12 places to take the best photographs in Belfast
From unique street art to panoramic city views, Belfast is a photographer’s heaven. Whether you are a keen photographer, a holiday snapper or simply want to spice up your Instagram feed, there is something to make everyone reach for their cameras in Belfast, so happy snapping!
1. View from Cave Hill
When it comes to photography, Cave Hill Country Park is the gift that keeps on giving. Barely ten miles from the city centre, this scenic stretch feels a world away from the bustle of city life. Begin your adventure at the majestic Belfast Castle, before climbing your way through forested paths to McArt’s Fort for panoramic views across the city; but don’t forget to stop by the Devil’s Punchbowl for an artistic vantage point, and keep a look out for the five caves along the path.
2. Titanic Belfast
It may be an obvious choice, but the majestic Titanic Belfast building that presides over the River Lagan is one of the most Instagrammed buildings in Ireland. Its metallic, angular exterior, sweeping slipways and reflective pools of water surrounding the structure provide many a Kodak opportunity. By night, the building and slipways are flooded with light to create an exquisite evening shot across the Titanic Quarter. Better still – enjoy Afternoon Tea inside Titanic Belfast, and get a photograph on the replica Grand Staircase for a great movie moment.
3. Yellow Umbrellas on Commercial Court
Belfast’s answer to Portugal’s Umbrella Sky Project can be found just off Commercial Court, facing the Duke of York Pub, but this hidden entry is much more than a few umbrellas in the sky. Stand beneath these vibrant yellow brollies and look around you – you will see caricatures of some of Belfast’s most famous faces, from sporting heroes to TV talent. It’s an authentic Instagram moment you won’t want to miss!
4. Harland and Wolf Cranes
A photography guide to the city would not be complete without a reference to Belfast’s famous yellow cranes, Samson and Goliath. Taking pride of place in the Titanic Quarter, these cranes dominate the skyline, and are a symbol of the city. Photograph on a sunny day for a vibrant contrast with the blue sky, venture to the cranes after a wet day for some artistic reflections, or choose your position wisely and snap a sunrise or sunset over the shipyard.
5. Belfast’s Street Art
Belfast’s Street Art is ever changing, but it remains enshrined in photographs forever. Some of the most iconic pieces of local street art include 'Long Runs The Fox' on North Street, and 'The Duel of Belfast, Dance By Candlelight' on Hill Street, as well as tributes to Prince, Carrie Fisher and even Jon Snow from Game of Thrones. A walk around the city, particularly Belfast's Cathedral Quarter, with your eyes peeled will reveal most of these unique pieces of art, but if you don’t want to hunt down street art for yourself, take a Street Art Walking Tour with Seedhead Arts, who will walk you through the best street art in the city, explaining their origins and helping you to capture them in glorious technicolour.
A man and his dog pause to contemplate a mural depicting the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. Photo taken in Belfast, Northern Ireland on January 11th 2017. Credit: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne #PrincessLeia #StarWars #dog #Belfast #NorthernIreland #mural #streetart #art #CarrieFisher
6. Queen’s University Lanyon Building
Designed by architect Charles Lanyon, who designed numerous buildings across Belfast, Queen's University’s gothic Lanyon Building is well worth a visit. Not an inch of this architecturally magnificent building would be out of place on the set of Harry Potter, making it a must for keen photographers. Don’t forget to venture through the entrance hall to photograph Galileo, who stands just through the main doors of the building.
7. The Dome at Victoria Square
Whilst Cave Hill provides a view over the city from a peaceful distance, The Dome at Victoria Square brings you right to the heart of the city buzz, with a 360 degree view around the city from its most central shopping centre. A trip to the top of the dome requires a good head for heights, but the views over the city are well worth it, particularly when the dome is lit up at night.
The Dome @victoriasqbelfast is a perfect spot to watch surreal sunsets, and @byebyethecheese from Twitter has managed to capture it beautifully #belfast #visitbelfast #fierysunset #discoverni #northernireland #belfastcity #skyline #instasky #travel #instalike
8. Belfast City Hall
Standing at the head of the city centre, Belfast City Hall is one of the most photographed buildings in the city, and it is not difficult to see why. Its classical Rennaisance design, and the addition of tastefully lit paneling, which changes colour to reflect holidays and celebrations and awareness days have made this a must on any photographic tour of the city. But don’t forget to venture inside, as it is free to visit, and the interiors are just as inspiring as its incredible exterior.
9. CS Lewis Square
If you love The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, you will be in awe of the enthralling CS Lewis Square, a photographer’s haven, scattered with sculptures from CS Lewis’s most famous story. Although located just off the Newtownards Road in East Belfast, and situated in a relatively urban part of the city, a photograph taken with just the right amount of greenery and a short depth of field is enough to transport you to a country park, or perhaps even Narnia itself. It’s all about the illusion. As you walk through the square, take notice of the subtle touches of red on each sculpture, as these are a nod to the red themes that are carried throughout the book.
They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him #aslan #chroniclesofnarnia #cslewis #polishgirl #visitbelfast
10. The Big Fish
One of Belfast’s most famous pieces of public art, the Big Fish, has a lot of photo potential, depending on how creative you would like to get. Get close, because the outer ‘scales’ of this sculpture by John Kindness are made up of tiles depicting the history and spirit of Belfast. Also, as legend would have it, anyone who kisses the ‘Salmon Of Knowledge’ will gain wisdom – and you’ll gain a pretty cool photograph to add to your collection as well.
11. The Albert Clock Fountains
Belfast’s Albert Clock is often referred to as our very own Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it is in fact the fountains beneath it that create the most striking photo opportunity. Operational from April-October, from 7.30am-9pm each day, these fountains are not only the source of happiness and entertainment for passing children, but also a great opportunity to play around with shutter speed and water photography. Why not bend down between the fountains and try to create the illusion of water reaching the top of the Albert Clock?
12. Stormont Estate
At first, photography and the home of the Northern Ireland Assembly may not appear to go hand in hand, but Stormont Estate is one of the most beautiful places to take a walk at any time of year. It is home to long woodland walks, and a sweeping trail of trees lining the steep hill to the Parliament Buildings.
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