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A new year will often mean making plans for some much-need time away. And for many, it need not mean travelling far, especially with Ireland having plenty of great places to relax, explore, shop, eat and drink in. This is especially true of Ireland’s towns, many of which prove to be a great base for exploring the best of Ireland, or to escape for a few nights and do very little. Below is a list of 10 towns that you will very much want to discover in 2018 (if you have not already).

1 Portstewart, County Derry

As the location of the 2017 Irish Open, golf fans will be keen to check out Portstewart in 2018. The town’s epic links golf course looks out over the beautiful Strand beach and there is a great selection of restaurants, cafes and bars for the all-important 19th hole! Along Portstewart’s promenade are also a selection of pretty shops and places to enjoy the town’s famous ice cream whilst looking out over the ocean. Portstewart has you well placed to explore Northern Ireland’s north coast and the famous Giant’s Causeway, while you’re also a short drive from the Walled City of Derry.

Find the latest hotel deals in Portstewart and hone in on your golf skills with a trip to Northern Ireland’s north coast. Here are 8 reasons to visit Derry.

2 Carlingford, County Louth

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A quaint village situated between Belfast and Dublin, Carlingford makes for a perfect place to get away from it all in 2018. Overlooking the Carlingford Lough and with a Greenway trail for beautiful walks or cycles, and the nearby Cooley Mountains, Carlingford can make for a perfect getaway when it comes to some R&R. In the town itself, visitors can expect cosy open fires, pub grub and a great pint of Guinness.

Find the latest hotel deals in Carlingford and have a few nights away from busy schedules. View our 48-hour Carlingford travel guide for more reasons to visit the area.

3 Strangford, County Down

A setting for the filming of the popular Game of Thrones series, Strangford has become an increasingly popular spot for travellers who are keen to get a behind-the-scenes experience of the series. The town’s inns and pubs still have signs of the series, including The Cuan, a popular inn where the first of the Game of Thrones doors, a series of bespoke doors relating to the series, stands. The town itself looks out over Strangford Lough and a ferry will take passengers across to Portaferry, an equally pretty town.

Check out the latest hotel deals in Strangford and enjoy a few days of escapism.

4 Portmagee, County Kerry

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With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi only a few weeks ago, many will be clamoring to the small town of Portmagee to catch a glimpse of Skellig Michael and The Skelligs, an incredible group of islands that were used for filming of the cult film series. For historians, the wondrous Skellig Michael also has jaw-dropping monastic ruins to admire up close or from afar.

Find the latest hotels deals in Portmagee and plan your adventure to the islands (booking ahead is advisable).

5 Kinsale, County Cork

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Kinsale is a much-loved town by many and for very good reason. The harbour town is a foodie paradise with its selection of great restaurants, colourful shopfronts and lively pubs, and has earned a reputation as the ‘Gourmet Food Capital of Ireland’. Not far away is also the waterfront for peaceful walks and stunning sunsets in the evening. The town’s selection of eateries will have your mouth watering and eyes widening, while the surrounding area and south west of Cork has plenty of historic sites and stunning landscapes to explore.

Find the latest hotel deals in Kinsale and book a few nights stay in the quaint town. Check out this 48-hour guide to Kinsale.

6 Enniskerry, County Wicklow

A great base for exploring the Wicklow Mountains, Enniskerry, built as part of the wider Powerscourt Estate, is a town for fans of the outdoors. More of a village than a town, Enniskerry has quaint and historic buildings facing its square and several cafes and pubs to grab a few drinks in after a day of exploring.

Check out the latest hotel deals in Enniskerry and look forward to a day of adventure in County Wicklow. Enniskerry is just one reason to visit Wicklow in 2018, and here are another 10 reasons to visit Wicklow.

7 Dingle, County Kerry

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One of Ireland’s prettiest towns, Dingle is a town not to be missed. The quintessential Irish town plays host to the best of live music – local and international – and will treat you to a warm welcome in its quaint and narrow pubs filled with friendly locals.

Find the latest hotel deals in Dingle and soak up the jewel in Kerry’s crown. View our 48-hour guide to the Dingle Peninsula.

8 Dunfanaghy, County Donegal

With its nearby beaches and selection of cafes and pubs, Dunfanaghy is a great spot for a night or two away in 2018. The town is a go-to place for city dwellers looking for a peaceful time away. Whether it’s horse-riding, golfing or taking it easy at a local hotel spa, Dunfanaghy has much to offer visitors in 2018.

Check out the latest hotel deals in Dunfanaghy and spend time taking in the town and its many surrounding sights.

9 Lahinch, County Clare

Lahinch is a haven for surfers or golfers looking to make the most of the great waves and Links golf. The coastal town also has an exceptional Blue Flag beach and several restaurants and cafes to indulge in after a day of activities. With the Atlantic to the west, the Inagh River to the north and the smaller Moy River to the south, it is not surprising to hear that Lahinch is one of Ireland’s most picturesque towns and one that is worth a visit at least once this year.

Find the latest hotel deals in Lahinch and enjoy a few days soaking up this special area. For more travel inspiration when visiting County Clare, check out our 72-hour Clare travel guide.

10 Westport, County Mayo

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A town spilling over with culture, outdoor fun, food and historic influence, Westport is a difficult place to beat. Based along the Wild Atlantic Way, the town makes for a perfect place to stop and refuel after a day of driving or taking part in any of the endless activities in the area. From canoeing out on the water, climbing Croagh Patrick to cycling along the Great Western Way, there is no end to the list of activities to enjoy. Come evening, there are numerous restaurants and pubs to go to for a bit of craic and an opportunity to unwind. Check out our 10 Reasons to Visit Westport for more reasons to visit the town.

Take a look at the latest hotel deals in Westport and get your fill of the town and its surrounding area.

Have you any favourite towns you would recommend visiting in 2018?

Share your must-visit towns around Ireland for 2018 below.

Images via Fáilte Ireland.

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