Belfast, the famed capital of the North, has been having a renaissance. Over the last twenty years this scenic city of castles, monuments and impressive 18th century buildings has quietly become a world-class shopping destination and a gourmet's paradise.
It’s also terrific value for money too, with a vibrant nightlife and a cultural heft that makes it home to many of Ireland’s best poets, novelists and playwrights. Belfast is also a walkable city and a notably green one, so you’re never far from lush parks and cheerful gardens that welcome the public year round.
In regard to shopping the city center is now host to a remarkable amount of upscale stores located near the Donegall Square landmark. Would you be surprised to discover that you’ll find the same leading edge fashions here that you will on Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue?
For menswear check out The Bureau, a local store so discerning that it has won international attention for its signature brands like Engineered Garments and Tricker’s. In Belfast the men are often at least as interested as the women in well-made clothes. It’s a haven for bespoke tailoring and quietly understated cool.
Popular places to visit are the Ormeau Baths Art gallery and The Lyric Theater. The annual poetry, film and theater festivals – many sponsored by Belfast’s Queen’s University – attract the biggest names in the world (and quite a few of them are Irish).
Belfast is a university town and The Golden Mile is what the locals call the famous mile between the City Hall and the beautiful Victorian-style Queens University. Along the way you’ll find bookstores selling coffee and playing jazz, you’ll also encounter every kind of dining option and clothes shops that cater to a younger, funkier set.
To see the history of Belfast in front off your eyes you should visit the Harland and Wolff shipyards where the ill fated but totally magnificent Titanic was built. Standing there, it’s easy to imagine the sheer scale and ambition of the project and you can even guess at what how hard it must have hit them to hear that it was lost.
Far above the city, on the dramatic Cave Hill sits the superb Belfast Castle in all its 1870’s grandeur. Visit it and you’ll discover the breathtaking views over the city. Belfast is one of the greenest cities in Ireland, with ample opportunities for playing golf and every other outdoor sport. The city’s Botanical Gardens features tropical orchids, lilies and bananas.
Located on Ireland’s eastern coast at the mouth of the River Lagan and flanked by several hills including Cave Hill, the city has a temperate climate with mild winters and cool summers. It boasts a wide selection of hotels to suit every budget and there are regular direct flights to Belfast from major cities in the United Kingdom, Ireland, North America and Europe. There are frequent ferry connections to Belfast to Britain. Getting around Belfast is a cinch. The city center is small enough be toured on foot and there is an extensive public transportation system of buses.