Bright and bustling Belfast is shaking off its past woes and moving forward into the future. The capital of Northern Ireland, this city is home to stately museums, Victorian architecture and a wealth of new waterfront developments. A highlight of these is the Titanic Quarter, with its Titanic Belfast Centre dedicated to everything you’d ever want to know about the ill-fated ocean liner. (The ship was built in Belfast). Visit the Ulster Museum to learn more about the region’s history, or spend your day shopping along Belfast’s Golden Mile with its rows of posh boutiques.
The story of the Titanic still holds our interest over a century after its tragic ending. You can learn more about how it was constructed in the Titanic Belfast Centre, which is designed to resemble a ship’s hull. There are nine interactive galleries to explore, allowing you to walk through reconstructed decks and shipyards as you hear its story. Additional must-see attractions include the Belfast Castle, the open-air Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, and Belfast Cathedral. Stop and smell the roses in the Botanical Gardens, and say hello to the red pandas and tigers in the Belfast Zoo.
Getting into Belfast’s city centre from the terminal couldn’t be easier. Just line up for the free shuttle bus that takes you into town! These run every 15 minutes during peak cruise arrival times. The city centre itself is quite small and compact, so you’ll be able to cover lots of ground as a pedestrian. If your feet are tired, you can travel by bus or take a taxi. Taxis are all over the place in Belfast as well. Be sure to look for the traditional black cabs rather than unofficial cars without meters, as these could inadvertently cost you a pretty penny.
If you’re arriving by Stena Line ferry, there’s a dedicated car park right in front of the terminal. This parking lot includes space for over 300 cars. Both cash and card payments are accepted through the automated pay stations, or you can pay by credit card at the travel centre. If you pay in advance, the cost for a week of parking is only £40. The Belfast Harbour is part of the brand-new City Quays development, which is where you’ll enter on larger cruise lines. A new multi-storey car park is in construction here that will hold up to 900 spaces.
Our next stop was to the city of Belfast which lies at the mouth of the River Lagan. It is also the home of the worlds largest dry dock and the Harland and Wolff shipyard, famous for building the Titanic.
Afternoon Tea at the Titanic Hotel is a great way to spend a day in Belfast, when visiting it as a port of call.
Belfast serves as a launching pad for additional sights in Northern Ireland. Why not take a day trip to the charming seaside town of Carrickfergus, home to the Andrew Jackson Centre and Knight Ride attraction? Another option is to visit the country’s most famous attraction, the Giant’s Causeway. Its basalt columns form a natural series of stepping stones, the perfect size for a giant!
Don’t leave Belfast without visiting one of its convivial pubs. Many are hundreds of years old, making them the perfect place to soak up a traditional atmosphere along with your whiskey or tea. Most pubs serve food as well as drink, so you can try classic dishes like Irish stew and sausages and mash.
The Exploris Aquarium is located in Portaferry. It gives you a diver’s eye view of colourful coral reefs and north Atlantic rock pools, along with the marine life that calls these diverse habitats their home. See playful otters frolicking in the outdoor pools, or explore the jellyfish enclosures in this fun-filled attraction.
You’ll see many eye-catching buildings when wandering around downtown Belfast, but the City Hall is one of its most striking. Take a free tour to discover its finer features, including a Titanic Memorial Garden.