Put on the map for its controversy and chaos, Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, has risen from the ashes of the political and religious conflict that spurred a national identity crisis. Today, travelers book flights to Belfast to experience the city that transformed itself from chaos to current.
Northern Ireland is a member of the United Kingdom and has been since the 19th century, but turmoil has plagued the country since the first days of the British occupation in the early 1600s. The country came to blows over the Catholic and Protestant values of its citizens, as well as the question of loyalties between its Irish heritage and its British nationality. The most explosive period in Northern Irish contemporary history, known as the Troubles, is testament to the tensions that wrecked the country for centuries; from 1968 through 1998 Belfast suffered as the epicenter for persecution and destruction as the Irish Republican Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary took matters into their own hands and turned the streets of Belfast into a combat zone.
Today, the ceasefire has long since been in effect and the Troubles are in the past, though hardly forgotten. Belfast has thrown itself into the healing process, and the constantly growing skyline of the city is proof that a period of rejuvenation and reconstruction has begun in Northern Ireland. Though a major player in the development and cultivation of invention and innovation in the 20th century, Belfast is hardly just another industrial city filled with factories, shipyards and smokestacks.
Belfast is fast becoming one of the hottest spots in Europe with its vibrant nightlife, packed cultural calendar and endless supply of fascinating attractions that have Belfast flights packed with visitors wanting to take part in all the fun.
Belfast experiences a temperate year-round climate that shies away from extreme conditions. Winters are mild with average temperatures dipping no lower than 43 degrees Fahrenheit; autumn and spring in Belfast are particularly drizzly times of year, with consistent rainfall and averages temperatures sticking close to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are when most visitors book their flights to Belfast so as to take advantage of the pleasant weather, which leaves the all of Northern Ireland comfortably soaking up in the sunshine in the 64 degrees Fahrenheit heat.
Best Time to Fly to Belfast
Whether you’re booking your flight to Belfast for an autumn pub-crawl in the capital of Northern Ireland or you’re heading to the city to check out its slew of springtime festivals, there’s no wrong time to start looking for a Belfast flight.
Summer is when you’re most likely to encounter the fullest flights to Belfast: Thousands of tourists flock to Northern Ireland to take in its capital in the comfortable conditions, and this is the best time of year for exploring the countryside on the outskirts of town or laying out on one of the beaches along the city’s waterfront.
The best time for finding cheap flights to Belfast is in the fall before the holiday rush, or in early spring before the summer sun is out in full force. Try booking your Belfast cheap flight for a late October or early November trip: The Belfast Festival at Queen’s takes place during this time, which provides visitors with countless theatrical and musical performances.
Getting around Belfast
Hop aboard the Translink Airbus after your flight to Belfast International Airport and make your way to the city’s center. You can also hail a taxi from Belfast International Airport’s arrivals gate. Belfast’s public transportation is very easy. Metro, the bus system, has 12 main lines downtown and to the suburbs. You can save some money by getting a SmartLink Travel Card, which discounts your bus fares with frequent trips.
Belfast Travel Information
- The Golden Mile should be one of the first stops on your tour after your flight to Belfast lands. Stretching from City Hall to the grounds of the University of Belfast, the Golden Mile is home to some of the most popular pubs, restaurants, nightlife venues and tourist attractions in the city. The Grand Opera House and Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast’s most beloved pub, are both located here, and walking the Golden Miles is a great way to get introduced to the city.
- The Cathedral Quarter is the cultural capital of the city and also one of the most popular sites for tourists. St. Anne’s Cathedral is here, as are several notable galleries and performing arts venues. The Cathedral Quarter is also where the Belfast Film Festival is held in late March each year, as well as the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, which is a must-see for visitors who have booked their flights to Belfast for late January.
- Victoria Square is a source of national pride in Northern Ireland and an attraction not to be missed before your return Belfast flight. Located in the center of the city and just a short walk from Central Station, Victoria Square is a behemoth of a shopping center and a symbol for Belfast’s economic growth and innovation. Victoria Square is, in essence, an enormous shopping mall and retail district, but this £320 million project offers up something for everyone, and is ideal for a visit on a rainy day.
- Are those extra pounds you saved from your cheap flight to Belfast burning a hole in your wallet? Head over to St. George’s Market, which is the oldest covered market in Ireland. The Variety Market held every Friday is a great way to start your weekend. Take a leisurely mosey through its stalls, and if your stomach starts to growl during your retail therapy stop at one of the 23 fish stalls that boast one of the best catches in the United Kingdom.
- Looking for something to watch while you pack for your flight to Belfast? Rent “Titanic”, one of the biggest box office smashes of all time. The iconic and ill-fated Titanic was built in Belfast at the Harland and Wolff Shipyards, and Belfast is eagerly anticipating the centennial of the ship’s maiden (and only) voyage which will take place in 2012.