I’ll be honest, Belfast was not at the tippy-top of my travel to-do list! But since visiting, I can’t wait to go back! I found it endlessly fascinating, from the history to the mythology to the breakfast! Here are 10 reasons you should make time for a few days in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
10. To Gain Knowledge from a Salmon
I had never heard of this until our guide mentioned it on our tour! The Salmon of Knowledge is part of Irish mythology. The salmon is a knowledgeable fish, and eating salmon will also make the eater knowledgeable as well. And so we have: the Salmon of Knowledge!
9. To Tour the Sole Survivor of the Battle of Jutland
That would be the H.M.S. Caroline, sole survivor of the largest naval battle ever fought, the Battle of Jutland. It’s an incredible, and indeed a miraculous, story. You can see where the men lived, fought, slept, ate, and more all onboard. You will also learn some very important World War I history!
8. Visit the Most Bombed Hotel in Europe (or Stay There!)
Don’t worry, there are no bomb threats here anymore, but during “The Troubles” it was quite a hot spot for bombs and bomb threats. It’s actually a lovely hotel, and it’s in a great location right downtown! It’s the Europa.
7. To Have Afternoon Tea at the Titanic Hotel Belfast
Sure, you can have afternoon tea in lots of places in the United Kingdom. But the Titanic Hotel Belfast does a truly fantastic job! The hotel is in the former Drawing Offices of Harland and Wolff, who designed the Titanic and many other White Star Line ships. Your tea will take place in the Presentation Room, where the plans for new ships were presented to executives and investors! It’s a beautiful setting, with original floors and fixtures. And the food was wonderful, too!
6. For the FREE Walking Tour
I have taken several walking tours all over the world, but the Belfast FREE Walking Tour was one of the best! Our guide, Brian, was personable, knowledgeable, and most importantly, he spoke slowly! He also welcomed questions, showed us some local hidden gems, and stuck around after the tour to offer directions and suggestions for things to do and places to eat if needed.
5. To Hear Some Live Music
You won’t have too much trouble finding live music in Belfast! Just ask around and you’ll be given countless suggestions for every night of the week!
4. To Visit City Hall
I was not prepared for this, but it is worth planning a return trip! Not only is the City Hall beautiful from the Victorian exterior, the inside is an absolutely stunning piece of architecture! There are museum exhibits inside, as well as a fabulous cafe. It’s FREE to enter, so plan to spend an hour or so learning all about Belfast’s history inside!
3. To Meet the Friendliest People
I have met some of the kindest, friendliest, most helpful people all over the world, but the most surprising bunch are the folks from Belfast! Even the locals admit they can sometimes be terrifyingly friendly! They want so much for you to have a great time in their city. They want to know where you’re from, how long you’ll be there, and they want to help you in any way they can! Go to Belfast for the friendly people.
2. To Eat an Authentic Irish Fry
I don’t know about you, but I will travel for good food! A traditional Irish (or Ulster) breakfast fry is similar to a full English breakfast, with two notable exceptions: instead of toast, you’ll get Irish soda bread and potato bread! And the best place to go, according to every local we asked, is Bright’s!
1. For the R.M.S. Titanic
Belfast is the birthplace of Titanic and many other White Star Line ships of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can actually visit the slipway where she was built, stay in the drawing offices where she was designed (now the Titanic Hotel Belfast), visit the world-class Titanic Museum Belfast, and tour the S.S. Nomadic, the only remaining White Star Line ship in the world. If you have even a passing interest in the incredible events surrounding the Titanic and its sinking, the Titanic Museum Belfast should be at the top of your Belfast to-do list!
Read on: Titanic: Movie Moments in Belfast
For more about Belfast and the UK, check out my United Kingdom Page!
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