Belfast is the largest city of Northern Ireland, and the capital and serves as the capital of the region. On the island of Ireland, it is the second largest city behind Dublin. The city has a population of about 267,500. While it briefly experienced times of hardship in the late 20th century (a period called “The Troubles”), Belfast has bounced back over the years with an optimistic and friendly populace, establishing the city as a key destination for world tourism and travel. In fact, the Guardian has awarded it status as the fourth best city in the UK for a city break. Pair these great qualities with the fact that hotels in Belfast are quite affordable across a range of budgets, and you’ll find that it makes for an amazing destination throughout the year.
Belfast has numerous amazing historic Belfast points of interest. One cannot avoid the Titanic Memorial Garden, which pays tribute to the ill-fated ocean liner that has captivated people for more than a century. The HMS Caroline is an important decommissioned cruiser from both world wars: it served in active combat during the first and was an administrative centre in the second. The ship is available for self-guided tours today and makes for an excellent educational attraction for families. St. Malachy’s Church is another major historic attraction, with a beautifully baroque interior and vaulting that’s amazed visitors throughout its history. And as a coastal city, Belfast boasts a handful of amazing beaches nearby. One local favorite is Helen’s Bay Beach, just 15 minutes from the city. This beach offers good water quality and is set against a beautiful park with woodlands, meadows and facilities for enjoying your day out in the sun.
Where to Stay in Belfast
Hotels in Belfast are quite affordable; one can find excellent budget hotels, and given the overall low cost of Belfast accommodation, one can find more luxurious places to stay in Belfast without the need to spend a large amount of money. The wide range of hotel options (from cheap hotels Belfast to luxury hotels to hostels) make it a versatile destination and an excellent option for families looking for the next best place to spend a holiday. Expect many Belfast hotels to cost about €67 per night on average, and Belfast hotel deals are aplenty. Luxury hotels can be much costlier at €230 or more per night, but you should be able to find many excellent midrange choices between those two numbers.
For lower-tier Belfast hotels, which by all means doesn’t mean low-quality, consider Hotel Ibis Queen’s Quarter. Located in a townhouse, this is among one of the most affordable places to stay in Belfast and has a charming atmosphere of its own, making it among the strongest Belfast hotel deals. Set a little further out of the way is the Holiday Inn Express, also providing Belfast accommodation at a wonderfully cheap rate. Hotel ETAP Belfast is absolutely one of the cheapest hotels in Belfast city centre, offering astoundingly low rates while being right in the heart of city action. Favored mid-range hotels in Belfast city centre include Ten Square Hotel and Europa Hotel.
There are a couple 5 star Belfast hotels and luxury hotels in Belfast for those who want to make the most of their Belfast holiday. The Merchant Hotel is by far the best in luxury Belfast hotels, but among the most expensive, featuring posh and fancy rooms set in a Victorian-era bank building. Fitzwilliam Hotel is another of the excellent Belfast hotel deals, and isn’t very far from hotels in Belfast city centre.
Younger visitors and those hoping to save even more on their Belfast holiday should look into hostels. These cheap Belfast accommodation options aren’t far from things to do in Belfast, offering good locations at a fraction of Belfast hotels prices. Belfast International Youth Hostel is one strong option for young travelers. Global Village is another active hostel with a decent location and price.
Things to Do in Belfast
Belfast offers an amazing array of historic sites and beautiful architecture from throughout its history. If you need suggestions for what to do in Belfast, simply take a tour of the city’s many historic landmarks. Belfast City Hall is a great place to begin; the political centre of the city, this baroque building has an impressive look and divides the commercial and business sectors of the city centre. Queen’s University is another visually impressive space with beautiful buildings and well-manicured grounds. The Grand Opera House, designed by Frank Matcham (the most prominent theatre architect of the time) also can’t be missed, nor should Crumlin Road Gaol, a historic prison. Finally, the Belfast Parliament Building and Cathedral Quarter are two amazing complexes of wonderful Belfast architecture. For some of the city’s best museums, consider W5 Museum (with hands-on science exhibits) and Ulster Museum (an art museum within the Belfast Botanical Gardens).
Among the Belfast points of interest are the many beaches close to the city. The closest beach to Belfast is Helen’s Bay, which is excellent not just for swimming but for picnicking as well. Next to Crawfordsburn Country Park, the beach provides opportunity for hiking and casual walks. Portstewart Strang is another great choice and is located just an hour out of the city; with water sports and even horseback riding, it’s a fun option for things to do in Belfast related to nature. Crawfordsburn is another beach very close to the city—just 30 minutes away—surrounded by meadows and woodlands for a relaxing afternoon. Finally, Ballyholme is a perfect beach for families, with many cafes and restaurants nearby.