Belfast: Northern Ireland’s Capital – the Top Places of Interest
Belfast is Northern Ireland’s largest city as well as its capital. The city lies on the banks of the Lagan, which is joined by the River Farset just before it flows into the Irish Sea. This constellation explains Belfast’s name, which comes from the medieval Irish phrase “city at the river mouth of the sandbar.” It might therefore also not be surprising that Belfast has always been a vibrant port city. Shipbuilding has been an important industry here for centuries now. The city is also where one of the most famous ships of all time was built – the Titanic. You’ll quickly notice just how much Belfast has been shaped by its history and culture. Both its cityscape and its sights bear witness to the rich history of this impressive capital. We’ll show you everything you need to see to make your trip to Belfast unforgettable!
Belfast in a Nutshell
Northern Ireland, with its 2,000,000 inhabitants, is in the United Kingdom, along with Scotland, Wales, and England. However, unlike the other three countries, Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain. It is located on a separate island, the island of Ireland, to the northeast of the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland has officially been part of the United Kingdom since 1921. Before then, all of Ireland was part of the UK. Violent conflicts between Catholics and Protestants as well as between nationalists and unionists led to the island’s division. The southern part of Ireland became the Republic of Ireland a few years later, in 1949.
The traces of the War of Independence and the numerous uprisings are still visible in Northern Ireland to this day, but the country has adopted a new mentality. Postmodernism has brought about a change in thinking about the present. Atheism and humanism have contributed significantly to political and religious de-escalation and peace. Today, there are no more riots in Northern Ireland.
Belfast is located in the east of Northern Ireland, namely in County Antrim. The Northern Irish accent is ever-present as you stroll through the city’s streets and explore the delicious traditional food scene. The easiest way to travel to Northern Ireland is by plane, arriving at Belfast Airport. But, of course, you can also take a ferry from Britain or travel on land from the Republic of Ireland.
Before you travel to Belfast, you should find out what to pack – some sunscreen or an umbrella? This depends on what time of the year you want to visit the city. In general, the climate in Belfast is moderate, so it’s usually neither too hot nor too cold. In any case, you should bring sturdy shoes because the list of interesting places in Belfast is endless!
The Top Places of Interest in Belfast
Black Taxi Tour
The famous black cabs are an attraction all by themselves, so you should definitely take the chance to take a tour in them while you’re in Belfast. Whether you go on a professional themed tour or create your own one is up to you, of course. Why not take a spooky ride to places with a mystical or gruesome connections? But if you prefer something more lighthearted, you can also just drive past the Murals. These public paintings tell the story of Northern Ireland in a creative way.
Northern Ireland is blessed with spectacular scenery as it is, but the Botanic Gardens kick it up a notch – they are truly the icing on the cake! They give you the chance to explore a 100,000 square foot area, which is divided into two sections, one for native and one for tropical plants. Especially the Palm House attracts a lot of visitors. The Botanical Gardens are even home to a tree that is more than 400 years old and therefore older than the park itself. The Gardens opened in 1828. They’re not only a great place to wander around but also the perfect setting for a relaxing and cozy picnic.
Not far from the Botanical Gardens is another highlight of the city, the Ulster Museum. In this interactive museum, you can learn more about Ireland’s fascinating history. The exhibition covers everything from dinosaurs and the first humans to Ancient Egypt, so you can be sure to walk out of here smarter than you were before. And to top it all off, the museum is free of charge! If you want to learn even more about Northern Ireland, we can also recommend taking a trip to the Ulster Folk Museum, the Ulster Transport Museum, or the Ulster American Folk Park.
Titanic Belfast Museum
About 110 years ago, the Titanic, the largest ship of its time, sank. The movie of the same name is an integral part of pop culture, but not many people know that the ship was originally built in Belfast. The Titanic Belfast is an interactive museum with the aim of not only teaching visitors the ship’s story but also of commemorating the tragic sinking. Even the museum’s building is a tribute to the Titanic, as it resembles the bow of a ship. It also has the same height as the Titanic, with more than eight floors of information about the ship and its passengers.
The Winterfell Tours in the north of the country are a very special experience. They not only give you access to some of Game of Thrones’ shooting locations but also offer a number of interactive experiences. But don’t worry – even if you haven’t seen a single episode, you will still have a fantastic time at Winterfell. You can try out archery and axe throwing here, take a boat or bike tour of the sets, and even stay overnight at Winterfell Castle!
St. George’s Market
St. George’s Market looks like it’s from another world, too. To be fair, this isn’t particularly surprising, considering it dates back to the 17th century. Not only the exterior of the market is impressive, however, but the inside as well. You can find countless delicacies here. Whether you’re looking for fresh pastries, meat, and vegetables, or local ingredients and ready-made dishes – we can promise that you won’t leave this place on an empty stomach!
The city has one more sight straight out of a fairy tale. Because of its impressive Victorian architecture, Belfast Castle seems almost too pretty to be real! It was built in 1870 and is located at the foot of Cave Hill. Today, it’s open to the public and houses an antique store, an exhibition showcasing the original furnishing, and a Cave Hill exhibit. The adjacent Millennium Herb Garden is also always worth a visit! The castle makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a bygone era. In fact, it is so beautiful that some couples even rent the place to celebrate their wedding there.
Cave Hill County Park
The aforementioned Cave Hill is the final entry on this list. Here, you can find everything Northern Ireland is famous and loved for – there’s rugged scenery and lush greenery as far as the eye can see! Cave Hill is located in the Country Park of the same name. If you hike up to the top of the hill, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the city, including the Castle and Belfast Lough.
Belfast is a city full of history and culture. In addition, it is surrounded by the kind of breathtaking scenery that is usually reserved for postcards! In the city’s interactive museums, you can discover its fascinating history. Alternatively, you can go on a black cab tour or enjoy an afternoon at Belfast Castle. It doesn’t matter whether you want to relax or have an action-packed adventure, there’s always something to do in Belfast. A picnic in the Botanical Gardens or an exciting tour through Winterfell will give you exactly what you’re looking for. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!