When locals in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, want to go shopping, they head to the lively city center, a compact pedestrian friendly area with modern buildings and stately structures from mostly the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Although there are international retail chains such as Zara and H&M, the neighborhood’s gems are the independently owned establishments. Visitors can discover these shops selling goods from the United Kingdom and Irish brands as they stroll along the wide lanes and often charming side streets.
The owner of this more than two decade-old tiny jewelry store, Sean Harden, named it after his niece and sources his pieces — which are made mostly of semiprecious materials — from United Kingdom designers. He favors an aesthetic that’s simple yet chic such as a trio of sterling silver bangles and a rose gold plated ring with a swirl pattern. And for men, there are cuff links, rings, bracelets and necklaces, too. Prices from 10 pounds (about $14).
10 Queen’s Arcade; laurenmayonline.com
Although the merchandise in this quarter-century-old women’s clothing store, which carries pieces from United Kingdom designers, includes vintage-inspired pants, skirts and T-shirts, the large and diverse selection of dresses is impressive. Casual sundresses, flirty party dresses and full-length gowns are part of the mix, and there’s new stock for sale every week. All the pieces are more classic than trendy and are likely to become wardrobe staples. Prices from 45 pounds.
Sawyers Belfast Limited
Open since 1897, this sprawling deli calls itself as “an Aladdin’s cave of culinary delights,” and the description is more than fitting. Shoppers will be bombarded by epicurean treasures from around the world including smoked meats, teas and coffees, spreads, oils, cakes and more. Be sure to check out the products under the deli’s own label, especially the chutneys and jams — the sweet chili jam, made with habanero peppers, is a best-seller. Prices from 2 pounds.
5-6 Fountain Centre, College Street; sawersbelfast.com
Belfast has a flourishing community of artists, and this 3,000 square-foot store spread over three levels is a place to appreciate and buy the creations of about 80 local artists, a mix of both established and up and coming names. Finds include candles, photography prints, cards, woodwork, ceramics and T-shirts; the store also has studio spaces where resident artists work, and shoppers are welcome to visit. Prices from 1 pound.
This airy space opened in 2007 and both displays and sells crafts. The handmade items are the work of local designers and artists, who are part of the nonprofit Craft & Design Collective, which supports he arts in Northern Ireland. Among the goods for sale are handwoven textiles, colorful pottery, hand dyed shawls, silk scarves, blown glass vases and sterling silver jewelry for both men and women. Prices from 2 pounds.
A7, the Fountain Centre, College Street; craftanddesigncollective.com