healthy infusions inspired by the Augustinian Sisters. Outside they have an herbal garden in the summers, and when they need to purchase anything they work exclusively with providers from Quebec as much as possible.

Spend a day out on Ile d’Orleans

Just outside of the city and across the Île d’Orléans Bridge from Beauport, the countryside beckons on this peaceful island. The size of the island is nearly as big as Manhattan, but it is home to only 7,000 inhabitants, 90% of which are famers. Throughout Île d’Orléans you’ll find adorable shops, wineries, farms, and more. Find some of my favorites below if you’re visiting on your own, or try a farm and market tour to explore the best of the island with a group.

Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orléans

Chocolaterie de l'Ile d'Orléans - Weekend in Québec City

There’s just about every kind of chocolate you can imagine at Chocolaterie de l’Ile d’Orléans, including ice cream and jumbo chocolate cows. It’s a great stop for a tasty gift or a sweet treat for yourself!

Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau

Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau - Weekend in Quebec City

Fresh from the apples they grow, Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau makes ciders, ice ciders, and sparkling ciders. They grow 10 different varieties of apples and have 3,000 apple trees.  Made from frozen apples, the Nectar de Glace ice cider is my personal favorite. They refer to it as the “drink of god,” which I think explains it perfectly. They also have lots of other apple and maple goodies here besides the cider, like the melt-in-your-mouth apple butter I took home.

Cassis Monna & Filles

Cassis Monna & Filles - Ile d’Orleans

At the core of Cassis Monna & Filles is black current — a berry rich with vitamin C and antioxidants. Black currant is perfect for l’Ile d’Orléans since it can survive the harsh winters in Quebec. Down in their wine cellar you can browse their shop and taste their wines and other black current products. Two sisters, Catherine and Anne, are the 5th generation of the Monna family and are now running the family business.

Vignoble du Mitan

Vignoble du Mitan - Weekend in Québec City

Sample some of the different wines from a variety of grapes (over 8,000 vines!) at Vignoble du Mitan with one of their tastings. The family has owned the farmland since the 17th century and founded the vineyard in 1998. They also make an ice wine if you want to continue the “ice” theme from the cider. It takes 10 times more grapes to make and they press the grapes when they are frozen, but it sure is a refreshing treat on a warm summer day looking out at the beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River and the Laurentian Forest.

La Nougaterie Québec

La Nougaterie Québec - Weekend in Quebec City

La Nougaterie Québec makes all-natural products without preservatives. If you’ve never had nougat it tastes a bit like a marshmallow (shh don’t tell the French) but a little harder, and sometimes there are other additions to the candy, like nuts or dried fruit. The nougat is made from egg whites, honey, sugar, and almonds. They have so many different kinds of nougat — like green apple, maple, salted caramel, and even piña colada — that you’re bound to find one you like.

Have dinner at L’Affaire est Ketchup

L'Affaire est Ketchup Québec City

First things first, make a reservation at L’Affaire est Ketchup. The entire restaurant probably isn’t much bigger than your own kitchen, so seating is very limited. You might as well plan to spend at least a few hours here, because the food is just that good that you’ll never want to stop eating. In fact, between me, @thecitysidewalks, and @arielpoems, we ordered every appetizer on the menu, an entree each, and 3 of their 4 dessert options.

The menu changes daily and is posted on a chalkboard hanging on the wall. It’s written in French, so the waiter reads it off in English to the whole restaurant each night. And the descriptions with the language barrier make it even better. For example, the pied blu was described as, “You take a pig and we cook it. Even the things you think you won’t like, we cook it.” The kitchen actually looks like it’s just someone’s house, but you’ll be amazed at the incredible food that comes out of it.

Also have dinner at Bello Ristorante

Bello Ristorante Québec City

If you’ve been a part of the Little Things Travel community for a while now, you’ll know I am a sucker for a good pesto pasta dish. I am happy to share that Bello Ristorante did not disappoint! I would return back here in a heartbeat on my next trip to Québec City. This is another one that gets booked up quickly, so be sure to make that reservation!

Stay at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Québec City

It would only make sense that I suggest the iconic Château Frontenac, right? Seriously, this place will make you not want to even leave the hotel. But make yourself do it, because there is SO much to see in Québec City. More than just a hotel, the Château Frontenac is a gorgeous castle overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It also happens to be the most photographed hotel in the world, and for good reason. The immaculate Château Frontenac is the star of the Québec City skyline and your luxurious stay will be well worth it. This year, 2018, is actually the celebration of the hotel’s 125th anniversary!

