There are as many reasons to see Ireland as there are people who travel to the Emerald Isle. History, geology, pub culture, folklore, and breathtaking views are all par for the course for travelers to the island.
If you have a few days to spare, you can soak up nearly all that Ireland has to offer while rolling through the southwestern half of the country. Here’s a road trip itinerary guaranteed to make you “ooh,” “ahh,” and promise to come back.
After flying into Dublin and spending the night in Ireland’s capital city, prepare for a cross-country adventure full of historical sites and breathtaking views. Rent a car and set off on a short drive (approximately two hours) to the artsy town of Kilkenny.
Check in at the quaint Kilkenny House Hotel before heading to Kilkenny Castle, which was built in the 1100s. Then venture on to Dunmore Cave, which features some of the finest calcite formations in Ireland. Once you’ve had your fill of history and geology, return to Kilkenny to explore its many arts and crafts shops and downtown restaurants.
Buckle up for a day of striking scenery. There are so many sights to choose from on this leg of the journey that you can’t go wrong. If you aren’t off-put by crowds, then don’t miss visiting the popular Blarney Castle or driving part of the gorgeous Ring of Kerry. For a (slightly) less traveled path, stop by King John’s Castle, the historic Swiss Cottage, or the Muckross Friary and traditional grounds.
Arrive in Killarney and check into the quirky and contemporary Ross Hotel. Since you’ll no doubt be tired from the long day’s drive, enjoy food and drink at the hotel’s restaurant before tumbling into bed.
Explore Irish history on the way to the small town of Ennis by stopping by Bunratty Castle, the geologically marvelous Burren, and/or Craggaunowen – The Living Past, where you’ll learn how the Celts lived, farmed, and hunted in Ireland. Enjoy dinner in Ennis before retiring to the upscale Ashford Court Boutique Hotel.
Travel to the western edge of the country in order to take in one of the most gorgeous views around at the stunning and popular Cliffs of Moher (Fun fact: These are the so-called “Cliffs of Insanity” from the film The Princess Bride). If you’re still in an adventurous spirit after visiting the cliffs, head to Aillwee Cave, which was formed by glacial melt waters and is situated close to Galway.
Finish the drive to Galway and check in at the luxurious Jury’s Inn, located near the historic Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum, and Eyre Square (If you’re feeling budget-conscious, consider staying in the friendly Galway City Guesthouse instead). After dumping your luggage, enjoy dinner and drinks at any of Galway’s many restaurants and pubs.
Spend the morning exploring the sites of Galway before hopping back in the car for the three-to-four-hour ride to Dublin. If you fancy some detours on the way back to the capital city, stop at medieval Athenry Castle, the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise, or Trim Castle, where Braveheart was filmed.
Upon returning to Dublin, settle in at the supremely well located Blooms Hotel before enjoying dinner and drinks out on the town. Whether you retire early or partake of the Temple Bar neighborhood’s pubs all night, be sure to contemplate what a wonderful trip it’s been.
This article was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on August 25th.
Santa Fe is a beautiful and historic city with a wealth of cultural experiences and activities that never fails to leave first time visitors of the city impressed. The city is nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which offer a picturesque backdrop to city life, as well as an abundance of outdoor adventures. There is also a burgeoning art and music scene here, and comfortable weather year-round. Depending on what type of trip you are taking and what your specific needs are, these are the best boutique hotels in Santa Fe:
Gambling in New Mexico might not get as much attention as in Nevada, but never the less it remains a popular activity among out-of-state visitors. Cities Of Gold Casino brings the entertainment right to your doorstep with slots, table games and nightly bingo. Add in breathtaking mountain views in each of the rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness center and guests here don't even need to set foot outside of the hotel.
Family vacation or romantic getaway? Then the Eldorado Hotel & Spa is the perfect choice because they are both kid-friendly and pet-friendly. Luxurious rustic accommodations and a top-notch spa keep guests returning. Located right next from downtown Santa Fe, there are plenty of sights and activities nearby to make the most of your trip, including the famous Santa Fe Plaza, several exceptional museums, and a plethora of shopping and dining options.
Located right in the center of Santa Fe, Las Palomas Hotel is perfect for those who want to be right in the heart of the action. Shopping, dining, historic sites, museums, art galleries and more are all just a short stroll away. The hotel itself is decorated in the iconic New Mexico style, rich with Native American influence and colors. Rooms come standard with a refrigerator, microwave and fireplace, and there is a pool, spa and fitness center within the hotel.
