One Day in Belfast
So, you find yourself wondering what to do in a day in Belfast. If you’re just stopping buy, or in transit to somewhere else, Belfast has plenty to keep you entertained.
Belfast is a haven for the avid shopper. From high street stores to designer, there are a range of shopping centres to choose from. In the city Castlecourt and Victoria Square are on the main shopping streets. Everything you could possible need is in the city centre.
From the city centre hop on board one of Belfast open top double decker buses. There are a few tours to choose from depending on your interests. Political tours focus on Northern Ireland’s troubled history and the recent past. On these tours you will see world famous murals depicting social and political issues of the period known as “The Troubles”. These are mainly painted on the sides of houses, so there will be a lot of residential estates on this tour but they come complete with interesting stories about historic events that took place on those roads. These are the controversial areas where “Peace Walls” have been erected. With warring neighbours in close proximity, these walls, standing over 20 foot tall and topped with barbed wire, are fire proof and bullet proof, and both tall enough to prevent people climbing over, and throwing things over! Many of the walls are now decorated with murals depicting peace and co-operation, though the majority of the walls were built after the Peace Treaty in 1998. They cut Belfast into a patchwork of districts, the longest wall stretching to over 3 miles.
Belfast’s rich history is not only about the destructive though. The city is known for building the world’s largest ever passenger ship, The Titanic. Originally thought to have been indestructible due to its sheer size and volume, the ship sunk on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic after colliding with an Iceberg. The Titanic Quarter in Belfast is in the docks area. The area is now home to Titanic Belfast Visitor Centre which offers a glimpse into Belfast’s past. Exhibitions include everything from the traditional dock workers life to the myths surrounding the Titanic which caused it to sink.
Other tours of Belfast focus on the cities textile making industry of the past. Originally, the people of Belfast worked as one of four things, Rope Makers, Tobacco Works, Dock Workers and Linen makers. Linen was once the most abundant export from Ireland and a rich culture has developed around the Linen Mill workers (in fact, even women in Belfast today are often called ‘Millies” because of this). Spot many reference to this textile industry around Belfast, from roads and buildings to the well-known Linen Hall Studios, where many Hollywood movies and famous TV shows are shot. Even Belfast City Hall in the city Centre was built from the profits of linen making. A recent addition to Belfast is a small museum displaying props and costumes from the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, which is worth checking out if you have some time to spare.
For a day among nature in the city visit Queens Quarter. Situated in the heart of the area is Queens University, one of the oldest in Ireland and founded as one of Queens Colleges in Ireland, as part of a petition to include Catholics in higher education. The Botanic Gardens in Queens has an aviary amongst the mature grounds. It is the perfect location for a romantic walk, family picnic or just an escape from the hustle of the city.
And if all else fails, just find a busy bar and spend the day in there! With traditional live music common, and an atmosphere and a crowd expected, there really is no better way to end a day in Belfast than in one of its busy bars.