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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > United Kingdom > Northern Ireland > Belfast

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Shopping in Belfast

Shopping in Belfast has improved dramatically over the last few years. The CastleCourt shopping centre and the pedestrianised streets in and around Victoria Square are home to major stores, while independent businesses and smaller outlets, like those in Queen's Arcade and along Wellington Street, are giving them a run for their money. Don't miss St George's Market either - it's enjoying a revival at weekends.

Key areas

Discerning shoppers should head for the designer boutiques along Ormeau Road, Bloomfield Avenue and Belmont Road, whilst Lisburn Road is known as the 'Style mile'.

Markets

St George's Market on East Bridge Street, opposite the Waterfront Hall, dates from 1896. Not content with being the oldest covered market in Ireland, it's among the best markets in the British Isles. Its Variety Market on Fridays (0600-1400) sells food, clothes, books, antiques and also features the largest indoor fish market in the country; the Saturday City Food and Garden Market (0900-1500) offers a wide range of local and continental high-quality specialist foods; while Sundays (1000-1600) are all about antiques.

Shopping centres

Shopping in Belfast was spruced up with the arrival of the Victoria Square shopping centre offering 100-plus, chain-style shops and restaurants. Its viewing gallery, in a 35m-high (115ft) glass dome, features a great panorama over the city rooftops and dizzying views into the shopping complex. Meanwhile, Castle Court shopping centre, Royal Avenue, features more than 70 stores. The Outlet Village in Banbridge is about a 25-minute drive from the city and offers discounts of up to 70% on exclusive designer brands.

Opening hours

Generally, Belfast's shopping hours are Monday to Wednesday 0900-1800, Thursday 0900-2100, Friday and Saturday 0900-1800 and Sunday 1300-1800.

Souvenirs

Irish music, jewellery, fudge, Guinness, whisky, shamrock-inspired crafts, pottery, perfumes, clothes made with Irish wool and Celtic-designed wares are among the most popular souvenirs in the city.

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Tara Lodge

Located in the heart of the Queens Quarter, near the vivacious Botanic Avenue, this stylish 4-star hotel offers affordable luxury. With 34 rooms to choose from, all come with comfy beds, white and gold furnishings and large bathrooms. The breakfasts are pretty decent too.

Ten Square Hotel

Located just steps from City Hall, this 22-room boutique hotel is set within a Grade I listed building. Offering sophisticated interiors, with baroque touches and colonial finishes, its sleeping quarters stick to the modern. Cubist art and chaise longue make rooms unique, while its renowned restaurant is worth booking too.

Ravenhill House

This beautifully restored Victorian guesthouse, near leafy Ormeau Park, is a 10-minute bus ride from the city centre. With only five guest bedrooms, it exudes a homely, intimate ambience. Each room has handcrafted furniture and there is a library of books and music, plus Wi-Fi and award-winning organic breakfasts.

Ramada Encore Belfast City Central

A short saunter from St Anne's Cathedral, this recently opened Ramada offers all the quality you'd expect from a large chain hotel. Rooms are snug, with all modern amenities, and the breakfast offers a mixture of hot and cold choices.

Malmaison Belfast

Occupying a handsome converted mid-19th-century seed warehouse in the Cathedral Quarter, Malmaison is a stylish boutique hotel that combines period features (iron pillars, beams and stone-carved gargoyles) with its trademark contemporary style (Bordello-style bedrooms with mood lighting). Expect long, heavy velvet drapes, red and purple over-sized suede chairs, and a sleek bar.

The Merchant Hotel

One of the city's most luxurious stays is the sumptuous Merchant Hotel built in 1860 as the Italianate headquarters of The Ulster Bank. Located in the Cathedral Quarter, the Grade 1 listed property features classically styled interiors, sculptures and antiques throughout. The pièce de résistance is the stunning Great Room Restaurant where meals, including traditional afternoon teas, are served beneath its grand dome.