A great way to get a feel for the city. The tour takes approx 60 minutes and includes Wall Murals of the Falls And Crumlin Roads, City Hall, Albert Clock, Botanic gardens and the docks. A live commentary is provided by knowledgable and witty locals.
Departs from Castle Place in centre of Belfast, or they can arrange pick up from Stena Line ferry terminal
George Best Belfast City Airport (not to be confused with Belfast International Airport) is located just a few miles from the centre of Belfast. When we arrived there for a weekend visit to the city in July 2008, we caught the Airport Express Bus from the airport to the city centre.
The following information was correct as at July 2008:
- tickets cost:
1.40 GBP one way
2.40 GBP return
- bus number 600 departs frequently throughout the day from a bus stop which is located a short walk outside the arrivals hall;
- tickets are purchased from the driver on board the bus;
- throughout the day, buses depart from the airport every 20 minutes from Mondays to Saturdays. On Sundays, buses are every 40 minutes;
- the journey from the airport to the Europa Bus Station takes around 10 minutes. The Europa Bus Station is about 10 minutes walk from the heart of Belfast city centre;
- on the way back to the airport, buses leave from Stand #1 at Europa Bus Station and tickets are again purchased from the driver on board the bus.
Up-to-date fares and timetables can be found HERE
Translink provide our buses and trains.
The City Bus Service is called The Metro
A Day ticket currently costs £2.00 - you can travel around until midnight on the day of purchase - keep a hold of that ticket!
Just purchase it from your driver.
If you are just making one journey the cost is £1.20
Or you can get a Smartlink Card if you are staying longer, this is a credit card type thing and you buy it from the Kiosk in Donegall Square West which is just opposite the City Hall if you were facing the City Hall it's on your right.
Trains are through NI Railway - all info on the translink website it is very useful with timetables etc, and you can work out how long it will take to get to your destination and what method you should use!
Belfast has two airports, the first is Belfast International which is where most of the international flights will land. This is a fair way out of the city and a taxi to the centre will cost around £25 to £30, although it might be possible to share a taxi if there is only one of two of you. A cheaper option is the Airport Express bus number 300 where a single ticket is £6 and this will drop you at the centrally located Europa Bus Centre.
The smaller of the two is Belfast City Airport also known as the George Best Airport, named after the flawed football genius and one of Northern Ireland’s favourite sons. This is served mainly by routes from other parts of the UK and Ireland. It is much closer to the City Centre and the Airport Express bus number 600 will get you to the Europa Bus Centre in about 15-20 minutes for just £1.40. As you come out of the airport building turn left and you should see the bus stop.
Public transport in Belfast is provided by Translink and consists of the local Metro bus network, Goldliner and Ulsterbus services which go inter city and the Northern Ireland Railway service. The Metro consists of 12 main routes that run along corridors away from the centre. All services terminate and start on one of the sides of Donegall Square which runs around the City Hall. Services are quite frequent and reliable. A Metro Day Ticket costs £2.50 (£3.50 before 10am) for unlimited travel until midnight on the day it is purchased and can be bought on the bus.
For me it was much cheaper to fly in to Dublin than to Belfast and as there is a bus from Dublin airport to Belfast that was a good option for me. Goldline service 200 runs every hour (almost) between Dublin and Belfast. The buses leave 20 minutes past every hour from Dublin Airport and leave Belfast on the hour.
My flight was supposed to land at 11.20 so I hoped to catch the 12.20 bus. To my luck the plane landed almost 25 minutes too early so I could take the 11.20 bus. The bus stop is Stop 8 Atrium Road and it is only a few minutes away from the arrival hall. Just follow the signs from the arrival hall and turn right as you leave, cross the road, walk through a building and you will have the bus stop on your left. Tickets can be bought from a machine at the bus stop, but can also be bought on board the bus. I bought a return ticket for 20 Euro (February 2011) and they are valid for one month. The bus made a few stops along the way and arrived at Europa BusCentre in Belfast 2 hours and 5 minutes after we had left Dublin airport. From the bus station it was only a 10 minutes walk to the hostel where I was going to stay.
Going back to Dublin airport I took the bus leaving 8.00 from Belfast. At this hour on a Sunday the entrance from Great Victoria Street (through the Great Northern Mall by the Monument to the unknown women worker) was closed so I had to walk around Europa Hotel to come to the bus centre. On the road the bus suddenly stopped and a man came aboard asking for passport or id-card. I saw we were standing in front of a sign saying Welcome to County Louth and I realised this was the boarder to The Republic of Ireland. This had not happened going to Belfast.
Belfast has two main taxi companies, fonaCab who can be contacted at 028 9033 3333 and Value Cabs at 028 9080 9080. Value Cabs is probably the better known, they have freephones at bus and rail stations plus some hotels and provide a 24 hour service. Both companies also provide sightseeing tours.
It's important to know that there are two "Belfast" airports, especially if you are just visiting for a weekend. As with all cheap flights they look great on the net but when transfers are added it can be cheaper and easier to pay to get to the initially more expensive option. To this end I would recommend...
Belfast City which is 10 mins from city centre with a recently built terminal that includes all of the normal facilities.
Belfast International which is 40 mins from city centre via a nice drive through the Antrim countryside. This handle a lot more of the charter airlines and is where easyjet operates from.
the train and bus network in and around belfast is average, buses leave for areas within belfast from city hall, for further afield you will have to go to the europa bus Station or the Laganside bus station, both within walking distance from city hall. Train wise, you can go to dublin, portrush, larne, portadown, londonderry, lisburn, bangor. There are more stops but they are not places you would want to go... trust me!!! A good day to travel is a Sunday, when the 'sunday ramble' ticket is available, this entitles the bearer to free travel around the country for an extremely reasonable £7, bare in mind a return to Londonderry from Belfast will cost you in the region of £25 monday to saturday.
