Getting around in Northern Ireland is simple as you can cross the entire region by car in about two hours either north to south, or east to west. Visiting our famous beauty spots on the North Coast, Fermanagh, Donegal or Dublin is easy with a good road infrastructure and minimal congestion while travelling.
Belfast is an incredibly compact city so getting around is easy on foot, by bike, public transport or by taxi. Working a desk job for eight hours a day can drastically affect your exercise schedule, but for those who live close to their office, opting to walk or bike to and from work can be an excellent way to stay fit. Not only does walking or cycling to work keep your body in better shape but the effects it has on your productivity and stress levels are undeniably beneficial to your overall well-being.
To access information on using alternatives to a car for everyday journeys see the Sustrans Website
Many people here walk to and from work as it is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.
You could download an App to your smart phone to monitor your speed and progress or simply take in the fresh air and surroundings whilst clearing your mind for the working day ahead and relax and unwind on your way home. Walking in Northern Ireland is also a leisure pursuit and we have many routes, clubs and events.
Find more details by clicking the logo to take you to the WalkNI website.
For those interested in cycling as a hobby or sport we have many bicycle shops, routes, clubs and events. The National Cycle Network which is a comprehensive network of safe and attractive cycling routes throughout the UK, developed by the charity Sustrans. In Northern Ireland, the Network extends to more than 800 miles, mostly on quiet country roads and includes 106 miles of traffic free paths. From forest trails and riverside routes to canal and lakeside cycling, a host of long, medium and short rides on the National Cycle Network await cyclists of all levels.
Click the CycleNI image below for more information on what’s on offer for cyclists.
Cycling is also a low cost, convenient way to travel around Belfast and we have cycle lanes on many public roads. A number of employers offer Cycle to Work schemes and Belfast Bikes is a public bike hire scheme for getting around the city, you can register as a casual user or annual subscriber and the first 30 minutes of each trip is free!
Click this image for more information on Coca Cola Zero Belfast Bikes.
Driving in Northern Ireland
If you hold a community licence issued in a member state of the EEA you can drive a car or motorcycle in Northern Ireland providing your licence is valid and it shows the suitable full entitlement for the vehicle you wish to drive. New residents here can also exchange their licence for a Northern Ireland that will show their new address. A Northern Ireland driving licence has a photograph and is a valid ID document that is accepted by many organisations. For more details go to the NI Direct website.
Road and Driving Information
We drive on the left hand lane, with the driver siting on the right hand side of the car. Motorists should always drive in the left-hand lane if the road ahead is clear and only pass slower moving vehicles on the right; if traffic is congested it is permissible to pass on the left if the other lanes are moving slower. Using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving is illegal and there are strict limits on the amount of alcohol that you can consume before driving and our road safety authorities advise that you should never, ever drink and drive as just one drink could increase your risk of crashing.
Traffic Lights and Pedestrian Crossings
Traffic lights run in the sequence: RED – RED&AMBER - GREEN - AMBER - RED. Some traffic lights used for pedestrians have a flashing amber light meaning drivers must give priority to pedestrians on the crossing but if the road is clear with the amber lights flashing, drivers may proceed with caution. Zebra crossings are marked by black and white stripes that cross the road at these pedestrians should wait at the side of the road until it is safe for them to cross, it is good courtesy to stop to allow people to cross. Crossings for schoolchildren are sometimes managed by a “lollipop” man or lady who will step out into the road and hold out a reflective stop sign.
Parking & Bus Lanes
Most residential properties will have parking available; our city and town centres have pay and display on-street parking at road sides and surface car parks plus pay on exit car parks centrally located with access to shopping centres and public transport. Some roads have parking restrictions that are marked in various ways - study the Highway Code to learn about these (link below). Around Belfast there are Bus Lanes that are restricted for motorists, signage displays the times that they are operational and many are monitored by cameras with fines for those driving in them during the restricted times.
Most speed limits are indicated by black numerals on a circular white sign with a red border. The exception is the National Speed Limit, indicated by a plain white circular sign with a black diagonal stripe. Speed limits signs and distance signs here are always indicated in miles (5 miles = 8 kilometres). The National Speed Limit (NSL) for cars and motorcycles is 60mph (=97km/h) on single-carriageway roads and 70mph (=112km/h) on dual-carriageways and motorways. Built-up areas have a standard 30mph (=48km/h) limit in force, though in some areas (Belfast City Centre and near schools, etc), it drops to 20mph. In areas with less immediate danger, this rises to 40mph(=64km/h) or even 50mph (=80km/h). Most deviations from the normal 30mph are signed and may also have speed-bumps and other “traffic calming” measures. Breaking the speed limit usually incurs a fine and you will have to attend a speed awareness course and you may have penalty points added to your licence. Stationary speed cameras and mobile police radar traps and average speed camera are used to catch offenders.
Driving on a Motorway
Motorways must not be used by pedestrians, holders of provisional motorcycle or car licences, riders of motorcycles under 50cc, cyclists, horse riders etc. You must not drive faster than 70mph or drive on the hard shoulder (this is the lane usually found on the extreme left, it intended for breakdowns and fast access by the emergency services) except in an emergency or if directed to do so by signs. When exiting a motorway the “off-ramp” is called a slip road. You will need to slow down and sometimes stop and give way to traffic at the end of the lane.
Roundabouts & Box Junctions
Roundabouts make some junctions a lot easier by keeping traffic moving. When approaching a roundabout get in the correct lane and give way to traffic coming from the right. Indicate left as you leave the roundabout to allow cars entering the roundabout at the exit to know your intentions. Some busy roundabouts will also have traffic lights. Box Junctions are to help traffic flow freely at busy junctions and are indicated by yellow squares painted on the road, it is illegal to drive into the box unless your exit is clear. For further information on driving in Northern Ireland check out the Highway code>>
Northern Ireland’s public transport network is called Translink and they offer train and bus services across Belfast and into each of the six Northern Ireland Counties. Further information on their services and timetables can be found by clicking the Translink logo.
Our Direct NI Government website has a guide to using public transport here and details of Park and Ride and Park and Share schemes.
Northern Ireland has private taxi’s available for hire; these are normally booked in advance or as required by telephoning the one of the many . You will be asked for your location, destination and your name and then you will be advised the estimated time of arrival for your taxi; payment is generally by cash only. Private taxi’s are regulated by law and must display a rooftop sign and a plate with license details on the exterior of the vehicle; drivers must have photographic ID on display inside the vehicle. There are also London type Black Taxis operating around Belfast City Centre, which are parked at ranks near the City Hall and can be accessed without advance booking. Most taxis will charge using a meter reading. The taxi App UBER is also available here.