Most Epic Belfast Instagram Locations
So I want to start this post off by saying that I am not a professional photographer. I will never be one and don’t try to pretend to be one. I’m just a girl, who likes to blog and share her adventures visually on Instagram. Now, if I get a huge following and someone wants to pay me like $1,000,000 for my photo, I am totally cool with that. Just write that check out to Kelly Duhigg.
But seriously, I photograph for fun and enjoy using Instagram. And clearly I am not the only one since some people have like 100,000 followers on Instagram (Seriously, how does this happen? Do you rent a bot or are you just awesome? Because I can show you how to lose 60 followers in 5 minutes. Talk about talent). And while my Belfast Instagram addiction has taken me to some dark places, like sipping tepid coffee after taking too many pics, I want you to get the most out of your photographic journey through Belfast because it really is one of the best things to do in Belfast Ireland.
Sounds easy right? Just find all the pretty stuff to do in Belfast and snap? Yeah well, that is easier said than done in a city that is known for its Cranes (shout out to Samson and Goliath as a unique aspect of trips to Belfast) and not for it’s sweeping panoramic views of a magnificent cityscape that radiantly sparkles against the night sky (this would be what is commonly known as a Kodak moment. Learn it, live it, love it).
That’s why you’ll need to check out this list of stunning Instagram locations in Belfast before you start any and all American holidays Belfast style. Plus, most of these places are pretty interesting too so it’s not like I’m sending you to all these lame ass sites where you’re gonna sit around sniffing armpits after taking pictures for like 15 minutes. No, these Belfast tourist attractions look pretty and are totally fun too, if you like that sort of thing. I mean, you could be some sadist who recoils at the very mention of fun but I you’re what we fondly refer to in America as “a good time”. Just steer clear of the body snatching fairies and you should be fine (Just an old Irish fable to freak people out and explain the seemingly unexplainable).
1. The Titanic Museum (Don’t let go Jack or you’ll turn into a popsicle. Legit Jack, get your ass on this door)
So I mean, if you don’t go to the Titanic Museum, did you actually visit Belfast at all? Exactly my point and the very reason why this museum should be on the tippy top of your list of things to see in Belfast. So since you NEED to visit this museum anyway, might as well get a stunning (maybe stunning is a bit much. Mediocre at best) shot of the museum itself.
But all the losers, I mean unknowing tourists, take photos of the museum from the front. That’s why it can be pretty annoying, I mean challenging, to get a good shot that isn’t loaded with swarms of people (who doesn’t love having strangers in their photos so that they can remember them forever). So instead, try and sneak to the back of the building where the only thing you’ll see are birds pooping in the breeze (It’s a minefield out there so be careful. One of the less glamorous activities in Belfast). Talk about a totally different feel from the insanely crowded Titanic sign in the front. I mean I hate people in general but taking photos amplifies this loathing by like 10,000% since I have to wait for people to clear out of my shot. Seriously, by the end of the whole ordeal I look and feel like the Grimm Reaper.
**Don’t go during the day because that’s boring, lame, and one of the many rookie Belfast mistakes to avoid. Instead, visit the Museum at night and get a shot of the building when when it is enshrouded in a mystical and vibrant blue haze. Or maybe that’s from all those special brownies I ate? Kidding, I ate scones, not brownies in Belfast. And weeds are for whacking, not eating.
2. Cathedral Quarter, Belfast Street Art
Okay, I don’t mean to brag but New York City has one pretty epic urban art scene. I know its probably not the best in the world but there are some legit, high quality pieces from street art greats like Banksy. But this post is not about how awesome New York street art is. No, no, no; I thought I knew street art but that was before I visited Belfast and got a full on, Belfast Street view (My mind and retinas were simultaneously blown).
Yes, my dear friends, the street art in Belfast drop kicked and throat punched (shout out to Maegan White who loves a good throat punch) New York Street art. It even shanked it and made it say uncle, just because it could. So yes, the street art in Belfast is THAT epic.
That’s why if you like street art, then you need to get your ass here and take some pictures because this city has some of the best street art that I’ve ever seen (No I haven’t been everywhere but I get around, and not like that. Silly goose, get your head out of the gutter). Not only is the quality and quantity incredible, but the street art isn’t just a bunch of rogue bunnies that may mean something, but for the life of you, you have no idea what.
No, a lot of the street art here is intensely personal , insightful, and thought provoking since this tradition started when some citizens were denied the right to express their views in the press. That’s why individuals took to the streets and displayed their thoughts and feelings on the walls of the city’s public infrastructure. So even if you hate street art and think it’s morally reprehensible, just get your butt to Belfast and enjoy the urban beauty that envelopes much of the city.
