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Northern Ireland - Belfast

Top 10 places

Top 100 places to visit in Northern Ireland

Belfast

1. Belfast Guided Tours

One of the best ways of seeing Belfast's attractions and understanding its history is to take a locally operated tour - hugely informative and invariably rich in colourful anecdotes. City Sightseeing runs a hop-on and hop-off open-top bus tour of the Belfast sights, guided taxi tours provide ninety minute tours of the Falls and Shankill roads, plus Milltown Cemetary, the docks and the university, and there are a variety of walking tours available, departing from Belfast Welcome Centre.

2. Belfast Zoo

Belfast Zoo is one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland, and is home to everything from tapirs and sea lions to zebras and penguins. Located in north Belfast, the zoo's 55 acres of landscaped parkland is home to more than 1,200 animals and 140 species. Some of the animals you can see include white tigers, Barbary lions, elephants, giraffes, bongos and gorillas. Facilities include a cafe serving hot meals, a tea-house and a souvenir shop.

3. The Botanic Gardens and Ulster Museum

First opened in 1827, Belfast's Botanic Gardens contain the Palm House - a curvilinear white-painted iron framed construction, which pre-dates the famous similar hothouse at Kew Gardens in London. The nearby Tropical Ravine is a sunken glen full of plants from far-flung jungles. Nearby is the Ulster Museum, with displays ranging from a dinosaur show to the Girona exhibition, showing treasures from Spanish Armada ships that foundered off the Giant's Causeway in 1588.

4. The Whowhatwherwhenwhy Scientific Discovery Centre

With 160 amazing interactive exhibits in four incredible exhibition areas, W5 provides a unique experience as well as fantastic fun for visitors of all ages. In addition to permanent exhibits, W5 also presents a changing programme of large and small scale temporary exhibitions and events and a programme of live science demonstrations throughout the day. W5’s location provides spectacular views of Belfast and the River and facilities include a coffee shop and a gift shop.

5. Belfast Traditional Music Pubs

Belfast's pubs are the heart of the city, and traditional Irish music usually comes free with your pint of Guiness.  There are dozens to choose from, but here are three of the best to get you started. The John Hewitt is one of Belfast's most popular pubs with a reputation for quality traditional music on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and jazz on Fridays. Alternatively try White's Tavern, or The Duke of York.

6. 'Napoleon’s Nose' and Cave Hill Country Park

From Belfast Castle, several paths lead up to the summit of Cave Hill - a rocky outcrop known as 'Napoleon's Nose.' From here the views of Belfast Lough and the city are unsurpassed. On a clear day you can see the Irish sea and even as far as Scotland. Cave Hill Country Park has facilities including a Visitor Centre, adventure playground, eco-trail, waymarked walking trails, orienteering routes and refreshments from Belfast Castle.

7. River Lagan and Titanic Boat Tours

Take a boat trip on the MV Joyce with the nautical types of the Lagan Boat Company to the slipway where Titanic was launched and the dry dock where she was fitted, as part of their absorbing Titanic Tour, which takes you around the historic Harland and Wolff shipyard. You’ll get a unique perspective on the rejuvenated waterfront with its eclectic mix of Victorian, Edwardian and modern landmark buildings.

8. The Naughton Gallery

The Naughton Gallery is one of Belfast's most vibrant and exciting art galleries, featuring a rolling programme of works from Queen's University's own collection, touring exhibitions and shows by local and international artists. The gallery comprises an outstanding collection of mainly figurative paintings of Irish landscapes and portraits. The wide range of works includes paintings, prints, works on paper, sculpture, furniture, metalwork and silver.

9. Sheridan IMAX Cinema

The screen at the Sheridan IMAX Cinema is taller than four double-decker buses and a six channel surround sound system is outputted on over forty speakers. The crystal clear images fill the viewer's peripheral vision creating the impression of being at the centre of the on-screen action whether climbing the world's tallest mountains, exploring it's deepest oceans or travelling through space. Great for kids!

10. Aunt Sandra’s Candy Factory

Aunt Sandra opened her candy shop on Castlereagh Road back in 1953. Today, the shop has been recreated to look exactly as it would have done in here day. The tradition of making candy by hand is continued by her nephew, David, who will be happy to take you on a guided tour and show you how it is done. If you are good you may even get some candy floss to take home with you!
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