Belfast is the largest city in Northern Ireland as well as its capital and the most popular tourist attraction in the country. Every year, more than seven million people visit, drawn by the chance to sample the legendary Irish craic, the cultural and artistic attractions on offer, the varied shopping areas and a city centre steeped in history and stunning architecture.
As befits a city that draws visitors from around the world, Belfast has more than its fair share of accommodation, catering to the varied needs of guests of all types. Whether you’re a couple looking to enjoy a romantic break, a business person attending a conference or a family on their annual holiday, you’ll be able to find a hotel room that’s just right. The accommodation on offer ranges from luxury five star to budget two star and from high rise hotels and high-end lodges to inns, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts.
Once you’ve settled into your room, you’ll be able to set about exploring the centre of Belfast on foot, and, in particular, highly distinctive districts such as the Cathedral Quarter.
The Cathedral Quarter
The Cathedral Quarter of Belfast lies in the area around St. Anne’s Cathedral, located between Royal Avenue and the A2 Dunbar Link. In recent years it has been subject to extensive regeneration and has emerged as the bohemian cultural heart of the city. The cultural aspect of the Cathedral Quarter emerged during the 70s when a period of low rent and its central location encouraged artists to move in and use otherwise unwanted properties.
In the present day, the cultural and artistic organisations based in the Cathedral Quarter include Northern Visions, the Belfast Exposed photographic gallery, the Black Box music venue and the Belfast Community Circus School. Although this eclectic range of organisations is located within a relatively small area, staying in one of the many hotels around or in the Cathedral District will make exploring all it has to offer easy.
Nightlife in the Cathedral Quarter
After a day spent enjoying the artistic offerings of the Cathedral Quarter you’ll be grateful of having a room to rest in close at hand, all the more so if you plan to follow up your cultural tourism with a sampling of the legendary Irish craic.
The Irish are famed throughout the world for their ability to have a good time, so much so that every St Patrick’s Day sees millions of people who aren’t even Irish pretending to be, just for the opportunity to party. The nightlife in the Cathedral Quarter more than lives up to this reputation, offering pubs, bars, clubs and music venues of every shape and size. Music fans should head straight to Bert’s Jazz Bar and Restaurant on High Street. Live jazz seven nights a week and all day dining amid a stylish art deco interior makes this the perfect place to relax, take in some music and sip a cocktail or two.
The Dirty Onion, meanwhile, is a contemporary twist on a traditional Irish pub, based in the oldest building in Belfast, a warehouse dating back to 1780. The original brick walls, exposed beams and low ceilings create an atmospheric space, and the food and drink is accompanied by traditional music seven nights a week. If listening to the music whets your appetite then you can come back on another day and take part in one of the open workshops and have a go at singing or playing an instrument yourself.