I’ve traveled to Eire many instances within the final 20 years, however up till 2022, my expertise with the Northern Eire capital of Belfast was only a few fleeting visits on my method to different spots like Big’s Causeway.
I made a decision to treatment that and at last plan some devoted time in Belfast metropolis throughout a Northern Eire street journey with my husband Elliot.
Most individuals outdoors of the UK do not normally know a lot about Belfast, except it is linked to “The Troubles” that befell there from the Sixties by means of the Nineteen Nineties. (And even inside the UK, I get the sense that that is nonetheless largely what Belfast is “recognized” for.)
However Belfast is rather more than The Troubles, and right this moment is definitely one of many safer massive cities within the UK!
A number of issues to learn about Belfast
Earlier than you go, right here are some things to learn about Belfast:
- Belfast is the capital metropolis of Northern Eire. Northern Eire shares an island with the Republic of Eire, although Northern Eire remains to be part of the UK. (The query of whether or not to hitch with Eire or stay a part of the UK is essentially what has pushed battle right here for the reason that partition of Eire in 1921.)
- The fashionable metropolis of Belfast was based round 1611, and emerged within the 1700s as an essential middle for the Ulster linen trade. The town additionally grew to become a really notable one for shipbuilding starting within the late 1700s (a bit of ship known as Titanic was constructed right here… perhaps you have heard of it).
- Belfast was severely broken by air raids throughout World Warfare II, and skilled a decline in financial system and inhabitants after the battle because it struggled with demand for its primary industries (linen manufacturing and shipbuilding), adopted by many years of political unrest.
- The inhabitants of Belfast metropolis is at the moment round 350,000 folks.
- Creator CS Lewis was born and raised in Belfast, and it is doubtless that The Chronicles of Narnia had been impressed by the close by landscapes and castles. (Different well-known folks born in Belfast embody: Van Morrison, George Finest, Rory McIllroy, and Carl Frampton.)
When to go to Belfast
Like a lot of the remainder of the UK and Eire, the summer season months are normally thought to be the “greatest” time to go to Belfast. From Might-September, your possibilities of hitting extra sunny days than wet ones are a lot greater – although you may nonetheless undoubtedly need to pack a rain coat, simply in case!
I’ve visited Belfast a number of instances, all in the summertime or early fall, and I might agree that Might-September is the most effective time to go to Belfast.
The perfect issues to do in Belfast
Belfast is a capital metropolis that at instances actually does really feel extra like a small city. There aren’t a TON of issues to see/do, which means you possibly can have a extremely relaxed go to and nonetheless see all of the highlights in about 2 days.
Primarily based by myself journeys to Belfast, listed here are the issues I believe you must do there once you go to.
The must-do issues in Belfast
First, let’s speak concerning the absolute must-do issues in Belfast; the highest issues to do this you in all probability should not miss.
1. Go to Belfast Metropolis Corridor
Begin within the coronary heart of Belfast at Belfast Metropolis Corridor. Sitting in Donegall Sq., the enduring green-domed constructing is without doubt one of the most iconic buildings in Belfast. It dates again to 1906, and is the town’s primary civic constructing.
Guests can take free guided excursions inside Metropolis Corridor (it is advisable to register on the customer exhibition/guided excursions reception), or you possibly can discover the monuments, memorials, and gardens outdoors, together with the Titanic Memorial Backyard.
2. Take a Black Taxi tour
Chances are high if you already know something about Belfast, you already know (or at the least have heard) about The Troubles, a interval of violent clashes and terrorist-style bombings that plagued cities throughout Northern Eire for roughly 30 years. However in the event you’re like me, you in all probability know little or no about what the fact of life in Belfast was like throughout that point – or what marks these years have left on the town.
To get a greater understanding of The Troubles, I extremely suggest occurring a historic Black Taxi tour of Belfast. These excursions are supplied by licensed taxi drivers in Belfast who’ve private ties to the occasions that befell within the metropolis from 1968-1998 – most of them grew up or labored in divided elements of the town.
