Belfast, Northern Ireland is a bustling city with stunning scenery, historical landmarks and a vibrant city center. The island of Ireland’s second largest city, and largest city in Northern Ireland, is the birthplace of C.S. Lewis, author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series, and now home to the film set of Game of Thrones. We would really love to visit Belfast, and here are 10 reasons why:
The luxury steamship RMS Titanic was built in Belfast with construction beginning in 1909 and ending in 1912. The construction took place on Queen’s Island, now known as the Titanic Quarter. The museum commemorates the ship and the lives lost in its fateful maiden voyage. The local attraction was built in 2012, marking the 100th anniversary of the disastrous sinking. Visitors can also view the landmark Samson and Goliath shipbuilding cranes at the Titanic Quarter, which almost look like public art.
Located at 46 Great Victoria Street, the Belfast watering hole attracts visitors worldwide including President Bill Clinton during visits to Northern Ireland. Built around 1885, the inside includes intricate mosaic designs and private snugs for those who want a bit of privacy. The BBC aired a documentary on the pub called The Crown Jewel.
Belfast Castle, found on the side of Cave Hill, was built by the third Marquis of Donegall with construction beginning in 1862, finishing in 1870. When the Marquis died, the castle was passed on to his son-in-law Lord Ashley, heir to the title of Earl of Shaftesbury. The Donegall coat of arms still hangs over the front door, with the Shaftesbury crest hung proudly over the exterior staircase. The castle closed in 1978, but re-opened in 1988, and is now open to the public for weddings, conferences, and other important events.
You get a two-for-one deal with the Ulster Museum overlooking the Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1821, the museum is 8,000 square feet of public space, making it the largest museum in Northern Ireland. The collections include fine art, history and natural science. Current exhibits feature “The Age of Liberty” and “The Order and Revolution.” There’s a children’s section consisting of three Discovery Centers focusing on art, nature and history. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. The admission is free.
St. George’s Market, located at 12-20 East Bridge Street, is a Victorian covered market built between 1890 and 1896. By the 1900s, the Belfast markets sold a range of items including potatoes, pork, fowl, fish and vegetables. The modern-day market offers a Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market on Saturdays and the Sunday Market. “It was named the U.K.’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities, beating off stiff competition from internationally renowned markets like Spitalfields, Billingsgate and Borough,” according to the Belfast City Council. A free shuttle bus is available every 20 minutes, which will pick you up and drop you off at multiple stops.
We’ve all done the hop-on-and-hop-off double decker buses (which are great), but have you toured a city in a private car? A black cab to be exact. The escorted tour hits major historical spots in Belfast, including a view of political murals, Crumlin Road Jail and Court Houses, City Hall, Albert Memorial Clock, the Crown Bar, and the Titanic Visitor Centre. Mark Neil, featured in the above video, gives us a peek at one of the decked out cabs, and a 411 on Irish lingo that might be heard by the tour guide.
Oh Yeah Music Centre, located at 15-21 Gordon Street, celebrates the history of music coming out of Belfast and provides a platform for current musical acts. In 2005 the band Snow Patrol, which has roots in Belfast, had a conversation with members of the city’s recording industry about celebrating music as one of Northern Ireland’s greatest resources, and two years later the space was opened in 2007. Oh Yeah’s mission statement reads, “Open Doors To Music Potential,” with the aim to be accessible to everyone. The center measures 14,500 square feet, spanning three floors, and features a performance space, a drop-in area, office units, a privately run recording studio and exhibition space. There’s also a writing room … maybe you’ll get inspired.
8. Black Mountain
It’s so fun to visit a major metropolitan city and glance up to see a mountain in the background. If you’re looking for a breather from city life, Black Mountain is not too far away. And once you’re to the top, you have an amazing view of the city. The National Trust looks over the land, which offers walking trails that could be made up of terrain including heath, stone tracks, boardwalks and rough surface. If you think Black Mountain looks familiar, and you’ve never been to Belfast, you may recognize the lush landscape as seen in Luke Evans‘ Dracula Untold.
HBO’s Game of Thrones comes to life in Northern Ireland. The series is filmed in a number of spots throughout the world, but Northern Ireland is its primary backdrop. Discover Ireland hosts a Game of Thrones coach tour, leaving from Belfast, and is broken up into a morning and an afternoon “trek.” According to the Discover Ireland website, the morning leg is from Winterfell to one of Walder Frey’s Twins, past Robb’s Camp in the Riverlands and on to where Brienne confronted three Stark soldiers. The afternoon trip is into Tollymore Forest, to the bridge where the Starks found a dead direwolf and her pups. Visitors will be in good company, as Queen Elizabeth II made a visit to the Iron Throne while touring Northern Ireland.
10. Liam Neeson
Hollywood A-lister Liam Neeson, who is native to Northern Ireland, thinks it’s a good idea for us to discover what Northern Ireland has to offer as seen in the above tourism advert. We don’t want to get on his bad side.
We really want to go to Belfast now! What about you?Read More