Belfast is the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. Situated at the mouth of the River Lagan on Belfast Lough, Belfast is surrounded by low hills, including one thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
Although Belfast took the brunt of The Troubles (the bitter campaign of violence between Irish Republicans and Loyalists), since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 most violence has evaporated. Belfast is now much safer and is seeking tourists from all over the world as part of its commitment to peace.
A visit to Belfast will be rewarded with a glimpse of a unique city that has finally begun to celebrate (rather than fight over) its location where the United Kingdom meets Ireland. Belfast certainly exhibits an air of determined optimism, with new hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs and shops opening at an incredible rate. It is a city that is proud of its Victorian and Edwardian heritage, and efforts to reuse historic buildings are generally proving successful. Belfast can also offer a significantly cheaper and more rewarding alternative to the busier, more expensive and more tourist-driven Dublin.
Be sure to visit the stunning Saint Anne's Cathedral, situated at the opposite end of Royal Avenue (the main shopping street) from the City Hall and Belfast Castle, situated on Cave Hill.