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Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland and indeed the second largest in Ireland following Dublin. Belfast is surrounded by picturesque hills (including that of Cavehill, which supposedly inspired Jonathan Swift, the author of Gullivers Travels) and situated on Belfast Lough, at the mouth of the River Lagan. Because of its location, Belfast became one of the United Kingdom's major ship building regions. Once the largest ship yard in the world, Harland & Wolff (still operational) has a home in Belfast. It is best known for being the ship yard where the Titanic was constructed in 1912.
Undoubtedly over the years Belfast saw the worst of the Northern Irish "Troubles", but following break-through political agreements, including the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the atmosphere in the city and indeed the province changed. Following these political changes, economical ones followed: major investment and redevelopment has been rife in the city with landmark complexes springing up, including The Waterfront Hall, The Odyssey Complex and other ongoing developments, including The Titanic Quarter and Victoria Square (due for completion April 2008).
The Titanic Belfast is a new museum that opened early April 2012, exactly 100 years after the famous Titanic made here first voyage and ran into an iceberg and sank, killing hundreds of people. The Titanic Belfast museum is a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter. It also tells the stories of the Titanic's sister ship RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic. The building contains more than 12,000 square metres of floor space, most of which is occupied by a series of galleries, plus private function rooms and community facilities. There are tours as well and safe at least 1 to 2 hours for a visit to this fabulous museum. Full prices for adults are GBP 13.50, but seniors, children and students can visit with discounts. The museum is open all year round, except 24-26 December, from 9:00am to 7:00pm April to September, and 10:00am to 5:00pm October to March.
This music "festival" has become an annual event in the Belfast events calendar - held over 2 days in August in the Botanic Gardens area of the city (close to Queens University) over the past few years acts such as Scissor Sisters, Kaiser Chiefs, Maroon 5, and Snow Patrol - to name a few have head lined the stage. This year on Tuesday 21st August & Wednesday 22nd August you will see the stage being set up again in Botanic Gardens and it will be home to acts announced so far Razorlight and Manic Street Preachers. Obviously Vital doesn't even come close to Oxygen held outside Dublin during July but it does bring some bigger named bands to Northern Ireland to play in an out door arena. Be prepared for rain though having been at to vital to see both Scissor Sisters in 2005 and Snow Patrol in 2006 l can state from personal experience that l got soaked! Therefore waterproof jackets and suitable footwear are totally recommended. Tickets can be bought at Wonderland Promotions for £38 for a one day ticket and £70 for both nights of the festival.
Belfast weather can be unpredictable. It can be sunny and blue one minute and then driving rain the next. Maybe even both simultaneously. The city of Belfast seems to have its own micro-climate. It's surrounded on the northwest by Black Mountain which looms over that edge of the city, Belfast Lough and the sea beyond it to the north and east, the Mountains of Mourne and the Cooley Mountains a bit more distant to the south and southeast. It very rarely gets too hot or too cold in Belfast, just come layered to situate yourself to the oft-changing weather.
It tends to be more wet than not (which, as the locals say, is why Belfast is so lush and green). Another local saying is that if you can see Black Mountain, it's going to rain. If you can't see it...it is raining! With that said, May, early June and late September can be brilliantly beautiful under blue skies and a bright sun. All the better to enjoy a hike up Cave Hill and around Belfast Castle, a bike ride along the Lagan towpath to Lisburn, a stroll through the Botanical Gardens or a beachwalk from Helen's Bay to Bangor along the Crawfordsburn Park trail.
|Avg Max||6.5 °C||6.4 °C||8.4 °C||10.7 °C||13.6 °C||16.5 °C||17.9 °C||17.6 °C||15.5 °C||12.5 °C||8.7 °C||7.3 °C|
|Avg Min||1.4 °C||1.3 °C||2.1 °C||3.4 °C||5.7 °C||8.6 °C||10.4 °C||10.3 °C||8.8 °C||6.8 °C||3.3 °C||2.3 °C|
|Rainfall||87 mm||60 mm||70 mm||57 mm||62 mm||64 mm||57 mm||83 mm||85 mm||94 mm||82 mm||84 mm|
Belfast is serviced by 2 airports: Belfast International Airport (BFS), which is situated in Antrim outside the city. And the George Best City Airport (BHD) in the city itself.
Destinations from this airport are mainly regional and European, while BFS also serves North America, including New York and Toronto. Major airlines in flying into Northern Ireland include Aer Lingus, Continental Airlines, easyJet, Flybe, Jet2.com, Ryanair, Flyglobespan and Air Transat.
