Belfast is not just any city - politics, history and religion are inescapable parts of its fabric. For visitors it is compact, with relatively light traffic and conveniently located points of interest. The major central landmark is Donegall Square, surrounded by imposing remnants of the Victorian era. It is in the west of the city that the poverty shows and that (Protestant) Shankill Rd and (Catholic) Falls Rd run - Six O'Clock News names if ever there were. Separate taxi services run tourists around the two mural-lined precincts for around £10.
Donegall Square is dominated by the City Hall, a true example of muck-and-brass architecture. Also on the square is the Linen Hall Library, which houses a major Irish literary collection. The area north of High St is the oldest part of Belfast, and is known as the Entries. It was badly damaged by bombing during WWII, and today only a handful of pubs are left to reflect the character of the past. The River Lagan runs through Belfast, and the cranes of its shipyards still dominate the western skyline. Queen's Bridge, a lovely bridge with ornate lamps, is just one of those spanning the Lagan. The Crown Liquor Saloon displays Victorian architectural flamboyance at its most extravagant. As much a museum as hostelry, the Crown's exterior is covered in a million different tiles, while the interior is a mass of stained and cut glass, mosaics and mahogany furniture. It's impossible to get a seat, and even standing room is rare, but the Crown is well worth putting on your itinerary.
The Grand Opera House across the road is another of Belfast's great landmarks. It's been bombed several times, and at the moment has been restored in an abundance of purple satin. History and culture are on show at the Ulster Museum near the university; the collection includes items from the wrecked Spanish Armada of 1588. On the outskirts of Belfast are its splendidly located and well laid-out zoo; the Cave Hill Country Park; Belfast Castle, which dates in theory from the 12th century, but the existing structure was built in 1870; and Stormont, the former home of the Northern Ireland parliament, and now home to the Northern Ireland Secretary.
The bulk of Belfast's restaurants and accommodation cluster south of Donegall Square and along the inner-urban stretch known as the Golden Mile.
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Belfast City, Co. Antrim is served by Belfast Central.
333 Ballysillan Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Set in Belfast, Northern Heights features views across Belfast. Belfast Castle and Crumlin Road Gaol are within 2 miles of Northern Heights. Free WiFi is available throughout, and there is also free onsite parking.