The New Belfast
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, may bear visible scars from its tumultuous past, but is today heralded as the safest city in the UK. Read more.
The New Belfast
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, may bear visible scars from its tumultuous past, but is today heralded as the safest city in the UK. Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Belfast has moved ahead in leaps and bounds, with new hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs and shops opening all over the city. Amongst the new, refurbished areas is an impressive collection of restored Victorian and Edwardian buildings, making for a well-rounded experience for visitors.
Parks, gaols and history in the present
Many of Belfast’s significant attractions are focused around the city’s recent history. To get a feel for the scale, a short trip up to the Cave Hill summit offers stunning views over the city, docks and sprawling urbanisation along the shores of Belfast Lough. After this, go underground with a guided tour from the tunnel beneath Crumlin Road Gaol, and wander through the execution chamber and cramped confines of the cells which imprisoned a range of notorious criminal figures. A further taste of history is expertly displayed at the Ulster Museum, which has a must-see collection covering ancient human and natural history. The Peace Lines, physical evidence of the divide between the Catholic and Protestant communities of Belfast, have become a tourist destination, with visitors keen to view the now-famous murals adorning the walls in some areas.
If the weather permits, the Botanic Gardens, near Queen’s University, are a lovely green oasis perfect for a midday picnic. Grab supplies from St George’s Market, an elegant Victorian covered market and the oldest continually operating market in Ireland. For an evening stroll, the Cathedral Quarter - named after St Anne’s Cathedral - is sure to please, with numerous pubs and restaurants and a scattering of historic buildings for atmosphere.
Enjoy your stay in Belfast
Although Belfast is generally a safe city to stay in, there are areas which should be avoided at night. Use common sense and stick to main roads while keeping clear of dimly lit streets or neighbourhoods. The city centre is considered a neutral zone and has a full range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to high-end hostels. Book a room in a boutique hotel or B&B for something a little more unique.
Arriving in Belfast and getting around
Choose from Belfast’s two airports for a convenient arrival. George Best Belfast City Airport is closest to the city centre and services flights from UK cities and France. Belfast International Airport is the larger of the two and offers flights to more international destinations, however, it is also located further from the city centre. A domestic train network transports visitors to Belfast from Bangor, Portadown, Larne and Coleraine. It’s possible to take a bus from England or Scotland with a quick trip over the water via the fast ferry Stranraer. Car rental locations in Belfast are relatively scarce but there are some providers in Belfast city. As with many cities in Ireland, the city centre of Belfast is compact enough to discover on foot. The local bus network is extensive, however, tickets are expensive and the service is not 24 hours. Black Taxi tours come highly recommended for tourists wishing to be guided around the city by a local expert.