Belfast possesses a rare but wonderful thing – an integrated public-transport system, with buses linking both airports to the central train and bus stations.
Metro (9066 6630; www.translink.co.uk) operates the bus network in Belfast. An increasing number of buses are low-floor, ‘kneeling’ buses with space for one wheelchair.
Buy your ticket from the driver (change given); fares range from £1 to £1.60 depending on distance. The driver can also sell you a Metro Day Ticket (£3.50), giving unlimited bus travel within the City Zone all day Monday to Saturday. Cheaper versions allow travel any time after 10am Monday to Saturday (£2.50), or all day Sunday (£2.50).
Most city bus services depart from various stops on and around Donegall Sq, at City Hall. You can pick up a free bus map (and buy tickets) from the Metro kiosk (8am-5.30pm Mon-Fri) at the northwest corner of the square.
If you plan on using city buses a lot, it’s worth buying a Smartlink Travel Card (available from the Metro kiosk, the Belfast Welcome Centre, and the Europa and Laganside BusCentres). The card costs an initial fee of £1.50, plus £5/10 per five/ten journeys – you can get it topped up as you want. Alternatively, you can get seven days’ unlimited travel for £15.50. When you board the bus, you simply place the card on the ticket machine, and it automatically issues a ticket.
A car can be more of a hindrance than a help in Belfast, as parking is restricted in the city centre. For on-street parking between 8am and 6pm Monday to Saturday, you’ll need to buy a ticket from a machine. For longer periods, head for one of the many multistorey car parks that are dotted around the city centre.
Major car hire agencies in Belfast:
Avis (www.avisworld.com) City (9024 0404; 69-71 Great Victoria St); George Best Belfast City Airport (0870 608 6317); Belfast International Airport (0870 608 6316)
Budget (www.budget-ireland.co.uk) City (9023 0700; 96-102 Great Victoria St); George Best Belfast City Airport (9045 1111); Belfast International Airport (9442 3332)
Europcar (www.europcar.com) George Best Belfast City Airport (9045 0904); Belfast International Airport (9442 3444)
Hertz (www.hertz.co.uk) George Best Belfast City Airport (9073 2451) Belfast International Airport (9442 2533)
The Ireland-wide agency Dooley Car Rentals (9445 2522; www.dooleycarrentals.com ; 175 Airport Rd, Belfast International Airport, Aldergrove) is reliable and offers good rates – around £130 a week for a compact car. You have to pay an extra £48 up front for a full tank of petrol, but if you return the car with an almost empty tank they’re cheaper than the big names.
There are local trains every 20 or 30 minutes connecting Great Victoria St and Central Stations via City Hospital and Botanic Stations. There’s a flat fare of £1 for journeys between any of these stops.
Regular black taxis have yellow plates back and front and can be hailed on the street.
Minicabs are cheaper but you have to order one by phone. Companies to call include Fona Cab (9023 3333) and Value Cabs (9080 9080).
National Cycle Network route 9 runs through central Belfast, mostly following the western bank of the River Lagan and the north shore of Belfast Lough.
You can hire bikes from McConvey Cycles (9033 0322; www.mcconveycycles.com ; 183 Ormeau Rd; 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, to 8pm Thu) and Life Cycles from around £10 a day, or £40 a week.