Book holidays in Ireland to explore the riches of the beautiful Emerald Isle...
Flying into Dublin, Shannon or Cork will provide an excellent base for any holidays to Ireland.
Staying in Ireland's second city of Cork leaves you within easy reach of the renowned Blarney Stone. It's located in Blarney Castle, five miles from the city. Legend has it that the gift of eloquence will be bestowed on whoever kisses the stone.
Both cosmopolitan and traditional, Cork is a city with a rich history dating back to the first century AD. Named European Capital of Culture in 2005, it is home to many arts venues and pubs offering traditional Irish music. It also enjoys a reputation as Ireland's culinary centre.
Flying into Shannon Airport leaves you perfectly poised to enjoy the town itself in addition to the nearby city of Limerick. Here you can enjoy some of Ireland's most dramatic scenery, including the Cliffs of Moher. You can also feast on a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle. Shannon is proud of its heritage and offers tourists a tantalising glimpse into the Ireland of old.
Just north of the Shannon region is Galway City. Famed for the friendliness of the locals, Galway warmly welcomes visitors to its cobbled streets all year round. But if you are seeking more than this, why not visit Waterford in the south of the country? Surrounded by the Comeragh Mountains, it is the perfect place for climbing and hiking.
Dublin has endless attractions, including many suitable for all the family. History waits on every corner, from the Dublin Writers' Museum to the National Museum of Ireland, yet there is much evidence of modernity too. Lively areas such as Temple Bar sit comfortably alongside peaceful parks such as St Stephen's Square and running through the heart of the city is O'Connell Street. It boasts a variety of well-known stores and independent boutiques and you'll need more than an afternoon to take in all it has to offer. When a break is required, you can retire to a number of eateries providing everything from traditional Irish fare to global cuisine.
Dublin Zoo is not only a top attraction of the capital city, but of Ireland as a whole. A 200-year-old establishment, it is home to a myriad animals in the beautiful surroundings of Phoenix Park. Located just outside of the city, but easily accessible by car or bus, Dublin Zoo is an essential day out.
Finally, a visit to Dublin would be incomplete without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse at St James's Gate. Not just for fans of the black stuff, the attraction commemorates Ireland's most famous export. Visitors can learn about the founding of the brand, its most famous marketing campaigns and just how popular the drink now is. A more recent addition to the Storehouse is the Gravity Bar. It's situated on the seventh floor and visitors can have a pint of Guinness while enjoying a spectacular panorama of the city.
Killarney is a great place to visit in summer. The area is home to superb golfing opportunities in addition to being the starting point of the popular tourist trail, the Ring of Kerry. A beautiful area for exploring Ireland's landscape, combination walking and boating trips are available regularly during the summer months.
Ireland is a country emerging from its economic difficulties stronger than ever and there has never been a better time to visit the Emerald Isle.
Learn more about Ireland's weather and plan a trip to suit you...
The country enjoys a generally mild climate and benefits from the warm air of the Atlantic, which means that holidays to Ireland can be taken all year round. However, if you are keen to enjoy the country at its warmest then County Wexford is the place for you. Nicknamed Ireland's 'sunny south-east', Wexford consistently achieves higher temperatures than other parts of the country. Only an hour from Dublin, but with a completely different sensibility, Wexford's peace and tranquillity is reflected in its luxurious and high-quality hotel and spa facilities.
Known for parties and parades, you'd best put on your dancing shoes if you plan to visit during these events...
St Patrick's Day; March 17: Visiting Ireland in spring coincides superbly with the country's most important event. But be prepared because in Ireland, St Patrick's Day lasts a lot longer than 24 hours! In Dublin, tourists can witness and be part of the St Patrick's Festival, a jam-packed programme filled with diverse attractions that all can enjoy.
Carlingford Oyster Festival; August: Ireland has a great tradition for food and drink. The Boyne Valley, including the towns of Dundalk and Drogheda, celebrates this tradition with a range of festivals and events in the autumn. Chefs' demonstrations, local produce sales and the Carlingford Oyster Festival will be more than enough to keep foodies satisfied. Celebrate the oyster at this popular summer event, which takes place around an hour north of Dublin. It's well worth the journey.
New Year's Eve; December-January: The rugged beauty of the Dingle peninsula has long been considered one of the top destinations for New Year's Eve. Added to the area's lively nightlife, which makes it a perfect destination for ringing in the New Year, you can see a display of fireworks at 10pm on Dingle Bay before following the band to Dingle Bridge, where thousands gather for the New Year countdown. Dingle can be reached within an hour from Killarney.
City breaks offer plenty of sightseeing opportunities, while the beauty of the countryside is just minutes away...
Kids and teens: You might not necessarily want to give your children the gift of the gab, but they will certainly have fun trying to reach and kiss the mythical Blarney Stone. Blarney Castle is 20 minutes outside Cork.
Romance: Hire a car and take a tour around the Lakes of Killarney in County Kerry. The mountain- and lake-dotted landscape is perfect for romantics who like to get away from it all.
Relaxing: The mountainous terrains of County Galway and County Kerry, on Ireland's dramatic west coast, are perfect locations for secluded spa hotels that will have you soothed and stress-free from day one.
Active types: The ups and downs of the landscape on the west coast are equally perfect for those who like to work up a sweat in the great outdoors. You can easily arrange trips into the mountains - for hiking, cycling and a variety of other activities - from the cities of Galway, Limerick and Killarney.
Free and cheap: Dublin is not known for being a cheap place to visit, but the city's glorious Phoenix Park offers a wealth of free and inexpensive ways to be entertained, from picnics on the lawns to walks to spot the resident deer. If you do want to splash out, you can visit the zoo or take a tour of the park via Segway.