First off, Belfast the capital city of Northern Ireland is a wonderful place to visit. Within this historic city there is a cultured past, a blossoming present and a bright future. A unique mix of British and Irish influence is evident throughout the city. While the British flag flies nonchalantly over the City Hall (pictured below), some streets of Belfast prefer to fly the Irish flag. Perhaps this blend of cultural pride is the charm of Belfast these days, rather than a burden on it’s troubled past. Politically Belfast lies within the United Kingdom, geographically it’s on the island of Ireland.
As a tourist, Belfast will welcome you with open arms. But there is one gem of an attraction that is totally FREE of charge, and happens to be the most popular tourist attraction in the entire city – Victoria Square. Word of mouth gets round that this is a cracking place to get a 360 degree view of the city of Belfast. Even people that live in Belfast probably don’t know what it’s most visited tourist attraction is. I found out that on a good week it can attract as many as 15,000 people (2,000 tourists a day can flock here). And I don’t mean for shopping, I mean these people go there for the view!
In essence Victoria Square is neither a square, or anything to do with a former Queen, it’s a shopping centre with a viewing platform. This view point gives you an awesome vantage over the skyline of Belfast without paying a penny. Even the Northern Ireland Tourist Board doesn’t put this in its top 10 (probably because they don’t get any money out of something that is free).
Of course this doesn’t mean it’s the BEST thing to do in Belfast but if you want a great free view of the city then it’s the place to go! Easy to find, central, free and even better they have a lift to the top (a novelty in itself in Northern Ireland to be honest) and a round the clock tour guide waiting on the top floor to chat away. You can see the famous shipyard where the cranes Samson and Goliath tower over the city’s docks, to the north lies Cavehill, home of Belfast Zoo , and to the south east there is the phenomenal sight of Scrabo Tower in my birth town of Newtownards.
You can visit it anytime that the Shopping Centre itself is open, which currently is:
- Monday – Tuesday – 9:30am – 6pm
- Wednesday – Friday – 9:30am – 9pm
- Saturday – 9am – 6pm
- Sunday – 1pm – 6pm
Once inside, simply get a lift to the top floor. There’s a visitor’s book you can sign and you can get snap happy while you enjoy the view. I’ve been to many cities in the world, but none of them will ever get close to the charm of Belfast. I just love it!! There will be a lot more on Belfast to come.
Victoria Square Details:
A Video I took from the top: