Explore the city of Belfast on a short small group tour with Odyssey Traveller.
Belfast, capital city of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, takes its name from the Gaelic Béal Feirste ("mouth of the sandbank"). The city has seen human settlement since the Stone Age, but its modern history began when Baron Arthur Chichester built a castle in 1611 and encouraged the growth of the town. Belfast received its charter of incorporation in 1613, and it blossomed into an important commercial and industrial centre in the 17th century. It was home to a busy port and shipyard and became one of the greatest linen production centres in the world. Since the Industrial Revolution, Belfast's chief shipbuilding firm has been Harland and Wolff, which built the ill-fated Titanic. The issue of home rule divided the city, turning Belfast into the site of intense riots in the 19th century and the violence of "The Troubles" during the late 20th century. The three-decade conflict between nationalists and unionists led to bombings and street riots, giving Belfast the reputation as a dangerous city in the 1970s and 80s. After the peace accord (Good Friday Agreement of 1998), Belfast transformed to regain its place as an economic and cultural powerhouse in Northern Ireland, welcoming visitors interested to learn more about its rich history and see its main sights.
This small group tour is offered to travellers who are seeking a five-day extension in the city as part of an Odyssey Traveller escorted small group tour.
The tour stays in a centrally located hotel in Belfast. Each day we set out to explore various parts of the city, typically using public transport, taxis and the rail network to reach the destinations selected, taking in 2-3 key features or attractions of the city. We will be aided by knowledgeable, local guides who share the ancient, classical, and recent history of the city with the group as we explore.
Typical Highlights of the Belfast Short Tour:
Titanic Belfast is the world's largest Titanic visitor experience, an award-winning attraction located at the very place where the RMS Titanic was designed, built, and launched in 1912. This attraction, using special effects and full-scale reconstructions, tells the story of Belfast's shipbuilding industry and the tragic maiden voyage of the great ship.
Located on the east side of Belfast City Hall is the Titanic Memorial Garden, commemorating the 1,512 people who perished in the Titanic tragedy. The city hall itself is an iconic building, which offers one-hour tours. The Belfast City Hall is illuminated at night in a variety of colours and combinations of lights.
The Linen Hall Library is the oldest library in Belfast, renowned for its Irish and Local Studies Collection with a definitive archive of "The Troubles". The library is housed in a Victorian-era linen warehouse.
Learn more about Northern Ireland by exploring the Ulster Museum.
One of the city's oldest attraction is the St. George Market. Though completed in 1896, there has been a Friday market at this site since 1604. Go shopping for fresh fish and sample the variety of produce on display.
Go on a guided campus tour of Queen's University, founded in 1845.
View the Romanesque Belfast Cathedral.
Stroll through the 17th century Antrim Castle Gardens.
To travellers who want to go on a longer walk, there is the Stormont Estate with its woodland park dotted with historic buildings and memorials.
Climb up to the Dome at Victoria Square for a stunning view of the Belfast skyline.
Odyssey has published the following articles
To assist you with your planning and touring around Ireland and Northern Ireland, then the following articles may be of interest.
This is a very important question to understand before making a trip to Belfast. In some instances, Ireland refers to the entire geographical mass of the whole island. Within the island of Ireland, there are two distinct countries with their own governments. Most of of the island is under the authority of the government of the Republic of Ireland. Confusingly, the Republic’s official name is simply Ireland, but it is still one of two countries on the landmass. The Republic of Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom, but is a full member of the European Union.
Up in the northeastern corner sits the country of Northern Ireland, which has its own government. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, alongside England, Wales and Scotland. Belfast is the largest city and capital of Northern Ireland.
The history of the two countries is long, turbulent and violent, stretching back several hundred years. However, peace has ruled over both countries for the past two decades, as much of the earlier violence ended with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Belfast attracted global attention during the 1970s and 1980s for the riots, bombings and violence on its streets, in a period called ‘The Troubles’.
However, a decade long peace process starting in the early 1990s force through one of the most remarkable conflict resolutions in recent history. As a result, Belfast has become a bubbling metropolis with a safe and welcoming atmosphere. Of course, as with every major city, you should remain cautious, but Belfast poses no reason for extra concern.
Belfast, as the capital of Northern Ireland, is part of the UK. Therefore, the currency used is Great British Pounds (GBR). It is important to note that the currency used in the Republic of Ireland is euros. However, most businesses will offer a reasonable exchange rate.
By getting this travel guide to Belfast, you will get:
- Exact information on what is the best hotel to stay in Belfast, so that you will be in the best area of Belfast for all activities, without breaking the bank.
- Exact information on what to do every hour of the day.
- Where to Eat: What are the best restaurants that locals go to.
- What dishes to try. A simple culinary guide with the top 10 dishes and drinks.
- Where to go out in the evening. Only the top suggestion for each day for one bar or a club.
- How to move from the airport to the hotel with the most budget-friendly way.
- What museums and sights to see. What tourist traps to avoid.
- How to transport with bus, tram or metro. Detailed names of the bus numbers and the station names you will use.
- Best things to do in each one of the 3 days.
