With schools already back and freshers upon us we got to reminiscing about our fun-fuelled university days.

Belfast is undoubtedly one of the best universities if you want a good time, as well as a good education and certainly helps make an excellent impression on your CV .

It has a wealth of amazing areas to live in, but so many choices can be a prison.

So to help you break it down, we’ve rated the various hotspots taking into account such life-altering criteria as, how far away the local bars and restaurants are, price, noise and social life…

1. Stranmillis

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A hot-spot for students and young professionals alike, Stranmillis is an eclectic, lively mix of pubs, restaurants, cafes and shops.

Standout culinary delights include Birdcage, Sinnamon, The Sphinx (great before or after a night out), Cafe Conor, Got Milkshake, Yum, The House, Big Al’s – to name but a few.

 

 

Its particularly outstanding Centra is like the hub of this little community, and is an easy trot away to grab some essentials whilst waiting on your gourmet lunch at The Chippie (yes that’s literally its name) where simply must get the Lunch Box Meal Deal.

 

You do have to be careful which street you go for though – some are more student-heavy than others, so if you are wanting to do a bit of studying this year, its worth thinking the area through and being fussy about who you will be living in close approximation to.

Take into account the fact that most students won’t be arriving for real until the start of October. Look for young professionals to neighbour with if you’re looking for a quieter vibe, but if you enjoyed the party antics of first year at Elms, do the opposite and navigate towards student central… you’ll know it when you see it!

2. Botanic

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Botanic serves up possibly the most divine balance of active social life and dignified young professional living.

Ideal for more mature students or those with a full-time job (some of these houses can be pretty expensive depending on how many are sharing) who are seeking all of the local amenities.

The likes of the Student’s Union, The Parlour, The Eglantine Inn, Centra (another one!), and The Bot are all only a few minutes’ walk away, with other close-by delights including Lavery’s and Bishops.

But it is the epic Maggie Mays and Boojum that makes this a prime location for any foodies who love their grub.

The city-centre is not far away or you can grab a bus and be in town within minutes. You can also avail of the luxuries of close-by Lisburn Road and the Malone Road.

The amazing McClay’s Library is practically on your doorstep, so anyone with a talent for procrastinating, you can’t possibly make (too many) excuses! In fact, this area’s proximity to the library and local cafes, pubs and restaurants definitely contributes to the large numbers of PhD and Masters students who live here.

 

3. Lisburn Road

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Home to Tescos and Cuckoo, the Lisburn Road is also host to numerous budget-busting eateries if you know where to go.

Hit up Amici for a truly budget-busting lunch meal-deal, or head across the dinner to Ryan’s Bar and Restaurant for two courses for a tenner.

Whilst you may be tempted to squander most of your student loan in the numerous independent fashion boutiques (Harrison, we blame you for a year living on baked beans and Tesco’s own-brand Vodka), Benetton has some amazing sales (if you wait until it’s 50-70% off!)

Also extremely convenient for heading into town, and has its very own hub of reasonably priced takeaways, ice-cream shops and cafes. Make sure to visit Jenz for the best milkshake of your life, or head up to Cafe Mauds and the Cookie Box if you’re ever in need of a good sugar-rush when you’re feeling fragile.

4. Elms Village

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Naturally, most freshers end up in Elms, and it’s a great place to live and make new mates during your first year of uni. You might not get to choose what building you live in, or even know who your flatmates are until you show up, but the social aspect of living here makes it so worthwhile.

With over 1,000 fellow new students living (virtually) right on your doorstep, the positives far out-weigh any negatives, with its modern facilities, on-site bar and own shop.

Everything you will ever need is within easy walking distance, with the hub of shops, takeaways, bars and restaurants conveniently en route to Queen’s. The Spar is literally seconds away too, and has some literally superb bargains if you shop at the right time (like a Sunday night).

Those who are worried about studying though, might struggle with the noise, and the library is a mega 15 minutes walk away (made more difficult with a hangover), but realistically… first-year is all about making new friends and enjoying a few nights out anyway.

 

5. The Holylands

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Whilst the Holylands has seen a slight decline in the number of students living here as more and more flee to more upmarket areas, the Holylands is undoubtedly still a rite of passage for most students.

With the rent much cheaper here though, you get what you pay for. Expect a lot of noise when students are officially back, and don’t ever expect a quiet nights sleep if you’re a light sleeper.

Make sure to get in early as well, as some houses are of a far higher standard than others, and obviously, they’ll be snapped up fast.

However, if you enjoy a good party, banter with mates (all night) and aren’t too fussy about the décor – this may just suit you perfectly. And oh yes, it’s so close to Queen’s you might even get manage to slip in a few hours’ sleep in the morning when the rest of the occupants of the Holylands have finally fallen asleep. It is also one of the closest to the great links to University of Ulster.

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