To/from Belfast International Airport:
The drive from Ireland to Northern Ireland usually starts from Dublin city centre at Ireland's M1 motorway toward Belfast. Good roads go from Belfast to other destinations in Northern Ireland. Remember to drive on the left side of the road.
Northern Ireland has a good road network and is served by two main motorways, the M1 and the M2. Belfast can be congested during rush hour but there are never any major problems. The main companies to rent a car include Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Sixt, Thrifty and Enterprise.
Belfast's public transport system has improved dramatically in recent years. Metro Bus, which operates throughout greater Belfast is an excellent way to get around. Prices, ask the bus driver for an all-day ticket, this allows you an unlimited number of journeys,on all routes. Cost £3.50 before 10AM and £2.50 after that. This gives you the freedom to roam throughout the city at a very low cost. A free booklet can be obtained at the bus kiosk, beside the City hall, showing places of interest, the bus route to take and the stop to disembark. All Metro Bus routes depart from the City hall. There are two main train stations, Great Victoria St. and Central as well as a number of smaller stations which connect to the main rail network across the country.The Enterprise service to Dublin leaves from Central Station.
Belfast is very easy to see by foot due to its size and the fact that it is very flat.
Bikes are also good to use due to the size and lie of the land but there may be trouble finding somewhere to chain them up.
|Arnies Backpackers||63 Fitzwilliam Street (opposite Queens University)||Hostel||84|
|Belfast International Youth Hostel||22-32 Donegal Road||Hostel||79|
|Chimney Corner Hotel||630 Antrim Road Newtownabbey||Hotel||82|
|Farset International||466, Springfield Road Belfast||Hostel||-|
|Greenmount B&B||45 Andersonstown Road Belfast||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Paddy's Palace Belfast||68 Lisburn Road||Hostel||77|
|The Linen House Hostel||18-20 Kent Street Belfast BT1 2JA||Hostel||-|
|The Old Post Office||4 Castlewellan Rd||Guesthouse||-|
|Titanic Apartments||66 Lisburn Rd||Apartment||85|
|Travelodge Belfast||15 Brunswick Street||Hotel||84|
|Lagan Backpackers||121 Fitzroy ave Belfast||Hostel||82|
|Queen's University Belfast||78 Malone Road Belfast||GUESTHOUSE||84|
|Vagabonds||9 University Road Belfast||Hostel||90|
|Sleepy Cedars||69 Cedar Avenue||Guesthouse||86|
|Namaste Lodge||7 Rushfield Avenue Belfast||Guesthouse||85|
|Windermere Guesthouse||60 Weilington Park||Guesthouse||83|
|The Old Georgian House||12 College Square North||Hostel||-|
|Stormont Hotel||Upper Newtownards Road||Hostel||-|
|Malone Square Apartments||17 Malone Square||Apartment||-|
|Queen's University Summer Accommodation||Elms Village 78 Malone Road||Hostel||-|
|Global Village||87 University Street Belfast||Hostel||90|
|Springfield Bed & Breakfast||16 Springfield Road Belfast City Centre||Guesthouse||-|
|Belfast City Backpacker||53 - 55 Malone Avenue Belfast||HOSTEL||-|
|Keef Halla Country House - Belfast Airport||20 Tully Road Nutts Corner, Crumlin||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Ibis Queens Quarter Hotel||75 University Street||Hotel||-|
|Days Hotel||40 Hope Street Antrim||Hotel||-|
|Holiday Inn Express||106 University Street County Antrim||Hotel||-|
|Ibis City Centre Hotel||100 Castle Street||Hotel||-|
|Ramada Hotel Shawsbridge||117 Miltown Road County Antrim||Hotel||-|
|Malone Lodge Hotel||60 Eglantine Avenue||Hotel||-|
|65 Victoria place Apartment||65 Victoria Place 20 Wellwood Street Belfast||Apartment||-|
|89 Victoria Place||89 Victoria Place||Apartment||-|
|19 Victoria Place||19 Victoria Place||Apartment||-|
|The Parador||471-473 Ormeau Road||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Beechgrove||412 Upper Road, Trooperslane,Carrickfergus,||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Maranatha House||254 Ravenhill Road, Belfast, BT6 8GJ||GUESTHOUSE||-|
Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00
In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.
Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.
Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.
The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.
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