Is Belfast, Northern Ireland Safe For Travel In 2023?
Before visiting a country or city, it’s important to know whether it is safe to visit.
Is Belfast safe to travel to? This is a question many people will have, especially due to the history of Northern Ireland and Belfast.
Josh from A Backpacker’s World, who’s a Belfast local chimed in to give an overview of whether Belfast is safe to travel to or not.
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Is Belfast Safe?
To summarize this post in one sentence, yes Belfast is safe to travel to in 2023.
Obviously, Belfast has a troubled past filled with paramilitaries, sectarian violence and riots. Thankfully, these ways of life are gone from Belfast, for the most part. To avoid sugarcoating, if a riot does occur in Belfast, it does get violent with the likes of petrol bombs being used.
But these occurrences are very rare now. Maybe once in a calendar year. Unless something has happened politically.
So Belfast is safe to travel to. You won’t be walking down the street and come across a group of men in balaclavas holding guns, those times are long gone. It’s impossible to guarantee anyone’s safety anywhere in the world, but you will more than likely be safe and sound in Belfast.
Belfast is a small city, despite being the capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast has a small-town-like feel to it. A city with a tainted name, Belfast has low crime rates compared to other major European cities.
If you follow basic safety rules such as avoiding dark alleyways alone and not holding your valuables out for the world to see, you will be perfectly safe in Belfast and you will without a doubt have a great trip.
Is Belfast Safe At Night?
For the most part, Belfast is safe at night. In fact, Belfast has been voted to have one of the best nights out in the UK and Ireland. The pubs, bars and clubs in Belfast are all “good craic” and definitely worth visiting while on a trip to Belfast.
Belfast comes alive at night and the city completely transforms as the Northern Irish absolutely love to party. It’s worth mentioning too that Belfast locals are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They are so friendly and welcoming and will talk to anyone and everyone. The phrase “they’d talk to a brick wall” could not be more true.
As said, the city transforms at night. Particularly during Christmas in Belfast, when Belfast City Hall is home to one of the best Christmas Continental Markets in Europe. It has so many things to do and plenty of food options too. If you are visiting at Christmas time, be sure to check it out.
Of course, as with any city, there are areas of Belfast to avoid at night. Avoid going to the Shankill Road at night. A great road to see during the day because of its history, but avoid it at night, it’s somewhere where trouble is more likely as it is a very loyalist area. Trouble is also more likely on the Falls Road at night. Again, great to see during the day but avoid it at night as it is a very nationalist area.
A few other places to avoid would be the Ardoyne Road and the student houses area known as “The Holylands”. It’s home to thousands of students who don’t know how to behave and cause trouble for literally no reason.
Is Belfast Okay for Solo Travel?
Belfast is safe for anyone to visit, whether you are traveling solo or in a group. As mentioned before, the Belfast people are very talkative and friendly, so if you want to make friends at a bar or pub, it would be very easy to get to talk to people.
Alternatively, there are plenty of tour options in Belfast where you will never be alone. From the hop on hop off bus tours to the Black Cab tours, there are many great ways to see the city. There are also lots of Game of Thrones tours from Belfast which show you filming locations around Northern Ireland.
Belfast has a few great hostels too, which may be an option for you if you are solo traveling. Hostels are a great way to meet new people and make new friends. This way, even if you are solo traveling, you will never be by yourself because you can go out and explore the city with the people you have met in your hostel.
How To Stay Safe In Belfast
Although Belfast is safe, it is important that you maximize your own personal safety and there are few things to do in Belfast that aren’t applicable anywhere else.
Avoid talking about politics, the Troubles, religion or Northern Ireland’s history
Due to the split in the religion of Protestants and Catholics, which has become aligned with the political views of Unionists and Nationalists, it’s better to avoid talking about these things altogether. If you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, you could be putting yourself in a bad situation unnecessarily. Only speak about these things to tour guides or similar people.
Don’t wear any Northern Ireland or Ireland, or Rangers or Celtic clothing
Wearing a sports top, hat or anything with a Northern Ireland or Ireland badge on it attracts attention to yourself and indirectly tells everyone your political beliefs, even if this is not the case. The same is to be said for Rangers and Celtic, avoid wearing anything with their badges on it. Also, don’t ask people if they support Rangers or Celtic.
Learn the emergency services’ phone number
In Northern Ireland, the number is 999 for Police, Fire Service, Ambulances and Coastal Rescue.
Don’t talk about Britain or the UK
On the island of Ireland, Nationalists believe that Northern Ireland was stolen from Ireland by Britain. As such, Nationalists don’t view Northern Ireland as a legitimate place and instead refer to it as “The North of Ireland”.
Yes, even if they live in Northern Ireland. So to avoid starting an argument with the wrong person, avoid mentioning Britain or the UK.
Other than these 4 things, practice general safety rules and you will be fine.
Belfast Safety: FAQ
Is it safe for English in Belfast?
Yes! Belfast is safe for English people. The times where English people would feel intimidated in Belfast are gone. The city is safe to visit and anyone can come to Belfast and have a good time.
Are Americans safe in Belfast?
Yes! The people of Belfast are some of the most welcoming people in the world. American tourists are very welcome in Belfast, and typically enjoy the Game of Thrones tours throughout Northern Ireland.
Is Belfast still dangerous?
While it is impossible to rule any city as completely and entirely 100% safe, Belfast is now considered to be pretty safe. The days of “the Troubles” are long gone and crime rates in Belfast are on a significant downward trend.
Is Belfast safe for students?
Yes! Belfast is very safe for students. With 3 main universities in Belfast, namely Queens, Ulster University and Stranmillis, Belfast attracts thousands of new students from around the world every year.
Belfast Safety: Conclusion
To conclude, Belfast is a safe place to visit in 2023. Obviously, it is impossible to guarantee safety no matter where you are in the world, but Belfast is definitely safe for tourists.
Despite the tainted reputation and history of violence, anyone can enjoy a trip to Belfast and feel safe, even at night, as long as you have your wits about you and look after yourself. So if you are visiting Belfast, have a great time and remember, don’t talk about religion!
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