West Belfast is a national place of interest, both for its powerful political murals and access to the Belfast Hills, which overlook the Mourne Mountains. Check out this guide to the best attractions, tours and transport tips for your ultimate visit to the Western district of the city.
Northern Ireland’s major public transport, Translink, offers trains from Central Belfast to Great Victoria Street, only 15 minutes from central West Belfast. Metro buses run throughout the day; routes 10H to Beechmount and 11B to Woodvale Park arrive in West Belfast. Alternatively, you can use West Belfast Taxi Association, which travels from the City Centre to the Falls Road, on request.
You can find the NI Translink journey planner here.
This beautiful Redemptorist monastery is worth a visit for its stunning exterior and annual festivals. Sitting off the Falls Road, Clonard Monastery has served Roman Catholics in the area since 1890 and the wider community in the form of the Féile an Phobail festival, a lively nod to traditional music and local talent.
Clonard Monastery, 1 Clonard Gardens, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9044 5950
Between the Falls and Shankill Road, predominant Nationalist and Unionist areas in Belfast’s history, the International Peace Wall is a reminder of the divisions that once stood between local communities. Today, the wall is an expression of political movements, murals that remember lost ones and a vibrant collage of art celebrating Belfast and wider movements around the world. Highlights include the Red Hand of Ulster, Palestinian Solidarity Mural and art dedicated to Irish and Ulster culture, including those written in Irish Gaelic below.
Colin Glen Forest is a beautiful park within the Western district, a must-see for those with young kids. This park hosts the popular Gruffalo Trail, for fans of Julia Donaldson, a children’s laureate. Summer programmes at the forest include climbing, archery and zip wiring on Ireland’s longest double zip line (plus, you’ll get a beautiful view of the entire city).
West Belfast has easy access to the Belfast Hills, complete with stunning nature trails and 360-degree views of the city. Only 20 minutes from the Western district, Slievenacloy overlooks Northern Ireland’s Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty, the Mournes. This nature reserve includes the Priest’s Walk and Ballycolin Walk – a photographer’s dream. To get there, leave West Belfast on the M1 and follow signs for Lisburn, Slievenacloy.
Coiste Political Tours is a first-hand experience of history and Belfast’s troubled past. Political prisoners will take you on a walking tour of the West, through the Falls Road and International Peace Wall, describing their experiences with The Troubles. Over the course of three hours, this tour will take you through a mesmerising account of the daily lives of those living in civil war, giving you details that no historian could hope to offer. Make this a number one priority if you visit West Belfast for its cultural history.
Coiste Political Tours, 10 Beechmount Ave, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, +44 28 9020 0770
Taxi Trax tours are great for those with mobility issues or the elderly, offering personal and customised tours around the city, from landmarks to mural sightings. The original black taxi, The Belfast Taxis CIC, was designed as a safe and reliable source of transport in The Troubles conflict, over 40 years ago. Today, they deliver first-class tours in the comfort of a private car.
Book a tour here.