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You've probably heard that Guinness tastes better in Dublin (fresh from the factory), but what you may not know is that Dublin is a perfect destination for the whole family. No, we're not suggesting you let the kiddies drink a pint. Instead, take them to the Dublin Zoo, to feed the ducks in Stephen's Green or on a picnic in Phoenix Park. Scholars enjoy walking in the literary footsteps of such writers as Yeats and Joyce, while discerning shoppers have their pick of designer boutiques.
"The City of Tribes" provides a fun blast of the Ireland many first-time visitors expect. The compact city centre, with its winding streets, packed pubs and air of celebration, is easily walked - or pubcrawled. The west-coast city of almost 70,000 is home to merry bands of students, artists, writers and craftspeople, and is merriest during summer's Galway's Arts Festival. Don't miss shopping for Claddagh rings, the Druid Theatre or having a pint o' the black stuff at the atmospheric Tigh Neachtain pub.
There once was an Irish city… You might think "naughty poem" when you hear the word Limerick, but in truth the city inspires so much more than just knowing giggles. Medieval castles and churches give the city a grand feel, while the pubs crawl with lively locals and students who are all craving just one more pint of Guinness. The Hunt Museum boasts a collection of pieces from history's most important and influential artists, while the Foynes Flying Boat Museum will marvel visitors of all ages with its whimsical flying machines.
Liverpool's fortunes have been inextricably tied to shipping. Imports and exports, such as sugar, spice and tobacco, however, pale to insignificance for most visitors, compared with Liverpool's most famous export of all, the Beatles. It's no surprise that the city's most popular attractions are Fab Four-related, but in addition to reliving the hysteria at the Beatles Story Experience and Paul's childhood home, catch local buses to visit Albert Dock's stores, Liverpool Cathedral and Walker Art Gallery.
Plan to cross many bridges when in Cork. Ireland's third-largest city began life as an island and now spans both banks of the River Lee, with watery channels running beneath some of its main thoroughfares. The best way to experience this hilly southern seaport is on foot, following the signposted walking tour past St. Finn Barre's Cathedral and the riverside quadrangle of University College up the hill to red and white Shandon Church. Along the way, you'll meet plenty of the city's talkative residents.
Amsterdam is truly a biker’s city, although pedaling along the labyrinthine streets can get a little chaotic. Stick to walking and you won’t be disappointed. The gentle canals make a perfect backdrop for exploring the Jordaan and Rembrandtplein square. Pop into the Red Light District if you must—if only so you can say you’ve been there. The Anne Frank House is one of the most moving experiences a traveller can have, and the Van Gogh Museum boasts a sensational collection of works.
Everyone who visits Paris for the first time probably has the same punchlist of major attractions to hit: The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, etc. Just make sure you leave some time to wander the city’s grand boulevards and eat in as many cafes, bistros and brasseries as possible. And don’t forget the shopping—whether your tastes run to Louis Vuitton or Les Puces (the flea market), you can find it here.
Stroll Las Ramblas and enjoy Barcelona's unique blend of Catalan culture, distinctive architecture, lively nightlife and trendy, stylish hotels. You'll find Europe's best-preserved Gothic Quarter here, as well as amazing architectural works by Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia, considered Gaudi's masterpiece, is still under construction (your entrance fee helps to fund the project). Feel like a picnic? Look no further than the rambunctious La Boqueria market, where you can stock up on local delicacies.
With its gondolas, canals, amazing restaurants, and unforgettable romantic ambiance, Venice is definitely a city for one's bucket list. Waterfront palazzos, palaces, and churches make drifting down the Grand Canal feel like cruising through a painting. To really experience Venice you must go to the opera or to a classical music performance, nibble fresh pasta and pastries, and linger in the exhibit halls of an art gallery. Label lovers will drool over the high-end shopping in Piazza San Marco.
Malaga, Pablo Picasso's birthplace and the gateway to the Costa del Sol, is a hectic, sometimes unruly city of 550,000. An impressive number of museums and monuments, including the 11th-century Alcazaba fort and Museu Picasso Malaga, provide plenty of diversions for those who opt not to spend all their time on the coast's famed beaches and in their accompanying bars. The old city bustles with taverns and bistros. The generous Paseo del Parque offers a delightful stroll past banana trees and fountains.
Land of Mermaids. Land of Orange and Lemon Groves. Land of Colors. This small city in Campania has earned a plethora of alluring names. Famed for its sea cliffs, the town's steep slopes look out over azure waters to Ischia, Capri and the Bay of Naples. The birthplace of Limoncello liqueur offers some good diving, great sea fishing, boat cruises and appetizing restaurants. Excellent hiking trails cross the peninsula. Rent a car or take a taxi if the steep streets look too intimidating.