Why Belfast?

Our great city Belfast has a wonderful history stretching back into the dark millennia …our name comes from the Gaelic, or Irish: Béal Feirste, meaning ("mouth of the sandbanks"). Belfast is the capital and largest city of the North of Ireland. Most of Belfast, including the city centre, is in County Antrim, but parts of East and South Belfast are in County Down. It is on the floodplain of the River Lagan. The city's motto is Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus (Latin for "what shall we give in return for so much").

Starting out as a small settlement on the banks of the Lagan, Belfast rapidly grew to becoming an important trading route for Celtic sea-farers. From these early, simple beginnings, the industrious locals developed a boat building trade. And the rest is our history.

Historically, Belfast has been a centre for the Irish linen industry (earning the nickname "Linenopolis"), tobacco processing, rope-making and shipbuilding: the city's main shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, which built the well-known RMS Titanic, propelled Belfast on to the global stage in the early 20th century as the biggest and most productive shipyard in the world. Belfast played a key role in the Industrial Revolution, establishing its place as a global industrial centre until the latter half of the 20th century.

Today, Belfast remains a centre for industry, as well as the arts, higher education, business, and law. The city suffered greatly during the period of conflict called "the Troubles", but latterly has undergone a sustained period of calm, free from the intense political violence of former years, and substantial economic and commercial growth. Additionally, Belfast City Centre has undergone considerable expansion and regeneration in recent years, notably around the river and docks area.

Belfast is brimming with history, culture, exciting events, great food, and super shopping… you might even spot a ship or two. You’ll also find some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Have a look around and learn more about the city we’re so proud of.

Belfast may be a small city, our population is close to 800,000 in the greater Belfast area, but for a small city there are always lots of things happening for everyone to love and enjoy! And there's something for everyone to love. Shopping, tours, world-class dining, great music venues, museums, art galleries, great walks, cycling routes, you name it - we've got it. So why not start planning your Belfast adventure!

Getting Here

Belfast is compact and bijou, so getting around the city is easy on foot or by taxi. However, if you want to wander a little further afield then we've got a network of transport options which will get you to your desired destination.

For all the latest information on getting around don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff at the academy. We have gathered together below a few simple travel tips below to make your stay in Belfast that little bit easier.

By Air
George Best Belfast City Airport

The airport is situated just three miles from Belfast City Centre. Please check www.belfastcityairport.com for flight information.

For connections from Britain and Europe Aer Lingus and FlyBE offer direct routes to many major airports. The Airport Express 600 bus service runs from the airport terminal to the city centre every 20 minutes (05.30 - 22.05) Monday to Friday. Please check www.translink.co.uk for services on Saturdays and Sundays.

Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport is 30 minutes’ drive via the M2 Motorway. Please check www.belfastairport.com for flight information.

The Airport Express 300 service operates between the airport and Belfast City Centre every 15 minutes Monday to Friday, every 20 minutes on Saturday and every 30 minutes on Sunday. This service operates 24 hours a day however night services are less frequent. Please check www.translink.co.uk for services during off peak times and weekends.

Airport Transfers

T: 028 7126 9996


Hire a car

• Car Hire NI

• Entertprise Rent a Car

• Europcar

• Rhino Car Hire

By Sea

Belfast is easily accessed by sea with crossings from both Scotland and England. Travel by state of the art superfast ferries with journey times from just 2 hours 15 minutes.

Operators and travel times vary. Please check out Stena Line, P&O Irish Sea and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for travel options.

By Rail

An Enterprise service runs 8 times daily (5 times on Sundays) from Belfast to Dublin. The journey time is approximately 2 hours.

T: 028 9089 9409


By Bus

Dublin Airport Express Coach Service operates to Dublin Airport, with a journey time of approximately 2 hours.

T: 028 9066 6630


By Road from Dublin

Starting out from Dublin Airport, the M1 Motorway is well signposted for Belfast; this is a toll road and there is one Toll Plaza approximately 31 km from Dublin Airport. Continue on this Motorway signposted for Belfast. Just after passing the City of Newry the road becomes a dual carriageway (A1) and Motorway regulations fall away. At the Sprucefield roundabout (approximately 137 km from Dublin Airport) the A1 joins the M1 motorway (signposted The North, Belfast). Once within the Greater Belfast area the signs will display as City Centre.

Getting Around

Belfast is compact and bijou, so getting around the city is easy on foot or by taxi. However, if you want to wander a little further afield then we've got a network of transport options which will get you to your desired destination.

For all the latest information on getting around and about visit our Travel and Transport section. We have also gathered together a few simple travel tips below to make your stay in Belfast that little bit easier.

And remember if you're ever stuck you can always call the Academy on call 0044 7565 677 392.
As well as being your Academy, we are your one stop shop for Belfast and Northern Ireland and we have all the info and help that you need to explore the city and beyond.

Travel Tips

Belfast offers visitors a wide choice of accommodation: hotels, guesthouses, apartments, self-catering, campus, caravans, camping and hostels. For more information, please see our accommodation listings

Public Transport

Translink is Northern Ireland's integrated bus and rail public transport company and is responsible for Metro, Ulsterbus and NI Railways. It operates a comprehensive network of bus and rail services throughout Northern Ireland and on cross border routes.

T: 028 9066 6630


Car Hire

Renting a car is another great way for visitors to get around Belfast and to visit some of the many fantastic visitor attractions throughout Northern Ireland. Visit our Travel and Transport section for further information.


The international code for Northern Ireland is 00 44 28. The local code for Belfast is 90. The number for emergency services is 999. This will connect you to the fire brigade, police, and ambulance, lifeboat and mountain rescue services. Directory enquiries can be contacted on 118 500 or dial 0 from a public telephone for operator assistance.

Internet and WiFi access is widely available throughout the city.

Most post offices are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and some are also open on Saturday mornings. The main post office is located on Bridge Street in the city centre and is open 9:00am to 5:30pm, Monday to Saturday.


Most banks are open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm. All major credit cards are widely accepted in the city and some shops will accept euro. There are foreign exchange facilities in the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre.


Many shops in the city centre follow these opening times: Mon - Tues: 9am-7pm / Wed - Fri: 9am-9pm / Saturday: 9am-6pm / Sunday: 1pm-6pm.


Most restaurants add a discretionary service charge to the bill for parties of six people or more. If this charge is added to your bill, tipping is not necessary. If a service charge is not included, it is customary to tip 10-15%.


Belfast has been a smoke free city since 2006. It is against the law to smoke in bars, restaurants, cafés, hotels, offices, factories and other places of work. Your accommodation may allow smoking in bedrooms but it is important to check this with staff or risk a fine. Many bars, clubs and restaurants have installed outdoor smoking areas for those who choose to smoke.

Accessibility & Disability Links


Disability Action

Disability Sports NI

Disabled Go
access information of shops, visitor attractions and other public places


Shop Mobility Belfast