The capital city of Northern Ireland Belfast has seen many a transformation in recent years. Much of the city has been redeveloped and there are now a wealth of excellent hotels and restaurants just waiting to welcome visitors to the city. The city itself is filled with incredible buildings highlighting the very best in 19th and 20th century architecture. The River Lagan flows through the centre of the city and then out into the North Channel. The river has for a long time been the life blood of the city with it being at the heart of the shipbuilding industry that was once so important here. This is where the infamous ill fated liner the Titanic was built which was constructed here in 1911.
The City Centre
The Victoria Square and the Titanic Quarter are both areas of the city that have benefited from regeneration, making them very appealing and enjoyable places to be. The city centre is based on the western side of the river, around the areas of the Royal Avenue and Donegall Square. The very useful tourist information centre and the Belfast Welcome Centre are based in Donegall Square and close to the main shopping area at Castle Place. Belfast is a very lively and exciting city with no real high or low season as it attracts visitors all year round. There are some wonderful new hotels on the waterfront for those looking for a little bit of contemporary luxury, and throughout the city there are many accommodation choices that can meet just about every budget.
There are plenty of tourist attractions dotted around the city that will appeal to all tastes, many of which are around the area of the Golden Mile, which is a long strip of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues which runs along the length of Great Victoria Street. It is along here that you will find Belfast City Hall; you simply can’t fail to notice the immense copper dome of the building as you walk along the strip. You will also come to the Linen Hall Library home to a number of early Irish manuscripts and literary works, which is over two hundred years old.
The Harbour Office sits on the waterfront and offers visitors exhibitions relating to the incredible maritime history of the county. There are still regular shows performed in the Opera House which itself dates back to 1895 and you can also find a period Victorian Public House, complete with all of its authentic fittings and fixtures. From Belfast Castle you can get some incredible panoramic views of the city and then there is the incredible Odyssey Complex, a vast multi million pound river side development which has become one of the largest purpose built entertainment complexes in the world today.
The city has several excellent museums which offer more than just a glimpse back into the heritage of the city, you will find the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum which contains not only cars and motorcycles but also fighter planes and lots of information about the Titanic as well as many real artefacts from the ship itself. There is also the Ulster Museum which gives plenty of detail about the heritage of the local area, and this part of Ireland.
There are also plenty of parks and gardens around the city which are perfect for spending time relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. There are some beautiful gardens at Mount Stewart, a beautiful manor house which is now in the care of the National Trust; the house is set in beautiful gardens filled with life and colour. You can also pay a visit to the Belfast Botanic Gardens where you will find plenty of exotic plants and tropical specimens that you don’t generally see in this part of the world. For a floral fragrant extravaganza the Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is filled with an amazing 20,000 individual rose bushes, time your visit right when the roses are in bloom and the fragrance of the flowers is out of this world.
Belfast has become the most popular choice of destination for visitors to Northern Ireland as there is just so much to see and do that meets all tastes and budgets.