Beginners Guide to Belfast

Belfast is the largest and capital city of Northern Ireland. It sits on the River Lagan on the east coast of Ireland. Belfast is a popular destination for visitors to the island and here you’ll find everything you need to know before visiting the city.


Titanic Belfast

Titanic Belfast St Patrick'sBetween the years of 1909 and 1912 Belfast was home to one of the worlds most famous ships; The Titanic. The ship may have met catastrophe on her maiden voyage but she left behind an incredible story of men and woman seeking opportunity across the Atlantic. Titanic Belfast is one of the city’s most notable attractions and offers and in-depth look at the history surrounding this magnificent vessel. The Titanic Experience is a multi-media interactive tour taking you back to the days of Titanic. Explore the Harland and Wolff shipyard where the construction occurred and get a chance to walk the decks of the last remaining White Star vessel; The SS Nomadic. All information surrounding tours and opening hours can be found here. If you’re interested in learning more about the titanic story be sure to check out our blog on Titanic’s Irish Roots.

Crumlin Gaol 

The building officially closed its doors as a prison in 1996. Since reopening in 2012, the gaol has fast become one of Belfast’s most notable attractions. The 150 year history of this infamous prison is a great introduction to the fascinating past of Northern Ireland. Knowledgeable tour guides offer interesting insights into the stories of the men, women and even children who were incarcerated at the gaol. You’ll hear about the men who were executed on the grounds and get information about the segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners. Names such as Eamon de Valera, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands are among the most well known prisoners to be held in Crumlin. Along with history tours, the gaol also boasts a delicious Bar & Grill, along with regular live music & events.mural-belfast

Peace Walls

Belfast’s modern history is awash with political and sectarian violence. The violence known locally as “the troubles” began in the late 1960’s when conflicting parties argued over whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom or join the Republic to create a united Ireland. It’s been over 20 years since “the troubles” officially ended but the walls used to separate the conflicting groups still remain. There are at least 40 walls running for a collective 18 miles still separating unionist and nationalist suburbs. Today the walls act as a canvas for the incredible art which has spawned from these years of violence and continued political dissonance. The most famous of the peace walls divides the Falls and Shankill Road in the western part of Belfast. It runs for several miles and is fitted with huge metal gates which were used as security checkpoints at the height of the troubles.

Belfast City Hall

Belfast City Hall

When Queen Victoria granted Belfast the status of city in 1888 it was agreed that a grand and magnificent building was required to reflect the title. The building was designed by Alfred Brumwell Thomas and construction was completed in 1906. City Hall has many connections to the Titanic, namely through Viscount William Pirrie, Lord Mayor from 1896-1897. He was also managing director of the Harland & Wolff Shipyard and used many of his skilled workmen in fitting out city hall. For this reason it is said that the halls interior are an incredible insight into the finish of Titanic’s lounges and suites. The beautiful architecture and picturesque surrounding grounds are what makes this such a popular tourist destination and inside you will find incredible art displays along with beautiful stained glass windows. Tours go multiple times per day operating on a first come first serve basis and are free of charge. 

Whether you’ve got a keen interest in all things history, or you just enjoy taking in some beautiful architecture, Belfast has got something for you. Our 9 day East Coast Excursion tour includes 2 nights in Belfast so you’ll have plenty of time to explore this beautiful city. Follow the link below for all the details on this tour.


Northern Ireland: Know Before You Go

Other Posts You Might Like