Don't be misled......this airport really is incredibly close to Belfast city centre.
It barely takes 10 minutes for the bus to get there.
I took the ordinary bus (600) to and from the airport. It runs roughly every 20-30 minutes, depending on time of day, and only cost 3GBP for a return fare. For me, it was ideal....it stops by Queens Bridge (a 5-minute walk from my hotel) and picks up from the Prince Albert Memorial (only a couple of minutes away). But the bus also goes further into the city centre, terminating at City Hall.
A taxi should cost you less than 10GBP, but if you haven't got a lot of luggage and your hotel is fairly central then the bus is perfectly feasible (and much cheaper).
Info and details about transport to and from the airport on the airport website below.
I booked my Ryanair flight from EMA to George Best Belfast City Airport for the total price of 2 pence return!
A 'Free' offer- (I checked in online, hand luggage only and paid with my Visa Electron card, so nothing extra to pay). www.ryanair.com.
Departing East Midlands at 06.20, the flight took just 45 minutes! Returning at 20.20, this gave me plenty of time to explore the compact city of Belfast.
Belfast City Airport began operating commercial flights in 1983. On May 22 2006, it was renamed in memory of George Best, Belfast's (and one of the worlds) most famous soccer legends. (This would have been his 60th Birthday). Not everyone was happy about the decision to rename it after Georgie though - A soccer genius, but with a destructive lifestyle- over the years he became as well known for his alcoholism, and alienated many, when he continued to drink following a liver transplant.
George Best Belfast City Airport is located just 2 miles from the City Centre, and is adjacent to The Port of Belfast.
Belfast International Airport is located 18 miles north-west of Belfast CLICK HERE FOR INFO
to be continued...
Buses are leaving the bus station at Foyle Street in Derry every half an hour for Belfast. It is Goldliner Service 212 that operates between the two cities and a single ticket was £10.50 (March 2011). I was sure I would miss the 10 o’clock bus as I left the hostel late. But when I walked in to the station one minute passed ten the Belfast bus was just in front of me and the chauffeur was just about to close the doors. I bought the ticket from the driver and went upstairs (the bus was a double-decker) to get a good view of the landscape along the way. 1h 45 minutes later the bus arrived at Europa bus station in Belfast and 10 minutes later I was already at the hostel where I was going to stay.
Already before coming to Belfast I had checked the timetable for which bus to take to Ballintoy. The best option for me was to take the 8.40 bus from Europa Bus Centre to Coleraine. It is a bus ride of 1h and 45 minutes and the ticket was £9.20 (March 2011). In Coleraine I changed for Ulster Bus service 172 which left 15 minutes after my arrival from Belfast. From Coleraine to Ballintoy it took 40 minutes and the ticket was £3.90. Before 11.30 I was at the hostel in Ballintoy and had the whole afternoon (and the next day) in front of me to explore the area.
If I had left Belfast with the previous bus (at 7.55) there had been changes of transport both in Ballymena and Ballycastle and the total travel time had been a little bit longer.
Bus service Airport Express 600 runs every 20 minutes from Belfast City (George Best) Airport to Belfast Europa bus station, which is a short walk from the city centre. (adjacent to the Europa Hotel and Shopping Mall)
The journey is about 10 minutes and costs £2 single £3 Return journey. It operates operates between 0530 and 2205
- You pay the driver on entry.
The buses have wheelchair access.
On your return, you catch the bus at stand No 1 in the Europa bus station.
The bus station was designed by Robinson & McIlwaine Architects, and received a Regional Award 1992
- This is a bit of blurb about the designing of the bus station -
"The brief was simple: to provide a new experience in bus travel in terms of design, amenities and finish. Within an existing 15.5x90m double-height space, in the ground floor of a multi-storey carpark, a public concourse, travel centre, ticket kiosk, flexibus office, shop, cafe, electronic timetable screens etc. are provided in an air-conditioned environment.
A mezzanine floor provides general office space. The accomodation is laid out to one side of a public concourse stretching the full length of the building. The interior is light and airy, with controlled, soft colours and curvilinear forms to soften the building’s hard rectangular quality, creating the illusion of movement. Internal walls are finished in off-white partitioning, pink granite and mirror cladding; floors in ceramic tiles; ceilings in solid and egg crate forms; signage in silk-screen printed aluminium with extensive interior planting.The Centre includes a large sculpture entitled ‘The Waterfall of Souvenirs’ by John Kindness. Externally a new parcels building, paved forecourt and covered platform are provided.
I was very impressed with this sculpture - worth a look at!
Europa Bus Station
Great Victoria Street
When exiting the bus station through the shopping mall- check out the mosaic sculpture-‘Waterfall of Souvenirs’ by John Kindness - lots of mosaic tiles depicting all aspects of Ireland.-I'll be adding this pics of this in my Off The Beaten Tracks tips. Check out info here too
I've used this companies bus tour in Granada, Marrakech, Madrid, Milan, Padua and Valencia, and have found them to be a good way of learning a bit about the city, its history and culture, then using it as a way to get around. Tickets are usually valid for 24-48 hours, so I've used it like a local bus.
This was the first time that I'd encountered a guide giving a live commentary- usually it was listening to a taped recording through headphones (provided free and for you to take away - I've then used these on airlines that offer Music/TV/Film - not Ryanair though I'm afraid.)
To be continued.....