1. Take your seat for a Titanic experience
Immerse yourself in the story of the Titanic, the ship that was built in Belfast and, as the world knows, hit an iceberg. The tragedy is now commemorated with an impressive visitor centre at the very place where the liner was crafted.
Opened in 2012, Titanic Belfast is the same height as the ship and is made up of nine galleries spread over six floors telling the story from rivets to requiem, with visitor experience reviews on TripAdvisor describing it as “absolutely amazing”, and “an attraction not to be missed”.
Allow at least three hours to take in a mix of moving images, special effects and reconstructions – and do book tickets in advance. As the Huffington Post describes, it’s “simply awe-inspiring at each step. It’s not a museum; it’s an experience.”
2. Excite your senses at St George’s Market
For an authentic taste of Belfast life, make your way to the renovated St George’s Market. It’s in full flow on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. More than 150 traders set up stalls laden with everything from antiques to shark meat.
Tuck into a Belfast belly-buster or Ulster fry, which will fill you for the day; or head over to Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory, with its delicious fudge and colourful sweets. Trust us: it’s impossible to go away empty-handed.
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3. Tour the murals by taxi
One of the best ways to see Belfast’s famous wall art is to sign up for a Black Taxi Tour. Knowledgeable drivers supply an informative history lesson, which reflects on both the city’s intrinsic traditions and tells the story of the Troubles.
The wide range of themes covers political turmoil and conflict to commemoration of much older historic and religious events. It also looks at the more recent murals livening up the city, which celebrates sporting and cultural icons of the city. Bring a camera, this is unmissable.
4. Cheer on the Belfast Giants and enjoy some science
Since they arrived in 2000, the Belfast Giants – the city’s first ice-hockey team based in the Odyssey Arena – have taken the city by storm, and have built up a huge local fan base. The team’s motto: “In the land of the Giants, everyone is equal” gives them mass appeal and there’s an electric atmosphere at games during a season that runs from September to April.
Rock and pop gigs are also held at the Odyssey Arena, which is a massive entertainment complex complete with cinema, IMAX theatre, and indoor bowling alley, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. It also houses a huge science centre known as W5, a hands-on approach to interpreting science that boasts a staggering 180 interactive exhibits. Cool stuff for kids of all ages…
5. Be wowed by the treasures in the Ulster Museum
Gleaming from a multi-million pound redevelopment, the Ulster Museum’s forte is the history and prehistory of Ireland using exhibitions that trace the rise of Belfast’s crafts and trades. There are marvels wherever you turn, so give yourself enough time to enjoy it all.
The doors open to rooms on geology, European and American art, the history of the Troubles, and much more. Children, in particular, love the skeleton of the extinct Irish giant deer as well as the famed Egyptian mummy Takabuti.