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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.
Don your most comfortable shoes for Killarney, where town trails offer history lessons and country walks traverse Ireland's first national park: 26,000 acres of woodlands, sandstone mountains and low-lying lakes. In the town centre, Killarney House and Gardens provide a break for urban explorers. Renowned Muckross House, with its 15th-century abbey ruins and massive yew tree, is just outside the town. If your feet wear out, take in Killarney National Park's legendary scenery from a boat trip from Ross Castle.
The Vilamoura area offers a fabulous diversity of experiences, from quiet pine forest ambles and Atlantic beaches, to a casino, shooting club, riding school and a choice of nightclubs. The main attractions are the environmentally-conscious planned development's four golf courses and Polvo Watersports Algarve water park. The area's past is brought to the forefront with a preserved Roman site and the Museum of Cerro da Vila. Rent a car to make the most of Vilamoura and the surrounding Algarve region.
With its prime vantage point atop multi-hued cliffs in Portugal's southern Algarve region, it's easy to imagine Albufeira's eighth- century Arab occupants calling the city "Castle of the Sea." Brightly painted fishing boats, stunningly white houses with Moorish flair and remnants of its old fortress provide echoes of earlier days, while lively nightlife accentuates its modern resort charms. Spend time sunbathing on the more than 20 diverse beaches that hug the coast or venture inland, where almond trees blossom and local handicrafts are abundant.
The Algarve's sunny shores offer perfect escapes for all types, from those seeking the hot nightlife of flashy, energetic Lagos to those desiring secluded stays in rambling Sagres. Portugal's most southerly region offers historical attractions in former Moorish capital Silves and fascinating Tavira, great golf, fabulous beaches from Praia da Luz to Armacao de Pera, thermal springs at Caldas de Monchique, and miles of limestone caves and grottoes, cliffs and bays along its rugged coastline.
Positioned at the eastern tip of the Costa del Sol, Nerja boasts nearly 10 miles of powdery beaches featuring activities like water skiing, scuba diving and sailing. Although tourist-oriented, it hasn't been overtaken by high-rises, and its huge promenade delivers panoramic Mediterranean views.
If your kids are sick of the same old beach holiday you take every year, consider taking them to Lanzarote. There are great beaches, to be sure, but this UNESCO World Biosphere reserve has unique attractions and activities. We're talking camel rides on volcanoes (at Timanfaya National Park), or eating at a restaurant in a volcanic cave (at Jameos del Agua). Even the most jaded teens will be impressed.
Strongly influenced by the tribal culture of the Guanches (the original inhabitants), Tenerife was conquered by the Spanish 500 years ago. It's home to Mount Teide, Spain's tallest peak, and to the popular beach resort of Los Gigantes. Today visitors flock to Loro Park to see tropical birds, to Tenerife Zoo Monkey Park and to Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide's volcanic rock formations. Explore by car or with a "bono bus" ticket, which offers reductions on regular prices.