Kilkenny, Ireland Instead of Dublin, Ireland (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Kilkenny, located just an hour-and-a-half’s drive southwest of Dublin, is an excellent alternative to the pricier, jam-packed capital city. Ireland’s medieval capital is steeped in heritage, culture and, of course, it’s home to the magnificent 12th-century Kilkenny Castle. Stroll the cobbled lanes lined with all sorts of interesting shops, pubs and eateries, before touring the castle that overlooks the River Nore. Inhabited by the Butler dynasty from 1391 through 1935, you’ll see family portraits that date back to the castle’s earliest years displayed in the Long Gallery, and much more. The “Creative Heart of Ireland,” as Kilkenny is sometimes called, has a large percentage of its population that’s engaged in the arts and crafts, which means it’s an ideal place to discover a more unique, handmade souvenir. It’s also become somewhat of a “foodie” city, with numerous restaurants serving up fantastic eats with dishes featuring lots of local ingredients, though it may best be known for producing some of the country’s finest beers, including Smithwicks. Sample a few at one of the many pubs, like Matt the Millers, spread across five floors, each with its own unique bar and distinct atmosphere.