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Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. Its name originates from the Irish Béal Feirste, or the mouth of the Farset, the river on which the city was built and has now been superseded by the River Lagan. Belfast saw the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and since their start in 1969, news of violence and disruption marred the city’s image as a tourist destination. Since the 1997 cease-fire and the Good Friday agreement, however, Belfast is making up for lost time. With the help of massive investment, the city has undergone a remarkable transformation, and now has a booming economy and high employment rates. The River Lagan has been cleaned up and inner city areas, such as the Cathedral Quarter, have been regenerated, attracting new restaurants, hotels, shopping areas and cafés. Belfast was once home to C.S.Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe this is where he found his inspiration? The famous musician Van Morrison also grew up in Belfast and music is indeed an important part of this city’s social scene, with bands often performing at the Odyssey Arena or the Belfast Waterfront. The numerous Victorian buildings of the city have been juxtaposed with impressive 20th-century architecture, so creating a sense of progress and change. With its sights set on the future, Belfast has become a vibrant, friendly and exciting city, waiting to be discovered in new ways.
There’s is no shortage of activities and things to do in Belfast, everything from fascinating tours, cultural escapes, scientific exhibitions and historical buildings, can be explored here. Some of the better known attractions include St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast Castle, the Titanic museum and Belfast Zoo. There are also some hidden treasures that should not be missed like Belfast's own version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory called the Aunt Sandra's Candy Factory, or boat tours along the Lagan. There is great mix of things to do, and people keep coming back time and again once they understand just how much the city has to offer.
Belfast boasts a wide variety of eateries to suit all budgets and tastes, including a couple of the best restaurants in Ireland. The huge investment in restaurants and hotels attracts talented young chefs who are lending new energy to the Belfast dining scene, and high quality venues pop up continuously.
Belfast residents know exactly how to appreciate a great coffee, and there are coffee shops on nearly every corner of this lively city. Take a break from all your responsibilities, sit down in one of the many cafés and enjoy watching people pass by with an espresso and a slice of freshly made cake.
Belfast is awash with slick new bars, as well as plenty of old-style pubs, many with traditional music sessions several nights of the week, as well as DJ-nights at weekends. Remember that pubs usually close around 11.30 pm, so make sure to start your night out pretty early. The club scene is vibrant and top-quality live music can be found at several venues throughout the city. Late-night action really kicks off south of the centre around the Golden Mile, Queen’s Quarter and Lisburn Road.
All the usual department stores and high-end chains are located on High Street and Royal Avenue, as well as on the smaller streets connecting them. This area is mostly for pedestrians, so even if you don't need plan on purchasing loads of items, it still makes for a pleasant stroll, all the while having a look at the shop windows and enjoying the vibrant city life of Belfast. For more shops, explore the Cathedral Quarter, as well as Bedford Street, Dublin Road and Donegall Pass, where you will find interesting design stores, gift shops and many other small Belfast outlets.
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