I have visited Belfast many times but always for an occasion so I was looking forward to visiting Northern Ireland’s capital purely as a tourist this time around. We were travelling from Tipperary town on a glorious Saturday morning in April and our spin up the road could not have been easier. We were on the road for 8.30am and after stopping twice along the way we pulled into McCaulslands Car park at 12.30pm.
We had brought a packed Lunch with us to eat once we got there so after filling our bellies we took a short walk up to great Victoria street to grab a black taxi to our first destination- The titanic experience. www.titanicbelfast.com
We had booked our tickets online for our visit as we heard it can get quite busy. On arriving into the main reception there was a handy little kiosk to enter in our reference number to retrieve our tickets. No queue in sight! We made our way over to the entry into the exhibition and after dodging the lady trying to take our picture in front of a Titanic backdrop (she was trying to make us put captain hats on and I have a really big head!) we were shown to the start of the exhibition.
The exhibition itself is divided into 9 different galleries or areas and is laid out really well. You can spend as much or as little time in each area that you want. It starts back in early 1900’s Belfast and brings you through all the different stages of how Titanic and other big ships of its time came to be. Our highlight of the tour was the dark ride that gives you an amazing sense of what it was like to work on the construction of this iconic ship
There is an ocean exploration centre at the end of the exhibition which is quite interesting too. So after a quick skulk around the gift shop (there were some lovely souvenirs in here and I probably would have bought the entire shop if I was let!) we were back in the black taxi and off to check into our Hotel.
Our accommodation for the night was the renouned Europa Hotel. We literally dumped our bags, made a cup of tea (in lovely proper big mugs may I add) in the Hotel room and headed back down to the Lobby to meet Joe- our guide for our black taxi tour. We hopped into the back of our black taxi cab and Joe proceeded to show us some pictures of the Hotel we were staying in after it had been bombed- very reassuring! We had booked a political tour of Belfast and we were delighted with Joe’s commentary over the hour and a half we were with him.
He brought us first up to the murals on the Falls road and from there around by the peace wall and the memorial gardens that are scattered over the city’s suburbs to commemorate all those who lost their lives in the troubles.
Around every corner there was a new mural or another story of belfast’s troubled history.
You don’t have to choose to do a political tour of Belfast. They offer historical buildings tours, political studies and post conflict tours also. I would highly recommend the political tour as it was a serious eye opener to the events that has led Belfast to where it is today- still a city that is very much torn in two. The tour was only £30 for the two of us- amazing value in my opinion.
Joe dropped us back to City Hall where we had a lovely walk around but there was a serious thirst on us so we headed for the Crown Saloon (conveniently located right opposite our Hotel). This old worldy pub dates back to the late 1800’s and is full of cosy cubbys where you can enjoy a glass of wine or one of their many craft beers. A must see in Belfast!
After a quick change of clothes in the Hotel we headed up to Ten Square for dinner. We had no reservation but the lovely host had a table for us within minutes. We had spotted this restaurant on our way back from the city hall and it didn’t disappoint. Good value for money and delicious food. We had a compulsory night cap in the hotel while being serenaded by a two piece duo and then it was off to bed for two very tired tourists! The next morning we were up early for our galavant up to Antrim’s north coast! Stayed tuned for the next blog!
All the links are below for the attractions we went to see on our day out in Belfast as well as the directions to McCauslands Carpark and the link for The Europa Hotel. The Europa is in a perfect location for exploring belfast and I would highly recommend it if you are planning a trip!