This time of year, airfare alone to Ireland will run you almost the entire cost of this week's smart deal, a fly-drive package offered by 1-800 Fly Europe (tel. 800/359-3876; www.1800flyeurope.com). It is valid for travel to Ireland through August 24, with a 15% booking discount if you reserve by July 15. The prices are per person, based on double occupancy, subject to availability and generally reflect the least expensive departure dates.
It's a bare-bones deal: the price includes roundtrip airfare on Aer Lingus to either Shannon or Dublin, the airline fuel surcharges (a considerable savings, as these typically run $244-$299), three days of an economy car rental, and call center support in the event of any problems. Other taxes and airline fees are not included. Travel July 1-August 24 is priced from $777 from Boston or New York; $997 from Chicago; $1,039 from Washington, D.C.; $1,189 from San Francisco; and $1,247 from Los Angeles (other taxes add on $115-$180 to the bill).
Ireland is fairly easy to navigate by car. If you land in Shannon you'll likely want to hit the Cliffs of Moher, a short drive from the airport. From there you can drive north toward Galway and onward through the Connemara Mountains and the Gaeltacht. From Shannon you can also drive south toward the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry to take in some green landscapes and Celtic ruins. However, if you decide to land in Dublin you are not far from the passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, which are part of the Bru na Boinne World Heritage Site and are prehistorically spooky. In terms of affordable accommodations, there's an excellent, well-established network of bed and breakfasts and inns dotted throughout the country. The tourism site is helpful (tel. 800/223-6470; www.discoverireland.com/us/) and can provide many links to inns, guest houses, campgrounds, hostels, hotels, farmhouses, and more.
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