After sailing from Dun Laoghaire via Port Oriel we had arrived in Strangford Lough, anchored just off the moorings at Killyleagh Yacht Club. Leaving our dinghy at the pontoon belonging to the club we hopped on a bus to the Northern Ireland Capital City of Belfast, leaving our boat at anchor for a whole 12 hours!
It was an early start for us, leaving the boat at 6.30am to allow us plenty of time to get ashore and get a spot of breakfast at the nearby Eurospar before catching the 07.33 number 11 Ulster bus (summer timetable) from Frederick Street. The adult day return cost £9.10 (August 2023) and took around an hour and 15 minutes, dropping us at Laganside Bus Station.
As we were only here for a few hours we were limited as to what we could do. However we did our very best to cram in as much as possible before we needed to catch the bus back to Killyleagh at 16.15!
Exiting the bus station you quickly spot one of Belfast’s iconic landmarks – ‘The Big Fish’ on Donegall Quay. This 10 metre salmon was commissioned back in 1999 to celebrate the regeneration of the River Lagan and is a popular photo opportunity on the waterfront.
Crossing over the Lagan Weir Footbridge you reach the start of the Maritime Mile which leads you past the Odyssey Place entertainment complex, the SSE Arena Belfast and Belfast Harbour Marina and into the Titanic Quarter. At the heart of here is the Titanic Museum, an impressive structure which opened in 2012. It sits on the former Harland & Wolff shipyard where the ill fated RMS Titanic was built and is dedicated to the story of the Titanic.
A stroll around this dockland rewards you with impressive views not just of the museum but of the working docks and historic landmarks that can be found here such as SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star Line vessel, and HMS Caroline, a 1st World War ship now restored to a floating museum. You’ll even find the Titanic Distillers which is located in the historic Titanic Pump House and is the first whiskey distillery to open in Belfast in more than 100 years . All of which fall under the shadow of the iconic Harland & Wolff ‘Samson’ and ‘Goliath’ cranes which dominate the skyline of Belfast.
Back across the River Lagan, the Cathedral Quarter is home to a variety of pubs, bars and restaurants, many of which the buildings are some of the oldest in Belfast. Quirky murals don the walls and Commercial Court, more famously known as ‘Umbrella Street’ has a number of colourful neon umbrellas hanging above it. Many pubs have regular live entertainment and the area is one of the most vibrant parts of Belfast, you could spend many a day and night here soaking up the atmosphere!
Moving into the city you will find a host of popular and well known high street shops. Worth a visit, even if you’re not into shops, is Victoria Square. This shopping centre has a panoramic viewing platform at the top known as ‘The Dome‘ which provides 360° views of Belfast, although we’re sure it felt as though the platform was ‘springy’ 😬
The city has some fantastic architecture and historical buildings. Two of which are Belfast Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of St. Anne and Belfast City Hall, the civic building of Belfast City Council which dominates Donegall Square. But simply look up, there’s more to see at every corner!
Belfast has a fantastic vibe and is one of the friendliest places we’ve ever visited. There is so much to see and explore in Belfast that one day is simply not enough. That said, if you’re anchored in Strangford we’d highly recommend taking a day trip up to Belfast, because one day in Belfast is better than none at all!