Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is ringed by low-lying hills and situated at the mouth of the River Lagan on Belfast Lough.  The city of Belfast is small and compact, making it a highly walk-able city.  In fact, most of the center of the city is a pedestrian-only district. It only takes about one hour to leisurely walk from one side of town to the other.  The focal point of Belfast is City Hall , which is surrounded by Donegall Square, a green oasis located in the heart of the city.  

The city is divided into several main districts. 

The Golden Mile, located south of City Hall, stretches along Great Victoria Street.  This is where most of the city’s restaurants, cafes, bars and bistros are located.  Other noteworthy landmarks in this area include the Grand Opera House and the Europa, Northern Ireland’s largest hotel.  

The Golden Mile leads to Queen’s University and the aptly named Queen's Quarter/University Area.  This area is filled with pubs, clubs and inexpensive lodgings.  Known as one of the most scenic areas in the city, plan to take a leisurely stroll around the University’s grounds along with visits to the lovely Botanic Gardens and the impressive Ulster Museum

The compact area located in front of the City Hall is the Shopping District, which is easily navigated on foot. Some of the city’s largest shopping complexes and malls are located here including Victoria Square , CastleCourt and the Queen’s Arcade

The area east of City Hall and at the mouth of the Lagan River is the city’s scenic waterfront district.  This area also boasts two of the city’s most extravagant cultural venues: Waterfront Hall , a magnificent riverside auditorium, and the SSE Arena, one of the largest entertainment complexes in the world. 

Much of Belfast’s political and social turmoil between the Nationalists (predominately Catholic) and Unionists (predominately Protestant) has occurred in the western part of the city. The Shankill Road is the main thoroughfare through the Protestant section, and the Falls Road is the Catholic equivalent.  Since the onset of the Troubles in 1971, the Peace Walls have been the only separation between the two opposing groups. 

 For getting around within Belfast and to and from Belfast, check out Translink.  It's good for telling you roughly where buses and trains travel to and from but if your journey time is important don't depend on published timetables, call and check since the website has been known to be wrong.  Buses usually run to time but trains can be a bit less reliable.  And trains tend to be slower than buses (go figure!).   

Visit Belfast located in Belfast's city centre is a fantastic source of information for any visitor and can provide details of locally based car rental companies, coach operators and chauffeur services.