48 Hours in Titanic Town - Belfast
Belfast is Titanic Town. Nowhere else in the world can claim a greater or prouder association with the most famous ship ever constructed. The Titanic was designed and built in Belfast between 1909 and 1912 and sent proudly out on her maiden voyage.
When RMS Titanic sailed away from Belfast on her maiden voyage on April 10th, 1912, she was hailed as the ' new wonder of the world'. A remarkable feat of Edwardian engineering and craftsmanship, she was the largest and most luxuriously appointed ship ever seen, and despite her tragic sinking she remains a source of ensuring pride in the city where she was built- Belfast.
Belfast is a city bursting with life and energy. The home of the legendary Titanic has reinvented itself so successfully that it’s a Lonely Planet ‘city on the rise’ and is regularly winning other travel and media awards - it’s easy to see why!
Buses and trains run from Dublin to Belfast and there are flights from Cork and Galway. Belfast is under two hours from Dublin by car, which allows you more time to enjoy yourself.
The rise of Belfast is matched by the city’s range of accommodation. From stylish boutique hotels to designer hotels in landmark buildings; from townhouses to B&Bs; from city apartments to guesthouses – there’s something for everyone.
Belfast is easily explored, either on your own or with a guide. The self-guided multimedia experienceTitanic Trail is a good place to start - the world’s most famous ship still mesmerises and it’s fascinating to get a glimpse of the city’s maritime history. Graceful 19th century architecture frames Belfast’s renaissance. Wander around the city and visit the fashionable Cathedral Quarter with intriguing architecture, intimate charm and artistic temperament. Queen’s Quarter in the University area is steeped in culture and home to pulsating nightlife. The nearby Botanic Gardens with the restored Victorian Palm House masterpiece are also worth a visit.
The city’s impressive historic buildings include St Anne’s Cathedral, Linen Hall Library, City Hall (currently closed for refurbishment) and the gloriously restored Grand Opera House. Get a bird’s eye view of these and other great buildings from the city’s newest attraction, the Belfast Wheel. Some landmark buildings have always been great watering holes, none more so than the recently refurbished Crown Liquor Saloon. Others have been transformed into opulent hotels including Belfast’s newest 5 star - The Merchant Hotel.
Getting Retail Therapy
For keen shoppers, the choice is endless - big name stores, boutique designers, innovative arts and crafts, shopping centres and rejuvenated markets (catch the cookery demos and live jazz in the restored St George’s Market every Saturday morning). Fashionistas should go to South Belfast’s trendy Lisburn Road or the exciting new Victoria Square in the heart of the city. Those looking for high street stores should go to the main shopping area that runs from Donegall Place to Castle Court, Royal Avenue.
Getting Through The Night
It’s fair to say that Belfast buzzes at night. Atmospheric restaurants offer high quality and eclectic dining choices: modern, Asian, seafood, traditional … all with a great welcome and real flair. There are funky bars and cutting-edge clubs open every night of the week. And don’t forget the old fashioned traditional pubs, often with live music, where the soul of the city can be discovered – the craic is alive and well and living in Belfast.
The cultural and entertainment choices in modern-day Belfast are a real treat. Belfast now boasts a year round calendar of events from theatre at the beautifully ornate Grand Opera House to pop concerts at the Odyssey Arena- recently voted one of the top 7 concert venues in the world. Contemporary venues also include the Waterfront Hall- this glass fronted focal point of the waterside regeneration regularly hosts big name entertainers and shows.
Take the Lagan Boat Tour to fully appreciate the riverside development or alternatively the Titanic Boat Tour is an excellent vantage point to view the recently refurbished Titanic's Dock and Pump House – where the Titanic was fitted out. Why not experience life as a first class passenger on board SS Nomadic,(opening May 2011 (TBC) Titanic’s tender vessel – a priceless example of the famous liner’s heritage.
There are so many options here to sample - bus tours, walking tours or simply unwind in one of the local hostelries – all in one short break.
Make plans to visit Belfast today – you’ll love the difference!