The capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast is also its largest city. Located on the Langan River on Ireland’s east coast, the city has been home to a busy seaport since its founding in the early 17th century. Today, Belfast is known for being the birthplace of the ill-fated passenger ship RMS Titanic, which struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic en route to North America and sank in 1912. The ship was built by Belfast shipbuilder Harland & Wolff. Now, the Harland & Wolff dockyard where the Titanic was built has been preserved. It is home to the Titanic Belfast Museum which is located in a reproduction of the ship’s hull.
Flights to Belfast arrive at one of the city’s two international airports. The city’s main airport, Belfast International Airport (BFS), is located northwest of the city center. The airport handles flights to and from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia and serves nearly 5 million passengers each year.
Some flights to Belfast arrive at the city’s secondary airport, the George Best Belfast City International Airport (BHD), located near Belfast Harbor, about three miles from the city center. Much smaller than Belfast International Airport, George Best Belfast City Airport handles flights from just seven airlines and is a hub for the Irish carrier Aer Lingus. Flights to Belfast arriving at George Best from several cities in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain are popular with business travelers as the airport is so close to the city.
In addition to shipbuilding, business travelers who fly to Belfast often work in the aerospace industry. The city is home to Short Brothers Bombardier aircraft manufacturers, one of the world’s oldest builders of airplanes and helicopters. Originally founded to build balloons in 1897, the Short Brothers pivoted to the manufacture of airplanes in 1908 after hearing about the Wright Brothers’ successful flight.
Tourists also book tickets to Belfast, which is the second most-visited city in Ireland after Dublin, to explore the sights and beauty of the city. Many of the city’s visitors come to attend cultural events, including one of several music and arts festivals held there each year. Other popular sites include the Titanic Belfast Museum and several filming locations for the Game of Thrones television series located just outside of the city.
A few miles outside of Belfast is the Cave Hill (also called Cavehill). It features three large caves, which are man-made and believed to have been originally made for the mining of iron. Near Cave Hill is the Belfast Castle Estate, which offers a beautiful tourist center, landscaped gardens, and lush woodlands with an awe-inspiring view of Belfast. Tourists who fly to Belfast to visit the castle can enjoy the views with hot beverages and tasty treats at the cafe located on the Belfast Castle premises.
Students from the United Kingdom and Ireland book cheap flights to Belfast in order to study at one of the city’s three main universities. Queen’s University Belfast, founded in 1845, is one of the largest universities in the United Kingdom with an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. Belfast’s other universities include Ulster University and Belfast Metropolitan College.
Notable Belfast residents include the physicist William Thomson Lord Kelvin for whom the Kelvin temperature measuring system was named; author and theologian C.S. Lewis who wrote the famous children’s book series The Chronicles of Narnia; singer and songwriter Van Morrison; and Academy Award-winning film actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh. For tourists who want to celebrate the works of C.S. Lewis, they can visit the CS Lewis Square, a 24-hour open space that features sculptures inspired from the author’s works.