Hi, I am going stir crazy in London and am thinking of hopping over to Belfast for a few days at the beginning of July. I have found cheap flights and a cheap bed for 4 days (3 nights) and anticipate that to cost less than £100 together. I am just wondering if there is much to see in Belfast, will I be busy there for four days or will there be time to see the surrounding area? Also, I would be travelling on my own and am wondering if it will be lonely or easy to meet people. I recently travelled to Dublin with a friend and even though we stayed in a 16 bed dorm, no one said more than hello or seemed interested in hanging out with anyone outside of their companions. I have stayed in other hostels that were incredibly fun and friendly, so if anyone has any recommendations for Belfast that would be appreciated!
Also, Belfast is just a loose idea, I would be open to travelling to another place in N. Ireland!
[ Edit: Edited on Jun 9, 2008, at 4:41 AM by hil_136 ]
Belfast is lovely! My b/f is from there and I've been to visit 3 times; we always had plenty to see and do.
The town centre is nice to walk around in, and you can take a walking tour of the murals. There's Ulster museum (lots of stuff on the troubles--very interesting and touching), the botanic gardens, the waterfront, lots of small pubs and restaurants and so on. You can also take a bus ride up the Antrim coast to see Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede bridge. The trip up is beautiful and it's a gorgeous view--perfect for a day trip!
Enjoy! Belfast is so lovely--and the people are wonderful.
hi tway, thanks for the ideas on things to do, I am very interested in getting out of the city for at least a day and seeing the famed Irish countryside. How long is the trip to Giants Causeway? Would it be worth finding somewhere to stay near there and spending a night or would that be overkill?
Hmm... the trip was about 2 hours each way, if I remember right. You have to switch busses a few times, but the scenery is really amazing. I saw a hotel up there--might be worth staying over just to stay somewhere different, although without a car it'll be difficult to see too much more around Giant's Causeway. Here's the official site if you'd like some more ideas--I think they have an accommodation section, too.
I would say that four days is about right. You can explore Belfast on foot easily within a day. The Giants Causeway would be one day trip, as tway as said, Derry by train would be another. The only thing to bear in mind is that July is the 'marching season', the second weekend being when the Protestant Orange Order take to the streets en masse.
Theres plenty to do in 4 days BUT as previously said July is Marching season - 11th and 12th July, on 11th we tend to like to burn things - on the streets (its allowed called bonfire night!! but seriously l have seen major roads blocked with burning pallets of wood, home furnishings, tyres anything goes really!!) and the natives like to beat drums and drink on the streets - very classy (not legal but the police tend to turn a blind eye either that or encite a riot!!). On 12th July which is a Saturday this year the city comes to a stand still when the orange men like to walk the streets and shout about our alliegences to the Union!! Interesting l guess for someone who has never witnessed it - personally my idea of hell!! This goes on all day. Most of the city shuts down all shops, restaurants etc nothing to do whatsoever and all sane people get the hell out of there!! Its not dangerous (well not these days anyway) but theres very little to do. The first fortnight in the city is really quiet. Actually theres quite a few of the towns surrounding the city which resemble ghost towns. Leave it until the last couple of weekends and you should find theres a bit more life in the place!!
I would skip Derry/L'derry by train - it takes forever NI aint renouned for a good train service - Ulsterbus do an hourly Maiden City Flyer from Belfast which should have you there in 1.5 hours and you can explore the city - its hilly though so be warned!!
Giants Causeway without your own transport is a bit of a pain to be honest - as Tina said you would have to change buses - theres nowt there to spend an overnight. Although if you were to check with the visitors centre in Belfast (Royal Avenue cant miss it just down from City Hall) and there may be daily tour buses from Belfast.
Tina mentioned the Ulster Museum up in Botanic Gardens - its closed for renovations at the moment and isnt due to open for another year l think, so cross that off your list! You can do a black taxi tour which will take you around more of the infamous trouble sites (up the Shankill down the Falls), maybe catch a bus up to Stormont Parliament Buildings which is quite good and theres nice garden walks, we have zoo its good but its on a hill! Theres pretty decent shopping (of which l am an expert so if you fancy l can totally advise you on that). Er what else - catch the open top bus and it will take you down around the Titanic Quarter where Harland & Wolff is based (Titanic built there) but theres lots of regeneration going on and lots of construction at the moment but the 2 massive cranes are quite cool.
Hope this helps just a little bit!! If you have any specific questions let me know and l will see what l can find out for you!
Glad no-one took offence to my mentioning of the 'marching season'. To add to my previous post one advantage of visiting the 'Wee Six' counties of NI is being able to pay in pounds not euros, hence you won't get stung by the unfavourable exchange rate and you should be able to cash out of any Link machine without incurring a cost.
For my part, I visited Belfast for a day-trip from Birmingham last year. Belfast city centre is thriving and looks more affluent than Coventry, where I live. I recommend the John Hewitt pub as a good watering hole, which has traditional music: John Hewitt pub. It's named after a local poet (who coincidentally lived here in Cov for 15 years, where he was Art Director of the local municipal gallery).
From an English perspective it is a bit strange wandering around the areas which have been made 'infamous' from news coverage and finding that they are in fact quite innocuous. Wandering from the Falls to the Shankill - or vice versa - on foot, you are struck that the only 'cultural differences' are those of flags and murals. If you ignore the paramilitary crud, some of the murals are quite good, telling a folk history of sorts.
Oh and to edit this again, I am off up to North Antrim in a couple of weeks to visit the Giants Causeway, Rathlin Island, Carrick-a-Rede, Bushmills and wherever else I can get to. Not sure whether to get the bus via Ballymena, or hire a car and drive up the coast, though I am a bit out of practice with driving and the rental companies usually ask for a fair bit of a deposit up-front.
[ Edit: Edited on Jun 10, 2008, at 11:36 AM by Skylarking ]
Wow, you guys are lifesavers... I was definitely thinking of going around the 8th to the 11th... it sounds interesting, but I don't know, I'd like to actually be able to go places and such So I should aim to go toward the end of July/beginning of August?
Thanks so much for all the great advice and ideas of things to do!
I live in Belfast myself and what the guys have said so far is pretty much everything, altho it does take longer than it sounds to get the real feel of the city i think. One thing the guys didnt mention was the hills surrounding Belfast such as cave hill, black mountain, divis mountain etc. I personally think that a few hours spent walking up there is the best part of this place, you get to see the whole city from an amazing view as well as out to sea and the mournes on a good day.
Theres many different ways of getting up there, so id suggest speaking to the tourist centre in Donegal place (the street facing the front of city hall) to find out the best way, you might even be able to arrange a tour, and if you decide to go alone or with any other hostelers you hook up with you can be happy to know its free, always a bonus!!
Anyways, let me know if you need anymore info and most of all Enjoy our city and all it has to offer