Belfast Travel Guide: The Breathtaking Northern Irish Capital
Updated: Feb 12
Belfast is one of the UK's most historic and fascinating countries. It experienced rapid growth throughout the Industrial Revolution, due to its world-leading textiles industry, and later became the birthplace of history's most famous ship, The Titanic. Manufacturers Harland and Wolff completed the construction in the Northern Irish capital in March 1912, just 2 weeks before it would sink in the middle of the Atlantic on its way to New York.
Whilst this may well be the country's most famous export, Belfast can also be accredited as the birthplace of George Best, Bobby Sands and C. S. Lewis.
Why should I visit Belfast?
As you're reading this article, this question may be one you're asking yourself. There is a simple answer, it's one of the most underrated cities in the UK!
Everyone raves about Dublin, London and Manchester, but in terms of the United Kingdom and Ireland, it is right up there. What you will get here that you won't in the others mentioned, is the ability to actually take in the environment around you without worrying about the huge crowds of tourists around you. The London Eye or the Guinness Storehouse, for example, require hours of waiting and sometimes ticket purchase months in advance. When you go to Belfast, you don't need to do that to see what it has to offer which actually makes it a great destination for the impulsive explorers among us.
What to see in Belfast
As mentioned previously, the city is infamous for being the birthplace of the Titanic. It has honoured this by creating a museum, and in 2012 the Titanic museum was opened.
The museum tells the story of how the ship was created, the huge impact it had on the local economy, how the disaster happened and the world's reaction to the news. It consists of 20 galleries, over 400 artefacts, interactive information screens and a shipyard ride. The whole museum will take you approximately 1-2.5 hours to explore so make sure you give yourself plenty of time there as it is certainly worth the visit.
The Ulster Museum is the best in the city, without a doubt, excluding the Titanic Museum of course. What makes it even better is the fact that entry is completely free. Yes of course, there are lots of museums around Europe that are free but there are some that are extortionate so it's always good to acknowledge anything you can do for free.
If you didn't know, Ulster relates to one of the four traditional Irish provinces which consists of all 6 of the Northern Irish counties and 3 in the Republic of Ireland. The museum showcases the history of the region from the 16th century to the modern day.
Now before you start saying Giants Causeway isn't in Belfast, I know that and trust me the 3 hour journey up there will never make me forget that, but just hear me out. It wouldn't be right for me to write a Belfast travel guide and not tell you to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site as it's one of the country's most famous landmarks. Unless you're an Irish citizen, the only chance you're ever going to get of witnessing this natural phenomenon is to plan a trip to Belfast. I know I made a comment about the long journey getting there but don't let that put you off. There are a number of other stops and photo opportunities for you to enjoy before you get there, which makes the journey a whole lot more pleasant. It really is an extraordinary site to behold and certainly something not to be missed.
The best pubs and bars in Belfast
Unlike most of the travel guides I have produced, I think it's only fitting to tell you about the best pubs and bars in Belfast for a city that is so well-renowned for it. In my professional opinion, I believe the Northern Irish capital provides one of the best nights out in the UK.
We'll start by telling you the most expensive bar on the list, and then we can move on to the cheaper ones. However, it must be said that Belfast is one of the priciest places I have visited for drinking, within the UK, so if you are thinking of visiting please consider this.
Margot, located on Donegall Square E, opposite Belfast City Hall is “tucked away below street level”. While the drinks are obviously amazing, and certainly worth their high price”, the best part of the bar is the warm and cosy interior. They offer a huge selection of specialty cocktails as well as other alcoholic beverages, so you’ll be sure to find something amazing.
The Perch Rooftop Bar
Who wants to drink at ground level anyway? Head over to the Perch Rooftop Bar for one of Belfast's highly rated bars. This will offer you a unique look over the top of the city as some very tasty cocktails. My personal favourite being their bramble, so be sure to give it a try if fruity cocktails is what you’re after. As you enter you'll be escorted up to the top of the building via a lift and then head over to a table and get all of the drinks in!
Once again, the bar is located in the city centre which makes it a great option f0r those of you searching for a pub crawl route.
The Crown Pub
Probably one of the most famous pubs in Belfast is the Crown, which dates back to the 1820’s. What you might not know about the pub is that it is owned by the National Trust. Its signature mahogany carved booths and centuries-old history have been major factors in the pub's popularity as well as creating its own unique identity. During my last visit to the capital city, I enjoyed one of the best pints of Guinness I have had and would definitely put it as one of my favourite places to enjoy a pint (or two).
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