Terrasse Dufferin Québec City

Just alongside the Château Frontenac is Terrasse Dufferin. This boardwalk stretches along the St. Lawrence River and offers some of the most beautiful views and is simply a lovely place for a stroll. If you happen to visit in the winter, there is a toboggan run right along the boardwalk that’s a lot of fun even for the adults!

Prana Château Frontenac Québec City

Don’t forget your prAna gear on your Québec City trip! My yvonna tee was the perfect top for a day of exploring the city. Read my full prAna review for the complete scoop on my favorite outfit of the trip.

The great thing about Québec City is that what’s mentioned here only scratches the surface. This should keep you plenty busy with only a weekend in Québec City, but you can spend much more time discovering this true gem of a city.

Have you been to Québec City before? What would you add to this list of must-sees for a weekend in Québec City? 

 

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A Weekend in Québec CityA Canadian Weekend in Québec CitySpecial thanks to Québec City Tourism for hosting the Women in Travel Summit 2018 and providing complimentary tours for attendees. As always, all opinions are my own. If you have any questions about the companies or products mentioned on this page, please reach out to me and I will happily answer them.

Nepal Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Nepal Experience

Before my trip to Nepal, I scoured the internet searching for the very best Nepal travel tips, what I needed to know for my visit, and the best Nepal packing tips for women. Yet as I kept discovering, most of the information I was able to find was geared toward trekkers. But my trip was focused on the culture and wildlife of Nepal.

There were some informative gems I was glad I knew ahead of time, and some other tips I wish I would have known before visiting Nepal. I’ve compiled my top Nepal travel tips so you can be prepared and make the most of your journey, even without trekking.

When in doubt, dress conservatively

The Hindu culture is conservative, particularly for women. When you are in the large city of Kathmandu dress can be less conservative, but it’s best to be on the safe side and keep your shoulders and knees covered at all times. If you are a tank top fan like me you can still wear one, just make sure to also use a scarf to cover your shoulders.

While we’re on the topic of being respectful, be sure to point with your whole hand and not your finger. This is especially important when indicating a sacred object or place.

International Mountain Museum Pokhara - Female Packing List for Nepal

In front of the International Mountain Museum in Pokhara

Use a filtered water bottle

In most places in Nepal, the tap water is not safe for drinking. Avoid wasting plastic bottles and bring your own water filtration bottle. Plastic water bottles create a big litter problem for Nepal and many other Asian countries, so do your best to use as little plastic as possible.

After spending some time comparing the best filtered water bottles, I ended up buying the GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier which I would highly recommend. It protects against pathogens, chemicals, heavy metals, and flavor/odor so you can fill up from any water source and hydrate safely.

Don’t feed the monkeys

They may look cute, but you’re better off admiring them from afar. These adorable monkeys have a sneaky side and will grab your food, money, or anything shiny right out of your hands. They are unpredictable and may even bite at times if you appear to be a threat to any of their goodies they’ve gathered.

Cute but Sneaky Monkey - Kathmandu Nepal

The monkeys are cute but sneaky!

Know the common scams before you go

In different tourist areas in Nepal (especially temples), a local may approach you or a group of tourists and start explaining the background and history of the temple or whatever site you’re visiting. As nice as Nepalese people are, this is not one of those cases of a local being friendly. When they are done, they will then be expecting payment for their services. The best way to handle these encounters is to cut them off and simply tell them you already have a guide.

Another common scam in Nepal is either a child or a mother and child who will approach you to ask to buy some milk for their baby. They insist they don’t want your money and you can go into the store and buy the milk that they need. The store will then charge the tourist an inflated rate and the scammer will go back into the store and return the milk and share in the profits with the shop owner. In these cases, firmly decline and walk away.

Look out for anyone trying to sell you hashish (marijuana) as it is illegal and there are often undercover cops nearby. I didn’t experience this one personally, but my friend Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi did multiple times… maybe it was the beard? 🙂

These are just a few examples of tourist scams in Nepal, but don’t confuse these scams with thinking Nepal isn’t a safe place to visit. Many places around the world have their own tourist scams. While it is shady behavior, your safety is not compromised in any way. Declining their offer and not showing interest is all you need to do in most cases. Even if you fall for any of the scams, it happens even to the most experienced travelers from time to time. Take it as a lesson learned and know what to do if it happens again.