Fifty Years On: The Troubles and the Struggle for Change in Northern Ireland
by Malachi O'Doherty
An evocative memoir that explores the Troubles in Northern Ireland and their legacy, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the start of the armed violence that marked the beginning of this period. August 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of an eruption of armed violence that traumatised Northern Ireland and transformed a period of street protest over civil rights into decades of paramilitary warfare by republicans and loyalists, the Troubles. One night of street gun battles led to the British army being ordered in to keep the peace. Belfast would look like a battlefield for a whole generation growing up there.
In this evocative memoir, Malachi O'Doherty recounts his experiences of living through the three decades of the Troubles and the subsequent peace process. Incorporating interviews with political, professional and paramilitary figures, he draws a profile of an era that produced violent trauma, comparing and contrasting it with today and asks how frail is the current peace as Brexit approaches, politics are deadlocked and violence is simmering in both republican and loyalist camps.
As the 12-year-long Bloody Sunday Public Inquiry finally reaches a conclusion, here is the uncensored viewpoint of the British soldiers who endured the misery and losses of Operation Banner.
Former soldier Ken Wharton witnessed the troubles in Northern Ireland first hand. Bloody Belfast is a fascinating oral history given a chilling insight into the killing grounds of Belfast’s streets. Wharton’s work is based on first hand accounts from the soldiers. The reader can walk the darkened, dangerous streets of the Lower Falls, the Divis Flats and New Lodge alongside the soldiers who braved the hate-filled mobs on the newer, but no less violent streets of the ‘Murph, Turf Lodge and Andersonstown. The author has interviewed UDR soldier Glen Espie who survived being ambushed and shot by the IRA not once, but twice and Army Dog Handler Dougie Durrant, who, through the incredible ability of his dog, tracked an IRA gunman fresh from the murder of a soldier to where he was sitting in a hot bath in the Turf Lodge, desperately trying to wash away the forensic evidence.
Wharton’s reputation for honesty established from previous works has encouraged more former soldiers of Britain’s forgotten army to come forward to tell their stories of ‘Bloody Belfast’. The book continues the story of his previous work, presenting the truth about a conflict which has sometimes been deliberately underplayed by the Establishment.
Belfast 1972. It’s the bloodiest year of the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ and sixteen-year-old Eimear O’Callaghan, a Catholic schoolgirl in Andersonstown, West Belfast, bears witness in her new diary. What follows is a unique and touching perspective into the daily life of an ordinary teenager coming of age in extraordinary times. The immediacy of the diary entries are complemented with the author’s mature reflections written forty years later. The result is poignant, shocking, wryly funny and above all, explicitly honest.
This unique publication comes at a time when Northern Ireland is desperately struggling to come to terms with the legacy of its turbulent past. It provides a powerful juxtaposition of the ordinary, everyday concerns of a sixteen-year-old girl – who could be any girl in any British or Irish city at this time, worrying about her hair, exams, clothes, discos – with the unimaginable horror of a society slowly disintegrating before her eyes, a seemingly inevitable descent into a bloody civil war, fuelled by sectarianism, hatred and fear.
Written by an experienced broadcaster and journalist, Belfast Days demonstrates how one person’s examination of her own ‘story’, upon rediscovering her 1972 diary on the eve of the publication of the Saville Report, provided her with a new perspective on one of the darkest periods in twentieth century British and Irish history.
In Belfast: Toward a City Without Walls Vicky Cosstick tells the story of Belfast s 100 sectarian walls and interfaces, now the last in Europe, which remain fifteen years after the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and she asks for how much longer these physical signs and symbols of sectarianism and the Troubles will disfigure the cityscape.The walls are important as both memorials to the conflict and a reminder of the unfinished nature of the peace process; however, in May 2013, the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland made a commitment to bring them down by 2023. This book tells the compelling stories of the complex network of people and the different communities and agencies that are involved in maintaining peace at the interfaces and working towards a city without walls, and draws an intricate picture of how peace is being worked out in the current life of the city.This uniquely researched portrait of a post-conflict peace process provides a real time picture of the complex process by which constructive change is happening.Fascinating in their variety, the walls and fences at the center of this story are illustrated by the evocative and insightful photography of Frankie Quinn.REVIEWS "Her book examines how progress could be made through dialogue, regeneration, through art and architecture, with the help of the communities, the former paramilitaries, the politicians, the churches, and through business and tourism...Wearing her academic hat she refers to complexity theory which, she says, points to 'small, gradual changes resulting in big effects'." - Gerry Moriarty, The Irish Times"
Join Odyssey Traveller in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness spacecrafts launch into space at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the world’s oldest and largest space launch facility located in Kazakhstan, south of Russia.
Harbin, located in the north-east of China, is now home to one of the four biggest ice and snow festivals in the world. Harbin is one of China’s most popular winter destinations. The Harbin Ice and Snow festival began in 1963, each year the cith has sought to create a festival that exceeds the artistic creativity of the previous festival. Harbin is called “Ice City,” and the winters are bitterly cold, but the conditions are just right for the ice festival.