Get a taste of the Old West at El Rey Inn, complete with vintage furniture as well as architecture and design that will transport you back in time. The property covers an expansive five acres and includes an immaculate garden, hot tub cabana, on-site fitness center, heated pool, children's' playground and greenhouse. Each of their rooms are individually furnished to reflect this bygone era, and some even come with an available fireplace and/or kitchen, depending upon your needs. El Rey Inn is also one of the most popular and highly rated hotels in Santa Fe.
Last but certainly not least is Americas Best Value Lamplighter Inn and they definitely live up to their name. Despite being budget-friendly (prices start at around $60 a night) the hotel is clean, rooms are comfortable, and the staff helpful. Complimentary breakfast helps guests save even more money, as do the in-room refrigerators, and their indoor pool and hot tub is a great -- and free -- way for guests to relax after a long day.
Whether searching for a luxury hotel or spa, kid- or pet-friendly hotel, or budget-friendly accommodation options, Santa Fe has an ample selection of options. Have any questions? Feel free to ask away, I've visited the city nearly a dozen times!
flickr // Ron Cogswell
Hawaii is rich in activities and attractions both cultural and geographic. It poses as one of the top tourist destinations in the US. You can also find great accommodations in many places such as the Bluegreen Resorts. Consider visiting the following locations if you are planning to tour the Hawaiian Islands.
Pearl Harbor is the biggest natural harbor within the State of Hawaii, initially referred to as “Pu’loa” by the ancient Hawaiians. Situated in Honolulu, the USS Memorial at Pearl Harbor is the top tourist destination in the Hawaiian Islands. You can visit here to see the nine historic sites where the WWII began for America. At the Pearl Harbor, you can get a movie ticket to watch a film that summarizes the history of this primeval site.
The name Waikiki means ‘sprouting waters’ and refers to the freshwater rivers that used to flow towards the ocean. It was at first a holiday destination for Hawaiian royalty but was later recognized by foreign visitors. The Beach town of Waikiki is decorated with a broad array of luxurious resorts and restaurants. In Waikiki Beach, you can see the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, the Waikiki Aquarium, and Honolulu Zoo.
The North Shore of Oahu is the geographic region between East Oahu’s Kahuku Point West Oahu’s Ka’ena Point. The North Shore of Oahu is widely acclaimed for its huge waves and impressive coastline that attracts surfers from all around the world during the Winter. Among the famous North Shore surf spots are Sunset Beach, Ehukai Beach, and Waimea Bay. Here you will also see the historic town Hale’iwa that is widely recognized for its art galleries, a surf museum, food trucks, and yoga studios.
The Na Pali Coastline is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is rich in Hawaiian cultural history. The perfect way to explore this coastline is by use of an ocean vessel. You can also choose to study the coast through the Kalalau Trail by foot and experience the magnificent beaches, streams and natural waterfalls.
This is one of Hawaii’s most spectacular landscapes. As you are on the Road to Hana, you can get a glimpse of the Twin Falls, the Garden of Eden Arboretum, and Wai’anapanapa State Park. In Hana Town, you can check out the art galleries, farmers markets, and Hana Bay.
This is a secluded destination ideal for lovers of nature. It serves as a symbolic gesture of contemplation for those who have suffered from Hansen’s Disease. As you tour Kalaupapa, you can stop to experience the windward side of the peninsula.
This is Hawaii’s most renowned signpost. While at Diamond Head State Monument, you should take the short hike through old military bunkers. Remember to carry a flashlight as part of the trails goes through long dark tunnels.
The Haleakala National Park is perfect for camping and hiking trips. The summit area here offers a stunning view and landscape good for watching sunrise or sunset.
Sometimes referred to as the “Pineapple Isle”, it is a striking, privately owned island located in the Hawaiian archipelago. While in Lana’i, you can explore the beautiful garden of Keahikawelo, a landscape of rock towers, Sweetheart Rock, and the romantic Puu Pehe Beach. There are also some world-class golf resorts and scuba diving spots here.
To get the history of how the Hawaiian Islands were formed, visit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Here, there are some volcanic lava fields, steam vents, old lava cave, the Kilauea’s Caldera and the Halema’uma’u Crater.
With all these breathtaking attractions, Hawaii is your destination of choice. It is fun to visit whether you are traveling alone or with your family.
France — and especially Paris — has a love/hate relationship with tourists. Tourism is an important industry, but if you’re not careful, you can make a nuisance of yourself with locals. Here are five ways you can avoid being that tourist:
Remember, to the French, France isn’t a tourist destination, it’s home. You’re the guest and the one who has to adapt, not them. Try to fit in, and you’re sure to have a great time.
This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on August 19th.