Don’t miss the temples

The temples throughout Nepal range in size, religion, and design, but they are all special, sacred places with interesting histories and meanings. keep in mind that some of the popular temples may charge an entrance fee for foreigners.  A few of the most common temples in Kathmandu include Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, and Boudhanath.

Swayambhunath Stupa - Things To Do in Kathmandu Nepal

Swayambhunath Stupa

Swayambhunath Stupa is commonly known as “Monkey Temple” due to the abundance of monkeys on site. Perched upon a hill overlooking Kathmandu valley, this Buddhist stupa is one of the oldest and most sacred religious sites in Nepal. The stupa itself is covered in gold with Buddha’s watchful eyes painted on all four sides, a symbol for him watching from all directions.

Seated along the banks of the Bagmati river, Pashupatinath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal.

As the largest stupa in Kathmandu and one of the largest in South Asia, the Boudhanath stupa is the center of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The stupa was historically a sacred site on the ancient trade route to Tibet where Tibetan merchants and traders would rest and pray for a safe journey through the Himalayas. It has remained an important place of pilgrimage and meditation both for local Nepalis and Tibetan Buddhists since 1959 when thousands of Tibetans arrived in Nepal after the Chinese invasion.

Bouddhanath Stupa - Things To Do in Kathmandu Nepal

Bouddhanath Stupa

Keep a “just in case” first aid kit

It never hurts to be prepared, and a simple first aid kit won’t take up much room in your bag. If you’ve read my other Nepal posts, you’ll know I focused entirely on the culture and wildlife of Nepal — no trekking involved. A few essential items in your travel first aid kit will have you covered for all your Nepal non-trekking adventures:

  • Bug spray – This will be especially useful at Chitwan National Park
  • Dramamine, or other motion sickness medicine
    • I like the Dramamine less drowsy formula for short flights or bumpy car rides where I want to stay awake – you’re going to thank yourself for all the long bus rides along curvy Nepalese mountain roads.
    • For longer journeys I use the original formula that doubles as a sleeping pill for me as it puts me right to sleep.
  • Vitamin C – An immune system boost is a must after being on the road for so long
  • Imodium to be on the safe side
  • Oral rehydration salts in case of dehydration
  • Probiotics – I recommend starting to take these one-week prior to departure
  • Lip moisturizer
  • Travel-sized hand sanitizer

Brace yourself for the lively chaos

The streets are always busy, filled with honking horns, chatter, and vehicles going every which way. Especially in Kathmandu, it is crowded pretty much anywhere you go. Prepare to move slowly and be surrounded by crowds on a regular basis. I was overwhelmed by the chaos at first, but as time went on it actually grew on me and I actually started to enjoy it!

Climate change has played a major role in rural communities of Nepal, with melting glaciers and disappearing water sources creating added challenges for locals in these communities. Many of them were forced to move into cities because of this, adding to the urban growth challenges. Nepal’s population has grown significantly in the past 50 years. There are also more people migrating to the cities, with 15 times more people living in cities in 2011 compared to 1960. Residents are coming up with creative solutions for the time being, but more sustainable solutions are necessary and are being worked on.

Chaotic Streets of Nepal Travel Tips

Streets of Kathmandu, Nepal

Prepare for the low air quality

The Kathmandu area in particular has very dry, dusty, polluted air with the 2 million people that live in this one city. This is another great reason to have a scarf with you at all times. Use it to protect your nose and mouth from inhaling all the dust and pollutants in the air. Don’t worry, you won’t look out of place — you’ll see many of the locals doing the same or wearing some sort of mask over their faces.

Have you visited Nepal? What Nepal travel tips would you add to this list?

 

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Nepal Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Nepal ExperienceTop Nepal Travel TipsPlease note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission that will help support this site if you make a purchase. All opinions are my own. If you have any questions about the companies or products mentioned on this page, please reach out to me and I will happily answer them. 

