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 1600’s. 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 cease fire 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. Whatever the reason for your visit to this amazing city is, here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip.
Belfast experiences a temperate year-round climate that shies away from extreme conditions. It does however, see a lot of rainfall throughout the year. Winters are mild compared to many other cities in Europe and across the globe, with average temperatures staying around 40 degrees Fahrenheit; however, rain is frequent during this time. Autumn and spring in Belfast are also drizzly times of year, with consistent rainfall and average temperatures sticking close to the mid-40’s and 50’s (Fahrenheit). Summers are when most visitors book their flights to Belfast so as to take advantage of the higher temps, with temperature’s averaging in the high 50’s, low 60’s (Fahrenheit), which leaves the all of Northern Ireland comfortably soaking up in the sunshine. While rain is still common during these months – it is Northern Ireland after all – the rise in temperatures make it an enjoyable time to visit.
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.
The most popular time of year to visit Belfast is the summer. This is when you’re most likely to encounter the fullest flights to Belfast, as thousands of tourists’ flock to Northern Ireland to take in its capital in the comfortable conditions. This is also 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. That said autumn (before the holiday rush) or spring offer cheap flights to Belfast, due to the greater possibility of rain, but can also provide pleasant weather as well and lots of events. March is the month for St. Patrick’s Day, a hugely popular celebration all over Ireland, so make sure to secure your flights to Belfast early on in order to save money on your flight tickets. October is home for the Belfast Restaurant Week, which sees over 60 restaurants competing across the city. You can enjoy signature dishes and great offers making it a great time to visit. Flights to Belfast are generally cheap but booking in advance certainly helps.
Belfast is rapidly becoming an all-year destination for tourists to visit, especially with such a short flight time from many locations. December to February tend to be rather rainy, although snow is rare and temperatures average around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re happy with fewer crowds and cooler weather, you can find the cheapest flights to Belfast during the off season.
On average, flights to Belfast aren’t particularly expensive during any given month; of course if you want to visit during St. Patrick’s Day or any other festivities expect a high spike in the price and make sure to book well in advance. Cheap flights to Belfast are readily available in November, and slowly creep up throughout the year. Being flexible with your dates should help you to be able to find a great price on your flight tickets. No matter when you travel, you should aim to book at least 3 or 4 weeks earlier than you wish to depart, and even more in advance if you can or if you want to visit during a special occasion.
As Northern Ireland’s busiest airport, Belfast International Airport has plenty of flights going in and out. Expect a flight time of just over nine hours from New York, about ten hours from Chicago and about thirteen hours from Los Angeles.
None of the major U.S. carriers offer direct flights to Belfast, but Virgin Atlantic has seasonal flights from Orlando to Belfast. Otherwise, you can book a flight with a connection. If you’re departing from an international location, check flights with easyJet and Thomas Cook.
Bringing plenty of layers is the name of the game in Northern Ireland, where the weather could go from sunny to rainy at a moment’s notice. T-shirts, sweaters, a light jacket and comfortable boots all come in handy, and don’t forget your umbrella.
The city’s airport, Belfast International (BFS), is conveniently located just 3 miles away from the city center, meaning after your flight to Belfast you can be sure of a short trip to the city. You can either take a bus to the nearby train station, or if you’re happy walking about ten minutes, you can walk there. You can grab a train every half an hour on a weekday, or at every hour on a weekend. From the train station you can practically travel to anywhere in Northern Ireland, and Ireland as well. Other than the train, a bus is your best option. They leave from right outside the airport and the Airport Express 600 runs directly to the city center. It operates around every twenty minutes or so, as it is very regular. You can also hail a taxi from Belfast International Airport’s arrivals gate, if you’d like.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore, you’ll find that 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. For going outside of the city and surrounding areas, once again, the train is probably your best bet.
The Titanic was built in Belfast, and you can learn all about the ill-fated ship at Titanic Belfast, located near the city center. There’s plenty to see in this six-floor building which earned the title of “World’s Leading Tourist Attraction” at the 2016 World Travel Awards. The attraction even gives you the opportunity to go aboard the SS Nomadic, the last vessel left from White Star Line, maker of the Titanic.
Take a step even further into the past at the Ulster Museum. Found in Belfast’s Botanical Gardens, this museum has dinosaur fossils, an Egyptian mummy and art collections that date back to the 1600’s. It’s a great family activity, and the best part is that admission’s always free.
When you’re ready to do some walking and get away from the crowds, head out to the Giant’s Causeway. The Irish have passed down quite a few stories about this unique geological formation, including that it was where a giant named Finn McCool liked to hang out. Get all the stories and see the area’s wildlife when you get tickets to the attraction’s visitor experience. There are four trails to choose from that take you around the stones, and it’s a relaxing trek with beautiful scenery.
Belfast is a lively city with plenty of great places to eat and have a pint. To see several spots in one day, consider taking a food tour. The guides make sure you get to try the city’s premier dishes.
Do you have other destinations in mind after Belfast? Cheapflights can help you get there. Direct flights back to the United States are available through Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook, or you can keep traveling internationally. Visit https://www.cheapflights.co.uk for the top flight deals for routes out of Belfast.
Belfast International Airport can get crowded, so make sure you get there a bit early to play it safe. Once you choose a destination, be sure to check out our Belfast airport guides for more detailed travel information and helpful tips.