Why? Crowned as the European Capital of Culture 2020, Galway toes the line between ecstasy and escapism, welcoming visitors into its knees-up bohemian city - think live music, street theatre and boutique shops selling handcrafted Claddagh rings - as well as being a gateway to the rugged Wild Atlantic Way.
How to travel: Catch a train to Holyhead in Wales, where two ferry services - Irish Ferries and Stena Line - take you to Dublin Port in two to three hours. Look out for combined rail-and-sail tickets; these are often the most budget-friendly option. From here, take a train west (about two and a half hours) to Galway.