Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Its name originates from the Irish Béal Feirste, or "the mouth of the Farset" — the river on which the city was built and has now been superseded by the River Lagan. Belfast saw the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and since their start in 1969, news of violence and disruption marred the city’s image as a tourist destination.
Since the 1997 cease-fire and the Good Friday agreement, however, Belfast is making up for lost time. With the help of massive investment, the city has undergone a remarkable transformation, and now has a booming economy and high employment rates. The River Lagan has been cleaned up and inner city areas, such as the Cathedral Quarter, have been revived, attracting new restaurants, hotels, shopping areas and cafes.
Belfast was once home to C.S.Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe this is where he found his inspiration to create his enchanting fantasy world? The famous musician Van Morrison also grew up in Belfast and music is indeed an important part of this city’s social scene, with bands often performing at the Odyssey Arena or the Belfast Waterfront.
The numerous Victorian buildings of the city have been juxtaposed with impressive 20th-century architecture, creating a sense of progress and change. With its sights set on the future, Belfast is a vibrant, friendly and exciting city, waiting to be discovered in a myriad of new ways.
Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock.com
There’s is no shortage of activities and things to do in Belfast: everything from fascinating tours, cultural escapes, scientific exhibitions and historical buildings, can be explored here. Some of the better known attractions include St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast Castle, the Titanic museum and Belfast Zoo. There are also some hidden treasures that should not be missed like Belfast's own version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory called the Aunt Sandra's Candy Factory, and boat tours along the Lagan. There is great mix of things to do, and people keep coming back time and again once they understand just how much the city has to offer.
Paul Kavanagh / Shutterstock.com
Belfast is awash with slick new bars, as well as plenty of old-style pubs, many with traditional music sessions several nights of the week, as well as DJ-nights at weekends. Remember that pubs usually close around 11.30 pm, so make sure to start your night out pretty early.
The club scene is vibrant and top-quality live music can be found at several venues throughout the city. Late-night action really kicks off south of the centre around the Golden Mile, Queen’s Quarter and Lisburn Road.
All the usual department stores and high-end chains are located on High Street and Royal Avenue, as well as on the smaller streets connecting them. This area is mostly for pedestrians, so even if you don't need plan on purchasing loads of items, it still makes for a pleasant stroll, all the while having a look at the shop windows and enjoying the vibrant city life of Belfast. For more shops, explore the Cathedral Quarter, as well as Bedford Street, Dublin Road and Donegall Pass, where you will find interesting design stores, gift shops and many other small Belfast outlets.
Belfast International Airport
Belfast International Airport is located approximately 20 minutes from the city centre and you have different options to choose from when deciding on the best way to get here.
Car hire agents like Hertz and Europcar are located right in the terminal building.
Buses run between the airport and the city centre roughly every 20 minutes and the journey takes about 30-40 minutes.
Taxis are also available outside the terminal building. The International Airport Taxi Company, for example, is available every day, all day.
+44 28 9448 4353
Address: Airport Road, Belfast
Phone: +44 28 9448 4848
George Best Belfast City Airport
Belfast City Airport is located to the east of the city centre, about a 5 minute drive from the centre.
You will find car hire companies at the airport, but other ways of reaching the city are available too.
Trains run every half an hour during the day between Sydenham Station, near the airport, and the central train station in Belfast.
The Airport Express 600 takes you to the city centre and leaves every 20 minutes, but you can also take Metrobus number 3 or The Airporter.
Finally, you can also reach the city centre by taxis, which leave from outside the terminal building.
+44 28 9080 9080
Address: Airport Road, Belfast
Phone: +44 28 9093 9093
Passport / Visa
Citizens of the European Union member-states, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland, and Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) only require a valid passport to enter the UK. Residents of a further 10 countries do not require entry visas for stays under 6 months: the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Nationals of some further countries do not require a visa, but need to hold an entry certificate. Use the UK Government website to check for specific requirements: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
Best Time to Visit
April to September / October is the best time to visit Belfast. Be prepared for some wind and rain, but there are also adequate sunny days, especially in the summer. Try to avoid the two weeks around the 12th of July: many people have their holidays during the period when the traditional Protestant marches take place.
Translink runs the public transport system in Belfast that consists of metro, bus and railway. At the front of all Metro vehicles you can see the number and destination and services usually start and end around the City Hall with fares that can be paid in coins directly to the bus driver/operator on-board.
Smartlink Multi-journey tickets and travel cards are available in shops displaying the Metro sign or from the Metro Kiosk in Donegall Square West, but you could also buy your ticket online.
Phone: +44 28 9066 6630
You can easily call for a taxi or hail one down in the street.
Value Cabs, for example, is always available right in front of the two airports and will also collect and drop passengers at their preferred locations, operating 24 hours.
+44 28 9080 9080
+44 28 9033 3333
Post Offices and red post boxes are scattered all over the city, so you will definitely run into one while wandering around Belfast. Furthermore, small books of UK stamps are available in most convenience stores and at petrol stations.
Post Office in Botanic Gardens:
Address: 95 University Road, Belfast
Phone: +44 28 9038 1309
You can easily find a pharmacy in Belfast, such as the most important independent pharmacy chain in town, Gordons Chemist, that has stores scattered all over Northern Ireland and Scotland:
Address: 55 Castle Street, Belfast
Phone: +44 28 9032 0040
Country code: +44
Area code: 028
230 V, 50 Hz. Type G plug.