May 5, 2008
My first trip to Belfast was a day trip from Dublin by one of the tour buses. It was only 2 hours ride to Belfast. No immigration stop at the border. In Belfast, we walked around the city center and did the Black taxi tour, which took us to some of the must-see places in the city such as the Peace Line Walls and Shankill area. Perhaps, it was a good way to experience Belfast with a limited time, but not enough to really experience the town. For those that want to see Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland an option is to take the Dublin to Belfast train tour that leaves from Dublin to Belfast then on to Giants Causeway.
When I made a plan for a trip to Northern Ireland a year later, I allocated 3 nights in Belfast and 2 nights in Derry. The plan was to spend 2 full days in Belfast, and also to make a day trip to places in the Antrim coast such as Giants Causeway, Bushmills Distillery and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. I flew from JFK to Dublin, and took an express bus from Dublin airport straight to Belfast.
When I went to Belfast for the 3rd time, we flew from London to Belfast and rented a car at the airport. We got a GPS with a car, which saved us many times during the trip. We went from Belfast to Larne then drove Antrim coast all the way to Portrush and back in one day. We had plenty of time to stop to take photos at different towns and visit tourist attractions along the way. We also made another day trip to South East of Belfast, down along the Strangford Lough and went back up on the coast line.
Whenever I mention my trips to Belfast and Northern Ireland, many people express the concern of safety issue. I’m happy to say that Northern Ireland including Belfast have become a safe place to visit for the past several years, and I’ve never experienced any problems there. Though I do recommend that you rent a car in Northern Ireland instead of rent it in South and bring it up to North. I’ve heard that some tourists had their rental car from South vandalized in North.