Destination Ireland: Why Not Choose… Belfast?
Although Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, has long been associated with conflict between Catholics and Protestants, as well as the massive resultant violence, the city has cast off its chains to become a modern and highly attractive cultural centre! Putting the Troubles well and truly behind it, Belfast has shown that it is thriving in this long-awaited peace. Gastronomy, books, music, opera, night-life: the city promises an unforgettable holiday.
A City Full of Surprises, in Every Neighbourhood
A black taxi tour is an excellent way to explore Belfast. Be chauffeured around the city in a black taxi to discover the neighbourhoods around Shankill Road (Protestant) and Falls Road (Catholic), the last visible traces of the Troubles, City Hall or Sinclair Seamen’s Church. But above all, you will be able to see the famous politico-historical murals painted on the walls of houses in what were known as "no-go" areas during the Troubles.
On foot, take a walk near Queen's University, where actor Liam Neeson studied, visit the Ulster Museum retracing Ireland's past from prehistory to the present day, and finish with a walk in the magnificent botanical gardens.
Fascinated by the story of the Titanic? Then visit Titanic Belfast, the largest tourist attraction dedicated to the legendary liner. You will also have a chance to discover the city's industrial past and the importance of the ship-works.
For a more buzzing atmosphere, head for the Golden Mile, Lisburn Road or the Cathedral Quarter. Cafés, bars, restaurants... Belfast offers a whole host of trendy or more chilled spots. Sip on a cocktail in a super-chic jazz bar, dine in a Michelin starred restaurant, or grab some traditional fish and chips on the go. Whatever you fancy, you have a whole range of options!
Got a taste for adventure? Escape the city and visit the Giant's Causeway with its volcanic steps: mysterious basalt columns featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List. If you're feeling daring, brave the gentle swing of the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, a small footbridge swaying almost 30 m over a spectacular chasm.
Top 10 Must-Sees
Titanic Belfast: attraction telling the tragic story of this liner built in Belfast.
St George’s Market: the place to try the authentic flavours of Belfast. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, over 150 stalls offer various products: fish, fruit, excellent cheeses, and meat from animals raised on the pastures of Northern Ireland.
The Murals: historical and political paintings to be admired from a black taxi. They are one of the most famous parts of Northern Ireland's heritage. It is estimated that there are the 2000 of them in the whole of Northern Ireland: propaganda tools in the context of media restrictions in Northern Ireland during the decades of the Troubles, they now bear witness to Northern Ireland's recent history.
The Grand Opera House: dating back to 1895, it is a fine example of Belfast architecture, elegantly blending red brick with elaborate kitsch decoration.
The Ulster Museum: general interest museum retracing Irish history and prehistory. Its highly diverse collections cover fine art , the applied arts , archaeology , ethnography , local history, numismatics , industrial archaeology and natural history .
The Crown Liquor Saloon: Victorian-style bar with alcoves, wood panels and gas lamps: a sight not to be missed!
City Hall: this major Victorian and neo-baroque style monument has a fascinating history. Its imposing architecture draws the eye of everyone who passes, making it an absolute must-see!
A guided bike tour with Belfast City Bike Tour: there are several routes available. One of the most popular is the "Hilden Bike and Brew", ending with a trip to the Hilden Brewery, with fish and chips and beer on the menu!
The Cathedral Quarter, one of the liveliest areas of the city: you will find shops, Irish pubs and restaurants. This is also a cultural hub of the city, with open-air concerts, events and festivals. This is where it all happens!
What's to Eat in Belfast?
Quite simply, Northern Ireland is foodie heaven. Here, in a landscape of lush, green fields and cool, clear lakes, surrounded by the crystalline waters of the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, a special culinary culture has developed, focusing on the finest local ingredients.
Comber potatoes offer an unusual nutty flavour. Abernethy hand-churned butter can be found in the best restaurants and grocery shops. The region's artisan cheeses will also get your mouth watering: Young Buck (raw milk cheese), Kearney Blue (inspired by the grey stone walls of County Down) and Leggygowan.
Start the day with the famous Ulster fry, an Irish breakfast including sausages and bacon!
To drink, there is artisan cider, beer and whiskey: Northern Ireland's pride and joy.
March: Saint Patrick's Day
Originally a Christian festival celebrated by the Catholic Church, Saint-Patrick's Day has entered Irish general culture. It is celebrated during Lent on 17 March, and is now enjoyed around the world, not just by Irish people.
April: World Irish Dancing Championships
First held in 1969, the World Irish Dancing Championships take place in Ireland , over Easter. Internationally, famous Irish dance shows such as "Lord of the Dance" or "Riverdance" have achieved massive popularity.
June: Bloomsday: celebrating James Joyce
Irish writer James Joyce, author of Ulysses, is remembered on 6 June in Ireland, especially in Dublin. During this popular celebration, fans of James Joyce wear early 19th-century clothing and go around the city citing passages from his work.
All Ireland Fleadh music sessions
In Ireland, it is customary to hold improvised traditional music competitions in the street. These gatherings, known as fleadhs, take place in the city, in a celebratory atmosphere.
A very popular festival in Ireland, Halloween has been celebrated for centuries. It is also known by the Gaelic name OicheShamhna, meaning "Summer's End". This festival, now popular around the world, is of Celtic origin, It is thought to come from a religious festival known as Samhain, celebrated by druids over seven days to mark the end of the year.
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