Belfast is the capital and the largest city of Northern Ireland. It is located on the river Lagan. Belfast, playing the big role in the Industrial Revolution was a centre of Irish tobacco, rope-making, linen and shipbuilding industries. Belfast shipbuilding is the most famous for Harland and Wolff, which was the world’s biggest shipyard which build the notoriously famous RMS Titanic.
Today Belfast is much more than just industrial centre. It is a centre for arts, higher education, business and law. Belfast city centre has undergone an expansion and renovation in the last few years. Belfast is served by two airports George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport. Belfast is a convenient base for your stay and car hire at Belfast Airport is always a good decision if you want convenience and mobility during your holidays.
Basic info and car hire in Belfast
Location: Northern Ireland, on the River Lagan
Population: City of Belfast has a population of 532,928 as of 2014
Official language: English
Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
Weather: Belfast, the same as the rest of Ireland, has a temperate or oceanic climate. This means that it has a narrow range of temperature and rainfall through the year. In the summer, the average warmest day will have the temperature of 24.4°C and in the winter the average coldest night with temperature will not fall under -4.5°C. Belfast typically get snow on no more days that 10 per year.
Public holidays in Belfast: It is not statutory for employees to have a day of on a bank or public holidays in Northern Ireland, although most of them do get a paid leave. For the expected dates of bank and public holidays check this site.
Internet coverage: Belfast City Council has introduced a free public Wi-Fi network as part of the Super Connected Belfast scheme. The network is available at 109 hotspots on public buildings.
Road conditions: Belfast has well maintained roads with occasional traffic jams. For live traffic updates visit this site.
Driving in Belfast
- Age limits: To be able to hire a car in Northern Ireland you must be at least 21 years of age and have held you driving license for at least one year. Also note that drivers under the age of 25 may be charged extra for a young driver surcharge. Check with your car hire company for the terms which apply.
- International Driving Permit: If you are an EU citizen international driving permit is not required.
- Additional information: Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited and if you don’t obey the law you will get a hefty traffic fine. Also note that wearing a seatbelt is mandatory for both drivers and passengers.
- Children in the car: It is mandatory to use an appropriate child seat for all the children driving in the car. You can rent a child seat with your car hire company.
- Driving side of the road: Left
- General speed limits: Regulatory and speed signs are a white circle with writing in the middle in black and a red outline. The speed limits are always in mph.
- Parking suggestions: There are marked parking sports where you park your hired car. There are usually meters where you buy a ticket that you display on your windshield. If you don’t pay for parking you will get a traffic fine.
What to see in Belfast
Our favourite spots
Crumlin Road Gaol
The Crumlin Road Gaol is a 19th century Grade A listed prison. It has stopped operating as a prison in 1996 and is now open for public for guided tours, concerts and events. You can see it all, from Governor’s office, tunnel linking courthouse to the hanging cell, hospital to graveyard.
You can leave your hired car at Little Donegall Car Park just minute's walk from the prison.
You could spend hours browsing this beautiful museum. It features everything from dinosaurs to Egyptian Mummy and modern masterpieces. It is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural science. It has no admission, the entrance is free for all visitors. It is part of National Museums Northern Ireland which include many more museums to visit for the curious ones.
Park you hired car at Donegall Rd Parking just 6 minutes' walk from the musem.
The world’s most famous ship – Titanic – was built in Belfast. Here you can trance its story to the source. The head of the shipway where the Titanic was built is now occupied by Titanic Belfast, that charts the history of Belfast and the creation of this ocean liner. Exhibits with historical images and even the only film footage of the ship in existence.
You can park your hired car at Titanic Quarter Car Park B.
Hillsborough Castle & Gardens
Not strictly in Belfast but with a convenience of car hire in Belfast just a short distance away, Hillsborough Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Norther Ireland. It is the official residence of the royal family when they are in Northern Ireland. It is open to public and you can enjoy a guided tour of the Castle. The Castle is set in the breath-taking gardens which you should not overlook.
You can park your hired car nearby.
Hotels in Belfast
Located in the Queens Quarter, just 5 minutes from the city centre this hostel provides a clean, relaxed and affordable environment.
Bullet Hotel is located 1.2km from the Titanic Quarter. It provides its guest with a restaurant, three bars and a café.
Belfast City Backpackers
Belfast City Backpackers Hostel is situated 25 minutes’ walk from the Belfast city centre. It features free Wi-Fi and a shared kitchen at the property.
Titanic Apartment is set just 300 meters form Odyssey Arena. It offers a beautiful sea view and a free Wi-Fi. There is even private parking available for hired car.
Drive your rental car around Belfast
Belfast is home to Titanic Studios where Game of Thrones is shot. Northern Ireland is full of Game of Thrones filming locations such as Winterfell, The King’s Road, The Wall and Dragonstone. These are the perfect locations for day trips from Belfast.
Old Castle Ward is just 40 minutes’ drive with your hired car from Belfast. It is the location of Game of Thrones Winterfell Castle. There are several guided tours that you can attend.
Discover the hidden treasure of Northern Ireland – Giant’s Causeway which is an area of about 40,000 basalt columns of volcanic origin. It was declared Word Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.
Where to eat, drink and party in Belfast
This excellent restaurant offers modern as well as traditional Irish cuisine. There is also a great choice of wines from all over the world.
Recommended in the Michelin Guide, Fontana serves the best of fresh local ingredients. A perfect choice for lunch or dinner.
This pub-like restaurant offers a choice of seafood, from oysters, lobster to shellfish beds, along with numerous fish.
Saphyre is set within a converted Ulsterville Presbyterian Church and serves some of the best cooking in Belfast today. They offer seasonal menus.
Major events and festivals in Belfast
Belfast has a great choice of festivals and events all year round. Something to suit everybody’s needs, from music to food, history and culture.
Visit this festival to enjoy three days of live music. Some of the biggest names in old time music and bluegrass.
Learn new skills in numerous workshops over the month of August. Celebrate the art of making and enjoy exhibitions and talks.
As a celebration of Irish literature this festival happens every year and is now in its 26th year.
This festival features a series of live music events. It is located in Portico in Portaferry.