Visiting Belfast - What to See and Do
(George Best Belfast City Airport BHD, Northern Ireland)
is a tourism surprise packet by most travellers' standards. Years of violent conflict that once plagued this industrious city are now events of the past. However, they are not forgotten. Today, the city is well free of its conflict shackles, which were cast aside following the Good Friday Amendment of 1998. Now ranked as one of the safest destinations in the UK, Belfast rewards tourists with an exciting landscape that is teeming with unrivalled attractions.
Sightseeing usually begins around Donegall Square, which is where tourists will find the heart of Belfast. The City Hall, St. Anne's Cathedral and the Ormeau Baths Gallery sit alongside or nearby the square. The peripheries of the city are also filled with amazing marvels, including the city's castle and zoo in the north, the Political Murals in the west, and the Ulster Museum in the south.
Memorable sights in Belfast include the eerie murals along Shankill Road, which can be seen via tours. Pub-crawling is the perfect topper for an entertaining evening, while theatres, such as the Grand Opera House, provide a great alternative to the boisterous night scenes. Performances are held throughout the year.
Ten things you must do in Belfast
- The City Hall is open to the public, as well-organised tours of this building are available daily. In addition to viewing the hallowed halls of the historically important landmark, tourists can also visit the City Hall during the holiday season, when the Continental Christmas Market is erected around the site.
- Even though there is some controversy surrounding the Ormeau Baths Gallery, it is one of Northern Ireland's best art centres. Commonly referred to as the OBG, this site is still a creative bastion of the city's thriving art community. However, it is now operated by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, rather than a group of local artists. This hasn't deterred visitors from flocking here though.
- Located close to the Royal Avenue, which is the main shopping spot in Belfast, St. Anne's Cathedral is the heart of the aptly named Cathedral Quarter. The building itself is quite spectacular, and tours of this 20th-century religious structure are available upon request. The site was first constructed in 1904 and has experienced renovations constantly since.
- For photography lovers, Belfast Exposed is a phenomenal attraction that mustn't be passed up. In addition to some stark reminders of the city's darker periods in history, there are numerous beautiful photographs on display too. Exhibitions are held throughout the year, complementing permanent displays, and entrance is generally free.
- Despite the fact that the Titanic didn't have a happy ending, Belfast still grasps onto the history of this magnificent ship, since it was built in the former dockyards of the city. Tours of the very docks that built the Titanic are available and actually quite cheap. Following much redevelopment, the new Titanic Quarter rises around the former docks.
- The Botanical Gardens is one of the city's most popular areas, whether visitors are tourists or locals. There is a fascinating palm house and tropical ravine located inside the park, which offers tropical getaways without the need to fly out of Belfast. This is also a famous site for hidden camera shows, so tourists need to be on the lookout for vans and cameras throughout the park.
- Keep aside several hours when visiting the Ulster Museum. Ireland and Northern Ireland have a renowned fighting history, much of which is displayed within this museum. In addition, a collection of marine creatures is exhibited on a permanent basis within the complex. For those who enjoy looking at art, a small but important art collection is also found inside the Ulster Museum.
- Belfast Zoo is one of the best tourist attractions in the city, especially when it comes to children and families. The place is renowned for its 'free roaming' prairie dogs, which was originally an accident that turned into a fantastic promotion strategy by the zoo. Apart from the sporadic prairie dog and their tunnel entrances, the zoo is also famous for Lily, which is Northern Ireland and Ireland's first lion cub born in the country.
- From the heart of the city, visitors can reach Belfast Castle on the No. 1 bus lines. Even though it looks more like a large estate than a castle, this structure is still worth visiting. It was built in 1870 and has thankfully been restored several times since to keep it looking presentable. The castle is located upon Cave Hill, giving tremendously good views of the city.
- The Mural Tour is an unbelievably amazing journey through the streets of Belfast. Visitors are taken back to the days of fierce conflict and fighting, as depicted on many walls throughout the poorer neighbourhoods. Head to Falls Road and the Shankill area, where some great political murals stand guard over the city. The poorer neighbourhoods are considered quite safe day and night, so tourists won't have to worry about safety.