belfast titanic overlooking body of water while sun sets in the background
At the World Travel Awards in September, Belfast Titanic, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, was named the top tourist attraction in Europe.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / jkennedy561

How the Belfast Titanic Has Made Belfast a Top Travel Destination

Music, History and the Vaunted Belfast Titanic Make Belfast the Place to Go

At the World Travel Awards in September 2016, Belfast Titanic, the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience, was named the top tourist attraction in Europe, beating out the likes of Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Rome’s Colosseum and London’s Buckingham Palace.

First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster remarked at the time, “In just four short years, Titanic Belfast has become an iconic tourist attraction, attracting over 3 million visitors from all over the world.”

The side effect of the popularity of Belfast Titanic is that more and more people are discovering just how fabulous the city of Belfast is to visit. The largest city and the capital of Northern Ireland, it was once riddled with conflict, a period known as “The Troubles,” which resulted in many travelers overlooking this region of the Emerald Isle.

But things have dramatically changed in recent years, and it’s become one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom, and the second most visited on the island of Ireland. It also makes for the perfect budget holiday in the UK.

Belfast Titanic itself is reason enough to include the city on your itinerary. One could easily spend two full days in this museum, browsing the extensive array of exhibits that include a display of artifacts from the famous ship that sank in 1912, with letters, clothing and rooms that have been re-created.

There are virtual reality rooms, multi-media displays and even live cameras from the team that discovered the wreck, revealing the underwater salvaging and research that’s being done today.

It’s only in this city that you can trace the Titanic story to its very source, discovering the pride and passion of those who designed and built the ship, while reliving the excitement of the era.

But Belfast also offers quite the colorful blend of history, art, out-of-this-world cuisine and magnificent landscapes, along with a practically overwhelming number of things to see and do outside of Titanic.

Titanic Harbor Boat Tour

Enhance your Titanic experience by joining a Titanic Harbor Boat Tour. Guided tours are conducted daily, allowing passengers to get a unique perspective of the historic harbor that’s built more than 10,000 ships in its history, along with humorous tales about the Titanic and the characters involved in building her.

During the summer, the boat also explores Musgrave Channel, the home of Belfast’s large breeding seal colony.

Belfast Castle

The museum is just one of the features that makes Belfast a must visit destination in the UK. Belfast Castle sits atop Cave Hill, where its impressive outline can be seen throughout the city, making it an ideal place to visit and enjoy spectacular views over Belfast and Belfast Lough. Napoleon’s Nose, as locals refer to it, is its most noted feature, believed to have been the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s novel, “Gulliver’s Travels.”

Explore the museum at the Cave Hill Visitor Center for free, enjoy lunch at the Cellar Restaurant, and take a stroll across the garden-filled grounds.

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St. George’s Market

St. George’s Market was lauded as the best large indoor market by the National Association of British Market Authorities in 2014. If you visit, you’ll quickly understand why.

The only surviving covered Victorian market in the city, the weekend market boasts an impressive selection of local, continental and specialty foods along with local arts, crafts and live music. The Friday fish and variety market has nearly 250 stalls, with 23 fish counters alone.

Black Cab Taxi Tour

If you want a more in-depth, fascinating look at the history of Belfast, political insights and the infamous “Troubles,” take a Black Cab Taxi tour, a quirky, offbeat tour conducted in traditional black cabs. The 90-minute jaunt through the city includes the famed wall murals, the so-called Peace Walls built to keep Protestants and Catholics apart, the docks, the University and more.

The Music Scene

Belfast is renowned for its happening music scene that’s produced quite a few notable bands and artists, such as Van Morrison and, more recently, Snow Patrol. Some of the best venues for live music include The Black Box and Ulster Hall.

In fact, Ulster Hall was the very place that Led Zeppelin first played “Stairway to Heaven.”

There are practically an endless number of other choices to check out too, as most pubs and bars host live music, including traditional music sessions where locals bring their own instruments and put together some incredible impromptu jams.

Walk the streets of the Cathedral Quarter and you’ll bump into many, including two of the best: The Dirty Onion, housed in the city’s oldest building, and The Duke of York.

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