Belfast Travel Guide
Why? Anyone intent on discovering Ireland may be tempted to eschew a holiday in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, in favour of what is perceived as the more archetypical Irish city of Dublin in the south. Now peaceful after years of conflict, the city is intent on luring tourists willing to travel to Belfast to scratch beneath its rather dowdy surface to reveal its Edwardian and Victorian heritage, and explore the epitome of the Irish soul. New hotels, bars and restaurants are opening daily, and attractions are optimistically advertising their merits. Merits there are aplenty in Belfast, known primarily as being the city where the ill-fated Titantic was built.
When? There is no 'best time' to travel to Belfast, a city that is wet and cool all year round, though winter is considered to be the rainiest season (August through to January). Winter temperatures are moderated by the city's coastal location.
Who for? A holiday in Belfast is currently a popular choice for Britons and Europeans seeking a 'city break'. It is also a recommended destination for anyone intent on understanding Ireland, and nautical enthusiasts who travel to Belfast to explore its Waterfront complex.
More Info: Discover how to travel to Belfast and make the most of your holiday in Belfast with our Belfast holiday guide, which is updated regularly and includes a host of important information; including weather, safety, and Belfast attractions.
Belfast City Hall © www.sxc.hu
The fortunes of Belfast have risen and fallen over time, from its beginnings as a Bronze Age settlement to extensive World War II bombings and civil conflict. Today, the capital of Northern Ireland is a thriving city that has regained some of its old charm and industry, and has begun to lure the odd curious traveller or two. City breaks in Belfast are becoming increasingly popular, with a variety of low-cost European carriers offering cheap flights to Northern Ireland's capital.
Belfast is situated near the mouth of the River Lagan, and blossomed in the 17th century with an influx of English and Scottish settlers. The port city grew in prominence during the Industrial Revolution, with booming linen, rope-making and shipbuilding industries. The ill-fated Titanic was built here in the Harland and Wolff shipyards, and today Belfast still boasts the world's biggest dry dock, as well as a restored Waterfront Complex that houses chic restaurants, shops and ubiquitous Irish pubs.
Much of the city's architectural heritage was destroyed during repeated bombings in World War II, as well as during the Troubles - a period of civil conflict between Roman Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists that raged from 1969 until the late 1990s. Several exquisite Victorian and Edwardian buildings remain, however, and have been filled with trendy bars, boutiques, galleries, museums and restaurants in an attempt to regenerate the city's image. Evidence of the Troubles can still be seen in the many murals that line Falls Road and Shankill Road, and the Europa Hotel has become famous as one of the most-bombed buildings in Europe, having being targeted no less than 27 times.
Belfast is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but its fascinating history, ongoing struggles, many attractions and above all, the warmth and acerbic wit of its inhabitants, make it an interesting stop on any tour of the United Kingdom. It also serves as an excellent base from which to explore the many natural wonders of Northern Ireland.
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