Explore: Lonely Planet names Belfast and Causeway Coast world's top regions to visit
'Golf, whiskey and some of the world's most famous rocks'
The world's largest travel guide book has named Belfast and the Causeway Coast as 2018's number one region to visit.
Lonely Planet's annual list of destinations sets travel trends for the coming year, and the Northern Irish region beat out the Julian Alps in Slovenia, Alaska in the United States and Languedoc-Rousillon in France to top the list.
The Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2018 guide praises the Causeway Coast for its "timeless beauty and high-grade distractions - golf, whiskey and some of the world's most famous rocks - are more popular now than ever".
Belfast is praised for its transformation, and is described as now being "full of hip neighbourhoods that burst with bars, restaurants and venues to suit all tastes", while the "rusting old docklands are now the vibrant Titanic Quarter, home to fancy apartments and a sensational museum".
Attractions recommended to potential visitors are Belfast's black taxi tours, golf at the Portstewart links, food at nearby Harry's Shack, and a visit to the Giant's Causeway.
Lonely Planet's destination editor for Britain and Ireland James Smart said: "Belfast and the Causeway Coast topped our list of the top ten regions because it is deservedly now recognised as a must-visit destination by travellers from across the globe.
"Dynamic Belfast has put its troubled past behind it and is a city transformed, its streets packed with buzzing bars and great stories, while the coastline beyond boasts spectacular scenery and plenty of great diversions. The region may be famous for Game of Thrones but its many scenic filming locations are just the start."
The current drop in the value of the pound is also cited as a reason why Northern Ireland has become more attractive for overseas visitors.
In its other lists, Lonely Planet names Chile as the world's number one country to visit, Seville in Spain as the world's number one city, and Tallinn in Estonia as the world's best value destination.
Responding to Belfast and the Causeway Coast being included on the list, Tourism Ireland - an all-Ireland body responsible for drawing in overseas visitors - described it as "wonderful news".
The body's CEO Niall Gibbons said: "[It] will surely help to inspire travellers everywhere to put Northern Ireland on their holiday wish-list for next year."
Speaking about the 2018 guide, chief executive from Tourism NI John McGrillen said: "The word is officially out there, Northern Ireland is a must see destination.
"This is a game changer for Belfast and the Causeway Coastal Route and indeed the rest of Northern Ireland. We are thrilled and excited to read words like ‘unforgettable’, ‘unmissable’, ‘sensation’ and ‘extravaganza’ in Lonely Planet’s praise of our tourism gems.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital