C. S. Lewis, one of the most revered English language authors, playwrights and poets of the 20th century, was born and raised in Belfast. Once, in an informal interaction with some reporters, he famously uttered these words:
'Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one. Friendship is not supposed to be forged. It is merely supposed to be acknowledged. It's a tree that stays tall in adversity and blossoms otherwise.'
Few other cities can boast of history as rich in twists and turns as Belfast can. You will also struggle to find a city that has been as politically charged for over three centuries as Belfast. In fact, it would still be an understatement to say that much of Belfast has been carved out of political battles that often tend to transcend boundaries of power corridors and land into the courts of philosophy, ideology and even, at times, theology.
Another factor that influenced the present state of Belfast is the enterprising nature of its people. Ever since the English introduced it with industrial revolution, Belfast and its people have taken it upon themselves to make the most of it, transforming a small town into a major industrial hub in the UK. From producing world-class cotton and linen products to building enormously gigantic ships (remember a certain ship of doom called 'Titanic'?), Belfast houses and runs all sorts of industries today.
To tourists who plan on visiting this city of hard work, a few pointers noted below might come handy.
Affordable Accommodation in Belfast
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. It is the largest city in the region and is often counted among the most developed cities in the world, based on the state of infrastructure, tourism opportunities and population.
Because of these factors, especially because of the fast rising rate of real estate in the city, it has become a tough ask to find cheap hotels in and around Belfast, and quite understandably so. However, if you are much too bent on finding a truly budget hotel while you are traveling to Belfast, the best option for you would be to find independent accommodation options that are rented on weekly basis. Booking well in advance can also help you save a good deal of cash on hotels in Belfast.
Posh Resorts & Suites in Belfast
Belfast is frequented by tourists who wish to traverse the lengths and breadths of Northern Ireland as there is other convenient port of entry for them. Various official and state dignitaries from around the world also have to visit Belfast on various assignments. Because of this, it's quite obvious that there are a number of luxury hotels in Belfast that do not leave any place for discomfort for their guests.
Talking of luxury Belfast hotels, the first and the foremost name that would pop into most minds is that of Tara Lodge. For tourists and businessmen who have frequented Belfast over the years, Tara Lodge is perhaps the last of its kind, a luxury hotel that still manages to retain that stately and comely feeling of real hospitality. Besides this one, there are other hotel-chains that operate pretty standardized versions of themselves. These include Carlton-Ritz, Hyatt, Marriott and Radisson Blu.
Top Things to Do & See in Belfast
When in Belfast, you will do yourself some good service by planning your sightseeing meticulously, as there are quite a few sights to see and things to experience. Over the last decade, on an average, in excess of 5 million people have visited Belfast for tourism and business purposes.
The most popular place in Belfast, at least in last few years, is the 'Titanic Belfast', a monument erected to celebrate the longstanding history of ship designing, building and commissioning that Belfast has developed over two centuries. The monument allows visitors to learn various interesting facts about Titanic and cherish the memory of what has become one of the saddest tragedies of 20th century.
Grand Opera House in the City Center of Belfast is another not-to-be-missed attraction, especially for patrons of the dying art of operas. The building of City Hall is a grand specimen of Irish and English architecture, as well. The Botanic Gardens that are located just outside the city proper will also need a whole day of your schedule.
Kingspan Stadium can also be squeezed in your sightseeing schedule if you have two or three hours to spare.
Know Your Do's & Dont's in Belfast
While in Belfast, there are a few things that are worth paying attention to and worth avoiding, in order not to add any unpleasant surprises to your otherwise impeccably nice Belfast experience.
The only thing to remember before planning your sightseeing schedule in Belfast is to keep it separated in two different parts, sightseeing in Belfast and sightseeing around Belfast.
Some tourists do try to mingle both of these together in order to save some time, but invariably end up not utilizing whatever time they had. That's why, not clubbing sights in the city with those around the city makes much sense.
As far as don'ts are concerned, the only thing you should be careful enough to avoid when in Belfast is trying to squeeze more sights in your already-packed schedule than you can handle. This often leads to mismanagement that further leads to a sense of dissatisfaction over the trip. Also, not falling for the trap of overly cheap hotels can often work in your favor.
Getting Around in Belfast
Belfast is one of the most developed cities in the UK. Owing to that status, the state of infrastructure, local public transport, to be precise, is well and truly impressive. To get around in Belfast, you can choose local bus services and private taxi services. Fitness enthusiasts can rent bicycles on a daily or an hourly basis, as well. Many Belfast hotels have their own private car hire service for their guest. This, however, will cost you above and beyond the accommodation fare.