Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom and the second largest city in the island of Ireland after Dublin, the capital of Éire (Republic Of Ireland). Situated at the mouth of the River Lagan on Belfast Lough, Belfast is surrounded by low hills.
After years of violence and political unrest ,in recent years the center has been polished up, and it is a pleasure to wander its pedestrianized lanes, to shop in its upscale arcades, to linger in its historic pubs and to dine in its excellent restaurants.
The city is easily divided into walkable quarters: the City Center spreads out from around the impressive, domed City Hall building and bustling Donegall Square. This is the best place for shopping, particularly along Donegall Place, which extends north from the square, onto Royal Avenue. Bedford Street, which travels south from the Donegall Square, becomes Dublin Road, which, in turn, leads south to the University Quarter, the leafy area around Queen's University. This is where you'll find the Botanic Gardens, art galleries and museums, as well as a buzzing nightlife scene. Heading north from Donegall Place, it's a short distance to the Cathedral Quarter, which surrounds Donegall Street, and holds, as the name implies, the city's most important cathedrals, as well as many vast Victorian warehouses. Finally there's the Golden Mile -- the area around Great Victoria Street beyond Bradbury Place. It's considered the city's best address for restaurants and pubs.
The sectarian areas, with the famous I.R.A. and Protestant murals, are just to the west of the city center. The most famous of these are on the Shankill and Falls roads. It's perfectly safe to drive the roads and take photos yourself, or you could take one of the Black Cab tours if you want a guide to explain what it all means.
Things to see and do
Belfast's climate is temperate, with plenty of rainfall, particularly between August and January. Temperatures in summer average around 64F (18C) and in winter, 43F (6C); there are seldom extremes. There is some snow and sleet in winter, but due to Belfast's coastal location, it only averages two to three days a year.