“The Titanic Belfast experience is definitely a must-see!” the kind man at the passport controls told us while we entered Northern Ireland. Well, that was promising, as we had already ordered our tickets online.
The Titanic experience seems to be the city’s greatest pride. It is the first Northern Irish tourist attraction to achieve a travelers choice award on Trip Advisor. I must be fair: I never heard of this museum before booking my trip to Belfast, and I had never imagined that the whole Northern Irish tourist sector would be revolving around it. And successfully. The World Traveler Awards picked the museum as the best leading tourist attraction of 2016. It successfully beat nominees Buckingham Palace (London), Guinness Storehouse (Dublin, winner of 2015), La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona), The Eiffel Tower (Paris), The Roman Colosseum (Rome), Ribeira do Porto (Porto) and the Acropolis (Athens).
Having visited most of the nominees, the Titanic experience was definitely the most surprising, interactive and educative. I even think the selection of other nominees is a bit weird, to be honest. There is barely anything to learn from concurring the 704 steps of the Eiffel tower.
Also nice to know: Lonely Planet’s 500 ultimate travelist listed the Titanic Belfast experience. A perfect reason for me to pay it a visit!
The coolest museum around, almost literally
This museum is definitely the closest you will ever come to the real Titanic. It’s even possible to visit her sister and tender the SS Nomadic (also built by White Star Line). With the hop on hop off buses, it’s easy to reach the Titanic Quarters in Belfast.
Once there, you will be surprised by how big this building actually is. Only after I had already visited the museum, I learnt that it’s supposed to represent the iceberg (spoiler alert!) that was hit by the Titanic, leading to its sad destiny.
There are nine galleries, each covering its own part of Titanic history, which started in Belfast. All starts with “Boomtown Belfast” teaching the visitor a little something about the best years of Belfast. I really enjoyed this gallery, and I learned a lot. Did you know that the worlds largest linen production was in Belfast? And the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolffs was the biggest one in the world at that time?
Building the unsinkable ship
After the first gallery, the visitor will walk into the second part of the museum, which shows how the Titanic and its sister ship the Olympic were built. And how! Inside the museum, there is actually a short ride teaching you how. During the ride, you will learn how the 3000 workmen must have felt during the years of constructing the ships. I was quite impressed with how this museum succeeded in explaining. Even I, a complete dummy when it comes to construction work and anything else technical, was able to imagine life on a shipyard 100 years ago. And I even found it interesting!
Having hoped beforehand that we would see loads of personal items, discovered and taken from the ocean bottom, I was not at all disappointed that this was not the case. There is so much else to see in this museum. They showcase what the cabins must have looked like, how the media covered the story of the unsinkable ship sinking and her last moments. There are also a lot of survivors stories and you will be taken underwater and find out what they have found at sea.
A must-visit museum
I must say I’m an extremely slow reader and I couldn’t read everything since my family is not. They would already be in the next gallery as I was still only halfway through the first. And this museum offers a lot of things to read. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend visiting it with smaller children or people like me, as it must be really annoying to wait for ages.
Anyway, I won’t spoiler anymore and let you experience it for yourself. I definitely recommend you doing so! Admission is about £17,50 for adults and £12,50 for students, which will also give you the opportunity to visit the SS Nomadic.
Ready for a trip to Northern Ireland? Or fancy another destination? Make sure to take a look at my other travel blogs.