Best Things to do in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Although Belfast is less than half the size of Dublin, two thirds of the people of Northern Ireland live there. After suffering political violence during the Troubles, Belfast is now a peaceful city that is quickly growing and developing. With so many things to do in Belfast and the surrounding areas, now is a great time to bump Northern Ireland up on your travel list.

Northern Ireland is also known more recently for its Game of Thrones filming locations. Game of Thrones actually employs more people in Belfast than the government does. The studios where they film is right next to the Titanic Belfast Museum and is also where they stored the original iron throne. They still store some of the show’s costumes there, but the building unfortunately is not open to the public.

From restaurants to tours to museums and more, these top things to do in Belfast will lead the way for your journey through Northern Ireland.

 

Explore the Titanic Belfast Museum

Titanic Belfast Museum - Things to do in Belfast Northern Ireland

Titanic Belfast Museum

The world’s largest Titanic visitor’s experience, the Titanic Belfast Museum takes you back in time to tell the Titanic’s story from construction all the way through its devastating shipwreck and the aftermath, including accounts of the underwater discoveries of the wreck. The story is told with depth and detail using interactive exhibits using special effects and an actual ride, as well as full-scale reconstructions. Hearing firsthand accounts of what happened from survivors is incredibly sad, but it really takes you back to those moments and gives you some semblance of understanding of what the people on the ship were feeling.

The museum is located on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built. This area of Belfast is known as the Titanic Quarter. The Titanic Belfast Museum is the perfect rainy day activity. I recommend allowing at least 2-3 hours to explore all there is to see and learn in the museum.

 

Visit Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall - Things to do in Belfast Northern Ireland

Belfast City Hall

The iconic Belfast City Hall building is impressive in itself, which was completed in 1906 and is surrounded by the Titanic Memorial Gardens honoring the victims from the ship’s sinking. On special occasions, floodlights illuminate the entire exterior or the building with a particular color or combination of colors. They offer free guided tours daily to learn about the history of Belfast City Hall and there is also a visitor’s exhibition that takes you along on the journey from the city’s past to present.

 

Indulge in Italian Cuisine at Fratelli Ristorante, Pizzeria & Bar

Fratelli Belfast - Things to do in Belfast Northern Ireland

Fratelli Ristorante

Dinner at Fratelli was easily my favorite meal in the city, though I may be biased since I am a sucker for any kind of Italian food. We started off with the mini caprese and tiger prawn, rock shrimp, chili and garlic oil appetizers. For the main course, we enjoyed every last bite of the porcini mushroom ravioli and the bolognese rigatoni. We topped it all off with a bottle of Pino Nero. We concluded with two of their mini-desserts — cioccolato moose e biscotti crocanti al cioccolato and cheesecake al cioccolate bianco e pistacchio.

 

Enjoy a Gastropub-Style Lunch at Made in Belfast

Made in Belfast - Things to do in Belfast Northern Ireland

Made in Belfast

This hipster hotspot prioritizes high quality, locally sourced food and overall sustainable practices. Made in Belfast works with producers who they know really look after their animals. They have a killer baked brie and focaccia bread combo with a balsamic dipping sauce and olive tapenade that my mouth is watering just thinking about. It can get crowded for dinner, so we went for lunch instead and had no problem getting a table. Keep in mind this may limit your food options as they may not have as much availability from their menu during the day.

 

Take the Belfast Troubles Walking Tour

Where to Stay in Belfast Northern Ireland

While I didn’t take part on a walking tour, it’s something I wish I would have done after learning more from our tour guide when visiting Giant’s Causeway. The political conflict 3-hour walking tour will give you two different perspectives on the Troubles to help understand from both the Republican and Loyalist viewpoints. You’ll learn about the history of the Troubles and the significant impact they had on the city and people of Belfast.

 

Head Out on a Day Trip to Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway Day Trip - Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway

Technically this is outside of Belfast, but it’s still a worthwhile day trip! If you’re not renting a car in Northern Ireland, the best way to see Giant’s Causeway is on a guided tour. I even prefer the tour in this case, because we got a lot of background information along the journey that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. For the perfect Giant’s Causeway day trip I booked the Giant’s Causeway Full Day Tour from Belfast and had a fantastic experience. Read up on my Giant’s Causeway Day Trip for all the details!

