BELFAST


 

Belfast is the second largest city on the island of Ireland (about half the size of Dublin) and the capital of Northern Ireland and Ulster. Belfast gets its name from the Irish Béal Feirste meaning “Mouth of the Farset” (the river upon which the town was originally built). Most will know of the city primarily as the worst effected by the Troubles in the North but do not let that put you off, the worst times were in the 1970s and paramilitary activity is minimal at best since the Good Friday Agreement. The city has two airports: The George best Belfast City Airport adjacent to Belfast Lough and Belfast International Airport which is near Lough Neagh (the largest lake in the British Isles).

POPULAR ACTIVITIES

Giant’s Causeway: A must do trip once in Belfast is North to the Giant’s Causeway at the foot of the Antrim plateau (about an hour north of Belfast). A breathtaking spectacle, it is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea. Celtic folklore has it that they were laid by giants for crossing the Irish Sea back and forth to Scotland, one famously arriving to fight the legendary Fionn MacCumhail (the greatest leader of the Fianna; the military elite of ancient Ireland responsible for guarding the High King).
www.northantrim.com/giantscauseway

Old Bushmills Distillery: Other famous site-seeing trips include a visit to the world-famous Bushmills whiskey distillery. The distillery which, founded in 1608, is the oldest licensed distillery in the world is located in the quaint village of Bushmills, 95 km from north of Belfast.
www.northantrim.com/bushmills

Ice Hockey: An increasingly popular activity for tourists is to watch a game by the famous Belfast Giants ice-hockey team. The sport has really taken off up North as of late and people flock from all over Ireland to catch first hand experience of the ferocity at the Odyssey Arena.
www.odysseyarena.com/belfastgiants

Pub Tour: No visit to Belfast would be complete without a trip around its famous and historic pubs. Organised pub crawls are often a good way to find your way around and have a good night. (See also our recommended Bars and Restaurants).
www.belfastpubtours.com/

River Lagan Tour: The Lagan River is the lifeblood of Belfast and the tour encapsulates some of the cities most famous sights, both scenic and historic. There are also Titanic boat tours where you can take in the history of the world’s most famous ocean liner and functions such as Hen/Riverboat parties may be booked.
www.laganboatcompany.com/

Nine Glens of Antrim: An area of outstanding natural beauty, just a few miles north up the coast from Belfast, the Glens (valleys) are a hotspot for walkers, wildlife enthusiasts and basically anyone interested in the famous landscape of Ireland.
www.authenticireland.com/travel_guide/antrim

Ballycastle and Rathlin Island: Rathlin Island is famous for its ancient history and its limestone and basalt beauty. It lies three miles north-east of Fair Head and sixteen from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. Apart from pre-historic relics such as cairns, caves and passage tombs; it was also made famous by one particular visitor King of Scotland Robert the Bruce. Old churches, castle sites and shipwrecks also speckle the landscape. You can take a day trip to Rathlin Island from the attractive seafront town of Ballycastle.
www.northantrim.com/rathlin_island.htm

Falls Road: Not everyone’s idea of a tourist destination but this overtly political and troubled area is not devoid of site-seeing buses nowadays. For those who can ignore the bleak and morbid exterior there is much of interest here if the politically astute visitor. There is something incredibly poignant about much of this area from the murals to the cemeteries and the Garden of Remembrance, all of which serve as a constant reminder of Ulster’s chequered past. The neighbouring Shankill Road, a predominantly Protestant area, is separated from the Falls Road by peace walls.
www.mybelfast.co.uk/belfast/fashion-falls_road.htm

SHOPPING

Belfast offers a wonderful array of products ranging from the traditional to the more contemporary. A must for all shoppers is the central shopping area which runs from Donegall Place to Royal Avenue and is easily explored on foot. St. George’s Market (the oldest covered market in Ireland) runs a Variety Market every Friday morning which boasts the largest indoor fish market in Ireland with 23 seafood stalls! The Saturday morning Farm & Speciality Food Market offers a wide range of local high quality specialist food products. The Lisburn Road in the south of the city boasts a trail of chic designer boutiques, with plenty of al fresco cafes to offer a rest stop along the way. There are also many fine shopping centres throughout the city and suburbs.
www.gotobelfast.com

BARS AND RESTAURANTS

Belfast, like all cities in Ireland, is of course famous for its pubs and many people enjoy the Pub Walking Tour that basically utilises a pub crawl as a means to familiarise yourself with the city (if you can remember any of it the next day). Here are some of our favourite bars and restaurants:

  • The Great Room Restaurant
    at The Merchant Hotel
    35-39 Merchant Street
    Tel: +44(0)28 90 234888
  • Aunt Annie’s Porterhouse
    44 Dublin Road Tel: +44(0)28 90 50 1660
  • Duke of New York
    3-11 Commercial Court (off Donegal Street)
    Tel: +44(0)28 9024 1062
  • Event Horizon (club)
    Union Street
    Tel: +44(0)7769 924 360
  • Hatfield House
    Ormeau Road
    Tel: +44(0) 9043 8764
  • The Potthouse (Bar and Grill)
    Hill Street Tel: +44(0)28 9024 4044
    http://www.belfastbar.co.uk/?pid=11&venueid=3
  • James Street South Restaurant
    James Street South
    Tel: +44(0)28 9043 4310
  • Cumann Chluain Ard (Irish Language)
    27-43 Sráid na Sceiche
    Tel: +44(0)28 9032 1873
  • The Pavilion
    Bradbury Place Tel: +44(0)28 9028 3283
  • The Empire Bar and Music Hall
    40-42 Botanic Avenue
    Tel: +44(0)28 9024 9276
    http://www.thebelfastempire.com/
  • The Spaniard
    3 Skipper Street
    Tel: +44(0)28 9023 2448
    http://www.belfastbar.co.uk/?pid=11&venueid=124
 
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