Meaning “the mouth of the River Feirste”, Belfast is a city that has seen its fair share of hardship. Today it has emerged with a cultural identity of its own. With beautiful Edwardian and Victorian architecture Belfast has historical clout while its bars, clubs and shops throw modernity into the mix giving a lively and raw energy to this complex city.
To see the sites most prominent in Belfast’s conflict such as Falls Rd and Shankill Rd take a ’mural tour’ that tells of the city’s ‘troubles’ and the moving stories behind them, or visit Ulster Museum for a more in depth view of Belfast’s past, not to mention one of the finest examples of Brutalist modern architecture. Milltown Cemetery’s memorial garden makes a fitting last stop on the tour.
Pay a visit to grand City Hall, the centrepiece of the city, before trundling along Donegall Place or to Smithfield and St George’s markets for some retail therapy. Pop in to Place, a small architectural gallery or stunning St Anne’s Cathedral with its nearby cafes and bars to unwind and watch the city go by. Stroll leafy Botanic Avenue and on to Lisburn Road (Belfast’s answer to Bond Street) to explore the array of chic boutiques and quirky bohemian shops and cafes.
For a dose of nature, stroll along the River Lagan or through the palm houses and tropical ravines of the Botanic Gardens. Take the kids to Belfast Zoo; amble around beautiful 1870 Belfast Castle with its views out to sea or the impressive grounds and vast marble rooms of Stormont Parliament Buildings.
Get the creative juices flowing with a visit to Belfast Exposed, a modern photographic gallery in a refurbished warehouse, or Belfast Print Workshop where local artists make their work. Re-visit the past with a Titanic Boat Tour to hear how the ill-fated liner was made in the former boat yards of Belfast. By night, enjoy the famous Irish hospitality in a local bar or take in an art-house film at the Queen’s Film Theatre or a show at the Lyric or the Grand Opera House.
The following information is correct as of November 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Belfast International Airport is located just 18 miles north-west of Belfast city centre an can be reached by car in approximately 30-40 minutes. The 300 Airport Bus Express operates a 24 hours service, reaching the city centre in 45 minutes. Taxis also operate from outside the terminal building.
What you need to know
Currency: The Pound Sterling (£)
Visas: UK and EU citizens do not require a visa to enter Northern Ireland; however an identity card or passport valid for the duration of stay is required. Nationalities form outside the EU may require a visa for travel. More information can be found at a local embassy on the Foreign Office website.
Laws: Smoking is banned in all indoor public places across Ireland. This includes on public transport and in restaurants, pubs and clubs. The legal age for consuming and purchasing alcohol in Northern Ireland is 18. Be warned when discussing religion, there is a law in place that fines anyone who “is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion” leading to a fine of up to 25,000 €!
Best Time to Visit
The climate in Belfast is temperate meaning plenty of rainfall. Temperatures are at their highest from July to August while winter months can be chilly and wet. The best time to visit Belfast is from April to August when there is less chance of rain and when the city is lively with events and festivals. Families with children may want to visit in March for the Children’s Festival Young at Art or for the Ulster Festival of Art and Design. There is also a jazz festival to keep music lovers happy. The Film Festival and Photo Festival kick off the month of April. As the summer approaches, the Book Festival, a Family Fun Day, a Tango Festival and Belfast City Blues music make for a jam packed June. More arts and crafts festivals pop up in September, as well as the Belly Laughs Comedy Festival. A lantern parade in October and Brass Band Festival in November herald the start of winter.
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Airports near Belfast
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