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Kilkenny is over 400 years old, but it sure doesn’t show its age. Yes, it's an awe-inspiring throng of medieval cathedrals, castles, abbeys and other massive stone buildings, but Kilkenny loves to party. An endless stream of arts festivals celebrating theater, comedy, bluegrass and dance is constantly pumping the city with new life, toe-tapping energy and international flavor.
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.
Salou, on the Costa Dorada, nestles between quaint Cambrils and calm La Pineda. Just seven miles south of elegant Tarragona, the compact resort town is a family favourite, due in no small part to the existence of Port Aventura and Aquopolis theme parks. Gentle beaches and a slew of exciting fiestas in August add to Salou's appeal for families. A good variety of clubs and bars round out the picture. To see more of the area, or for daytrips to Tarragona or Barcelona, it's easiest to rent a car.
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.
Palma, a former Moorish casbah, or walled city, is Majorca's prime tourist destination. Offering an abundance of hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, Palma's harbor is a bristle of yacht masts, a testament to its popularity. The Old Town is an appealing maze of narrow streets that are a delight to explore on foot. Hop on the Soller Railway for a 17-mile scenic trip, visit 14th-century Bellver Castle and Museu d'Art Espanvol Contemporani, home to works by Picasso and Dali, or check out the hot nightlife.
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.
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.
<p>While most visitors choose Benalmadena for its glorious beaches, there are plenty of other attractions to keep your family amused. Take a trip out to sea on a boat or a ferry; you can even go whale and dolphin watching. A cable car ride would make a welcome change, or perhaps a visit to Bil Bil Castle. The castle is distinctive with its Arabian architecture, and it hosts concerts as well as art exhibitions. Visit the Sea Life Centre, where you can walk through the transparent tunnels in the underwater park or watch feeding demonstrations; the centre even has a mini golf course. At the end of a relaxing day, Benalmadena becomes a great place for nightlife. Whatever kind of cuisine you are looking for, you are sure to find a restaurant that will suit your family's tastes. </p>
The Costa del Sol juxtaposes gorgeous Mediterranean old towns and inland national parks with developed beach resorts. Famed for being the birthplace of Picasso, Malaga serves as a gateway to family-favourite stops such as Benidorm and Fuengirola.
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.