A short flight from most UK airports makes Belfast a great choice for a weekend away.
Duration: 4 days
Belfast is a Victorian city rich in architectural heritage and full of Victorian and Edwardian landmarks. It was once an industrial powerhouse, home to many industries including rope making, ship building and linen; the wealth generated from these industries is reflected in its grand buildings. Of course Belfast has a more recent and well-documented political history and tours are available to see the city's street art. These murals, centered mainly on West and East Belfast, have been described by Simon Calder from The Independent as 'the world's greatest open-air gallery'
Belfast is divided into quarters - distinctive cultural zones within the city whose identities have been developed as a spur to tourism and urban regeneration.
Titanic Quarter: The Titanic was built at Belfast's famed Harland and Wolff shipyard in East Belfast, nowadays this area houses a state-of-the-art visitor centre, the largest Titanic visitor experience in the world. Spread over six floors the 'hulls' are exactly the same height as Titanic when she sat on the slipway.
The Linen Quarter is the area of Belfast south of the City Hall. The name is derived from the many linen manufacturers who made their homes in the area and who were so influential in the development of Belfast, a city once referred to as Linenopolis.
The Library Quarter is centered around Belfast Central Library. Two main newspaper offices can be found here.
The Market Quarter of Belfast was once home to around a dozen markets but today only St. George's Market remains. This is the last of the city's remaining covered Victorian markets and in 2014 was voted UK's Best Large Indoor Market.
Belfast is renowned for its excellent food (and drink!) and these are found in abundance in the Cathedral Quarter, with St Anne's Cathedral at its heart. The area has become well known for its varied architecture - grand public buildings such as Custom House sit alongside cosy traditional pubs and trendy warehouse restaurants. In recent years it has also become the focus of Belfast's thriving arts scene.
The leafy area around Queen's University is Queen's Quarter. Founded by Queen Victoria, the Queen's University in Ireland, was designed to be a non-denominational alternative to Trinity College Dublin, which was controlled by the Anglican Church. Queen's opened its doors in 1849 and the first students entered the magnificent college building designed and built by Charles Lanyon. Beside Queen's you'll find Botanic Gardens and the Ulster Museum.
In the west of the city is the Gaeltacht Quarter the centre for Irish language and culture. This area is renowned for its popular programmes of music and drama.
On the outskirts of the city is the imposing Stormont Building, which was originally constructed to accommodate the newly formed Government of Northern Ireland, established under the Government of Ireland Act, 1921.
Belfast city centre is fairly compact so is easy to get around. There is a good variety of shops and you are spoiled for choice when it comes to cafes, restaurants and bars. Several of the bars are tourist attractions in their own right - a visit to the Crown is a must. It has a wonderful atmospheric setting, with period gas lighting and cosy snugs - these were built to accommodate the pub's more reserved customers during the austere Victorian period, the snugs feature the original gun metal plates for striking matches and an antique bell system for alerting staff that their glasses needed refilling!
Many venues feature live music, especially at weekends - to be expected really, when you consider that the city gave birth to Gary Moore, Ruby Murray, James Galway and Van Morrison!
In recent years Belfast has recaptured much of its joie de vivre and we highly recommend it as a city break, within an hour's flight from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Prices upon request.