Belfast, Northern Ireland

Guide for the rail traveller

Information

CurrencyPound
Local languageEnglish
Country Northern Ireland

Introduction

Not only is Belfast the political capital of Northern Ireland but also, without doubt, the region’s cultural centre.

Simply strolling through the centre of Belfast, immerses you immediately in the historical ambiance of this beautiful capital city. Looking back through history, it is easy to see how Belfast evolved. In the early 17th century, Belfast was simply marked by a castle built solely to protect the Lagan Crossing. During the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, Belfast exploded, starting from the central castle. The areas immediately surrounding the castle soon became Belfast’s industrial hub, resulting in endless rows of red-bricked terraces that housed the thousands of workers who moved to the area.

Between 1888 (when Belfast became a city) and 1938, the population of Belfast grew by a massive 400 percent, testimony in itself to the success of this city, particularly the shipbuilding and linen industries.

Towards the end of the 19th century and early 20th century Belfast really put itself on the map, notably with the launch of the Titanic in 1911. Ten years later, Belfast became capital of Northern Ireland. Despite being badly bombed during the Second World War and the effect of religious factions causing widespread violence between 1970 and 1990, Belfast has regenerated itself, becoming a world-class city.

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Things to do

Belfast offers a wealth of historic attractions such as Belfast Castle (a ‘must’ for anyone visiting the city). The castle is spectacular in itself, with its commanding position overlooking the Lough; so too are the views from Cave Hill across to Scotland, especially on a clear day.

Other attractions include the Waterfront Hall and Opera House, with many world class productions, year round. Those wishing to step back in history can take one of the many historical pub walks that stop off at some of the best pubs in attractive buildings around the city.

Local transport

Belfast is relatively compact compared with other similar cities such as Dublin or Cardiff. Public transport is very efficient in and around Belfast, with one company managing both the trains and buses, namely Translink, (Translink’s Citybus serves Belfast).

Using the Citybus is extremely easy; visitors can purchase ‘Smartlink’ which enables them to store credit in advance for travel around the city.

Flying is one of the most popular options for travel to and from Belfast, with regular flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick and City Airports to Belfast, using low-cost airlines such as Easyjet, BMI and Flybe.

Recommended places and events to visit in Belfast

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