Ireland has always been a popular destination for Americans, many of whom trace their ancestry to the island. Yet there is more on offer here than nostalgia for famines past. For those traveling on a budget, Ireland offers easy access to areas of tremendous natural beauty and an invitation to participate in local events and customs.
Five years ago, when its economy was booming, an inexpensive trip to Ireland was all but impossible. Now that the property bubble has popped and the so-called "Celtic Tiger" has been declawed, prices have declined drastically and the Emerald Isle is again a feasible destination for budget-bound tourists. Should the economy become any less stable, price fluctuation could become a problem. So go now.
Getting there won't be hard. Aer Lingus, Delta, and United Airlines all offer frequent nonstop flights from Dublin to New York. Booking ahead pays dividends and lucky travelers can nab round trip fares from $500 or lower.
In fact, getting to Dublin is so easy that Northern Ireland – no longer a dangerous destination – often goes overlooked. The countryside in the north is worth a visit and travelers here are far from the madding (and occasionally maddening) crowd.