Belfast & Northern Ireland

Romantic Top Ten

07 Jan 2018



Been promised a romantic break only to discover your partner has booked a weekend in Belfast? Well fret not, for though the city may not be renowned for its red hot reputation, there are still enough amorous options to fill your day with sugar and spice and all things schmaltz.


So forget Paris and embrace the love that's all around... it's so real you can almost feel it. Here's our Romantic Top Ten to get your pulses racing. Steady at the back....

1. If you've access to a stove, why not treat your loved one to a romantic Ulster Fry? Heart-shaped pastry cutters work wonders on Potato Bread, alphabetti spaghetti can spell the message of your choice (how about 'will you marry me?') and don't forget those little words every woman wants to hear... 'how do you like your eggs?'. Talk about 'heart attack on a plate'. Lovely. Brights on High Street's is award winning.

2. After all that glorious food, it's time for a bit of exercise. And what better way to enjoy the most romantic day of the year than working up a sweat at Botanic Gardens' Palm House? All manner of fabulous ferns and virile blooms are on display in this grand old Victorian hothouse. So dust down your loin cloth, step into the exotic and let the flora-filled surroundings whisk you away to an impassioned Eden. It's enough to bring out the Tarzan in you.

3. Every woman worth her calorie count just loves chocolate. So now's the time to whisk that special someone to Co Couture on Chichester Street for a bag of truffles and mug of something warm and frothy.

4. Indulge in some luxurious lingerie available amid Victoria Square's chic designer label shops. Or go for something slightly more risqué in the city centre's salacious range of 'novelty shops'. Ask any of the locals for directions to Gresham Street and watch those eyes roll.

5. Aiming for a more salubrious gift selection? You'll find romantic Irish tomes aplenty in the city's big bookstores. May we suggest heart thumping works by Yeats, Beckett, Heaney and Wilde. Music lovers should seek out a tune or two from Belfast's own Van Morrison and take their brown-eyed-girl for a walk down Cyprus Avenue.

6. If your love prefers precious metal to paper, there's no better expression of eternal love than a nice bit of bling. Diamonds are all well and good but, for that touch of Celtic charm, you can't beat a Claddagh ring. Designed in the 17th century by a Galway man who learnt his trade when sold as a slave to a Moorish goldsmith, the ring features two hands clasping a heart topped with a crown. Worn on the right hand with heart pointing out, you're looking for love. Heart pointing in, you've bagged yourself a man. And if it's on the left hand with heart facing inwards, you're married and most definitely off the market. Try MAS Silver on Rosemary Street for size.

7. Rings tarnish, flowers wilt... but nothing beats a tattoo to demonstrate true devotion and everlasting love. Skullduggery on the Dublin Road is a city institution and can do you a lovely heart-shaped tat for the price of a meal for two (and it lasts longer).

8. Book your beloved on a bespoke Titanic Boat Tour. Hire out the Lagan Boat Company's Joyce Too and fill your iPod with Celine Dion for a private recreation of the soppy classic. Look Jack, I'm flying! (Lifebelts included).

9. Nearly time for bed, but while you slip into something more comfortable, why not sip a seductive glass of Black Velvet? Half Guinness and half Champagne, this heady concoction combines the smooth charm of an Irish rogue with the seductive skills of a French paramour. Especially nice with a plate of oysters. Any pub will pour and Mourne Seafood Bar is the bees knees for those slippery shellfish.

10. And finally, we can't let the day pass without a special mention to a particular Co. Antrim landmark of love. On a small hill in a field near Doagh (15 miles north of Belfast) stands the Hole Stone (main pic), 1.3m high and featuring a perfectly carved 10cm hole. Follow ancient tradition by joining hands through the hole and declaring lifelong fidelity. Do not, however, follow another ancient custom by inserting a - shall we say - male appendage. The hole may be at groin height and said to increase fertility, but there are laws against this, you know.

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