Once lumped with Beirut, Baghdad and Bosnia as one the four 'Bs' for travellers to avoid, Belfast has pulled off a remarkable transformation from bombs-and-bullets pariah to a hip-hotels-and-hedonism party town. The opening of Titanic Belfast in 2012, along with the 50th anniversary of the Belfast Festival at Queen's – the UK's second-biggest arts festival – saw visitor numbers soar by more than 40%.
Although the economic recession has slowed development, the old shipyards on the Lagan continue to give way to the luxury waterfront apartments of the Titanic Quarter, while new tourist venues keep popping up – historic Crumlin Road Gaol opened to the public in 2012, SS Nomadic in 2013, and there are plans for WWI warship HMS Caroline to become a floating museum. They all add to a list of attractions that includes Victorian architecture, a glittering waterfront lined with modern art, and foot-stomping music in packed-out pubs.
Top 10 Northern Ireland experiences
Lonely Planet has produced this article for Tourism Ireland. All editorial views are those of Lonely Planet alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality...