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Ballybunion Castle RuinsEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: In just a few weeks, airlines will have to include government taxes and fees when advertising ticket prices, in accordance with new U.S. Department of Transportation regulations that kick in on January 24. Some carriers, like Lufthansa and Air France, have already begun posting full-fare ticket prices online.

Aer Lingus is the latest airline to start displaying fares in a more truthful manner. The Irish carrier just announced that it will publish prices inclusive of all taxes and fees from this point forward. It’s quite refreshing to click around on a booking rate calendar and see numbers that are actually reflective of final ticket prices — especially when combing through already-low sale fares.

Rolling out all-inclusive rates along with this competitive sale, which offers across-the-pond flights for less than $500 roundtrip, was a smart move, Aer Lingus. The sale features discounted fares to Dublin from more than 30 U.S. cities, with roundtrip tickets starting at $447.91 (which would be a pretty good price even if it didn’t include the extra fees).

The Catch: These fares are valid for travel in January, February and March, which is Ireland’s low season for tourism. In some destinations on the isle, attractions, restaurants and hotels may be closed for winter; but this doesn’t mean you can’t plan a worthy Ireland getaway. Stick to big cities like Dublin, Belfast or Galway — which will offer a wider selection of year-round attractions than small towns — and contact local tourist information offices ahead of time to make sure that the places you want to see will be open.

The Competition: Lufthansa is also running a Europe winter fare sale; this one offers some nicely priced routes, as well as a wide selection of departure and destination gateways. Fares start at $507 roundtrip (that price is for a flight from New York to Dublin), including all taxes and fees.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Airfare Deals.

— written by Caroline Costello

DublinEvery Tuesday, we’ll feature the best travel bargain we’ve seen all week right here, on our blog. Be the first to find out which deals make the cut by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our weekly deals newsletter.

The Deal: Save $400 ($200 per person) on Virgin Vacations’ low-priced Ireland escorted tour package, which bundles airfare, six nights’ accommodations, transportation and even meals into one convenient clump of an Irish adventure. The whole itinerary is preplanned. Travelers will start in Dublin (roundtrip airfare from select U.S. cities is included), and then travel by motorcoach to Waterford, Killarney, the Cliffs of Moher and Galway.

Prices start at $1,399 per person before the discount, bringing your package total to $1,199 plus taxes and fees after the $200 savings is subtracted. Taxes, which are additional, generally amount to about $96 per person. (Gratuities are extra as well.) We went through the booking process, used the promotion code and found that the final cost of the air-inclusive package came to $1,295.21 per traveler, departing from New York.

The Catch: This discount is only available for departures on November 19. You’ll need to pack something warm. Still, with the world economy in its current state, we’re growing fonder of the idea of cut-rate off-season travel. (Same experience. Lower price. Less sun.) Plus, the Irish make a mean hand-knit Aran sweater.

The Competition: Do package tours and motorcoach transfers make you want to burn your suitcase? (If you’re nodding, check out Eight Tours for People Who Don’t Like Tours.) Aer Lingus is offering a discounted seven-day fly and drive package that combines roundtrip airfare and a car rental, but leaves the rest of the planning to you. Prices start at $729 per person plus taxes and fees for travel in September and October.

Find these bargains and more money-saving offers in our Vacation Package Deals.

— written by Caroline Costello

Carrick-a-Rede Rope BridgeHappy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of this cherished holiday, we scoured our forums to find out what our readers like most about Ireland — and it turns out there’s a lot to love in the Emerald Isle. From thousand-year-old ruins to wind-swept coastal towns, below are seven magical must-see places and itineraries in Ireland, recommended by our well-traveled readers.

Have you been to Ireland? Share your favorite Ireland sites in the comments.

1. “I recently took a trip to Ireland and visited Skellig Michael, a World Heritage Site off the country’s western coast. It was probably the most amazing place I have ever visited. It is a barren island (covered in puffins!) that housed a colony of monks more than 1,000 years ago. I had to climb 700 feet of steep stone steps to see the monks’ ancient beehive-shaped dwellings, which are still almost completely intact.” — Metravellongtime

2. “Surrounded by mountains, Belfast is pristine, clean and elegant. Gorgeous architecture, great shopping, friendly people. It offers opera, theater, restaurants, plus a great nightlife.” — costelj1

3. “I liked Hore Abbey, in Cashel, County Tipperary. Naturally, everyone goes to the incredibly well-preserved Rock of Cashel, so imposing on its higher ground. The Rock is solid, but there’s something much more interesting about Hore in its ruined state. There’s no doubt that a mystical experience — an old white terrier bade us follow her to the abbey — helped consecrate my visit.” — WackyHeathen

4. “We spent one week on the Dingle peninsula, which I would highly recommend, one week in Galway, based outside of Clifden, and one week in Cork. I really enjoyed all three, which were very different.” — TheTraveler

5. “I loved the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the coast in County Antrim. The bridge is suspended about 100 feet above the water and leads to a teeny little island with great views of the coast. Walking over the bridge was pretty scary to me (you can feel it swaying a bit and I’m afraid of heights), but the views were worth it.” — soliteyah

6. “We have been to Ireland three times. We love the southwest area of Ireland — especially Killarney. The ring of Kerry is so beautiful, as is the Dingle Peninsula.” — dthebolt

7. “For the best places in Ireland, I gravitate to the west: Cork and especially West Cork for wild scenery and wonderful people; Connemara and Mayo — high mountains, kayaking, walking and great pubs; Sligo and Donegal — distinctive towns and a different culture than the rest of Ireland; and the north — unspoiled areas of great beauty and hospitable people. Overall, the people are Ireland’s greatest natural resource!” — fastnet

Want more Ireland advice? Visit our Ireland travel forum.

–written by Caroline Costello

Every Monday, we’ll post the answer to the previous week’s Photo Friday quiz. Play along with future photo guessing games by subscribing to our blog (top right).

The correct answer to last Friday’s photo guessing game is Newgrange, Ireland! This 5,000-year-old tomb mound in County Meath predates the Pyramids at Giza and Stonehenge in England. Though it’s known for the way light illuminates its chamber for 17 minutes during every winter solstice, visitors can see this phenomenon recreated with artificial lights on other days throughout the year. Learn more about Newgrange, about an hour outside of Dublin, in Dublin Essentials.

car map man lost travelIs it dangerous to drive after dark in Ireland?

That question was posted on our message boards earlier this week by a reader planning an upcoming trip to the Emerald Isle. While several members offered reassurance that driving in Ireland doesn’t necessarily require careening along narrow cliff-side roads with no guard rails, the question isn’t an unreasonable one. No matter where you’re headed — and which side of the road you’re driving on — navigating a rental car around a foreign country can be one of travel’s most daunting experiences.

Years ago, a companion and I enjoyed a scenic but stressful drive along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, dodging Vespas and trying to ogle the gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea without missing a hairpin turn and hurtling into said sea. In the Caribbean, we steered around potholes big enough to deserve their own ZIP code. In Scotland, the country roads were so tight that we had to get up close and personal with “hairy coos” in the fields just to let other drivers pass in the opposite direction.

It’s all part of the fun of travel (or at least that’s what I tell myself after I get home, when I’m spinning tall tales of my adventures on the road). But let’s be honest: sometimes the effort isn’t worth it. In destinations with a robust public transportation system, I prefer to hop on a train and leave the driving to the professionals.

For places where that’s not a practical option (like, say, Ireland after dark), it’s best to slow down, invest in a good GPS unit and drive defensively. For more help, see our International Car Rental Tips.

What’s your best advice for driving in a foreign country?

— written by Sarah Schlichter