Belfast City Breaks – Things to see and do
Belfast pearched on the Antrim Coast, is Ireland’s second largest city and in many ways its liveliest. Belfast is well know across the world from the long dark days of conflict and war but that is now a past chapter of the city and it is considered the safest in Europe for a tourist to visit. 2012 is expected to be a busy year as Belfast celebrates the building of the Titanic in its famous Harland and Wolff Shipyard.
There seems to be a life and a passion in Belfast that is absolutely infectious, the city has many excellent bars and cafe’s that have a great energy . Though it is not all about the partying, there are numerous sites and attractions that make a weekend break in Belfast a very rewarding holiday.
The Titanic Quarter
In the Harland and Wolf yard, you can get a feel for the size of the Titanic, when you look and walk along the Thompson Graving Dock, in which the Titanic was fitted out. The giant liner was only barely able to fit in to the Dock, its 882 Ft are brought to life as you see the dock. The Titanic Centre is well worth a visit, exploring the relationship between Belfast and the ship, on which thousands of men worked for years building and the incredible advancements that made up the Titanic itself. One such interesting fact, is how the Titanic had an electrical generating plant on board that was bigger than most of the ones in the cities of Europe at the time.
West Belfast Murals
West Belfast was at the centre of the conflict in the North over the last few decades. This is reflected in the Wall Murals that are common throughout this part of Belfast. Both the Republican and Loyalist areas have them. The recent history of political murals in the North can be traced back to the Hunger Strikes of 1981. The Republican murals nowadays cover a myriad of topics from Irish culture, history and politics. The Loyalist ones still seem to be stuck in a militarist mindset. The famous Belfast Black Taxi tours will take you to most of the murals and give you a run down of the conflict in West Belfast. The tours are world famous, often given by ex-prisoners, and are a unique insight in to what Belfast was like at different stage of the last 30 years.
The Botanic Gardens is a plant lovers dream and a great morning’s exploration for everyone else. Located in the University district of Belfast City. You should make sure that you see the Tropical Ravine and the Palm house, all the attractions in the gardens are free. This part of Belfast also has a no. of lively bars, such as The Botanic, known locally as the Bot, many of them serve local Irish beers.
Just outside the city is Cave Hill, perched on the Northern side of the city, at 1100 feet high, it offers a great view of Belfast city and on a clear day, you’ll be able to see Scotland in the distance. At the top of the hill, is an Iron Age Fort. There are marked walks across the hill and a playground if your Children need some time to unwind.
Belfast has so much to offer as part of a holiday in Ireland or just as a weekend Break. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have.