Street art is more meaningful and impactful in Northern Ireland’s Belfast than anywhere else in the world. Here are five of the best murals tours to see the art and learn about the stories behind it.
In an era where street art adorns building facades in every trendy neighbourhood of every city worldwide, it’d be easy to class the Belfast murals as the same thing. But they’re not, their meanings run deep, their history predates the street art craze, and their role serves to highlight and document the country’s conflicted, often painful past and, to some extent, present. Local knowledge is an indispensable way to learn the stories behind the murals.
Belfast: political conflict 3-hour walking tour
Among the more established murals tours in Belfast is this popular three-hour walk exploring the reasons and major events of Northern Ireland’s political conflict. As with any clash, the spark comes from differing senses of identity, and blind allegiances to one dogma or other. In this case it’s the Republicans and Loyalists, each underpinned by religious sectarianism. More importantly, learn the stories of the communities torn apart because of the conflict. From £23 per person.
Famous murals private Belfast tour
For a private, 90-minute tour led by a local guide, there are a few good options from which you can choose. And while all locals no doubt fall on one side of the divide or other, any tour that takes you to both the Falls Road (Republican) and Shankhill Road (Loyalist) is at least a tour designed to show both sides of the story, for this area was considered the epicentre of The Troubles of Northern Ireland. From £35 per person.
Private 90-minute city murals tour
Another good private tour of the murals is this 90-minute option, where guests are chauffeured between murals in the back of a black taxi cab. Unwrap Northern Ireland’s history through its murals, via the peace walls and the partisan murals that span beyond them on either side. As with all tours on this list, daily departures at various times of the day are generally available. From £37 per person.
Staycation private guided bus tour
On this 80-minute tour, your local guide will take you to visit the Belfast murals, whilst also taking a deeper dive into the culture and history to offer more insight and context. Sign the Peace Wall with your own message of empathy and acceptance of otherness and visit other key landmarks in and around Falls and Shankhill roads. As with all private tours, you have more freedom to cater the tour to your preferences and to ask your local guide specific questions about the things that interest you the most. From £60 per person.
Belfast taxi mural tour
It can get quite rainy in Belfast, which often hampers one’s enjoyment of a walking tour. Luckily, there’s an alternative: the taxi tour. Ride around the Northern Irish capital in a traditional Hackney cab for 75 minutes, as your driver elucidates the history behind the murals and sights in detail. Start at the corner of the Falls and Shankill, where the Catholic and Protestant worlds collide, then aptly on past the Peaceline Wall. From £62 per person.