1) NEW Belfast Guide

Belfast City Council has launched a new book entitled 72 Hours in Belfast to showcase the vibrant city. The free guide seeks to make specific areas of culture, heritage and leisure more accessible to visitors, and includes practical itineraries to make a visit to Belfast easy to plan, be it for an afternoon, a whole day or 72 hours.

Thanks to huge investment in tourism infrastructure, increased air routes, award-winning hotels and a vibrant cultural scene, Belfast has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis in recent years. With its rich literary, musical and artistic traditions, varied visitor attractions, and award-winning restaurants, the city is fast becoming a favourite short break destination and welcomed a record 6.8 million visitors last year.

72 Hours in Belfast is available free of charge from the Belfast Welcome Centre by calling 028 9024 6609 or can be downloaded from www.gotobelfast.com.

2) NEW Dublin Tours Launched

There are now more ways to see the city of Dublin and its environs, thanks to the launch of a new full day trip and two city walking tours. A new full day tour that takes in the showrooms of Newbridge Silverware, plus a visit to Kildare National Stud and the Japanese Gardens is now available. The day finishes with an Irish Coffee-making lesson in a traditional Irish pub.

To offer extra value and variety to City Sightseeing customers, two new multi-lingual walking tours have also been introduced. Having commenced in May, ‘City Sightseeing ON Foot’ offers a morning and afternoon tour taking in Dublin’s medieval quarter, the new boardwalk area as well as the Temple Bar Quarter. For just an additional €4, City Sightseeing customers can enjoy Dublin on and off the beaten track!

Two new buses have also been added to the Multilingual Tour fleet in May, increasing the frequency of these open top tours. See www.irishcitytours.com or www.dualwaycoaches.com for more details.

3) Donegal Garden Trail – NEW brochure

From privately owned tiny cottage gardens to extensive 100-acre parklands, this new brochure features twenty fabulous Donegal gardens that are now open to visitors. The book also includes a map enabling visitors to follow a trail around the various sites. Most gardens charge a small admission fee, usually donated to a local charity. The brochure is available free of charge by emailing damian.obrien@failteireland.ie or Pauline.finn@failteireland.ie.

4) Looking to stay somewhere a bit different?

A Viking themed room and a one-hole golf course are two of the draws at Derrybawn House, a 96-acre private hideaway in the Wicklow Mountains. The hotel’s six beautifully refurbished en-suite bedrooms each have their own unique and individual style. Romantics looking for relaxation should book into the Buddleia Bedroom, to enjoy a long hot soak in a cast iron bath under a candlelit chandelier. If on the other hand, the idea of a flat screen TV that is actually built into the bed is more your thing, then the Viking Room is for you.

Special golfing packages include the ‘Eamonn D’Arcy Golf Clinic’, where keen golfers can benefit from expert tuition from the former Ryder Cup winner, then play Druids Glen – the four times Irish Open venue. For more details visit www.derrybawnhouse.com.

5) Festival Fever

Why not time your visit with an upcoming festival: International Garden Festival, Co. Laois (1 June – 9 Sept); Cork Midsummer Festival (19-30 June); Belfast Maritime Festival (29 June – 1 July); Arts Festivals in Galway, Earagail, Kinsale, Kilkenny and Boyle and the Wexford Opera (31 May-17 June). For further information www.discoverireland.com/gb/ireland-events.

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