Some cities are always going to be expensive, but if you think ahead and buy a Federal Recreation Pass, you can enter federally-funded recreation areas throughout the United States for free. This includes places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. You can even have some friends tag along!
If you’re driving across the country, a cooler with lunch meats, soda and condiments can come in handy at rest stops. Even when you’re staying at a hotel, it’s best to have food stored in the refrigerator. Save eating out for those special restaurants that you just have to try.
Even if you don’t pay for a pass to see national landmarks, there are countless sites you can visit for free. From the National History Museum in D.C. to the French Quarter — which also has low cost hotels in New Orleans like Historic Streetcar Inn — there are definite stopping points that can be accessed on a shoestring budget.
If you’ve opted to see the country via automobile, one of the best ways to stay within your budget is to bring friends along. Not only will you get a better value on your Federal Recreation Pass, but you’ll also be able to split the cost of fuel and your lodging. Just imagine, for instance, how much more affordable a trip to The Big Apple would be if you weren’t footing the bill for New York hotels and taxis alone.
Online travel sites have become a popular way of saving money. Using travel aggregation sites Google Flights, which seek out the lowest prices from all the top travel sites, is an ideal way to save money on traveling.
Imagine if you knew which gas stations along your route had the lowest-priced fuel. Just think of how much you could save! That’s exactly what GasBuddy does. You can check out their website or download the app, and never overpay for gas again!
When you do opt to buy food from a restaurant, it’s best to place your order to go. This will minimize the necessity of tipping. Even if you find a cheap hotel in cities ranging from Chicago to El Paso, tipping can quickly wipe out the money you’re saving on a low-cost hotel.
Traveling across the country doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. There are now many methods for saving on cross-country trips. Fortunately, this means great travels without breaking the bank.
This article was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on August 11th.
Throughout history, hotels have continually pushed the bounds of what constitutes an exceptional night’s stay. Modern travelers’ desires for unique, authentic, and Instagram-worthy adventures have driven hotels to market themselves as destinations for unusual trips and immersive experiences. Perhaps no trend better encapsulates this movement than the rise of the ice hotel.
The original ice hotel—appropriately named ICEHOTEL and included on this list—was created in Sweden in 1989. Simultaneously an art exhibition and a guesthouse, the hotel is built out of natural ice and snow harvested from a nearby river. Newer iterations on the concept include igloo villages, art museums made entirely of ice, and a wide range of amenities. Here are four variations you won’t want to miss (just remember to pack the parka).
The only hotel in North America made completely of ice, Hotel de Glace is open in the winter of each year—and then it melts away. As with the other entries on this list, each room in the hotel is carved from ice, meaning temperatures need to remain below freezing lest the rooms melt while guests are sleeping. But don’t worry about staying warm: The hotel provides beds and thermal sleeping bags rated for freezing conditions, as well as several outdoor hot tubs. Guests enjoy lounging on chairs made from ice, sipping on winter-themed cocktails from the hotel bar, and scoping out the ice carvings and mountain views.
Located just over a hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle and near Sweden’s Torne River, the original ICEHOTEL welcomes adventurous guests from all over the world. Hotel guides lead guests across icy terrain atop horses, dog sleds, skimobiles, and even MINI Coopers. Food and drink is often served from plates and cups made of ice, and the hotel bar is to die for. The guestrooms are as varied as the hotel’s visitors—some are custom-designed while others include both ice and snow. In the winter, guests can enjoy an unobstructed view of the northern lights.
While Slovenia makes for an amazing summer getaway, it’s worth coming back for the opening of the country’s Eskimo Village in December. Guests access the village by riding cable cars up the mountain, then hiking in on snowshoes (so it’s probably best to pack light). Anyone who isn’t exhausted from the trek can enjoy daily outdoor activities like snowbiking, snowtubing, and sledding. Tired visitors unwind at the village’s bar or Igloo restaurant, then hit the (snowy) sack in an individual igloo equipped with sheepskin to keep folks warm.
Easily accessible from the buzzing hub of Helsinki airport, the Snowhotel promises a quiet respite from Finland’s larger cities and the hum of modern life. Boasting “tranquil silence” and “beautifully illuminated ice art,” the hotel is designed to simultaneously delight and soothe the senses. At night, guests bundle up in thermal sleeping bags atop beds carved entirely from ice. Overnight stays include room wake-up with hot berry juice, buffet breakfast in a the warm “log restaurant,” and guided tours of the surrounding Snow Village, which features an Ice Restaurant, Ice Cocktail Bar, chapel, slide, and a network of corridors decked out in snow and ice art.
This article was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on August 12th.
