Belfast has shed its troubled image to become an exciting place that combines historic Victorian architecture, a glittering waterfront, and a flourishing cultural scene, turning it into a hip, urban playground. It also makes a great base for exploring the rest of Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland. Don’t leave the city before you explore some of the following attractions:
The year 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, inspiring an extravaganza of commemorations around the world. Titanic Belfast
is the world’s biggest Titanic visitor experience and a real treat for anyone who loves history. A cutting-edge building at the site of the ship’s construction relates how the Titanic evolved from its conception in Belfast in the early 1900s.
The Giant’s Causeway
Northern Ireland’s sole UNESCO World Heritage site, the Giant's Causeway
is a spectacular geological formation 62 miles from Belfast. A headland of neatly packed basalt columns that face Scotland, the Causeway is set against a magnificent coastal backdrop of Atlantic waves, rugged cliffs, and stunning views. Legend has it that the giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill built the causeway so he could walk to Scotland to settle a dispute with another giant. Follow some of his footsteps by walking along the columns at the water’s edge.
For encounters with dinosaurs and an ancient Egyptian mummy, go to the Ulster Museum
in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens. It’s free to enter this museum, which showcases a treasure trove of art, history and natural sciences. There are items here from around the world, with ancient relics and interactive exhibits providing something to interest everybody.
St George's Market
St. George’s Market
is a wonderful Victorian covered market on the corner of Oxford and May Streets that has been trading since 1896, making it the oldest continually operating market on the island of Ireland. Refurbished in 1999, it features a variety market on Friday, selling fresh flowers, fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, in addition to general household and second-hand goods. The City Food and Garden Market takes place on Saturday, with live music to entertain customers. The Sunday market is all about food, antiques and local arts and crafts.
Stormont Parliament Buildings
Parliament Buildings on the Upper Newtownards Road is a spectacular building constructed in 1928 that is now home to the Northern Ireland Assembly
that was established under the Belfast Agreement 1998 (the Good Friday Agreement). Set in magnificent grounds, this imposing and historic structure is open to the public between 9.00am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday.
If the kids are complaining about being dragged to historic buildings, let them loose in Belfast Zoo
. Tucked away in a secluded location on the northeastern slope of Cavehill, overlooking Belfast's Antrim Road, it provides a peaceful environment for a wide range of exotic animals, including Chilean flamingos and red pandas.