Car Hire in Belfast
If you are flying into Belfast, you can rent a car at Belfast International Airport (BFS) from Budget, Europcar, Hertz or Enterprise. You can arrange your car through Skyscanner and collect it at the airport. Alternatively, there is a shuttle bus as well as regular bus service in the area to help you get to where you can rent a car in Belfast city itself. If your travel plans include crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland, it's best to notify the agency upfront at the time that you arrange for car hire in Belfast.
Car Hire at Belfast Airports
The two airports in the region are Belfast International Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD). Belfast International Airport has six different agencies conveniently located in its arrival hall for arranging car rental in Belfast. The second smaller airport does not provide onsite options for car rental in Belfast. However, you can hire a car in Belfast from agencies in nearby locations.
Driving in Belfast
For UK citizens, you will drive on the same side of the road as you usually do, and the driving rules and etiquette should be familiar. For US citizens, you'll be driving on the opposite side of the road from your norm. Keep in mind that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be marked with signs but is an open border. In Northern Ireland, road signs are in English. South of the border, they feature both English and Irish. It makes sense to keep your travel identification or passport with you when you are driving in the Belfast area.
Parking in Belfast
Belfast City Council provides hundreds of parking spaces split up among more than 30 car parks in the city. About half of them are free of charge, and the others cost money to park during business hours, typically between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday. Prices and amenities vary. Some have disabled parking spaces, family friendly parking spaces or electric car charging spaces. Except for the car parks on Smithfield and Bankmore Street, all charged car parks are available for free outside of regular business hours. They are also available for free on certain holidays. These are January 1, Easter Monday, July 12-13, and December 25-26. You can either carry coins or register in advance with Parkmobile to use your mobile phone as a payment option.
Where to Go and What to See in Belfast
Belfast is a compact city that is easy to navigate around. When you hire a car in Belfast, it makes it easier to reach popular travel destinations, such as the Giant’s Causeway, Antrim coast and several filming locations for the television series Game of Thrones. Arranging a car to hire in Belfast is also a great way to expand your travel options to areas beyond Belfast. Some popular sites outside the city include the Argory, which is a National Trust mansion and shop, and Antrim Lough Shore Park. If you travel about 30 minutes along M2, you can visit the 400-year-old Antrim Castle Gardens and Clotworthy House.
Balloo Nature Reserve is about a 40-minute drive away from central Belfast. This wetlands park lets you explore natural wildlife indigenous to the area.