Think of skiing and a resort with traditional Alpine chalets may come to mind, or you might see more of the canyon scenery of Colorado. Does the USA have the top places to ski or is it Europe for you? They both offer superb skiing opportunities and surrounding areas to visit, plus they’re packed with top of the range facilities and have a fantastic atmosphere that makes visitors come back time and time again.
For me, it has to be Europe. My all-time favourite is Val d’Isère in France. It’s a huge resort as it also neighbours Tignes, so I’m never short of things to do on my skiing holiday. I can ski the 3000 metre terrain, which has a flurry of snow from the Mediterranean, but I can also join in the après ski fun at the many cafes, bars, and restaurants that line the route. In particular, Dick’s Tea Bar is a favourite. It’s a bar that has lovely drinks and nibbles and then turns into a late night venue with a DJ.
Val d’Isère is great for my friends and me, as we like to sample a little bit of everything, but with its ice skating rink, tobogganing area, water and leisure centre, and spa, it is suitable for people of all ages and circumstances. The town centre is a worth a visit too with a Monday market as well as designer shops.
I’ve always used Ski Bonjour for finding a chalet in Val d’Isère. Bonjour-Bivouac has been my favourite so far. It’s only 40 metres away from the slopes so I can hop straight on when I’m up and ready in the morning! And for a little bit of luxury, it has a sauna and chef to make my holiday experience totally relaxing. I’ve also stayed at Bonjour-Palmyre. This was similar to Bonjour-Bivouac but also had its own cinema room and is really close to my aforementioned favourite, Dick’s Tea Bar.
But I have heard that the US can rival Val d’Isère. One of my good friends regularly goes to Sugarloaf in Maine. This has recently been improved with over $5 million of investments but she has always enjoyed skiing there, even before the improvements. Although Katie has her own favorite hotel that she is loyal to, Sugarloaf is full of motels, bed and breakfasts, and cottages available for rent. Passing the day away by skiing the 138 trails and exploring the ski town sounds like paradise to me. She also headed out West to Colorado Springs to get a completely different view. As well as experiencing the fantastic skiing in the mountains, she spent some of her time seeing the area, including visiting Old Colorado City.
I’d love to join her one day so that I can experience skiing in a completely new area. I’ve seen that new ski resorts are opening in places such as India, China and Japan too, which would be another different experience!
So where is your preferred skiing destination? Are you open to new places or do you have a firm favourite that your return to for every holiday? And most importantly, would you cross the pond from your best location?
The only people who think Nashville is a boring city are the ones who have never visited. As it turns out, the city can be a lot of fun even if you don't like country music. Just like the city has a habit of exceeding your expectations, so too do many of the hotels in Nashville. The next time you're passing through Music City, rest your head at one of these cool Nashville hotels.
Leading the pack as Nashville's most eco-friendly hotel, the Hutton Hotel is about as green as it gets. Located downtown, the hotel has flooring and furnishings made from reclaimed wood or bamboo, water recycling, biodegradable cleaning supplies, water-free urinals, and much more. In addition to this, one key feature puts the Hutton ahead of all the other green competition: a fleet of eco-friendly hybrid courtesy vehicles.
There is something about trains and train travel that is just downright cool. Toy trains are appealing to kids, and train rides always retain their charm, no matter how old you get. The Union Station Hotel, Autograph Collection decided to capitalize on this affection for all things train-related by converting an old train station and National Historic Landmark into a stylish modern hotel that still exudes all the charm of a hundred-year-old railway station. Staying here is like taking a trip back in time to the days when train travel was sophisticated and people dressed to impress.
More commonly known as the Opryland Hotel, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center is different than any other hotel in Nashville. Opryland impresses everyone, even if you're not a fan of country music. The hotel's centerpiece is a five-acre atrium with a glass roof filled with trees and plants, brick-lined paths for walking, and even a river with boat rides. Scattered throughout the atrium are dozens of stores, restaurants, bars, and lounges. Don't miss the colorful light and water shows after nightfall. And while you are there, don't forget to catch a show at the Grand Ole Opry!
Originally opening its doors in 1910, The Hermitage Hotel is one of Nashville's oldest hotels, as well as the only boutique hotel in the city that is both five star and AAA five diamond rated. In 2003 the hotel underwent a massive and expensive renovation. Now calling this place lavish is an understatement. The men's room at the Hermitage Hotel was named the best bathroom in America by MSNBC.
The hotel's spacious and luxurious rooms have made this spot a favorite of the many country music stars who pass through town. They can often be spotted enjoying an evening drink at the Oak Bar, one of the hotel's top-notch dining and drinking establishments. However, it's the hotel's Capital Grille that really gets all the attention from guests at the Hermitage. This restaurant serves world-class food that is completely sustainable and all locally sourced.
