Lonely Planet Writer

Titanic Belfast beats the Eiffel Tower to be crowned top sight in Europe

Titanic Belfast has been named Europe’s top visitor attraction. The museum beat sights including the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace and the Acropolis to be named Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards in Italy.

Titanic Belfast heritage centre on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard.
Titanic Belfast heritage centre on the site of the former Harland and Wolff shipyard. Image by William Murphy / CC BY-SA 2.0

Titanic Belfast has attracted three million visitors from over 145 countries since opening in 2012. It becomes the first Northern Irish sight to win the award in its 23-year history. It celebrates Belfast’s shipbuilding history and the creation of the Titanic, the world’s most famous ocean liner.

The Titanic was built in Belfast and is one of the places families can go under the new flight deals
The Titanic was built in Belfast and is one of the places families can go under the new flight deals Image by Leslie Shaw / CC BY 2.0

The Titanic was the world’s largest ship when it was constructed in 1912. It could carry 2,453 passengers, and its first-class section boasted a swimming pool, a squash court, a Turkish bath and a grand staircase that descended through seven decks. The ship travelled from Belfast to Cobh, on the south coast of Ireland, before sinking after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic.

A model of the Titanic.
A model of the Titanic. Image by Jeffrey / CC BY-SA 2.0

The museum is located at the spot where the ship was launched, and is designed to mimic the bows of a ship. Visitors to Titanic Belfast have included James Cameron, Queen Elizabeth II and Adele. “We are absolutely thrilled to be Europe’s Best Tourist Attraction and to bring the award back to Ireland,” said Titanic Belfast Chief Executive Tim Husbands. “After only four years in operation, to be recognised and beat off stiff competition from Europe’s most iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum is a true honour. We know what we offer at Titanic Belfast is special – the enduring story of Titanic and the appeal of its home where she was designed and built captures hearts and minds throughout the world.”

S.S. Titanic lifeboat on display at Titanic Belfast
S.S. Titanic lifeboat on display at Titanic Belfast Image by Leslie Shaw / CC BY 2.0

Since opening, Titanic Belfast has sold a 338,000 postcards and over 20,000 Titanic snow globes. Along with the TV series Game of Thrones, which is filmed in the region, the museum has been credited with raising Northern Ireland’s profile among visitors. A record-breaking 2.3 million people visited the region in 2015, with the Giant’s Causeway the most popular attraction.

Titanic Belfast was also recently included in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist of 500 of the world’s most striking locations. It will now go on to compete for the title of world’s leading attraction at a ceremony in the Maldives later this year.