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Lonely Planet said Belfast is the best place to visit in 2018 and rightly so. The capital of Northern Ireland, just two hours from Dublin was once for many, a no-go area. But it is now a popular city break destination and one of the friendliest and most likeable cities to visit in the UK.
The Titanic Quarter which is reached by crossing over the Lagan Weir Footbridge is one of the most endearing areas in Belfast with its remarkable shipbuilding heritage. Over a century ago the world’s most famous ship, RMS Titanic was built here. In Belfast there’s pieces of history around every corner from magnificent Queen’s University a striking red-brick building and the 9th oldest university in the UK founded in 1845, the copper-topped City Hall, to St George’s Market another vintage masterpiece and the sole surviving covered Victorian Market in Belfast built in the 1890s.
This is a grand city in many ways with its various quarters, each one unique with its own charm and appeal. A must visit is the Cathedral Quarter with its cobbled streets and bustling atmosphere. This is the hub for a unique mix of bars and restaurants. Renowned as the Cultural Quarter – there’s plenty of craic to be had here.
The main tourist season in Belfast runs from May until September, but Belfast is a popular city break any time of the year. The weather is mainly warm with the occasional shower, while winters are wet and cool. Summer temperatures fair on average at 24 C, while average winter temperatures are around 3 C.
The Titanic Belfast museum is a poignant visit for anyone experiencing this historic city. Located near the sea docks where the famous RMS Titanic was built, interactive galleries relive the story of this mammoth vessel and its tragic demise with original footage and truly amazing exhibits including recreations of the ship’s cabins and documents detailing survivors’ stories. Ulster Museum is another historic gem, where you will see some amazing treasures and fine pieces of art. Sinclair Seamen's Presbyterian Church is another fascinating find. This harbourside church is built in an unusual L-shape, its interior has nautical theme with a pulpit shaped as a ship’s prow, whilst the Bell of HMS Hood (a First World War ship) calls worshippers to service. From Hymns to horticulture, the Belfast Botanical Gardens built in 1828 is a sight to behold with its exotic trees and plants. Take in the best of the city on an open top hop-on, hop-off bus tour or on a Belfast Black Taxi tour where you can appreciate sights such as the colourful peace murals, the Stormont Parliament Buildings and historic Belfast Castle.
When it comes to excursions you can take from Belfast, there are a couple of very popular ones. One is the visit to the oldest whiskey distillery in Ireland called Bushmills Distillery. Take a tour and see the Fermentation Halls, Distillery and the Mixing Room. The best part of the tour is sampling different tasty whiskeys. Another is to visit the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland`s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Formed millions of years ago, the result of a volcanic eruption more than 40,000 basalt columns rise out of the sea creating the most mystical monument on the Antrim coastline.
One for the diary - Belfast Festival is held every October and lasts for a couple of weeks. Lots of local and international musicians, dancers, performers and other artists take part in the festivities held throughout the city.