Cheap flights to Belfast

The capital of Northern Ireland is a thriving city that has regained some of its old charm and industry, and has begun to lure the odd curious traveller or two. City breaks in Belfast are becoming increasingly popular, with a variety of low-cost European carriers offering cheap flights to Northern Ireland's capital.

Belfast is situated near the mouth of the River Lagan, and blossomed in the 17th century with an influx of English and Scottish settlers. The port city grew in prominence during the Industrial Revolution, with booming linen, rope-making and shipbuilding industries. The ill-fated Titanic was built here in the Harland and Wolff shipyards, and today Belfast still boasts the world's biggest dry dock, as well as a restored Waterfront Complex that houses chic restaurants, shops and ubiquitous Irish pubs.

Belfast is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but its fascinating history, ongoing struggles, many attractions and above all, the warmth and acerbic wit of its inhabitants, make it an interesting stop on any tour of the United Kingdom. It also serves as an excellent base from which to explore the many natural wonders of Northern Ireland.

Sightseeing

Belfast is a great place for travellers to enjoy sightseeing, as the layout of the city and its public transport make it easy for visitors to get from the centre of Belfast to the surrounding suburbs within 20 minutes, even during rush-hour. Moreover, many of Northern Ireland's most famous and worthwhile sightseeing attractions are just a short drive outside of the city.

Take a trip to City Hall and admire the turn-of-the-century British architecture and the memorial to the victims of the ill-fated Titanic (which was built in Belfast), and a statue of Queen Victoria. Head to the trendy Cathedral Quarter, where the beautiful St Anne's Cathedral provides a wonderful backdrop for the small shops, boutiques, galleries and eateries lining the streets around it, and take in the magnificent architecture in the area which is marketed as Belfast's 'cultural' district.

For a more relaxing day of sightseeing, visit the Botanic Gardens with a book and a packed lunch, and then head to Falls Road or Shankill to see some of the world's finest political murals. Animal lovers should visit the Belfast Zoo to meet the famous prairie dogs that run free around the zoo's grounds as well as many other exotic and endangered animals; and opera lovers will be thrilled at the opportunity to visit the Grand Opera House for a tour or a performance.

Climate

Typical of Ireland as a whole, Belfast has a temperate climate,with a narrow range of fairly mild temperatures and plenty of rainfall all year. In summer, between June and August, average temperatures range between 49°F (9°C) and 66°F (19°C). Although rain is possible at any time of year, the summer months are slightly less rainy than the rest of the year. June is the driest and the sunniest month and July is generally the warmest. In winter, between December and February, average temperatures range between 37°F (3°C) and 46°F (8°C). November, December and January are the wettest months. The city seldom gets snow, with an average of less than 10 snowy days a year.

The best time to visit Belfast is between April and August, when the city is least wet and overcast. October is a good month to visit for culture vultures as this is when the Belfast Festival -the second biggest arts festival in the UK (behind Edinburgh) - is held.