I was never a good tourist while living in Belfast, haven’t even been to the Gaint Causeway.???!!!! Very poor!!!!!!!
My Swedish friends that have been visiting through the years have gone on the Big Red Bus (hop-on-hop-off) while I have been slaving my days away. *smile
So I thought that I will do the sighting too, but it wasn’t a sunny summer day … and to spend 2,5 hours on the uncovered top deck in Febuary wasn’t one of brightest idea I had – but I learned a lot about the city that has been my home city for 10 years, that I didn’t know. Our guide, we were only 4 passengers on the bus …. were brilliant, and he talked very clearly with the Belfast accent, that can be quite difficult to understand.
Most landmarks in the city center I’m familiar with … like the “Big Fish”, Custom House, Albert Memorial Clock, Odessey Area, Samson and Goliath (one of the largest cranes in the worlds at Harland & Wolff”), the Titanic Experience, St George’s Market (the best in the UK), George Best Airport and the Stormont, the Northern Irish Parliament Building.
Belfast has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world the last years. Belfast named the best place to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. Belfast is now a popular short-break destination and one of Europe’s top visitor destinations. Tourism currently attracts almost 9.5 million visitors each year and contributes over £430 million to the local economy. This, in turn, supports over 9,300 full-time jobs. Not bad for a war zone 20 years ago.
What I know very little about is the Fall Roads and Skinkill Road area. The Falls Road is the main road through west Belfast, Northern Ireland, running from Divis Street in Belfast city center to Andersonstown in the suburbs. Its name is synonymous with the republican community in the city, whilst the neighboring Shankill Road is predominantly loyalist, separated from the Falls Road by peace lines.
I have been in the area once – on my birthday with my Swedish girlfriend, Maja – we ended up on a very shady nightclub there, more or less by mistake – but we had a great time and the night was young.
So seeing the Peace Wall, that I didn’t even know existed and the Crumlin Road Gaol, that has become one of the major tourist attractions in Belfast. HM Prison Crumlin Road is a large part of Belfast criminal history. Once an infamous prison. I will do the tour next time.
It is the only Victorian era prison remaining in Northern Ireland since 1996. It is affectionately known as the Crum. Opened in 1846 and closed so late as in 1996.
Of course, then there is all the murals around Belfast, very powerful messages that tell the story about the political and bloody problems that Belfast and Northern Ireland gone through, Nationalist and Republican.
It was very hard to capture them from a moving bus, so that has gone on my do-it list for next years visit. There is a 2-hour tour that only concentrate on the murals, that is what I will do – because they are all over the city.
Today another popular attraction in Belfast is the Northern Ireland’s Game of Thrones filming locations, in and around the city: the Dark Hedges, Cushendun Caves, and Carrickfergus Castle.
Filmmaking has become a massive thing for Belfast, with studios everywhere those days: Belfast Harbour Studios, Titanic Studios, The Linen Mill, The Britvic and The Macquitty and Hurst Stages. “Krypton”, a new US TV series was shot at Belfast Harbour Studios – will have premier now in March over in the States.
After the bus tour …. freezing was only the first name. So I went to one of my favorite waterholes to get the temperature back up, “Deli Lites”, only short walk from the end stop. A busy and cozy cafe with great soups, salads, and sandwiches.
I meet two young couples on the red bus ( from Zürich & Québec), both staying in Dublin on a day-trip to Belfast. Both said that they wished they were staying in Belfast and do a day trip to Dublin instead. In their eyes, Belfast is a lot friendlier, cleaner, so much more relaxed and a lot cheaper. I totally agree with them.
“I don’t care if you’re Protestant or Catholic –
I don’t care who you are or what you are,
your grief is still the same”
(this quote is on display at Belfast City Hall)