Belfast – why go anywhere else?

Wondering where to go to university?

Not even sure where Belfast is, or why you’d want to go there? Well, read on.

By the end, you won’t even consider going anywhere else.

It’s really easy to get around

bus outside union

If you’re a student here, you can walk from your accommodation to class before you’ve even put your earphones in. City centre? Fifteen minutes’ walk. If you do have a car, there aren’t really any traffic jams to speak of either.

Your cash goes further

city hall

Would you believe that we’re even cheaper than Newcastle-upon-Tyne? The average weekly rent here is only £51.10, well below the UK average.

Those chaps at Mercer have found time and time again that Belfast has the lowest overall cost of living of any UK city. For a week’s rent in London you could rent an entire house here.

Great food

You’re having a laugh, right? Well, no. Belfast has its fair share of cosmopolitan food these days – a lot of it available near Queen’s – but the real hearty stuff – the fish and chips and the legendary gut-buster that is the Ulster Fry – cannot be beaten. A fry will set you back about a fiver – and to be honest you won’t need to eat much for the rest of the day.

Friendly locals

Arthur Square

Part of the benefit of a smaller city is that people actually speak to you when you make eye contact with them. People are always willing to help you out, especially if you’re wandering around with a map and a confused expression.

Safest city

© NI Tourist Board

© NI Tourist Board

Another benefit of being a wee place is that street crime and burglary rates in Belfast are actually much lower than in comparable European cities.

Belfast was also named the safest region in the UK in 2012, and the following year Northern Ireland’s crime rate dropped to a 15-year low.

Water everywhere…

© NI Tourist Board

© NI Tourist Board

Northern Ireland is half coastline. From Queen’s it’s literally ten minutes on the train before you’re on the County Down shore. In most universities in Great Britain you wouldn’t even have made it as far as the train station in that time. And there’s lovely Lough Neagh, stunning Strangford Lough and enchanting Lough Erne to choose from. Renowned globetrotter Michael Palin, who’s been around the place a few times, says that Northern Ireland is one of his favourite places in the world.

…and countryside galore


And not just any old countryside. Northern Ireland packs a lot into its small area. Its five cities are interspersed with lush countryside, winding coastal roads, mountainous terrain and thick forest. It contains eight areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is home to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway.

Queen’s is in the middle of the city


You know all those ‘London’ airports that are actually nowhere near London? (‘London Oxford’ airport? Seriously?) The same thing happens with many campus universities that are in the middle of nowhere but conveniently have a city name tacked on to their titles.

We’re a proper, integrated part of Belfast – since we were founded in 1845 on the edge of the city, it’s grown up around us.

It’s easy to get here


There’s some confusion about where Belfast is. Because of its unique position as the only UK capital on the island of Ireland, it feels quite unlike anywhere else. It has British and Irish culture in equal measures, which gives it quite a distinct flavour.

We have two airports serving Belfast, with regular flights from the rest of the UK and Ireland, as well as the regular ferry crossings from Scotland and England.

We have the sexiest accent in the UK


Honestly! It won’t make much difference to your studies but who wouldn’t want to immerse themselves in such a wonderful commodity?

A surprising amount of famous people are from Northern Ireland…


For a small country, we’ve produced a fair chunk of notable people: George Best, Van Morrison, Liam Neeson, Rory McIlroy, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Jamie Dornan…and of course, the most famous of all, 2008 X Factor finalist Eoghan Quigg.

…as was the world’s most famous ship


Yes, yes, we know it sank. But that wasn’t our fault. The Harland and Wolff shipyard in east Belfast was the Titanic’s home from 1909 until its tragic maiden voyage in 1912. The huge slipways used to build the ship and its sister Olympic are now open to the public, right next to the Titanic Belfast exhibition.

We have seven quarters


There’s too much going on the city for us to pay any attention to the basic rules of mathematics!

We’re part of musical legend


Led Zeppelin’s world famous rock anthem Stairway to Heaven was performed for the first time ever right here in Belfast, in 1971. The band came back two years later to photograph the Giants Causeway in County Antrim for the cover of their fifth album, Houses of the Holy.

We have a proper market…


The 19th-century St George’s Market is across the road from the Central Train Station. You can buy pretty much anything there – everything from vintage LPs and sewing machines to fresh fish and falafel. Our students love swinging by on Sunday mornings for the live music and atmosphere.

You can see around our most famous buildings


Belfast City Hall and Parliament Buildings at Stormont run regular guided tours, as of course do we!

Queen’s wasn’t the only project Sir Charles Lanyon had on the go in 1845. He was also busy with Crumlin Road Gaol, and for a wonderfully gruesome experience (genuine hangman’s noose, anyone?) you may want to pay it a visit.

They film Game of Thrones here

Most of the interior stuff is filmed in the Titanic Studios near the shipyard, but a great deal of the exterior shots are also captured on location elsewhere in Northern Ireland. You can do a tour if you want!

Lots of stuff to do

Kenny_Rogers_in_Concert_at_The_King's_Hall. (1)

You can’t keep up with all the festivals, exhibitions and concerts around the city – everything from superstar arena shows to the intimacy of traditional African musicians in a tent (yes, really)

The Queen’s Quarter is rather lovely

23256_Belfast Mela 2010 - Botanic Gardens

The whole area around Queen’s is where many of our students live if they prefer to rent privately. With the Malone, Stranmillis and Lisburn Roads and Botanic Avenue defining the borders of the area, there are parks, museums, theatres, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and boutiques galore. And it’s only 15 minutes from the city centre.

Like what you see? Read more about applying to Queen’s.

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