Northern Ireland’s capital has a habit of surprising first-time visitors – today’s Belfast has become a deservedly popular travel destination. The centre’s graceful Victorian architecture, lively pubs and clubs and regenerated shopping districts provide a platform for a buzzing cultural scene, while the recent publicity around the anniversary of the Titanic’s voyage has helped to draw fresh visitor attention.
A titanic legacy
The RMS Titanic was constructed in the shipyards right here in Belfast, and since 2012 there’s been a huge museum (1 Olympic Way) dedicated to the vessel’s ill-fated tale. It’s quite an experience, with visitors given great insight into how the luxurious liner was fitted out, as well as being treated to high-definition footage of the wreck itself. Since 2013, it’s also been possible to step aboard the nearby SS Nomadic (Hamilton Dock), the steamship which ferried first-class passengers to the Titanic.
Delve into the past
Belfast’s political history has often been an uneasy one, and it remains a common activity for curious visitors to take guided black-cab tours of Shankill and Falls Roads, where various murals are still on display. On a different note, there are also two fantastic heritage museums – the UlsterAmericanFolkPark (2 Mellon Road), which focuses on US emigration, and the equally absorbing UlsterFolk & TransportMuseum (153 Bangor Road).
Look further afield
Belfast makes a good base for exploring the coast and countryside of Northern Ireland. The most obvious spot to head for is Giant’s Causeway – just 100km north of the city – but a short break to Belfast from Aberdeen Airport is also an opportunity to visit the likes of BarnettDemesnePark (Milltown Road), which is particularly beautiful in spring, and the National Trust-owned property The Argory (144 Derrycaw Road)