No matter where you live or where you come from, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ve heard about the Titantic, the passenger ship that hit an iceberg and sank in 1912.
Perhaps you’ve seen the movie with the same name (NO, this is not a documentary and Kate and Leo were definitely not on the boat.)
Whatever your understanding of the RMS Titantic, for many it is sort of a mythical story which is hard to really come to terms with. After all, the boat spent its voyage out at sea, and despite there being Titantic attractions across the world, many are just tourist attractiosn with no real relevance to the tragedy.
There is one place where you can find out more about the incredible true story of the Titantic and everything that went into its voyage: the Titantic Belfast in none other than Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In this Titanic Belfast Review, we’re going to explore this amazing museum in Northern Ireland sits on the site of the shipyward where the Titantic was built. For the people of Belfast, the Titantic isn’t a mythical legend, but a reminder of the maritime history of the area and their fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers who helped build what was once a ship to rival all other ships.
Titanic Belfast Experience
The Titantic Belfast is hard to miss, and includes some outdoor space with plaques and information, as well as restaurants, gift shops and the Titantic Experience itself with 9 different exhibits spread out over multiple floors.
Titantic Belfast Exterior
When you first walk up to Titantic Belfast, you’re struck by the sharp lines of the building and the beautiful statue, Titantic, out front. The building was finished in 2012 and has lots of symbolism in its design, including the White Star logo and ships bows.
In the back of the Titantic Belfast, there are benches set out that are a visual representation of morse code, as well as an area to view the historic slipways where the Titantic was built and first launched. You can actually walk around this area, standing on the exact spot the Titantic would have stood.
Visit the Titantic Memorial Garden where lawns alternate with timber decking to show the proportion of victims of the sinking ship that came from various parts of the ship.
Titantic Belfast Lobby
The lobby of Titantic Belfast is important to note in this Titantic Belfast review, as the interior is visually stunning. The central atrium holds the ticketing booths, the gift shop, The Galley Express Food Bar and the Bistro 401 Restaurant. Stand in the center and look up to see the architectural features that really start off your visit by putting you back in the early 1900s in Belfast’s shipbuilding quarter.
Titantic Belfast – Boomtown Belfast
The first exhibit you come across is Boomtown Belfast, which is dedicated to explaining the history of Belfast around the time of the Titantic’s voyage. There are interactive displays, sounds going on all around you, and the chance to see artifacts from the early 1900s.
Boomtown Belfast is quite a large area that takes a while to get around if you’re reading everything properly, so I would encourage you to spend as much time as you need here. Some of the exhibits later on are a bit shorter, so don’t feel you need to rush through this one.
Towards the end of Boomtown Belfast, you’ll see Titantic’s construction plans and original models of the ship that was to be built.
Titanic Belfast – the Shipyard
Perhaps my favorite part of the Titantic Belfast was the Shipyard! I had NO idea that there was going to be a ride within the exhibit, but lo and behold, as we stepped off of the elevator that took us up to the next floor, we stepped out to find a loading area for a dark ride that took you through a recreated shipyard.
Titantic Belfast – the Launch
You don’t have to take the Shipyard ride if you don’t want to, but either way you will end up at the Launch. This is where Titantic’s history really starts to be explored and the weight of it all starts to become clear.
Giant glass window panes allow you to look out to where the Titantic was launched on the 31st of May, 1911. There are artifacts from its launch and plaques explaining the excitement and pride that was felt by the 100,000 people that attended that day.
Titantic Belfast – the Fit-Out
Next, you move into the Fit-Out exhibit which contains 3 examples of the type of cabins that were offerered to passengers on the ship. You learn about where the crew would have lived, as well as the living conditions of the rich and the not-so-rich who opted for more crowded and basic cabins on the ship.
There is also a computer-generated tour that takes up three walls of a large room to take you through the ship and show you what the passengers and crew would have seen.
My favorite part of this exhibit was the large model that really helped you to understand just how big and complicated the ship was.