White Sox. Hot dogs. The longest street in the world (within one single city). The Bulls. 15 miles of public beach. Chicago-style pizza. Yes, the Windy City is home to many things, and it's important to experience and indulge in as many of them in as possible while here. If you've only got time for a short trip to Chicago, overabundance is the key.
When it comes to Chicago cuisine, hot dogs are one of the city's most iconic dishes. Part of this is undoubtedly a result of Oscar Mayer getting its start way back in 1900. And while they still have a factory here, in this post-9/11 world we live in now, it no longer offers tours. (Because we all know that's the first thing the terrorists will go for, our wieners.)
However, thankfully Chicago style dogs can still be found throughout the city. The battle for Chicago's best dog still rages strong, but that doesn't mean you cannot partake in a few selective battles. Jimmy's Red Hots usually tops most people's top three lists of hot dog joints in Chicago, and for good reason. For over 50 years they've been perfecting that art of the dog and still stay true to tradition by serving all its meals through a small walk-up window.
On the other end of the spectrum is Franks 'N Dawgs, which despite the rough name is actually a rather refined hot dog joint. They've elevated hot dogs to a gourmet level. You have to taste them to believe them! Try the Lamb-orghini, or for a Vietnamese-infused flair, the Banh Mi.
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Pizza in Chicago also has its own unique flair. And much like the rivalry between Nathan's and Oscar Mayer, the feud for the best rages not just between restaurants within the city but also between the cities themselves. While New York goes thin and wide, Chicagoans do like they do with everything and overload it.
The most popular of all Chicago-style pizzas is known as "deep dish," and it is exactly what it sounds like. It's pizza so hefty you can eat it with a fork. It's the pie of pizzas. And there are far too many amazing pizza joints doing phenomenal things to mention. The Art of Pizza is one such place that is doing great things -- you can tell that by the name alone. Another is Burt's Place, which thanks to Anthony Bourdain is now so popular you have to place a reservation -- not for seats but for a place in the oven for your pie.
Other versions of Chicago-style pizza include the stuffed pizza, a mid-1970s evolution of the deep dish, and thin crust -- with crust so thin it's crispy, unlike New York-style thin crust. (It is also cut into small squares, as opposed to gigantic slices.)
Of course, great Chicago food isn't limited to purely dogs and deep dishes. They also have fabulous Italian beef and a wealth of great Polish and Mexican restaurants. If all else fails, just go out and explore whatever establishments are nearby. And don't forget to book a >cheap Chicago hotel to save some extra cash and put it toward that amazing Chicago-style food.
Turkey is a country with a diverse historical past, stretching back 4000 years and has played roles in major historical events including the founding of the Great Hun Empire, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, WW1 and many more until they became the Republic of Turkey in 1923. So with all these huge historical events under their belt, if you’ve just booked some last minute deals to Turkey for you and your favourite history buff then let us suggest some great historical landmarks you should definitely visit on your next trip.
Nestled in the Aegean Coast, Bodrum was originally called Halicarnassus of Caria in ancient times and was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Mausoleum of Mausolus. Famed for its architectural beauty the Mausoleum was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century and if you visit the Castle of St Peter you can see where parts of the tomb were reused to strengthen the castle walls when it was but by the knights of St.John in the 15th century.
The castle itself is situated by Bodrum’s harbour and if you climb to the top you are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding waters. The castle also offers excellent value as it also contains the Museum of Underwater Archeology which is easily one of the best museums in the Mediterranean, the castle itself was used to store items found on underwater expeditions and as such, now the museum is dotted around the castle. Displaying fascinating archaeological finds it should be added to the top of any sightseers list.
The Ancient Amphitheatre is another impressive sight in Bodrum, completed by the Romans and with the capacity to seat 13,000 the Amphitheatre is still used for events and festivals today, like the Turkbuku Culture and Art Festival held every September.
Looking for something a bit different to do while on holiday in Turkey? Then why not take a gulet (a traditional Turkish boat) from Marmaris to Rhodes to experience some Greek culture first hand. A mere 50 minute boat ride away and history fans will love wandering around the Old Town which is home to such wonderful sights as, the Palace of the Knights, Museum of Decorative Arts, the Archaeological Museum, and the Church of our Lady of the Castle. If you plan on visiting all of these sights you can buy a single ticket to cover admission for all of them.
For those of you that thought there was nothing more to Turkey than beaches and nightlife then you should definitely have a better idea of what to do on your last minute holidays now, this gem of the Aegean has a fascinating past, just waiting for you to explore it.
Image by Harvey Barrison used under the Creative Commons License.