5 Reasons Belfast Should be on your Ireland Bucket List
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5 Reasons Belfast should be on your Ireland Bucket List
When travelers think about Ireland, they often dream about visiting lively pubs in Dublin or experiencing firsthand the spectacular views along the iconic Wild Atlantic Way. There is, however, a place that should feature on every Ireland bucket list that is criminally underrated and underappreciated – Belfast.
The Capital of Northern Ireland is slowly gaining a reputation for being one of the most dynamic and up-and-coming cities in the whole of Europe. With Dublin increasingly becoming more and more expensive to visit, perhaps you should consider the main city North of the border for your next trip to the Emerald Isle?
This article will outline exactly why Belfast should feature highly on your Ireland bucket list by showcasing the best things to do and see in Northern Ireland’s charismatic capital city.
The History – Belfast is the best place to discover the turmoil that the Troubles caused
Unfortunately, Belfast is perhaps best known for the violence that occurred in the city during the latter half of the 20th Century. Dubbed ‘The Troubles’ by locals, the Northern Ireland conflict lasted nearly 30 years until peace was finally proposed by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Despite a successful push in recent years to move away from the Troubles, Belfast is inextricably linked to the conflict, making the city an important place to visit if you want to learn more about the history of Ireland.
Embarking on one of the famous black taxi tours of Belfast is perhaps the best way to learn about Northern Irish history – you are driven around the city’s most-pertinent areas by a driver who lived and worked through the Troubles.
Alternatively, a visit to the Crumlin Road Gaol (Jail) offers a chilling reminder of the recent past in the city. ‘The Crum’, as locals often refer to it, only ceased operations as an active prison in 1996, having housed many political prisoners during the Troubles.
The ‘Peace Walls,’ which started being built in 1969, can be seen during a trip to Belfast and act as yet another reminder of the city’s history. Clearly, then, the history of Belfast alone makes it a city that has to feature on your Ireland bucket list.
The Titanic – the infamous ill-fated ship and the city of Belfast share an inseparable history
Another reason for you to be considering Belfast on your Ireland travel itinerary is the city’s shared history with the world’s most famous, ill-fated ship – the Titanic!
The Titanic was built in the Harland and Wolff Dockyard in Belfast. Despite its ultimately timely demise out at sea, the city is still proud of its role in getting one of the largest maritime vessels (at the time) out into the open waters.
The docks where the ship was made have recently been subjected to one of the world’s largest urban waterfront regeneration projects and are now home to the world’s most extensive Titanic exhibit at the wonderful Titanic Museum Belfast.
The Titanic Quarter, as the regenerated area of the city is affectionately known, is also home to the Titanic Hotel. As one of the best places to stay in the Titanic Quarter, the Titanic Hotel is built inside the Harland and Wolff planning offices, where the original plans for the Titanic were forged.
Belfast and the Titanic will forever be inextricably linked, providing yet another brilliant reason to add Belfast to your Irish bucket list.
Developing Food Scene – there is much more to the Belfast appetite than an Ulster Fry and a pint of Guinness
There was once a time when the Belfast food scene was only considered to be a greasy fry and a bag of Tayto Chips. Mercifully however, Belfast has developed a reputation for being one of the up-and-coming foodie cities in the UK, thanks largely in part to the creation of several brilliant food markets in the city center.
The oldest and perhaps most-visited market in Belfast is St George’s Market. Remarkably, Friday markets have been hosted on the site of St George’s since 1604, and to this day, the food market attracts visitors from all around Ireland every weekend. Curated by local producers and artisans, St George’s food market offers specialty local dishes and cuisines from all over the world.
At the other end of the spectrum, the newest addition to the Belfast food scene is the wonderful Common Market. Open weekly from Thursday to Sunday, Common Market is a street food market home to vendors catering to all taste buds. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or just a little fussy, you’re sure to find something you fancy.
From Filipino fusion dishes to Mexican street food, from traditional Canadian Poutine to authentic Italian gelato, every corner of the globe is accounted for in the Common Market.
The Locals – fancy some craic? There’s plenty to be had in the lively bars and pubs of Belfast
The Irish are undoubtedly one of the planet’s most hospitable, friendly, and funny groups of people, and this is exemplified every night in the bars and pubs of Belfast.
Wander into any charming pub in the city center, and within minutes, you’ll be listening to traditional Irish folk music with a Guinness in hand and a friendly Belfastian sitting at your table, introducing you to all of the local quips and traditions.
The Duke of York pub, perhaps the most popular in Belfast, offers live music every night from Thursday to Sunday and famously played host to Snow Patrol when they first started in 1998. The pub is also proudly home to the largest selection of Irish whiskeys in Ireland, only adding to the craic.
Dublin may have the crammed Temple Bar, but Belfast isn’t far behind when it comes to lively atmospheres and stories to remember from a night out.
So many amazing things to do – Belfast has something to offer everybody!
Arguably the most valuable reason for adding Belfast to your Ireland bucket list is simply the plethora of activities to choose from when you visit Northern Ireland’s capital city.
Are you a fan of the big screen? Belfast is home to a vast number of filming locations for the hit HBO TV Series Game of Thrones, with many tour companies offering the chance to visit all of them.
Perhaps you love getting to know the history of a place. As we’ve already discovered, the recent history of Belfast and Northern Ireland more widely and indelibly shapes daily life in the city. There is no shortage of historical spots and sights to discover.
Maybe you are looking to experience more of nature when in Ireland? Then you should head to North Belfast and join the hiking trails of Cavehill Country Park – don’t forget to stop at the beautiful Belfast Castle on your way down.
Belfast offers the chance to get your adrenaline flowing with a state-of-the-art indoor skydiving center at We are Vertigo, close to the Titanic Museum.
As you have hopefully discovered, Belfast is a fantastic European city to visit and is certainly worthy of a place on any Ireland bucket list.
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