Since the 1990’s, Belfast has enjoyed a mass rehabilitation process and has been transformed into a hip and stylish party town that ranks it as one of the most attractive destinations in Europe. Gone are the days of bombs and bullets as the friendly locals look forward to a prolonged period of peace and tranquillity.
Like most cities with a tragic past of turmoil and destruction, Belfast has undergone an artistic boom which has seen an influx of underground galleries popping up in warehouses and bohemian cafes. Art aficionado’s should head for Catalyst Arts, a non-commercial multi-source centre which puts on a full programme of exhibitions which challenges modern artists to visually explore contemporary culture.
Already blessed with a spectacular legacy of stunning Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture which includes the Belfast City Hall, The Grand Opera House and Queen´s University, the urban regeneration programme has extended its reach to the Titanic Quarter where visitors can discover the city´s proud heritage of ship building. The Ulster Folk Museum and the newly developed Titanic Signature Building have replaced the dirge and grime of oily ship yards and tell the story of a past which includes the memory of the launch of the iconic ships maiden voyage. And despite its fatal demise the proud locals joke, “She was fine when she left here.”
One of the top attractions is Belfast Castle which dominates the slopes of Cave Hill. Built in the 1860´s the castle is one of Belfast´s most famous landmarks and is open to guests to enjoy exquisite local cuisine in the unique setting of Victorian surroundings.
Another must-see place is the award-winning attraction of the W5 Interactive Science Centre together with the alluring city Zoo which are great days out for all the family. Animal lovers should also pay a visit to the Exploris Aquarium and the Marine Nature Reserve of Strangford Lough, both of which have the power to thrill and inspire.
Belfast is also renowned for its manic and vibrant nightlife entertainment and is packed with bustling traditional pubs provided regular live entertainment and sumptuous local ales. The friendly locals mingle with tourists and introduce them to an unforgettable night, or forgettable depending on how much you drink, of traditional song and dance. If you’re looking for something a little more sedate, why not catch a show in one of the many theatres staging plays from esteemed Irish playwrights.
Ferries to Belfast
There are direct ferries from both Scotland and England to Belfast. Sailing from Stranraer to Belfast or Liverpool to Belfast. As well as those direct ferries there is also a ferry leaving from Troon and Cairnryan to Larne, just outside Belfast, which is just a 30 minute drive from the centre of Belfast.