Belfast Car Hire
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- Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, which is situated on the same island as The Republic of Ireland but is one of the four constituent countries that make up the United Kingdom.
- It’s one of the most interesting cities in Britain, with a complex history, unique culture, beautiful buildings and stunning scenery.
- A range of car hire operators make it easy for you to cruise around town and there are plenty of terrific things to see and do – here are a few mind-blowing facts about Belfast.
- HBO’s TV smash hit Game Of Thrones was filmed in and around Belfast – if you’re a fan, it’s easy to visit the castles and coastlines featured in this swashbuckling swords and sorcery series.
- The Titanic was built in Belfast by shipbuilding firm Harland & Wolff. At its launch in 1911 it was the largest moving object in the world and set sail on its fateful voyage to New York via Southampton the following year.
- Harland & Wolff also own the iconic Samson and Goliath cranes that dominate the Belfast skyline. They’re the largest free-standing cranes in the world, measuring up at 106 and 96 metres tall respectively.
- Belfast was once named Linenopolis because of its lucrative linen industry.
- Iconic rock group Led Zeppelin first performed their famous hit Stairway to Heaven in Belfast.
- The Belfast Agreement, also known as The Good Friday Agreement, was signed between the British and Irish governments here on 10th April 1998 – it ended the 30-year old conflict commonly known as The Troubles.
- Belfast is now one of Britain’s safest cities.
- The Irish Gaelic name for Belfast is ‘Beal Feirste’, which means ‘mouth of the sea bank ford’. It was originally built on the ford where the rivers Farset and Lagan cross.
- Speed limits in Northern Ireland are 48 km/k in built-up areas, 96 km/h in built-up areas, and 112 km/h on both dual carriageways and motorways.
- Belfast is a reasonably small city and it’s easy to drive around and park in – you drive on the left here, the same as in other areas of the UK.
Guide to Belfast
Belfast is a bustling city that’s full of buzzing pubs, award-winning restaurants and wonderful historical attractions.
It also boasts a unique culture brought to life by brilliant locals who are living embodiments of the civic pride and power which comes when disparate communities come together for the common good. Its various communities have overcome differences and steered the city towards a peaceful and prosperous future.
Fresh foods in St George’s Market
If you’re a gourmet, you’re in for a treat because this is heaven for serious food fans. At St George’s Market you can pick up farm and sea-fresh local produce like fruit, veggies, fish and flowers, while Norther Ireland’s oldest deli Sawyers serves up renowned cooked meats, charcuterie, cheese and Italian pastries.
If you appreciate alcohol, you can quench your thirst and learn some local history by signing up for a Belfast pub tour, gin jaunt or whisky walk, while Co Couture is chocolate heaven for those who simply have to have their deluxe choccy fix wherever they roam.
However, if you prefer the freedom of taking a tipple under your own direction, there are trendy and welcoming rooftop bars and beer gardens aplenty – The Treehouse, Babel Belfast and The Perch are three of the most popular with patrons.
Where is the Belfast Cathedral Quarter?
The Cathedral Quarter is bang in the middle of town and that’s where tourists and locals mingle in chic cafes high-class restaurants. It’s also home to C.S. Lewis Square, which features seven striking bronze sculptures inspired by the Belfast-born author’s seminal tale The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Next, you can head half an hour south to Queen’s Quarter, home of Queen’s University and several boho coffee shops. The Botanical gardens are another quality Queens Quarter attraction and they’re the perfect place to have a family picnic and stroll through the Palm House, which is populated by tropical plants and exotic birds.
Across the River Lagan to the east lies the Titanic Quarter, home to the huge museum that pays tribute to the tragic ship, as well as large-scale sports and entertainment venue the Odyssey Complex.
Belfast - Gaeltacht Quarter
Furthermore, the Gaeltacht Quarter in west Belfast is dedicated to preserving Irish culture and language – it’s peppered with political sites and venues where you can hear and see traditional music and dance in all its swirling colour and soaring soulfulness.
Take a 25 minute drive outside the city and you can explore Carrickfergus Castle in County Antrim, an 800-year-old Norman castle on the shore of Belfast Lough. Lough Neagh is a little further, at around 45 minutes from the city centre, but it’s worth the effort to absorb the idyllic atmosphere at the biggest lake in the British Isles.
Things to do in Belfast
There are so many terrific things to do in Belfast that you’ll have to prioritise what you want to see most, particularly if you’re only here for a few days.
With that in mind, here are some of the best things to do in Belfast:
- You simply can’t go to Belfast without taking in everything the Titanic Quarter has to offer. Start at the Titanic Museum and you’ll find out everything worth knowing about the world’s most famous sunken ship. The cutting-edge museum has no less than nine interactive galleries, with full-size reconstructions of several significant sections, impressive special effects and dark rides.
If you’d like to be based in this neighbourhood during your visit, the former Harland & Wolff drawing office where the Titanic was designed is now a beautiful boutique hotel with rooms decorated to reflect its proud maritime legacy.
You can also visit the SS Nomadic, Titanic’s smaller sister ship, which carried first and second-class passengers to the transatlantic giant, as well as HMS Caroline, a remarkably well preserved WW1 battleship.
