My boyfriend and I recently decided last minute to take a black taxi tour of Belfast and its murals having being recommended by a friend. We weren't sure if it was our thing, but we did want to see the murals especially with a locally knowledgeable guide. http://www.belfastblacktaxitours.com
We phoned the morning we wanted to go and were able to leave an hour later. Our tour guide Brian collected us on time and was very friendly and welcoming.
As soon as we entered the black taxi we entered the historical world of Belfast, which has a troubled past. Having grown up in the south of Ireland, I was a little embarrassed and even ashamed about how little I knew about the religious divisions which exist in Belfast. Brian filled us in on the history, right up until present day and he didn't make us feel silly about any of our questions.
Brian gave us loads of photo opportunities, was very patient and funny and even had old photos and newspaper cuttings to fill in he gaps.
I would definitely recommend this tour to any person who visits Belfast as it is a great hour and a half of interesting local knowledge and great value for money
One of the places you will be taken is the Titanic shipyards which is obciously enriched in history. Amazing place to see, I would be keen to return to Belfast and see the Titanic Quater which is currently under construction. I am sure the bus tours will be going passed this (the building itself looks amazing). Although it's not due to open till next year its a good reason to plan your next trip there. Going pass shankhill and Falls road was also very interesting. We stayed there for two nights one of the many hotels in Belfast and had a lovely weekend..We were lucky to catch soome good weather too :)
You have to do it. Because you will be begged and pestered by the guys selling the tickets if you don't, and you would also be missing the best parts.
The tours leave from various locations in the city center and follow a general route which includes the murals in the loyalist and nationalist areas, a quick history on the city and then a drive through the inner city out to the leafy suburbs of belmont through to stormont - the seat of the devolved government (when it is actually in power)
If you look closely you may see me there, because I'm lucky enough to live out that way
See the photo below? theres a bus hiding behind those trees you could be lucky enough to get a day like that!
There are several bus tours operating around Belfast. I decided to go with Allens, which is a local firm with more-or-less hourly departures from the high Street (outside a shop called 'The Wicker Man').
Why did I decide to go with them? Well, partially because they are a local firm but also because they were running a special offer, so my ticket (bought at the Belfast Welcome Centre) was considerably less than those offered by the rival companies.
The tour was excellent, with the guide giving clear and accurate information (essential when trying to explain the Troubles to non-UK citizens) as well as cracking several rather clever jokes.
It's a pretty comprehensive route, taking in Stormont and the University Quarter, the Dockyards (soon to be 'the Titanic Quarter') , the Falls, Crumlin and Shankhill Roads and more.
Recommended, especially if the weather allows you to sit in the open-top part of the bus.
Leaving St Georges Church, I headed up High Street and towards Castle Place to catch one of the Hop On Hop Off open top tour buses. There are a few companies that set off from here, each offering a similar tour - check out where they are going if there is somewhere in particular that you want to see. City Sightseeing visit Stormont between 10.00 and 15.30- but check that they are going here first.
After purchasing my ticket for 10 Euros, I still had time to kill (40 minutes), so I headed off down a nearby street and came across some shops including Liberty Blue (see my shopping tips.
I headed back to the bus in plenty of time (my ticket had included a free drink of coffee and a scone at the nearby BHS department store, which I didn't use) The rain was holding off, so I took a seat at the back of the bus (the front was covered in, but not so good for taking photos)
I've used these Hop On Hop Off Buses quite a few times before, and have enjoyed the chance to find out some of the cities history, a bit about its customs etc, get my bearings, then use it to get around the city. (Yes it's touristy, but what the heck!) This was the first time that I'd heard a Live commentary though (Usually you are provided with headphones to plug in to hear a recorded commentary in a choice of 6 languages). Our guide was quite informative, with a gentle sense of humour - to be honest, I have 'a thing' about an Irish accent, so even if he'd just quoted facts and figures I'd have been happy. Be aware that the commentary is in English only
We eventually set off... Leaving Castle Place, we headed out along High Street, passing St Georges Church, TGWU building and The Albert Memorial Clock
All the people I see on the open top buses seem to be having a jolly old time.
I always give them a wave - who knows I could be waving to you soon!
This is what the organisers say about it...
We operate on a daily basis from Castle Place, right in the heart of Belfast City Centre. (Opposite McDonalds Restaurant).
Offering visitors the best way to see Belfast, our open top buses provide you with the best view of the city.
Don’t worry if it’s raining, we have covered buses for that eventuality!
We operate seven tours per day during low season and eleven tours per day during high season. Departing daily from 9.30am during the High Season (May-Sept) and 10am all year round, visitors can avail of our frequent departures and use our Hop-on, Hop-off service to get full value from your ticket, which is valid all day on date of purchase.
Our tours cover:
Belfast City Centre
Political Districts (Wall Murals/Shankill Road/Falls Road)
Nightlife Areas (Pubs/Clubs/Restaurants)
Each of our tours features a live commentary supplied by a lively and educated local guide, and is always good craic!
10.00am – 11.00am – 12pm – 1pm – 2.30pm – 4pm - TOUR EVERY 45 MINS
May – September:
9.30am – TOUR EVERY 30 MINS – 4.30pm
Our bright red buses are available for private hire so if you have a big group, don’t hesitate to contact us on 028 9062 6888 to arrange a group discount or private booking.
We also offer special tours to Stormont Parliament Buildings and seasonal tours such as our Halloween Ghost Tour and Festive World famous Santa Bus during December. Check out www.belfastcitysightseeing.com for further details.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Like many large cities Belfast has a hop on - hop off sightseeing bus service to provide visitors with an introduction to the City. Tours start at 10am and run every 30-60 minutes depending on when the bus fills up. If you stay on, the whole tour will last about 90 minutes and there is a live commentary throughout. The tour takes in the Albert Memorial Clock then the Titanic Quarter past the famous Harland and Wolff cranes Samson and Goliath. Provided you are on a tour prior to 2.00pm the bus will then head off to the Stormont Estate to see the Parliament Building. Then back to the centre for a look around the Cathedral Quarter before heading out to view the murals and learn about the political history of the areas around the Shankill Road and the Falls Road. Return to the centre is via the University and the Botanic Gardens. Price£12 per adult £10 concessions (May 08) and joint tickets with the Lagan Boat tours are available.
I was on the open top bus tour a few years ago and it seemed like there was a bit of a struggle to find enough to look at. Now the price has risen but the tour is longer and the morning tours include Stormont, which is outside the city centre so going on the tour is a great way to get there. The commentary is live so you don't have to worry about a muffled recording or wearing headphones. Don't believe everything the guide tells you - a lot of it is tongue-in-cheek!
I know you get a better view from upstairs but do bear in mind it could also be very wet! And give me a wave as you go by my office. :)
The Bus tour is £10.00 for the day and you can hope on and off. We started in the centre of Belfast although you can get on the Bus out side the Jurys. We had to sit down stairs as it was raining which was a shame but it didnt stop us enjoying ourselves.
Here is one of the murals on Shankill Road
For lack of anything to do, I took the Belfast City Tour. For around 7 Quid I got on a red double decker bus that gave me a very PC and general view of Belfast. For a larger amount of cash you can take a much more private black cab tour that gives a more in-depth tour of Falls and Shankill Roads. I wish i did this.
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