On a tour like this, you may be taught concerning the varied issues that result in the battle (an advanced combination of politics and faith performed a job), and listen to tales of spiritual discrimination, paramilitary teams, starvation strikes, and rather more. Every tour is barely totally different based mostly in your information and what their expertise was like in Belfast throughout these years.
You is likely to be shocked to be taught that elements of Belfast are nonetheless divided by partitions and fences and gates. You may drive previous or by means of a number of the gates, and go to the biggest wall that also serves as a border between a Catholic and Protestant neighborhood.
I actually do not suppose you possibly can absolutely perceive Belfast with out occurring a tour like this. Study extra about what a Black Taxi tour in Belfast is like.
(Do not let the outline flip you off; these excursions are very protected. When you may not need to go wandering on Falls Street or Shankhill Street by yourself as a vacationer, it is protected to go on a tour like this!)
RELATED: Belfast and Its Troubles: What a Black Taxi Tour in Belfast is Like
There are a LOT of Black Taxi corporations providing excursions round Belfast. All of them are very comparable, they usually all make the most of drivers who lived (and generally labored) by means of The Troubles. The excursions supply informative, pretty balanced excursions of each “sides” of Belfast.
Some Black Taxi tour choices to take a look at embody:
And listed here are another historic Belfast excursions that cowl the identical materials:
3. Titanic Belfast
The most well-liked attraction in Belfast may really be this one, a museum and customer attraction devoted to the Titanic and Belfast’s shipbuilding historical past.
Titanic Belfast opened in 2012, and is situated within the metropolis’s “Titanic Quarter,” a mere 100 meters from the place Titanic’s hull was constructed and launched. The museum covers almost 120,000 sq. toes and consists of interactive displays, recreations of the ship’s cabins, and a whole gondola-style experience indoors.
The museum walks you thru the entire story of the Titanic, but additionally touches on Belfast’s historical past as an essential linen manufacturing metropolis earlier than it emerged as a ship constructing powerhouse. I realized loads about Belfast right here!
Additionally included together with your Titanic Belfast ticket is an opportunity to go aboard the SS Nomadic. Moored at Hamilton Dock throughout the road from Titanic Belfast, the SS Nomadic served as tender boat to RMS Titanic, and is the final remaining White Star Line ship on the planet! The vessel has been restored to look how she did when she ferried passengers to the Titanic.
A be aware on visiting Titanic Belfast: The museum can get very busy, so be ready for crowds! Go to on a weekday in the event you can, and undoubtedly e book your (timed) ticket upfront.
4. Discover the town middle
Belfast’s metropolis middle is not large, however is value a wander. The world north of Metropolis Corridor is crammed with retailers and eating places, and the Cathedral Quarter is a buzzy, inventive space with a few of Belfast’s greatest bars and pubs. If you wish to have an evening out in Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter is the place you need to go.
5. St. George’s Market
Lastly, make your method to the Victorian-era St. George’s Market in the event you can. This historic lined market is a weekend staple in Belfast, and you may store for the whole lot from meals to antiques. It solely runs Friday-Sunday, although, so maintain that in thoughts.
Different issues to do in Belfast
And listed here are a number of different issues I would additionally suggest in Belfast you probably have the time/curiosity for them:
1. Discover the Botanic Backyard
Situated close to Queen’s College, Belfast’s Botanic Backyard is a good inexperienced house to go to within the metropolis. The backyard dates again to 1828, and has a stunning glass home, a palm home crammed with tropical vegetation, a rose backyard, and many strolling trails. The backyard opens day by day at 7:30 a.m., and is free to go to!
2. Go to the Ulster Museum
If you are going to the Botanic Backyard, you might also need to go to the Ulster Museum, which is situated inside the backyard grounds. The museum has a spread of displays masking artwork, historical past, and the pure sciences. And the Ulster Museum can also be free to go to!