 

Stay at the Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre

Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre - Things to do in Belfast Northern Ireland

Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre

When you visit Belfast, the Holiday Inn Belfast City Centre is a great place to stay close to the city center. You’ll find plenty to do within walking distance from the hotel, and have a welcoming place to return to at the end of the day. There’s a bar and restaurant downstairs alongside cozy fireplaces when you need to warm up after a chilly day on the town.

Do you have suggestions for the best things to do in Belfast? Share them in the comments below! 

 

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Best Things to do in Belfast Northern Ireland

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The 3 Things All Harry Potter Fans Must Do In London

When in London…. do all the Harry Potter things! Don’t get me wrong, there are an abundance of things to do in London to really get to know the culture and history of this popular hub. For a Harry Potter fan like me, there is nothing better than escaping to the wizarding world to make the most of your time in London. Get started on your magical journey with a few of my favorite Harry Potter things to do in London.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

The Making of Harry Potter WB Studio Tour London

My all-time favorite is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. This entire studio tour is dedicated to the making of Harry Potter. It goes behind the scenes into detail on the creation of the movies, complete with real sets and props and even interactive exhibits like getting to fly with a broomstick or practicing your wand skills.

Magic Broomstick WB Studio Tour London - Harry Potter Things to do in London

Don’t mind me, I’m just practicing.

Depending on how enthusiastic you are, you could spend an entire day here, so plan accordingly. I have already been twice and I would visit again in a heartbeat should the opportunity arise. In fact, I love this tour so much that I even wrote an entire post about it. Check it out for the full scoop.

Quick Tip

The studio tour has grown significantly in popularity since I first visited back in 2012. If you have the flexibility, plan your trip during off season for smaller crowds and lower prices (check their ticket pricing calendar on their website — look out for “saver tickets” for the best rates). Be sure to buy tickets in advance as you cannot buy them at the door.

 

Tour for Muggles

Tour for Muggles - Harry Potter Things to do in London

This little alleyway, Goodwin’s Court, was the inspiration for Knockturn Alley. They tried to film here for the movies but the crew wasn’t able to get their equipment through since it was so narrow.

To find a little magic in the heart of London, the Tour for Muggles is for you. The tour is led by a wizarding expert, who will reveal Harry Potter filming locations and places that inspired JK Rowling. The one exception that won’t be covered is Platform 9 ¾, since it’s so easy to visit on your own. More on that below.

Harry Potter Things to do in London Tour for Muggles

Do you recognize this filming location? It’s from Deathly Hollows Part 1 where Harry, Ron, and Hermione transform into three ministry workers to get into the Ministry of Magic.

The tour lasts about two and a half hours, and will leave your brain full of interesting facts that even the biggest Harry Potter fans may not have known. I won’t spoil them for you… you’ll have to join the tour to discover them for yourself!

Quick Tip
Make sure you have a valid oyster card as you will be traveling on the tube for part of the tour. There is also a substantial amount of walking, mostly outside, so dress accordingly.

 

Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station

Harry Potter Things to Do in London - Platform 9 3:4

From my London trip back in 2012. It’s not so easy to do this anymore!

Let me reminisce about the good old days for just a moment… there used to be a time when Harry Potter fans were able to walk right up to Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and have a friend snap a quick photo. Those days are no more. Not too long after I visited for the first time, they opened up a Harry Potter shop right next door and their staff now takes professional photos during their business hours if you want them.

Platform 9 3/4 WB Studio Tour London - Harry Potter Things to do in London

Platform 9 ¾ at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Granted, it looks much cooler now as they added a much more realistic trolley that actually has some luggage on it and you can use some props from the store (like a scarf that makes it look like you’re running through the wall to get to Hogwarts). Which is why, for those who are big fans, it’s still worth the trip there. Who knows, maybe you’ll make it through and end up at Hogwarts!

Quick Tip
Continuing the trend, this is also insanely more crowded than it was when I first visited in 2012. Try and get there early to avoid long lines to get your photo taken. Alternatively, you could skip it all together and take a photo at the much less crowded version that was recently added at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

 

Is it just me, or is anyone else ready for a Harry Potter marathon? You better believe I had one right before my trip to London! While these are just a few of my favorite Harry Potter hot spots in London, there are plenty more magical sights to be seen in the city.

 

What are your favorite Harry Potter things to do in London? Share them in the comments below! 

 

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Special thanks to WB Studios London for making my studio tour experience possible. All opinions are my own.