Categories: Titanic

An expansive urban waterfront with one of the great global visitor attractions as its centrepiece, you can’t truly experience Belfast without taking some time to explore the Titanic Quarter. This historic part of Northern Ireland’s capital has had such a huge influence on both the city and the world, and its story reveals itself around every corner. 

The centre-piece: Titanic Belfast 

The shimmering star-shaped Titanic Belfast is the biggest and best experience of the most famous ship in the world. Take your time and enjoy the journey over nine interactive galleries featuring special effects, dark rides and full-scale reconstructions. Walk through Victorian Belfast and meet the men who spent four years building the ill-fated ship before visiting the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, her final resting place. 

During your visit, experience some Titanic elegance with afternoon tea in the museum’s Titanic Suite. Settle down at the foot of the stunning replica staircase and spoil yourself with five-star service and a delicious selection of classic scones with clotted cream, exquisite éclairs, tasty savouries, sandwiches and tea. 

Honesty is the policy at the Dock Cafe 

If you’re the type of sailor that prefers his sweet treats simple then try the nearby Dock Café. They don’t do price lists here. Instead, they live by their heart-lifting motto ‘Honesty Works’, and have an honesty box where customers choose what to pay. The Dock Cafe is run by teams of volunteers who serve up a never-ending supply of local goodies. There is plenty of space to relax on comfy sofas and catch a slice of Titanic Quarter life. This is one of the greatest wee spots in Belfast and really worth a visit. 

Draw up a plan for an overnight stay in the Titanic Hotel 

Titanic was designed in the Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices. This is one of Belfast’s architectural and historical gems and today you can stay within its walls. The boutique Titanic Hotel offers a unique maritime experience from the moment you enter its doors. The exquisitely designed rooms reflect the legacy of Harland & Wolff’s innovative design and craftsmanship and at night when the quarter lights up the views from the rooms are quite something. 

Sail into the sunset with a meal at Tedford’s 

For an evening meal try out Tedford’s restaurant. This top eatery still bears the name of one of Belfast’s old sail and tent making firms and is housed in its former premises. It now overlooks the River Lagan but its frontage was once on the water’s edge. Steeped in the city’s rich maritime history, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some seafood and a night out in the Titanic Quarter. 

Slip out onto the river 

For a river’s eye view of the neighbourhood, its docks and the famous yellow Samson and Goliath shipyard cranes get on board a sea safari or boat tour. From a 12-seater RIB to a covered motor boat, you can sail up-close to both old and new places associated with Titanic and get some local insights from your guide. 

Take a tour, under steam or your own steam 

Back on dry land, marvel at the stories of the shipyard on the Wee Tram.  This is how the Titanic’s builders got around but of course back then there was no video to tell them where they were going. For those who like to walk, you can easily go self-guided or choose one of the great guided walking tours on offer.  

Visit Titanic’s little sister 

Of course, Titanic wasn’t the only ship built at this historic site. Don’t forget to step aboard Titanic’s little sister, SS Nomadic. Nomadic carried first-class and second-class passengers to the mighty ship and has a million poignant stories of authentic Titanic history to tell. You can find out all about this wee gem on a tour of its four decks all restored to their former glory.  

Visit the proud sole survivor ship 

Though the nearby HMS Caroline wasn’t built here, it has become a huge attraction in the city. This is the only surviving ship from the devastating Battle of Jutland and it’s like the crew only left yesterday. You can now explore this unique survivor from World War I and her original features on the bridge, living quarters and engine rooms. If you’re hungry, don't miss the chance to eat and drink in the Mess Café. 

Step out onto the slipways 

From here you can take a stroll behind Titanic Belfast and discover the slipways where Titanic and her sister Olympic first slid into the water. The scale is just jaw-dropping and the fact that Slipways Two & Three now make up a public plaza for outdoor gigs and concerts says so much about what these people built here. Not too far from here, you’ll find The Great Light, a seven metre tall maritime heritage object which weighs ten tonnes and produced one of the strongest lighthouse beams in history. 

See if your name appears in the Public Record Office 

Speaking of history you can do a bit of research on your own family history with a visit to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland where some documents date back to the 17th century. 

Make an odyssey to the Odyssey Pavilion 

You’ve been on quite the journey already but why not finish up with a visit to the Odyssey Pavilion, a perfect diversion with restaurants, bars, ten pin bowling and a cinema all under the one roof. The Pavilion is also home to the SSE Arena where the Belfast Giant’s of ice hockey play their home games. You don’t have to be a fan of ice-hockey to enjoy it. It’s really quite something.  

Make a big leap to the Big Fish 

Whatever you do, do not leave Titanic Quarter without visiting the famous Salmon of Knowledge sculpture. Known locally as the Big Fish, this is one of several modern art sculptures you’ll see on a walk along the Lagan. Take the time to read the texts and look at the images on its scales. They depict scenes from Belfast's early history to the present day. 

It’s quite an epic story indeed.