Titantic Belfast – the Maiden Voyage
Of course for everyone who knows what is to come, the Maiden Voyage section is filled with sadness, but the exhibit itself depicts the calm before the storm, as it were. Walk across the wooden boat deck and look out across the docks, or take a look at photographs taken on the ship for its very first leg of the journey.
Titantic Belfast – the Sinking
The Sinking exhibit is perhaps one of the best put together, despite the heartbreaking tragedy it depicts. Suddenly, the whole tone of the museum changes and you are walking through a dark space with the sounds of morse code.
These were the ships’s SOS signals. You’ll read the messages sent to other ships, as well as hear the stories of survivors telling their accounts of what happened.
Unlike the touristy Titantic Experiences around the world, the iceberg is not depicted by an actual block of ice, but instead by a wall of 400 life jackets.
Titantic Belfast – the Aftermath
Carry on through the Sinking and you’ll be in the Aftermath exhibit, where a full scale life boat is on display. Through interactive screens, videos, and artifacts, you’ll learn about the world’s reaction to the sinking and follow the American and British inquiries into the disaster.
The Titantic wasn’t the only ship built by Harland and Wolff, and you can follow the journey of the Titantic’s sister ships as well.
There is also the opportunity to electronically search for passengers and crew on the ship if you know of someone who was on it.
Titanic Belfast – Myths & Legends
The sinking of the Titantic spurred many myths, legends, and pop culture phenomena throughout the years. In this section, you’ll learn how films like the Titantic impact people’s perception of the tragedy and see how the ship was depicted in movies, television, books and magazines.
This was an interesting exhibit for me as it always makes me feel slightly uncomfortable that the Titantic has been so romanticized. As you go around the Titantic Belfast, it really strikes you that these were real people, this was a real tragedy, not just a movie or a story. This exhibit deals with the reality of that romanticization and how it continues into the present day.
Titantic Belfast – Titanic Beneath
As you walk into the final room, you explore the Titantic where it lives today, on the bottom of the ocean floor. Follow along the journey of researchers and discoverers that worked to find the ship and then learn more about it by studying the wreckage.
There is a really fascinating floor in the middle that projects film from above the Titantic wreckage, so you can effectively stand on it and look down to take in a fish-eye view of the wreck.
Titantic Belfast Prices
Prices for entrance vary depend on your age and circumstance, but it is essentially £18.50 for adults, £8.00 for kids ages 5-16, and £15.00 for students and seniors (from Monday to Friday).
You can buy tickets at the ticket office when you get there or purchase online.
Tickets are for a timed entrance, every 15 minutes, so you would need to buy a ticket for the next available time.
You can also purchase an audio guide for £3.00, which we both got and would HIGHLY recommend. There is a lot of reading involved throughout the exhibit and people can crowd around those plaques and make it hard to get through everything during busy times. With the audio guides, we were able to stroll our way through the exhibits and not worry about reading so much as just letting the guide explain what we were seeing.
Titantic Belfast Location
Titantic Belfast is situated in the Titantic Quarter of Belfast (imagine that), along the River Lagan. The full address is:
1 Olympic Way
Belfast BT3 9EP
How to Get to the Titantic Belfast Museum
Belfast is a very walkable city, so we took about a 25 minute walk from Belfast City Centre to get there. It was a great way to get to know the city more and walk along the river.
If you want to take public transportation, you can hop on a bus via Metro Services outside the Belfast Welcome Center. You can also take a train and get off at Titantic Quarter.
If you’re driving from the M1 or M2, you follow signs to Belfast City Airport M3 and then get off at the Titantic Quarter.
Titanic Belfast Hours
Titantic Belfast is open every day of the year except December 24th through December 27th. Titantic Belfast opening hours vary depending on the time of year, but you can expect longer hours in the summer and shorter hours in the winter.
Titantic Belfast Parking
There are over 500 underground parking spaces available at Titantic Belfast, and the charge for them is £1.50 for the first hour and £1.00 for every hour after that.