Black taxi tour
Many visitors to Belfast don’t realize that even though “The Troubles” are over, the city remains divided along Catholic/Protestant lines. The city center, where most hotels and tourist attractions are, is neutral, and you might forget that you’re surrounded by a history of conflict. Private cab companies will take groups of 2-4 on a “black taxi tour” through the divided parts of Belfast. You’ll see places where bombings occurred, memorials to people killed, the Peace Wall, public art, and more, with a guide who gives you personal anecdotes about what life was like during the days of conflict.
Buildings and Monuments
The best way to see Belfast is on foot. If you’re staying in central Belfast, you won’t even need to go very far to see most of the city’s most famous buildings and attractions, such as:
· City Hall: Probably the largest and most visible building in the city, it’s the center point of town and a great way to navigate the different sections of Belfast.
· The Grand Opera House: Though the original Opera House was bombed many times, it has since been painstakingly restored to almost its exact original condition.
· Albert Bridge: Named for Queen Victoria’s husband, this bridge is known for its decorative features, including yellow fish circling the poles.
· The Linen Library: Belfast has a rich tradition in making and selling fabric, particularly linen. This public library has always focused on accessible books that encourage free thought. It left its original location and found a newer, larger home in 2000.
The name of this unassuming restaurant evokes a mom cooking you a meal at home, and that’s just the impression you’ll get. The fare is hearty and prepared without a lot of fuss, but that leaves plenty of room for flavor. Almost everything is locally sourced, like the homemade wheaten bread and the Fermanagh duck breast. Among the highlights: roast fillet of hake with crushed chickpeas and crispy cumin carrots and a smoked haddock over pea risotto. The décor will also make you feel right at home, with books about Irish history open on shelves or tables, waiting for your perusal.
It seems wrong to be anywhere in Ireland without stopping for a drink, and Crown Bar is the rare pub that’s as beautiful as it is practical. The owner of Crown Bar was a Protestant married to a Catholic woman, and against his better judgment he let the missus pick the bar’s name. To get back at her, he put a tile crown on the ground just in front of the entrance, so that anybody coming in would have to walk right over it. Designed and decorated by Italian artisans who usually worked on churches, the gorgeous tile work and stained glass would look just as fine in any cathedral.