Follow in the steps of a young Van Morrison and visit his birthplace, Belfast, a city which has experienced quite a facelift since the days he sang with the Monarchs. Take a bus tour of Belfast’s musical heritage, starting with the legendary, recently refurbished Ulster Hall venue, recommends the Daily Mail. The fun tour comes fully ‘sound-tracked’ and gives an anecdotal history of the gritty music which comes from this part of the world. There are other fine Victorian buildings to see, such as the Grand Opera House, also recently refurbished, along with the more contemporary Belfast Waterfront Hall and Odyssey Arena.
Stay at the Fitzwilliam (028 9044 2080,www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com), a chic but laid back boutique hotel on Great Victoria Street with rooms from £120 per night, or the Merchant Hotel (028 9023 4888, www.themerchanthotel.com), which also has a great bar famous for its cocktails and live jazz, and a plush restaurant (pictured) complete with ornamental ceiling. They also offer spa treatments and a Relaxation Room with an assortment of juices and teas where you can wind down.
If you want to sample one of the excellent restaurants that are springing up around the city, try the Cayenne (028 9033 1532, www.cayenne-restaurant.co.uk), where master chef Paul Rankin walks around chatting to diners. Dishes, such as lobster sausage roll and boar pastie are unusual but delicious.
Return flights from London Gatwick to Belfast George Best City Airport start at around £59.99 including all taxes, with FlyBe (01392 268500, www.flybe.com), who also fly from a number of other UK airports. For further information on Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com.