Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland, as well as the second largest city on the island of Ireland. It is the seat of devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly. The city forms part of the largest urban area in Northern Ireland. The city of Belfast has a population of around 267,500 and lies at the heart of the Belfast urban area.
A holiday in the Northern Irish city of Belfast is fast becoming one of the more fashionable new destinations for holiday makers. Growing numbers of tourists are now attracted each year by Belfast’s charms.
Belfast is a very welcoming, friendly place to spend time and the relative peace it has enjoyed over the past decade has enabled it to flourish. With a long history, some impressive architecture and vibrant nightlife, the city offers a great deal for those seeking a new city break holiday destination. Belfast has ferry links with the UK, good road and rail links with the rest of Ireland and Belfast International Airport. Belfast is easily accessible from other cities in the UK and Europe with regular scheduled flights coming into both Belfast City and Belfast International Airports. Travel from most UK destinations takes just over 1 hour.
Belfast enjoyed rapid growth during the Industrial Revolution and many of the ornate 19th century buildings survive today, including the City Hall, Queen’s University, St George’s Market, the Ulster Bank and Northern Bank buildings, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Linehall Library.
A holiday in Belfast offers a lively arts scene, with theatre, live music and dance on at large and small venues across the city. The annual arts festival is very popular, while the Grand Opera House provides popular dance, music and drama production, the Lyric Theatre more contemporary works and the impressive Waterfront Hall has an impressive schedule of classical and modern music.
The city’s turbulent past is part of what has created it and, in order to better understand Belfast, holiday makers should tour the sectarian murals painted on walls and houses across the city.
Key places of interest within the city include the magnificent Belfast Castle, situated on Cave Hill, the flamboyant Crown Liquor Saloon, owned by the National Trust, the Belfast Botanic Gardens and palm house, the Albert Clock, the Ormeau Baths Gallery, the McNaughton Gallery and Belfast Zoo.
The major new attraction in the city is the Titanic Museum. Belfast has a proud reputation as a ship-building city. The giant cranes of the Harland & Wolf Shipyard dominate the skyline. The Titanic Museum will take you through the full life of this famous ship as well as providing a fascinating insight into ship building in Belfast.
The countryside around Belfast is beautiful and the stunning Giant’s Causeway, the huge Giant’s Ring neolithic henge, the Mourne Mountains, Carrickfergus Castle and the Sperrins are just a short drive away. If there is time, hire a car and do some exploring in the unspoilt landscapes outside Belfast.
Belfast Botanical Gardens is a public park occupying 110,000 m² (28 acres) of south Belfast. The gardens’ most notable feature is the Palm House conservatory, a greenhouse that is specialised for the growing of palms and other tropical plants. Designed by Charles Lanyon and built by Richard Turner, Belfast’s Palm House was built in 1840. This curvilinear cast iron glasshouse is one of the earliest examples of its kind in the world. It predates the Kew glasshouse in London by four years. It attracts about 600,000 visitors each year.
Victoria Square offers a vast array of shops and restaurants whilst the city centre has some great bars such as The Apartment.
The Value Cabs Taxi Tours offer tours of Belfast and beyond. Knowledgable drivers can do political tours of the city.
In the evenings, head for the many bars, restaurants and clubs across the city centre. The economic boom in Belfast has led to the opening of numerous stylish places to eat, drink and dance, while many of the older, characterful pubs remain.