Beautiful Belfast is historically famous for shipbuilding and Irish Linen. More recently, rapid changes have brought an exciting dynamism to this once-troubled spot. Belfast is divided into 4 quarters, each with its own characteristics - the Queens Quarter, the Cathedral Quarter, the Gaeltacht Quarter and the Titanic Quarter.
There is no better way to get beneath a city’s cultural skin and discover the elegant and challenging complexities of its character than to explore its artistic life. The Art Scene in Belfast is flourishing with a great number of Galleries ranging from large public galleries to small, privately run spaces.
The river Lagan, running through the heart of Belfast was the city's commercial centre in the 18th century, and the waterfront remains, to this stay, one of the most vibrant parts of the city.
Places of Interest
Start in Castleplace in the city centre where you can join the hop-on-hop-off tour, with over 20 different stops at some of Belfast's best and most famous tourist attractions.
One of the iconic buildings of Belfast’s skyline and the finest Victorian architectural set-piece in the Province, Queens University will bring you back to 1845. There is a wealth of other key architectural points around the campus along with a visitor centre housing various exhibitions during the year. More recent history was made in the Canada room where the foundations were laid for the Northern Ireland peace process.
Lose yourself in the wonderful W5 experience in the Odyssey Complex on Belfast’s waterfront. What, when, where, why, who (W5!) is a terrific world of discovery for all the family. Science at its best with great fun discovering it in this totally interactive place of fun, start out by climbing the musical stairs, be a car mechanic, make balls float in the air…there is not enough time or room to describe all the activities, you will just have to go for yourself and find out…
As the locals proudly say, “she was alright when she left here” when they speak of the infamous ‘Titanic’. Visit Titanic Belfast on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard where the RMS Titanic was originally built. The exhibition tells the story of the construction, launch, and the sinking of the Titanic as well as the aftermath of the sinking and the shipwreck in the present day.
Step outside the immediate Belfast area and be sure and visit one of Ulster’s fine museums. The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum beautifully illustrates the way of life and traditions of the people of the north of Ireland. Set in a carefully recreated landscape extending over 60 acres with houses, mill, shops, schools and churches portraying life in the early 1900s through costumed interpretation. The award-winning galleries of the Transport Museum display Ireland’s most comprehensive collections from the Horse-drawn cart to Irish build motor cars, from steam locomotives to the history of boatbuilding.
In legend, the Giant’s Causeway was the work of Finn McCool, a giant who commanded the King of Ireland’s armies. The Giant's Causeway is comprised of a mass of 40,000 stone columns that form steps leasing from the cliff foot and disappearing under the sea.
The word whiskey comes from the Gaelic ‘Uisce Beatha’ (pronounced ‘ishka baha’) which was shortened to uisce and eventually to whiskey by the English who couldn't pronounce the original Gaelic term. Steeped in history (and alcohol) a visit to the Bushmills Distillery will take you on a journey from the start-up through the growing then struggling export market and on to what it has become today.
Where to eat and stay
Bestowed by the AA with the ‘most romantic hotel of the year’ in 2006, this charming 19th-century mansion is situated in the heart of Derry. Once home to the Clark family famed for linen making, this is luxury at its best complimented by an outstanding restaurant.
More information about Ardtara House
Bushmills Inn Hotel.
Once in near dereliction, this old-fashioned coach house and adjoining mill house have been faithfully restored maintaining all the nooks and crannies and even a secret room still remains. As the name suggests where else would you try a glass of Bushmills malt, but from the hotel's private cask! Enjoy a meal in the restaurant which prides itself on blending ‘new Irish’ cuisine with the finest local produce and then complete the day in a snug comfortable bedroom in The Millhouse.
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For peace, quiet and intimacy, this 6 bedroomed Georgian Country House is the perfect place to escape to. Cradled in mature gardens and fields in the village of Magheralin, though you may feel a million miles away, the M1 is a mere two miles so you’re not too far from anywhere. You are made to feel so special here that your meals are made to order, how’s that for personal service and attention.
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Castle Leslie Estate.
Steeped in history, full of character and charm, Castle Leslie Estate is the ultimate Irish rural escape. Nestled on 1,000 acres of the undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodland and glittering lakes. Explore the Estate on horseback, enjoy some of Ireland's finest coarse fishing, luxuriate in a relaxing massage or just a stroll through the woods - just some of the choices that await you in this hidden corner of Ireland, just 80 minutes from Dublin, 60 minutes from Belfast, and a million miles from anywhere.
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