Belfast is a beautiful port city, usually associated with the birthplace of The Titanic. But this Northern Ireland capital has many surprises for the less conventional tourist as well, and we decided to list just a few:
#1. Saint George’s Market
St George’s Market is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions, hosted by a Victorian building that dates back from 1896. Its fresh, local products, live music and great atmosphere make it a top attraction for the wandering traveler.
The place holds a weekly Friday Variety Market, the City Food and Craft Market on Saturdays and Sundays. It is also home to a variety of events throughout the year.
#2. Cave Hill Country Park
Visitors to Cave Hill Country Park can enjoy panoramic views across Belfast from vantage points on the hillside. This special Belfast getaway comes with archaeological sites, gardens, walking trails, scenic views and the mighty Belfast Castle.
The famous Cave Hill outline (rising to 370m -1,207ft in height) is visible throughout the city of Belfast and its most recognizable basaltic formation, named ” Napoleon’s Nose”, is believed to have inspired Jonathan Swift’s novel, Gulliver’s Travels. There are a total of five caves in the park, all man-made (some say they were originally excavated for iron- mining).
So on your way to Belfast Zoo, consider a walking and exploration detour through this magical park. To make things easier, you can book a car hire in Belfast from DriveNow online.
#3. The Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast
Queen’s University Belfast (informally Queen’s or QUB) is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The university was opened in 1849 as “Queen’s College, Belfast”.
Its main building, the Lanyon Building, was designed by the English architect, Sir Charles Lanyon, who radically influenced Belfast’s architecture. Queen’s Film Theater (leading independent cinema) is a cultural trademark of the university, together with the Brian Friel Theater and the Naughton Gallery at Queen’s, a registered museum.
#4. Belfast Castle
Set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park, the prominent position of Belfast Castle provides fantastic views of the city of Belfast and the sea. The original Belfast Castle was originally built in the 12th century by the Normans in a different location, now known as Belfast city center. The building that stands today dates from 1870 and was designed in the Scottish baronial style by Charles Lanyon at the request of the 3rd Marquess of Donegall.
The great square tower rises a full six stores. The entrance façade opens to the steep slope of the hillside and has a porch with decorative Doric columns. Belfast Castle has a Visitor Center, the Cellar Antique Shop, the Cellar Restaurant, the Caste Tavern. It is a very popular venue for conferences, private dining and wedding receptions. Open 7 days a week, free access for all travelers.
#5. The Peace Walls
The Belfast Peace Lines or Belfast Peace Walls are a series of “borders” built in the 1970 to divide Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods. The walls are made from iron, brick or steel and range in length from a few hundred yards to over 5 km. Of the total 17 walls spread throughout the city, West Belfast’s sections are the most visited.
“The Berlin Wall had to come down for Berlin to be normalized. We have normalized Belfast without taking down the walls,” said Jonny Byrne, a lecturer in politics at the University of Ulster. In May 2013, the Northern Ireland Executive committed to the removal of all peace lines by mutual consent by 2023.
#6. Black Taxi Tours
If you’re an independent traveler searching for inside stories and history lessons, then you should consider hiring a black taxi ride. Also called a hackney or hackney carriage, the black cab is an icon of Belfast. Black taxis are taking travelers on tours throughout the city’s sectarian murals and the city’s historical center.
During the 1970s, Belfast was caught in a daily trouble caused by political and ethnic conflicts. During these times, the roads weren’t safe anymore for a bus trip. A unique solution was needed to provide daily transportation for people in the midst of major conflicts. The only reliable solution for routine travel along the city were these flexible black taxis, which soon became very popular.
#7. Crumlin Road Gaol
Affectionately known as “the Crum”, the The Crumlin Road Gaol is a former prison in Belfast, that closed its doors in 1996. Today, the infamous place is open for visiting and ready to reveal its 150 years of history to lucky short-term “guests” worldwide.
The building is of major architectural and historical significance. The Crumlin Road Courthouse, which is currently derelict, stands opposite the prison. There is a tunnel under the main road that connects the two buildings and that can be visited during the guided tour. Its primarily use was to transfer the prisoners to the courthouse.
A guided tour at Crumlin Road Gaol (open 7 days a week all year round) is priced £8.50 for adults and £6.50 for children.
#8. Ulster Folk and Transport Museum
The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is situated in Cultra, Northern Ireland, about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) east of the city of Belfast. It comprises two separate museums, the Folk Museum and the Transport Museum. The Folk Museum illustrates the way of life and traditions of the people in Northern Ireland, past and present. It houses old buildings and dwellings which have been collected from various parts of Ireland and rebuilt in the grounds of the museum, brick by brick. The transport Museum explores and exhibits methods of transport by land, sea and air, past and present.
#9. Belfast Sea Safari Tours
A boat trip is a great way to see the Belfast harbor, especially with the small family members. A sea safari tour costs around £18.00 (for 50 minutes) and you can find more information on the specialized website that offer such experiences.