On my recent road trip around Ireland with Auto Europe Car Rentals I luckily got to spend a day touring Belfast. I say lucky as it has never been a city I felt I needed to visit. Turns out it not only warrants a stop but became one of my favourites in Ireland. With big boats, beer, and a random appearance on the BBC, how could it not be?
Ship Building Past
I already knew that the Titanic was built and set sail from here but had no idea that the manufacturing in Belfast goes well beyond that. As I found while touring the Titanic Belfast Museum, Northern Ireland’s capital was once home to the world’s largest shipbuilding yard. This meant spending a good portion of my day touring Belfast wandering around the old H&W grounds and the Titanic Quarter. Don’t miss Titanic Belfast Museum (of course), strolling River Lagan paths, seeing the spot where the Titanic was built and launched from, and touring SS Nomadic – the steamboat used to shuttle passengers to the Titanic and the last of the White Star Line.
As I found on my time touring Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital is a very walkable city. Within a few blocks of the downtown core you can see the Albert Memorial Clock, the Grand Opera House, and one of the nicest city hall buildings out there. Then there are the modern shops and restaurants of Victoria Square. Don’t miss the Dome at Victoria Square for a great 360 degree of Belfast and beyond.
Fun fact, while touring Belfast’s city hall grounds we noticed a reporter about to go on for a live story. He was in deep focus saying his lines over and over. We quietly sat on a bench behind him and in front of a screen airing the BBC news. Seconds later we were surprised to see ourselves on the screen while this reporter reported. While Snapchating this random scene a teenager ran up to the reporter and yelled some (comical) profanity, leaving the very serious reporter in shock and the prankster bolting from security. So random and so hilarious.
Fancy a Pint?
A visit to Belfast isn’t complete without A pint in one of its unique pubs. For an experienced unlike anywhere else visit the Crown Bar. This is one of Northern Irelands most famous pubs and with good reason. Inside you will find elaborate tile and stain glass features thanks to Italian craftsmanship. Why Italian? The original owner, Michael Flanagan, convinced skilled Italians that were in town working on Catholic churches to work on the pub after-hours. Go early to get a private booth or join some friendly locals in one of theirs!
White’s Tavern was established in 1630 on one of the city’s oldest lanes. Inside you will be instantly taken back to this time with its wood burning fireplace and 200-year-old newspaper clippings on the walls.
Where to Stay
While visiting Belfast I stayed at the incredibly comfortable Tara Lodge Hotel. Located in the University Quarter and a short walk from downtown, the Tara Lodge Hotel was the perfect pitstop on my Ireland road trip. It is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor for a reason – rooms are cozy, the included breakfast was the best I had in Ireland (and I had a few), and the staff was smiling and always helpful. The University area meant that there were lots of options for nearby eats and drinks and the Botanic rail station is close, although I walked everywhere. Free parking and fast WiFi only made my stay that much better. Highly recommend!
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Thoughts on my day touring Belfast?
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Although I was provided a complimentary stay at the Tara Lodge Hotel,
while touring Belfast, the experience, opinions, and full Irish breakfast was my own.