Belfast has long been a popular choice for students from the UK, Ireland and around the world. Queen’s University Belfast, ranked in the world top 200, is part of the elite Russell Group and has a worldwide reputation for excellence. Ulster University’s Belfast campus hosts an exciting range of artistic subjects, with frequent fashion shows and art exhibitions taking place on campus. But aside from the courses on offer, why is the capital of Northern Ireland so popular among students?
It’s a welcoming city
The people in Northern Ireland are known for being friendly, so whether you’re making friends at university or simply chatting to the locals, you’ll feel at home here. You’ll also meet people from across the world – at Queen’s University alone, there are over 2,900 international students from 85 different countries.
Carmen, a final year Law student from Malaysia, describes why she chose to study at Queen’s University Belfast:
‘One of the reasons I chose Queen’s University Belfast was the diversity it has to offer. Queen’s is a renowned university and certainly has made its mark globally, where it has many affiliations with different universities from different countries. I knew this would give me an opportunity to be able to broaden my horizons and get to know other international people as well as the locals.’
You’re never short of things to do
Whether you prefer a trip to St George’s Market, one of the city’s oldest attractions, or hunting for bargains in the second-hand shops of Botanic Avenue, you’ll always find something to occupy your spare time in Belfast.
Just a few miles outside the city, explore Cave Hill Country Park, and get incredible panoramic views across Belfast. There are plenty of outdoor activities throughout the region, whether you want to join a society with other students or simply go exploring for yourself. Try out mountain biking at Barnett’s Demesne trail, or hike in the spectacular Mourne Mountains.
Northern Ireland has a fiercely competitive spirit, and there’s so much sport to watch or participate in. The Ulster Senior Club Football Championship is an annual Gaelic football competition, so don’t miss your chance to experience one of the most popular sports in the island of Ireland. Experience a rugby match at Kingspan Stadium, the heart of Ulster Rugby, or catch a football match at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, home of Linfield FC and the Northern Ireland national football team.
Ireland is at your fingertips
Belfast is located on the north east coast of Northern Ireland. Being a coastal city, it’s easy to access golden beaches, as well as beautiful forests and countryside throughout the island.
Head north along the Antrim coast and you’ll reach Giant’s Causeway, an area of incredible basalt rock formations that you can explore for free. There’s plenty more to see in the area - surf the famous West Strand in Portrush or cross the infamous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
South of Belfast are the stunning Mourne Mountains, where you can scale Northern Ireland’s tallest peak, Slieve Donard, or follow the C.S. Lewis trail. Author of ‘The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe’, C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast, and its surrounding area was the inspiration for the magical world of Narnia.
Heading slightly further afield, take the train two hours north of Belfast for a day out in Derry/Londonderry. Further west lies Donegal, a weather-beaten stretch of coastline dotted with beaches, pubs and villages. It’s also easy to visit Dublin, the capital of the Ireland, with eight trains a day to the city. Belfast is the perfect base to explore Ireland, the rest of the UK and Europe, as it has excellent plane, train and ferry links.
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