3. Yellow Umbrellas off Commercial Court (Don’t worry, you can stand under my Umbrella, ella, ella, eh)
Portugal eat your heart out because Belfast has some umbrella ceilings that you must see during your stay in Belfast. Okay, in fairness this yellow umbrella lined corridor isn’t as impressive as the one in Portugal, but it is still pretty amazing to behold. And not so much for the umbrellas but for what these umbrellas and street murals represent. They represent the fight to be heard and the need to represented as part of the democratic process.
Now why the random yellow umbrellas? Well, my best guess is that this symbol is a passive way that some citizens protest the political injustices that the British garment allegedly committed (I don’t know enough about it so I’m not getting into a political debate): a symbol of resistance that was created during the Hong Kong democracy protests of 2014, since umbrellas were used as a tool of passive resistance.
Therefore, this congregation of yellow umbrellas has come to represent the fight for democracy and peace in Northern Ireland. However, this cause truly comes alive amidst the joyful faces of famous Belfast citizens like Bobby Sands (one of 10 people who gave their lives during a hunger strike in 1981 in the pursuit of their civil freedom) and George Best (famous football player). These faces not only remind onlookers of the conflict that prematurely ended so many lives, but of the hope for a better and more beautiful future (Not a fact. Conjecture on my part given the information I could find).
But rather than hear me yammer on about things that I didn’t experience and only learned about second hand, i’ll let this quaint alleyway do all the talking, with such as insightful quotes as, ” Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.” A pretty poignant and beautiful thought right? So no matter who you are or what you believe, come here, embrace Belfast tourism. Not only will you get a snazzy Instagram photo but you’ll have a moment to remember all the people who courageously gave their lives for something they believed in.
***Of course when I visited on Saturday afternoon, the alleyway was lined with people who were enjoying the fresh air and having a beer outside. Ugh, the nerve of these people to enjoy their daily lives and sit where I wanted to take a picture. I mean, don’t they know who I am? Kidding! Of course I wanted all the people to get the hell out of my shot, but clearly they are entitled to live their lives, I guess. So avoid bitterness and impatience and come on a Sunday when no one is there and people are either at church, or getting over a wicked hangover (or both).
4. Cave Hill (The day Kelly became known as Poopy Pants McGee)
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So we all know that social media rarely tells the whole truth. Like this photo right here. A beautiful shot of Belfast from #cavehill . The truth? Oh about 5 minutes earlier I tried to get a shot and literally fell down the hill and skidded through mud. The result? I had mud all over my ass and I looked like I pooped myself. Yup, I got some strange looks. What is your biggest photo mishap? #realtalk #wanderwednesday
Okay, so if you read last week’s post about things to do in Belfast City, or rather Belfast mistakes to avoid, then you’ll know this story, but it’s still funny even if you’ve heard it before. If you haven’t read this post legit, what are you waiting for? We’ll wait while you marvel at my tendency towards infantile humor. Okay, now that you’ve read the assigned reading, let’s continue shall we?
So it all started when my mom met my dad…wait, wrong story. Let’s fast forward a bit to that time I went to Belfast and saw a sign for Cave Hill. Immediately my mind said, ” There’s a sign for Cave Hill so it can’t be that far. Besides, walking will do me some good and help me burn off those calories from those ten scones that I just hoovered at Avoca on Arthur Street.”
Twelve bajillion hours later, I finally arrive at Cave Hill, can’t find the damn Castle, and feel like my feet are gonna fall off. But damnit I made it, even if I lost a limb in the process (It’s a terrible idea to walk there so take the damn bus). But I wasn’t quite done with my epic quest yet. I still needed that picture perfect, panoramic shot of Belfast City in all its industrial glory.
So me, being the intrepid and dedicated woman that I am (or I’m a total idiot. The verdict is still out), I decided to ascend this narrow, rocky, and extremely muddy path up what looked like the crest of a hill. Yeah no, my internal GPS is broken. All I got were some thorns in my hand and a bunch of lame ass, green brambles that totally blocked the view. That’s the moment when I let out a sigh of annoyance and decided to walk back down the path. Only this time, gravity was not on my side and I skidded, no actually fell, on my ass, all the way down the path. I almost landed in the stream but saved myself by lamely rolling into the grass. The result was an ass full of mud that made me look like I forgot my adult diapers at home.
Therefore, if you visit Cave Hill (it should be on your Belfast “what to do” list), make sure you stay on the main path and wear appropriate hiking shoes, not some Steve Madden sneakers that look cute but are totally ineffective at climbing anything besides an escalator.
5. City Hall
You know what they say, “You can’t fight city hall. You can’t fight corporate America. They are big and we are small. You can’t fight city hall.” Wait, no one says that. I think that’s a song from Rocko’s Modern Life on Nickelodeon and my mind was just blown because he was a phone sex operator! Say what?