- In many ways, Ulster Museum is the ultimate family attraction – it features full-size dinosaur skeletons, Egyptian mummys, multicultural art galleries and interactive learning zones where kids of all ages can learn about the natural history of Northern Ireland and beyond. If you’ve got a natural thirst for knowledge then this is the place to satisfy it completely.
- A Game of Thrones tour is an excellent experience for any true fan of the series and includes all the filming hotspots. This excursion from Belfast includes Iron Born costumes and swords for all participants and takes you to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, The Iron Islands at Ballintoy Harbour and UNESCO Heritage site the Giant’s Causeway.
- W5 at Odyssey is an outstanding science and discovery centre based at Queen’s Quay and features the multi-storey climbing zone CLIMBIT, the AMAZE technological space and a resident humanoid android called Robothespian – rather good indeed!
- Belfast Castle is situated just north of the city centre in the Cave Hill area. As well as its architectural charms, the castle is set in wonderful woodlands and surrounded by luxurious landscape gardens, while its in-house restaurant has a hard-won reputation for serving some of the finest fare in the area.
- Golden Thread Gallery is another great place to visit. This leading contemporary arts space hosts workshops, shows and events and has featured the work of famous artists like Stuart Calvin, Liliane Puthod, Michael Hanna and Bassam Al Sabah.
- Keep the water babies in your life happy with a trip to Bangor Aquatic and Leisure Centre. This swimming pool complex has a pirate-themed pool complete with treasure ship and fast flumes, a fitness suite, creche and children’s soft play area.
- Wrap up warm and enjoy a family night out watching ice hockey aces Stena Line Belfast Giants crush the competition during a home game. The atmosphere is electric and local fans will make you feel welcome by teaching you their lively team songs and chants.
- Crumlin Road Gaol is an interesting place for anyone interested in Belfast’s history of crime and punishment. A tour of this A-listed building pulls no punches and includes the gruesome hanging cell, graveyard, hospital and Governor’s office. Guides will explain which high-profile prisoners were incarcerated here in the 150 years it was operational between 1846 and 1996.
Eating out in Belfast
Belfast is one of Britain’s hidden foodie hot spots and once you’ve got the inside track on where to find its most lip-smacking emporiums, you won’t be disappointed.
Here are a few places in Belfast that your belly will thank you for visiting:
- Michael Deane’s Eipic restaurant at 28-40 Howard Street has won a Michelin Star four years in a row and it’s and it’s a superb spot for a special occasion. If you find delicacies like bacon jam, mushroom and brown butter tartlets, and delicate lemon and broccoli brill delightful, you’ll feel right at home here.
- Home Restaurant at 22 Wellington Place serves feel-good food in the heart of the city centre and it’s won a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the past six years – no mean feat. Head Chef Ben Arnold has formerly headed up cuisine duties for the British Olympic Team so, as you might expect, dishes are nutritious as well as delicious and include choices like goats cheese bruschetta with beetroot, apple, dill and poppy seeds, and aubergine katsu curry with pickled radish and brown rice pilaf.
- Fancy casual dining in divine surroundings? Head straight to AMPM at 38-44 Upper Arthur Street for Irish, French and European cuisine served amidst lush romantic décor, fresh flowers and quirky conversation piece artefacts. Voted Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Belfast in the NI Food Awards a couple of years ago, its diverse menu features sumptuous small plates such as squid with garlic and lemon mayo and satay chicken with rainbow slaw, or main dishes like Massaman curry with jasmine rice or lasagne wit Dauphinois or black pudding potato.
Car Hire in Belfast Airports
Belfast boasts two airports – Belfast City Airport is close to the city centre and mainly offers domestic flights to elsewhere in Ireland and the UK, while Belfast International Airport provides domestic and international flights and can be found around 20 miles outside the city.
Here’s a brief overview of the reliable car hire options available at both air hubs:
- Car hire at Belfast International Airport is provided by rental partners like Easirent and Hertz and models often available include the Ford Focus, Kia Optima and Hyundai i10. Easirent is a British -owned, family-operated firm established in 1999 to appeal to value-focused customers and Hertz is an international multi-billion car hire business which operates in practically every market possible and employs more than 38,000 people.
Car hire packages at Belfast International Airport for both these firms typically include features like theft protection, 24 hour assistance and free cancellation up to 48 hours prior to the start of the agreed rental.
- Car rental at Belfast City Airport can be found from these aforementioned providers, but your choice also includes alternative car hire firms like Enterprise and Alamo. Enterprise is the biggest car hire company in the world, with 100,000 staff in 90 countries and 1.9 million vehicles available and Alamo is another large global car rental operator with a proud reputation for excellent customer care.
At Belfast City Airport, you can hire vehicles like the Mercedes A-Class, Ford Transit and Vauxhall Insignia from these types of operators and benefits like third party liability and a collision damage waiver are often included in your agreement.
Your perfect car hire vehicle will depend on criteria like cost, the size of your party and the requirements of your itinerary – for instance, a smaller vehicle suits a couple who want to nip around the city carefree, but a larger group with grandparents and small children might be better off in a sturdy seven seater.