Why You Didn't Want to Go: From the late sixties until the millennium, Unionists (pro-U.K. Protestants) and Republicans (pro-independence Catholics) engaged in a particularly brutal form of street politics. Thousands were killed and violence erupted regularly.
Why You Want to Go Now: Today, Belfast is an up-and-coming destination thanks to the Titanic Quarter, a massive waterfront neighborhood thick with museums that are being built nearly from scratch, and the access it provides to the scenic coast of the Irish Sea. Tensions remain, but locals don't engage foreigners in debate, preferring to show them around scenic old town or take them to a punk concert. Don't miss the Merchant Hotel, which is among the most charming in the British Isles.