Oh right, back to Belfast and City Hall, which is one of the great things to do in Belfast City centre. Now, if you look up Belfast City Hall on the Lonely Planet website Belfast guide, then you’ll see a lovely post that describes this building as a, “Classical Renaissance-style City Hall that was built in fine, white Portland stone in 1906.” If I am totally honest, that means nothing to me, except that the building is somewhat old, has a classic look, and is pretty so you should get a shot for Instagram. Sorry, but I am not an architecture major so all that wordage doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.
What I do know is that City Hall is gorgeous to look at, and is free to enter so you should head inside and check out some of the amazing stained glass windows that depict such notorious events as the sinking of the Titanic (Cough, not Belfast’s fault. Cough, the ship was fine when it left Belfast), everyone’s favorite Belfast cranes, and even the Irish Potato Famine. So yes, this building should be part of your Belfast sightseeing tour because it is one of the Belfast sights that is most impressive, at least to me.
***Try and come here at night when City Hall has a resplendent glow from all the colored lights that illuminate the building. Yup, I’m a chump and went during the day. Add this to the ever growing list of Kelly fails. Just obviously make sure you visit before City Hall closes so you can go inside.
6. Peace Wall
So I had no idea that Belfast even had a peace wall but apparently they do because I saw it and even wrote on it, in the hope that eventually the Unionists and Republicans of the city would be reunited. And while the wall is beautifully decorated in homage to various historical crusaders against injustice, this wall still stands as an ominous tribute to the conflict that ravaged this city for over 30 years (Hence the need for this site to be on your weekend in Belfast itinerary).
This means that while this place is an awesome photo op, you need to approach this place with a little dignity and grace since this wall stands as an inadvertent monument to the violence and political conflicts that have destroyed so many lives. Therefore, I beg you not to be one of those people who grabs their selfie stick and uses the wall as an impromptu photo shoot. And yes, maybe I am overreacting but I saw this type of behavior and found it kind of rude and disrespectful. I mean, there is barbed wire lining this fence and it has been erected to create a tenuous peace that prevents Molotov Cocktails flying through the air. So even though I am a total social media whore (I swear its just for work), I always try to remember where I am so that I can show respect and love for the people who lived and died in this beautiful city. Okay, mini rant over. I just don’t want you to be that person who selfies it up in a very somber location because to me, this just doesn’t seem right.
***One of the best things to do in Belfast is book a Black Cab tour since not only will they bring you to the Peace Wall, but someone who lived through the conflict will explain the political history of the city in great detail.
7. CS Lewis Square
This park was not the easiest to find (Take bus 3a to the Hollywood Arches stop). I legit asked so many different people and they looked at me like I had three boobs and as if they wanted to say, “Lady, what useless trifle are you blathering on about?” Of course, that could just be my insecurities rearing their ugly head but that’s something I could write a whole book about.
Any who, CS Lewis Square is a small park (and by small I mean you can walk the whole thing and take photos in about five or ten minutes), that uses a multitude of beautiful statues to revere the one and only author of the Chronicles of Narnia (Harry Potter is still my fave but this series is pretty badass too). So add this square ti any of your trips to Belfast Ireland.
That’s why you need to hop on an impromptu time machine and relive your childhood fantasies by seeing such iconic characters as Aslan the Lion, the White Witch (but don’t steal her Turkish Delight. We all know what happened to Edmund), Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and even Tumnus the faun. Sadly, they won’t talk, I mean unless you were foraging for some magic mushrooms in the woods, but the sculptures here are beautifully crafted and fully embrace the iconic status of this enduring piece of children’s literature (If you never read this as a kid, just think of it as Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter because these books are THAT big of a deal. See what would you do without this pseudo Belfast City guide).
***PS as you probably guessed, they created this park because CS Lewis himself was born in Belfast. And if that doesn’t impress you, then Liam Neeson was born in Northern Ireland too. Not in Belfast but whatever. I mean, I want him to be my badass dad because if I was Taken, I’d have to kiss my ass goodbye because no way would my dad do anything about it.
8. Queen’s University (I finally found Hogwarts guys)
Anyone else still waiting for their Hogwarts letter? I know I am and maybe you’ll find it at Queen’s University. Okay, no, it’s not some secret school of witchcraft and wizardry that no one told you about, even though the architecture does have a Hogwarts feel to it (I think my owl got lost). That’s why you need to covertly walk through the campus and photograph all the majestic beauty here. But do it discreetly because this place is a working campus and no way do you want the po po to try to catch you photoing dirty (Get it. Tryin’ to catch me riding’ dirty? No? Okay, putting the cheese on hold). So be the sneaky Instagrammer that you are and after you’re done breaking the law and embracing the true meaning of thug life, head to the University coffee shop across the street for some badass scones that are as big as your head (and PS, the coffee is good too).
