After years of being avoided as a vacation destination due to its tumultuous history, Belfast is now becoming increasingly popular among tourists for its lively atmosphere, its pretty waterfront and its fascinating historical and cultural sites.
(Tim Fields, Flickr)
Belfast has a great range of sites to explore including the Titanic Belfast center, which last year was named the “World’s Leading Tourist Attraction”. It is an attraction and monument dedicated to Belfast’s maritime heritage, built on what used to be the Harland & Wolff shipyard where the RMS Titanic was built. Another top site in Belfast is the World War One warship, HMS Caroline, which has been converted into a floating museum. Additionally, take a trip to the Ulster Museum, a beautiful building located in the tranquil Botanic Gardens containing works of fine art, archaeological artefacts, information on local history, as well as botany, zoology and much more. Crumlin Road Gaol is also worth visiting. Book a guided tour around this former prison and learn about what life was like for the 25,000 prisoners who were first held here in 1846. Not only is the history intriguing, but the architecture of this grade A listed building is worth admiring.
Belfast is also famous for its vibrant pub culture; pubs around the city are filled with live music and friendly locals. They often also have a long history, such as the Crown Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street, a beautifully decorated 1820s pub, which was formerly a famous Victorian gin palace. For great music, head to the traditional Duke of York pub and enjoy the cosy unpretentious atmosphere, live musicians and retro tunes.
There are plenty of fabulous restaurants in Belfast to choose from, including the fine-dining restaurant, Saphyre. The restaurant is housed inside the 1924 Ulsterville Presbytarian Church and serves delicious Irish dishes with an innovative, contemporary twist. Popular dishes include the scallop ceviche and the rhubarb soufflé with ginger yogurt. A great place for classic pub food is McCracken’s, a stripped back but still somewhat stylish gastropub serving Irish beef burgers, pan roasted salmon fillet with crab, potatoes and white wine cream, seafood chowder and many more delicious dishes.