3. Tour Crumlin Street Gaol
Associated to the Black Taxi tour, you might also need to go to the Crumlin Street Gaol in the event you’re keen on Belfast’s more moderen historical past. This excessive safety jail (gaol means “jail”) dates again to 1846, however grew to become most well-known for imprisoning each Republicans and Loyalists throughout The Troubles.
“The Crum,” because it’s recognized colloquially, hasn’t served as a jail since 1996. At present, the location gives guided historic excursions, and can also be (a bit weirdly) an leisure and occasion venue. (You should buy a ticket upfront right here.)
4. Have drinks at The Observatory Bar
The Grand Central Resort is without doubt one of the most well-known accommodations in Belfast, and its indoor rooftop bar, The Observatory Bar, is one you will not need to miss. With plenty of cozy seating areas and the easiest views of Belfast, that is the proper place to seize a cocktail.
The Observatory Bar gives afternoon tea seatings through the day, too!
2 days in Belfast itinerary
You possibly can simply see all of the highlights of Belfast in 2 days. If that is what you have received, this is how I like to recommend organising your Belfast itinerary:
Day 1 in Belfast
- Black Taxi Tour
- Crumlin Street Gaol
- St George’s Market (if it is a weekend)
- Belfast Metropolis Corridor
- Metropolis middle/Cathedral Quarter
Day 2 in Belfast
- Titanic Belfast (bear in mind to e book forward, and go early to keep away from the worst crowds)
- Afternoon tea (some cool spots you possibly can e book embody at Titanic Belfast itself, Europa Resort, Café Parisien, or the Service provider Resort)
- Botanic Gardens/Ulster Museum
- Drinks at The Observatory
The place to remain in Belfast
Belfast has plenty of nice lodge choices – and plenty of are pretty reasonably priced! Listed here are my high picks:
Discover different Belfast lodge choices right here.
Have extra time in Belfast?
For those who’re spending extra time in Belfast, listed here are a pair different stuff you may need to do:
1. Make a journey to Big’s Causeway
Essentially the most well-known vacation spot in Northern Eire, Big’s Causeway is a pure website is thought for is step-like rock formations on the northern coast. You possibly can take a day journey from Belfast in the event you do not need to drive your self.
2. Go to Sport of Thrones websites
Northern Eire was a serious filming location for HBO’s Sport of Thrones collection. There are a number of excursions from Belfast that can take you to filming places just like the Cushendun Caves, Ballintoy Harbour, the Darkish Hedges, and extra.
It’s also possible to take a tour of the studio the place they filmed a variety of Sport of Thrones, with optionally available transfers from Belfast.
3. Causeway Coast drive
For those who’re visiting Belfast as half of a bigger Northern Eire street journey (and even Eire street journey), then you definately undoubtedly have to put the Causeway Coastal route in your checklist. This unbelievable driving route options castles, seashores, historic historical past, and epic coastal views.
RELATED: 18 Epic Stops Alongside the Causeway Coast in Northern Eire
Have extra questions on visiting Belfast? Perhaps you may discover the solutions right here.
You technically may see/do the highlights of Belfast (the Titanic museum, a Black Taxi tour, seeing Metropolis Corridor) with at some point in Belfast – although it will be a really full day! However I like to recommend at the least 2 days in Belfast to totally see all of it.
If you do not have a number of days to spend in Belfast, sure, you possibly can completely take a Belfast day journey from one other metropolis like Dublin.
You possibly can fly into Belfast through its worldwide airport. Or you may fly into Dublin (a a lot bigger airport) and both take a prepare or drive the two hours to Belfast.
The stereotypes of Belfast being an unsafe metropolis crammed with automotive bombs and the IRA are simply that – stereotypes. Current-day Belfast is definitely one of many most secure cities in the UK, and vacationers do not typically want to fret about something past the standard menace of petty theft that comes with visiting any metropolis.
Sure, Belfast is value visiting! The town has an fascinating historical past in the event you’re prepared to study it, together with a pair worthwhile points of interest like Titanic Belfast.
Who’s able to plan a go to to Belfast now?
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