Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s famous for Game of Thrones scenery and filming locations, murals, “troubles,” and… the Titanic! This third point was my and my younger brother’s whole reason for visiting Belfast, and it’s the reason thousands of people visit every year. This museum opened in 2012, just a couple of weeks before the 100th anniversary of the famous ship’s sinking. We were very impressed with the whole experience, and I hope you will be, too!
Why is the museum in Belfast? Why is this the “Titanic Quarter”? Why is the building so pointy? There’s a lot of symbolism and significance, so here’s a quick run-down:
- Location: The museum is built in front of the slipway where workers constructed the Titanic prior to its maiden voyage in 1912.
- Architecture: The shape of the building resembles several things, including the points of a compass, a star (as in the White Star Line), the bow of a ship, four ages of ship building (wood, iron, steel, aluminum), an iceberg, and more things that I don’t even remember!
- Benches: The benches around the museum look like dashes and dots of Morse code from above; their message is “This is Titanic CDQ SOS.”
Included in Your Ticket Price
When we visited in June 2019, and we chose the White Star Premium Pass for 30 GBP (39 USD) per person. That ticket included:
- The Titanic Experience
- The Discovery Tour (a 1-hour guided tour)
- Access to the SS Nomadic, the only White Star Line ship still afloat (can be used the day of or the day after your visit to the museum)
- A souvenir photograph
- 15% off at Bistro 401
- 15% off the museum store
You can also buy tickets for the Titanic Experience only or the Discovery Tour only. And on Sundays you can also have Afternoon Tea included in your experience! (Need some pointers on how to do afternoon tea in the United Kingdom? Check out my Beginner’s Guide to Afternoon Tea!)
Not visiting on a Sunday? Check out Afternoon Tea at the Titanic Hotel Belfast!
The Titanic Museum Experience
A few things to know before you go:
- Harland and Wolff is the company that built and designed the Titanic and many other White Star Line ships.
- Plan to spend about two hours in the galleries.
- You can leave and come back the same day; we came back after our timed Discovery Tour to finish up!
- Plan to spend about 30-45 minutes on the S.S. Nomadic.
I was so impressed with the way this museum is set up. I love that it starts with Belfast before it was known for shipbuilding and describes why Belfast boomed during the potato blight years because of the industrial revolution. The museum then goes on to explain that American money was instrumental in building some of the huge ships like the Titanic, and then goes into the process of building the Titanic, complete with a (slow!) roller coaster ride!
Throughout the museum’s galleries you’ll find models of every stateroom class; stories of Titanic workers, victims, and survivors, as well as the people of Belfast; and items used aboard White Star Line ships, such as china:
I was also surprised at how many ports of call Titanic visited before the disaster. She visited Southampton, England; Cherbourg, France; and Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, all before attempting to make her way across the Atlantic.
The Discovery Tour
I don’t always take extra tours of the museums I visit, but I highly recommend the Discovery Tour at the Titanic Museum. There is so much more than just what you can read on the wall placards, and you’d just never know without this tour! Knowing the symbolism adds so much to the experience, and actually I wish we had taken the tour first before visiting the museum itself. Now you know! Here are the highlights:
- The symbolism and story behind the design of the building
- The drawing offices of Harland and Wolff, now the Titanic Hotel Belfast
- The slipways where Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were built
- The largest map of the Northern Hemisphere in the world
- The route Titanic took before her fateful trip
- Famous and wealthy people on the Titanic—some who survived, some who did not
- Details about the Harland and Wolff workers—draftsmen, executives, laborers, and craftsmen alike
- Symbolism inside the museum
The SS Nomadic
The SS Nomadic is the one and only White Star Line ship still intact. This ship was also built in 1911 alongside the Titanic, and while it was outfitted with similar design and finishings, it is just one-quarter Titanic’s size. She is also Titanic’s “little sister” and the tender ship that ferried first- and second-class passengers and luggage to the Titanic from her port in Cherbourg, France, forever linking her with the ill-fated ship.
The “tinytanic” as I called it served in World Wars I and II, ferried thousands of famous, infamous, and regular passengers to numerous large ocean liners, and finally spent about 30 years next to the Eiffel Tower as a restaurant and event venue. Now she rests peacefully back where she was built, in Belfast overlooking the Titanic Museum.
Above and Beyond
Want to take your experience to the next level? You can actually stay at the Titanic Hotel Belfast! The hotel is in the former drawing offices of Harland and Wolff, who drew up the plans for Titanic. You can stay in a piece of history!
Ready for your own Titanic Museum experience in Belfast? Check out their website to get your tickets!
Want more about Belfast and the UK? Take a look at my United Kingdom Page!
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