Northern Ireland

What to Know Before You Visit Belfast

Northern Ireland, particularly Belfast, was not terribly high on my list of places to go, but that’s where my brother chose to visit for his big birthday trip. So we went! And let me tell you, Belfast was the biggest, most pleasant travel surprise to date! What surprised me most was the sincere friendliness of the people, and I am already excited to plan a return trip! Here are a few things to know to help you plan your own trip to beautiful Belfast!

Terminology

They do speak English, but that accent is very distinctive! They also talk very quickly, but no one seemed to mind when I asked them to repeat themselves once… or twice! There are a few terms to know about in advance, so you’ll have a heads-up on words and phrases you might hear.

  • Wee: This is cute! And little! And just something to say when you’re making polite conversation! I have never heard the word “wee” so much in my life, and I loved it every single time. So have your wee self a wee pleasant time in wee Belfast when you visit wee Northern Ireland. It’s a wee bit wonderful!
  • The Troubles, The War, and the Conflict: This refers to the unsettling time before Ireland was partitioned.
  • Partitioned: This refers to the separation of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Meet the Salmon of Knowledge! A key character in Irish mythology.

Money Matters

Whether you’re traveling budget-style or in the lap of luxury, you’ll definitely be glad to know this about the money before you go:

Beautiful Money
  • Surprise! Northern Ireland uses the British Pound (GBP), but they print their own money, which is different in looks only. You can use both in Northern Ireland, but you cannot use Northern Ireland Pounds anywhere else in the UK.
  • Need English pounds instead of Northern Irish pounds? Get it at the HSBC ATM! That is an excellent tip from a local!
Bank of Ireland vs. Bank of England
Ulster Bank vs. Bank of Ireland

Getting Around

Belfast is incredibly walkable. Even the Titanic Quarter actoss the river from the city center is only about a 20 minute walk from the Prince Albert Clock Tower! We had no trouble finding anything we wanted to see, and even if we did need a little help, someone was there to take the time to help us! Uber is also an easy way to get around if you need a lift, and of course the taxis are a good option as well! Everyone was very friendly and helpful in getting us where we wanted to go.

There are also helpful signs for pedestrians!

Good to Know

Here are a few other helpful tips and bits of info to help you on your trip to Belfast and Northern Ireland:

The Titanic is kind of a big deal here.

It’s true! The Titanic was designed and built right here in Belfast. I highly recommend visiting the Titanic Museum Belfast and staying at the Titanic Hotel Belfast.

Titanic Museum Belfast
Albert Memorial Clock is in fact leaning.

It’s leaning southeast, and a 2002 renovation stopped it from falling over! It was built in 1869, and it’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in Belfast.

That’s not a camera trick, that’s a lean!
Northern Ireland and Ireland are definitely not the same country! Or even part of the same country!

In fact, the Republic of Ireland is a separate country entirely, and Northern Ireland is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales).

The British Isles; Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom,
but the Republic of Ireland is not!
Driving? Speeds are in miles per hour.

Also, they drive on the left, but you probably already knew that! Nervous about driving on the “other side” of the road? We didn’t rent a car this trip, but my brother was super weirded out by just being a passenger on the other side of the road! If you plan to rent a car, or are just curious about it, check out my Tips for Driving on the Left!

Northern Irish folks are some of the friendliest in the world!

You might even call them “aggressively friendly”! Everyone we met wanted to know where we were from, tell us the best things to do, talk about their family, suggest places to go and sights to see, etc., etc., etc. There’s very little personal space involved, so just be prepared to get up-close and personal. Don’t be terrified! Make friends!

We loved Belfast and all their friendly people!

Want more on Northern Ireland and the UK? Check out my United Kingdom Page!

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