The proud capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast has a rich, long history – proudly serving as the nation’s economic epicentre for centuries. The city boasts a long love affair with the seas, with its name derived from the traditional Irish translation of Mouth of the Sandbanks, and was even the home of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, responsible for building the RMS Titanic.
Although that’s not to say Belfast’s cruising history is mired with sadness, a significant number of beautiful cruise ships descend upon the city’s harbour every year. The likes of Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess, Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth and the Azamara Quest routinely visit the beautiful city which has benefitted from significant regeneration and expansion in recent years.
There is plenty of history to enjoy during a visit to Belfast, not least the 5,000-year-old Giant’s Ring – a Neolithic henge monument on the outskirts of the city. Iron Age hill forts can also be explored in the hills which surround the city, and the remnants of Belfast’s golden era of growth in the 18th and 19th century still bless the old streets.
If you wish to escape the real Belfast, and visit the fantasy world of HBO’s hugely popular Game of Thrones series, the setting for Castle Black is not far. The abandoned Maghermorne quarry area serves as the setting for the home of Jon Snow and his brothers in black. A castle with real rooms and elevator were built into the sides of the quarry to create an authentic setting for the ‘end of the world’ and the wall which protects mankind from all which live beyond.
Belfast, and the greater County Antrim area, is home to a number of Game of Thrones settings including the Riverlands, the Iron Islands, Harrenhal and even parts of Winterfell.
The Ulster fry may be a little too close to a full English for us to list as a separate entry, so we’re suggesting another local favourite as a must-east during a visit to Belfast, dulse. A salty-seaweed snack, dulse may not be immediately appetising but its wonderful saline taste and crispy texture pays homage to the city’s fishing past. Commonly found in markets and some bars, dulse is a great slathered on a slice or two of soda bread.
Belfast’s pub culture is steeped in history, and a few pints is the perfect way to pay testament to the wonderful city. The Crown is perhaps the most famous pub in the city, with almost 200 years of history within its ever popular walls.
The pub is known for its comfortable and cosy mahogany booths, the perfect place to enjoy a pint of real ale, or peruse the comprehensive menu for a spot of something to eat.
Belfast may not be one of those capitals with a dizzying selection of hotels, motels and rooms – but there are plenty of great options, ensuring you can enjoy a restful night’s slumber in the city.
Benedict’s Hotel is regarded as one of the city’s finest and most exhilarating boutique hotels. Locally operated, the hotel’s staff go that extra mile to ensure your stay is unforgettable and blessed with charming personal touches.
The aforementioned Ulster fry has to feature here, otherwise our Belfast-based readership would never forgive us. Fried eggs, crispy bacon, pork sausages, potato, black and white pudding, toasted soda bread and browned potato make up this exquisitely filling breakfast which has been powering Belfast locals for hundreds of years.
Maggie Mays has developed a reputation for producing the best Ulster Fry in the city – incredibly popular with Belfast’s student population. Big appetite? You can opt for the Bumper Fry for just an extra £1.10 – that’ll set you up for the day.
If you’re looking to book an unforgettable cruise taking in Belfast, check out our selection of British Isles-based itineraries here. Alternatively, for more information and our complete range of deals give our dedicated team a ring on 0808 274 6777.