As a top Ireland city break destination, Belfast has never equalled Dublin for appeal in most people’s eyes, or even cities like Galway and Cork. The main city of Northern Ireland, though, has more than enough attractions in its historical buildings, its revamped waterfront, and especially in its pub and music scene to guarantee a great few days – and nights – for anyone wanting to experience a unique European city.
There’s a terrific range of things to do in Belfast, and a short weekend visit will be packed, but it’s also a great place just to hang out, enjoy the bars and restaurants, and kick back. Here’s a brief list of ten of the top Visitor Attractions in Belfast city centre:
Albert Memorial Clock Tower – the leaning tower of Belfast is another city landmark that has recently been restored, and is named like London’s Albert Hall after Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert.
Belfast’s Pubs – plenty to choose from but for history and atmosphere don’t miss a drink in the Crown Liquor Saloon (see below), Kelly’s Cellars on Bank Street, McHugh’s on Queen’s Square, the Mageniss Bar and Whiskey Café on May Street, the Morning Star on Pottinger’s Entry, the Rotterdam on Pilot Street and White’s Tavern on Winecellar Entry.
City Hall – one of the most imposing and impressive City Halls in Europe, Belfast’s City Hall in Donegall Square was built in 1898-1906, boasts a 173-feet high Great Dome, is from where Bill Clinton spoke to the people of Northern Ireland in 1995 and is well worth visiting on one of the regular guided tours (weekdays only).
Crown Liquor Saloon – one of Belfast’s best pubs as well as being a historical landmark, the Crown Liquor Saloon dates back to 1894 and has been immaculately preserved with its ornately carved wood, stained-glass windows and mirrors. Not to mention good pub food and drink.
Europa Hotel – long renowned as the most bombed hotel in Europe, a dubious claim to fame, the Europa is now one of the city’s top hotels and the Clinton Suite is named to commemorate that this is where Bill and Hillary Clinton stayed on their historic 1995 visit to Belfast.
Grand Opera House – dates back to 1894, like the Crown Liquor Saloon, and if you can’t get tickets for a show (it hosts drama and music as well as opera) then join one of the weekend guided tours.
Lagan Lookout Visitor Centre – pop in to get a history of the River Lagan and Lagan Weir in this informative and interactive Visitor Centre.
Linen Hall Library – Belfast’s oldest library dates back to 1788 and is a private library but visitors can take a look round and enjoy a coffee in the library café.
Titanic Tour – Belfast is where the Titanic was built and a tour of the shipyard and waterfront is a fascinating way to learn something about the ship’s – and the city’s – history.
W5 – one of Belfast’s newer attractions, the W5 (it stands for WhoWhatWhereWhyWhen) is a modern and exciting interactive science centre, that is aimed at adults as well as children.