Belfast has changed enormously over the past ten years. Since the Good Friday Agreement brought an end to decades of violence and a constant military presence, the city has started to rediscover its identity. The Belfast of today is a cultural haven, with a burgeoning art scene, a wealth of musical talent, and a host of world-class museums. Visit the Ulster Museum for a taste of Northern Ireland’s rich heritage before enjoying a stroll around the lush Botanic Gardens, with its iconic pavilion. This is a small city with a big personality–visitors will be invited to ‘have the craic’ with any locals they meet, and thanks to the presence of Queens University, the local population is young and diverse. This is also one of the cheapest cities in the UK, but with increased investment and a growing tourism industry, that is unlikely to last for long.
Location: Belfast–a Titanic port city
Belfast is situated on the east coast of Northern Ireland, looking across the Irish Sea towards Scotland. It is served by two airports, and a good network of roads, which connect the city with the rest of Northern Ireland. Belfast is world famous for its shipbuilding traditions–this is where the Titanic was built, after all–and the harbour is still a busy place where ships are built and repaired.
Business: Where old and new industries meet
The industrial revolution saw Belfast become a hub for shipbuilding, tobacco production, rope making and linen manufacture. While many of these old industries are still thriving, in recent years the city has evolved to embrace modern industries such as software development and film production.
Culture: All-singing, all-dancing, all-drinking
In Belfast, it is all about ‘having the craic’–having a good time, in layman’s terms. This invariably involves drinking local favourites such as Guinness, Harp lager or Buckfast tonic wine. Music, singing, dancing, and storytelling have been part of Northern Irish culture for millennia, and these traditions remain today. Visit the Cathedral Quarter for a range of traditional and trendy pubs and bars, and follow your ear to find the one with the best atmosphere.
Activities: From city to country in ten minutes
Belfast is fully kitted out with dozens of great gyms, tennis courts, swimming pools, and city centre parks. But for fans of hiking, the rugged coastline and stunning countryside are just a few minutes outside the city. Head north to the Glens of Antrim, where the TV series Game of Thrones is filmed, or trek along the wild sandy beaches of Co. Down.