In Europe, 76 destinations off the beaten path
Looking beyond Rome, Paris or London? Consider Europe's lesser-known destinations, such as Monschau, Germany, a town so quaint you can hardly believe it isn't a theme park or San Marino, one of Europe's oldest and smallest countries (drive through it slowly).
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Galway City, Ireland( Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times )
If you're making plans to visit Ireland, consider starting in Galway City, a compelling curiosity shop of a metropolis that hugs the immense bay celebrated in song. The city of more than 65,000 on the nation's western flank hums with the vibrancy of the affluent new Ireland and cranks out more festivals than an accordion has folds.
Galway City is a walker's wonderland. Its cobblestoned, pedestrians-only Shop Street is alive with performers as diverse as fiddlers and puppeteers, Spanish flamenco guitarists and Hungarian fire breathers. Attractive boutiques compete with comforting pubs where traditional Irish music sessions rare in many other towns can erupt anytime and last into the night. With the nearby National University of Ireland hosting 13,000 students and backpackers filing in from across Europe, the atmosphere is youthful yet cosmopolitan.
-- David Monagan
Pictured: A promenade in Galway City.