You can also check out the Ulster Museum while you’re here. I would skip the whack-tastic natural history section and focus on the modern art displayed here (hello Game of Thrones tapestry), as well as the exhibits on the bottom floor that detail the history of the Troubles. Plus, the museum is free so what are you waiting for? Everything is better when its free!
9. Victoria Square (I swear, a shopping mall is one of the great places to see in Belfast)
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It's a bird, it's a plane, it's actually the wicked awesome interior of #victoriasquare . Reminds me of a UFO but loving the subtle blue glow. A must visit piece of architecture in #belfast #northernireland .What's one of the most innovative buildings you've ever seen? FYI I always forget but I have this blog and this super awesome post on disastrous Belfast mistakes to avoid. Check it out and laugh at me. It's funny, I promise. http://www.girlwiththepassport.com/2017/10/belfast-mistakes-northern-ireland/
If I say, “Oh head to this shopping mall,” no doubt you’ll be like, “WTF Kelly? Are you eating one too many special brownies again? (sorry, I only talk via text abbreviations. Lol)” And you’d be right because no one I know goes to a glorified mall and takes pictures, even if the mall is named after a baller queen like Queen Victoria.
But this mall actually has a killer viewing deck on the top floor. Just take the elevator all the way up, and view all that Belfast has to offer from above. It’s free but try and go around sunset so that you can see the vibrant colors of the sun dance across the sky, that is if you can find a mildly sunny day while you’re in Belfast (The sun is almost as rare as a four leaf clover. Actually the sun may be more illusive).
Now, most people get all hot and bothered by the view from the top, but I really liked the view from below when the Victoria Square dome is illuminated in an iridescent blue light that is stunning against the darkness of the sky (it looks like some weird ass slide that is sprinkled with a little bit of alien space ship). Plus, an added bonus is that all the stores here have extended hours until 9 pm from Wednesday through Friday. Therefore, you can shop till you drop (mall madness was my jam back in the day), and get some wicked Insta photos in the process. Your bank account may hate you but who cares. Go for the glory and spend like you’ve got the expense account of a Kardashian.
10. The Albert Clock (You know what time it is? Clock time with Flavor Flav)
Another one of the great places to go in Belfast, but let’s back it up a bit. Apparently there are these water fountains that appear to dance through the streets in the summer? Yeah, I didn’t go in the summer so I have no idea about these water fountains and how awesome they are. All I know is that the Prince Albert statue on this clock has a bullet through its head so welcome to the wild and whimsical world of gun violence in Belfast. But I swear, its totally safe. This city just has a spirited past that is reflected in its love/hate relationship with the British Monarchy. You know, kind of like Ross and Rachel from Friends. You never knew when the two were secretly canoodling in the corner.
But besides the wicked photo op, this clock is one of the great things to see in Belfast, Ireland since it’s known for being Belfast’s version of the leaning tower of Pisa. Yes, my readers, this clock tower is almost at a forty-five degree angle so quick, get your close up before it falls over completely. And it’s a perfect, economically viable substitute for the leaning tower of Pisa (add this site to any budget travel Belfast plans). Just come here, create a super awesome Insta story, and be the classy, yet sassy, social media maven that you are.
If nothing else, just come for the scones because I would so become a star on my 600 pound life if I ate all the sconey goodness that is found on the not so mean streets of Belfast. Legit, that rogue bullet was from the past so no bullet proof vest needed.
***Looking for even more Instagram fame and glory? You can also photograph the giant fish sculpture that you can’t miss when walking towards the Titanic Museum (seriously, its like the size of Moby Dick). I didn’t find it that impressive, hence the lack of photographic evidence here, but everyone is different so if you like giant fish statues then rock out.
My Belfast City Guide on How to Become Insta Famous
Dude, I hope you didn’t believe that mumbo jumbo in the title. Like legit, there is no way I can guarantee you Insta fame and glory with one photo shoot. Sorry, I am just not that powerful and if I was, I would be casting spells all up in my Instagram account. But just remember for the future that there are gonna be like 10,000 blogs out that are like, “Do these 5 things in 10 seconds and you’ll make 5 billion dollars.” Sounds awesome right? Well, if anyone knows how to do that, give me a shout out. The truth is that yes, great content and photos are crucial to your Insta swag, but it’s a ton of other stuff too.
However, this post is less about Instagram and more about seeing Belfast, having fun, and taking some pictures that you can be proud of. So get out there and man those tripods my friends, or hijack someone’s insta-huband for photographic purposes only. I don’t promote adultery since us women folk gotta stick together (Female pride! Whoop whoop).
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