Ireland’s most vibrant cities await

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Ireland's vibrant cities have a reputation as having some of the friendliest people in the world, top-notch food and drink, ancient history, and exciting contemporary culture. And it's all true!

Dublin

Dubliners are social people who will put you at ease with a flashing smile and a welcome akin to that of a long lost friend.

The city is an energetic kind of place, with a thriving nightlife and an upbeat daytime feel. The Temple Bar neighbourhood is known for its art institutions, nightclubs, restaurants and some of Dublin's 1,000 pubs. You can hear traditional live Irish music in many of them.

It's beer that takes top billing at Dublin's Guinness Storehouse though. It's part of a giant brewery and restaurant complex that produces 2.5 million pints of Guinness a day.

Want more? How about food to make your mouth water, amazing museums and art galleries, and visionary independent shops and fashion boutiques?

Dublin's cobbled streets lead to the doorways of creative restaurants, and eateries that serve traditional Irish food, like Dublin Bay prawns, seafood chowder, fish and chips, and bacon and cabbage.

See how the Irish shaped the world, at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum , and discover the Little Museum of Dublin, which tells the story of this entrancing city.

And don't forget the world-famous medieval manuscript, the Book of Kells. It's housed at Trinity College Dublin.

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Belfast

The cosmopolitan capital of Northern Ireland pulsates with life and optimism. Lively bars, pubs and restaurants are scattered throughout the city, including the infamous Cathedral Quarter, where you can enjoy live music and a party atmosphere alongside the chatty locals.

For eccentric Irish ambience pop into the Crown Liquor Saloon, a former Victorian gin palace featuring complex mosaics and stained glass windows featuring fairies and pineapples.

And don't skip St George's Market, a foodie institution offering everything from local cheese to hand made chocolate.

One of the symbols of Belfast's rejuvenation is the Titanic Quarter, one of the world's largest waterfront regeneration projects. This former shipyard, where the Titanic was built, has been transformed into a bustling hub of culture, cafes and eateries. Catering to those who come to uncover the legend of the Titanic are the interactive galleries of Titanic Belfast.

Don't miss going on a black cab tour around parts of this fascinating city either. Expect plenty of anecdotes and historical facts as you pass walls creatively coloured with giant murals. Some of these signify former conflicts, and others show off modern sporting events and cultural icons.

Galway

A bustling west coast harbor city with an energetic nightlife, Galway is also a hub for foodies and art lovers.

Galway has a history of producing some of the most successful Irish musicians, and traditional Irish music is played in plenty of Galway's many pubs. The Irish language is common, but you'll be welcomed into the community with open arms and plenty of tall tales.

But it's not all about having fun with a fiddle and new friends. Galway also focuses on food in a big way. In fact, Galway was awarded the status of European Region of Gastronomy for 2018.

You can chat to some of the city's artisan producers in the street at the popular weekend Galway Market. Think cheeses, think chocolates, and certainly think oysters. These sea-fresh mouthfuls are officially celebrated at the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival each September.

Galway's Latin Quarter, with its winding laneways edged with stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries, is definitely worth a wander.

Did we mention art? Each July Galway hosts the Galway International Arts Festival. It's a non-stop celebration, complete with pop up performances, concerts, exhibitions, and dancing in the streets.

Cork

The people of Cork are rightly proud of this laidback city, which radiates out from an island in the River Dee, on Ireland's southwest coast.

Despite being one of Ireland's largest cities, Cork is relaxed and welcoming. It's also compact enough to be easily explored on foot.

Many people say it's the Irish food capital, but it's got some stiff competition from other parts of Ireland.

The city's belly is the covered 18th century English Market. It's a local meeting place, with a real sense of community, busy cafes, and talkative stallholders selling everything from local cheeses, fish and meats, to deli-style produce from around the world.

Cork is also known for its vibrant art galleries, good-time pubs with live tunes, craft breweries, and historic attractions. Make time to explore the castle-like Cork City Gaol, which once held prisoners bound for Australia.

Derry~Londonderry

You are sure to be impressed by everything from battlements to beer in the flourishing city of Derry~Londonderry.

This lively metropolis is located on the banks of the River Foyle, in Northern Ireland. It's surrounded by huge 17th century stone walls housing watchtowers and cannons. It's easily one of the most impressive walled cities in the whole of Europe.

Other Derry~Londonderry attractions include the award-winning Tower Museum, which houses the wreck of a ship that sailed in the Spanish Armada in 1588, and the dazzling neo-Gothic Guildhall with its massive organ and stained glass windows.

Fancy a beer? The Walled City Brewery is a popular spot, offering craft beer and a restaurant too.

Don't forget a stroll across the river on the curve of the Peace Bridge, before heading to Craft Village. This Dickensian-looking reconstruction of an 18th century street is a buzzing hub of eateries, coffee shops, and craft stalls keen for your patronage.

For more information, visit Ireland.com.

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