Today we’re going to discover more about the capital of Northern Ireland! This city is crossed by the River Lagan and has been a major port since the 19th century, and was also well known for shipbuilding. In fact, the most famous transatlantic in 20th century, the RMS Titanic, was built at Belfast’s Harland and Wolff shipyard. The ship is sadly known for its tragic sinking after hitting an iceberg during her maiden voyage. Nevertheless, nowadays the city has a lot more to offer than just its historical port. From the beautiful architecture to the pubs and restaurants, you will find many things to do and to see. Here’s 7 places you should definitely see when you visit Belfast!
1. Belfast City Hall
Let’s begin with Belfast’s Council civil building, which you will find in the city centre, in Donegall Square. You can actually visit it for free from Monday to Friday. The tours include information about the history of the building and the city. You can also visit the the City Hall grounds, where you will find monuments and memorials of historical events. They include the Titanic Memorial Garden, The Cenotaph and Garden of Remembrance.
2. Belfast Grand Opera House
This fancy opera house is another stop that you cannot miss when you visit Belfast. This theatre first opened in 1895. When you go there you can attend musicals, opera, ballet and drama, from the classical ones to the latest ones. With its beautiful style and stunning interiors, the great acoustic and the refreshment areas, you will have the best experience. The theatre is also partner with The Fitzwilliam Hotel, located next door. It also hosts many art laboratories and other creative activities, especially for children and young people. Grab your tickets and enjoy a good night out at this beautiful theatre!
3. The Big Fish and Belfast Dock
Moving on to the port area, you should stop to see The Big Fish sculpture, also known as The Salmon of Knowledge. This mosaic sculture by John Kindness can be found near the Lagan Lookout and was made in 1999. The peculiarity of this sculpture is that each scale features an image, text or newspaper article about Belfast, so this way the fish tells the tourists and the locals about the history of the city. The artist has stated that the sculpture contains a time capsule featuring written and visual memoirs of Belfast.
4. Titanic Belfast & SS Nomadic
Let’s proceed with one of the main attractions of the city. When you visit Belfast, you need to take the opportunity to have a tour of Titanic Belfast, the museum about the famous RMS Titanic. With the Titanic experience you can follow a path through the history of the ship, from the early times of her construction, up until the shipwreck on April 15, 1912. It includes information about the aftermath and the media impact of the tragedy, along with the survivors’ testimonies. It features lots of interactive information, videos, photos and relics, as well as reconstructions of the cabins and lifeboats. The visit lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The museum also includes The Gallery Café, the fancy restaurant The Pantry inspired to the one on board the White Star Line ships, and a souvenirs shop.
Whats more, just outside the museum you can find the SS Nomadic, the last ship from the White Star Line left standing. This small ship served as a passenger transport in small harbours, in order to transfer them onto the transatlantic. This means that you will be able to visit the ship where the actual Titanic passengers have been more than a century ago! The interiors are still original, and you can visit it in all its rooms, where you’ll find further information.
Finally, near the museum you’ll find the Titanic’s Dock and Pump House. Here you can see the place where the Titanic was built and get to understand how actually big the ship was. An unmissable experience!
5. C.S. Lewis Square
Moving on to another memorial site, you should check out the C.S. Lewis Square. It is open to the public 24 hours a day and it is dedicated to the famous author of The Chronicles of Narnia, who was actually born in Belfast on November 29th, 1898. Here you will see seven sculptures representing the elements from the book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It’s located between the Connswater and Comber Greenways.
Near the square you can find the EastSide Visitor Centre, a tourist information point which also includes a coffee bar dedicated to the author, the JACK coffee bar. What’s better than stopping there after a day of sightseeing?
6. Belfast Castle
Proceed with one of the most important Irish landmarks: Belfast Castle. It was built in 1870 at the behest of Marquis of Donegall, though other structures had been built and later destroyed since the 12th century. It will offer you a stunning view over the city, and since the second half of the 20th century it’s been a very popular venue for wedding receptions and other events. There you will also find an antique store, a tourist information point and the restaurant which is used to host the private events.
Beware that due to COVID-19 restrictions the castle is currently closed to the public. Check the useful links below and the castle’s official website where you can find all information about future reopening and bookings.
7. Victoria Square Dome
And finally, if you’re looking for a stunning view to take pictures of the city, we recommend you visiting Victoria Square. This big mall features cafes, fast food, restaurants and lots of shops and stores. After a nice shopping tour and a lunch break, go up The Dome and enjoy a beautiful 360° view of Belfast from above. You can also book a guided tour where the local guides will tell you about the city in general and also provide you with specific information from the sites that you can see from the observatory. From here you’ll be able to see the city’s main points of interest such as the City Hall, the Albert Memorial Clock, the Harland & Wolff Cranes, Stormont Buildings and Cave Hill. The perfect way to end your tour of Belfast and take a personal souvenir photo of the city.