The city once known for shipbuilding and struggle is now one of the most popular places in Europe for a short break. Since 2001, encouraged by the numbers of tourists arriving on cheap flights to Belfast, the city council designated several cultural quarters that shine a light on the different parts of this fascinating city's past.
The Cathedral Quarter is centred around St Anne's Church. With several arts and culture-based organisations, it also has fashionable warehouse restaurants and cozy pubs. The Gaeltacht Quarter is located around the Falls Road in West Belfast and promotes and encourages the use of the Irish language.
The Queen's Quarter in South Belfast is named after Queen's University, a lively student district with museums, galleries, bars and cafes. The Titanic Quarter is named for the ill-fated ship that was built there. Lying on reclamed land beside Belfast Harbour, it is dominated by the cranes - Samson and Goliath - of Harland and Wolff. Tours of the area will take tourists back to the glory days of shipbuilding.
After sightseeing sink a pint in the luscious 19th-century gin palace, the Crown Liquor Saloon on Great Victoria Street.
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Belfast's climate is temperate with average summer temperatures of 18 degrees Celsius and average winter temperatures of 6 degrees. It rains quite a bit, but as it is a coastal area snow is rare.
When to fly to Belfast
The best time to book cheap flights to Belfast is for the summer months, this is when the best weather can be expected.
Summer is peak, although Belfast has become a popular destination year-round. Spring and autumn enjoy fairly good weather.
There's no real bad time to visit Belfast although the winters are rainy and there is sometimes snow.
Getting around Belfast
Hop aboard the Translink Airbus after your cheap flight to Belfast International Airport and make your way to the city’s centre. You can also hail a taxi from Belfast International Airport’s arrivals gate. Belfast’s public transportation is very easy. Metro, the bus system, has 12 main lines downtown and to the suburbs. You can save some money by getting a SmartLink Travel Card, which discounts your bus fares with frequent trips.
Belfast insider information
- The Ulster Fry is Belfast's version of the all-day breakfast containing bacon, eggs, sausages, fried soda bread, potato bread and tomatoes. The soda bread is a Northern Irish speciality.
- After arriving on cheap flights to Belfast, a black cab tour is an entertaining and informative way to learn about Belfast's more troubled past. The historical/political tour of the Falls and Shankill roads is the most popular tour. It follows the murals, memorials, and gardens from Catholic and Protestant sides of the community. Largely concentrated in the west of the city, the tour explores a swath of Irish history dating back more than 300 years.
- If you like boats (this is Titanic Town after all) ... and churches, Sinclair Seamen's Presbyterian Church off Donegall Quay is open to the public every Wednesday afternoon. The bell is from HMS Hood, the pulpit is shaped like a ship's prow, the collection boxes are shaped like lifeboats and the font is a ship's binnacle (or compass house).
- Museums include the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum which, through the "Old Town", tells the story of life in Northern Ireland in the early 1900s. The Ulster Museum's Early Ireland gallery has won awards and Fernhill House shines a light on the social, economic and military history of the Greater Shankill (Unionist) area.
- Belfast on a Sunday is a sedate affair. Many shops open at 1pm and attractions open at midday.
- Ice hockey has been a surprise hit in Belfast, helping to unite the different communities in the city. Belfast is represented in the Elite Ice Hockey League by the Belfast Giants, Ireland's first professional ice hockey team. The game was brought to Belfast by Canadian businessman Bob Zeller in 2000. Home matches are played at the Odyssey Arena and draw crowds of up to 7,000.