Belfast is the capital city in Northern Ireland and is fast becoming a friendly, exciting and safe city destination in Europe. It is a city that has a long and chequered history with a legacy that is left behind for visitors to explore today.
It's located in County Antrim at the mouth of the River Lagan, a location that has helped the city to become what it is today. It was here that Harland & Wolf established the largest shipbuilding yard in the world and built the Titanic.
As well as shipbuilding Belfast also had a thriving linen and tobacco industry, in fact, Belfast was the only city in Ireland to experience the Industrial Revolution. These industries contributed to a very prosperous and wealthy city, which can be seen from the many magnificent building in the city today.
Although this city has seen its fair share of troubles in the past, it is now a booming and vibrant city. The city centre has seen some redevelopments in recent years and now hotels, restaurants and shops are popping up all over the city.
What to see and do
You can easily get around this compact city on foot but it does have a good bus system if you need to go further afield. A good place to start your exploration of the city is the City Hall, which stands right in the heart of the city. Also close by is the Linen Hall Library where you can see a large collection of rare books and some political documentation.
The Grand Opera House is also worth a visit to see its late-Victorian interior. Other must see attractions include Queens University, the Ulster Museum, the Botanic Gardens, and the Albert Clocktower. Go west of the city centre to admire the murals on the walls along the Shankill Road and Falls Road.
North of the city centre you'll find Cave Hill Park, Belfast Castle and Belfast Zoo. Kids will enjoy the W5 Centre and the Dundonald International Ice Bowl.
Belfast has a very energetic nightlife scene with lots of pubs and clubs for you to choose from. Restaurants and bars are mainly concentrated around the Golden Mile and the Entries while nightclubs can be found in the University area.
If you do fancy a tipple pop into the Crown Liquor Saloon- it's one of the most popular bars in Northern Ireland and a big hit with locals and vistors alike. The architecture and décor of the pub is Victorian in style and very impressive. This pub is such a big attraction that it has become a protected listed building.
The choices of pubs and cafes are endless and whether you want to dance the night away, see a film, take in a play or attend a traditional music session, you'll be well catered for.
Belfast has become a major destination for shoppers. The main areas to go to for shopping are Donegall Square and Royal Avenue.
Two major shopping arcades include Castlecourt Shopping Centre on Royal Avenue and The Spire on Wellington Street.
How to get to Belfast city
Getting to Belfast is easy. It has two airports so you should have no problem finding a flight into here. Belfast International Airport is situated about 21km north west of the city centre. It is just about a 20 minute taxi ride to the city centre but you also have the option of getting the Airbus to the city centre.
George Best City Airport (handles a smaller number of flights) is just about 3km from the city centre. There is a taxi rank outside the main terminal.
The Port of Belfast is the largest ferry port in the island of Ireland. Stena Line sails 10 times daily to Stranraer in Scotland. Seacat travel between the Isle of Man twice a week and Norfolkline operate between the port and Liverpool with 5 sailings daily.
The city is also very well served by train and bus from the rest of the country. A train ride from Connolly Station in Dublin will bring you to Belfast Central Station in about 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Featured Attraction - Belfast City Hall
This is a must see attraction when in Belfast. It's located in the heart of the city, surrounded by beautiful gardens and a guided tour is free.