The Galway Arts Festival comes to a close later this week, after a two-week celebration of art, music, theater and literature in the Irish city.

Over 150,000 people are estimated to attend the festival every year, making it a significant event in Ireland's tourism calendar, which is itself getting busier.

Over the last ten years, visitor numbers have jumped from 5.9 million to 8 million in 2007, before falling slightly due to the recession.

Authorities recently announced a €20 million advertising spend to boost visitors to Ireland, focusing on both the over-65 market and golfers in the runup to the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle in September 2011.


Dublin is Ireland's largest city and top tourist attraction, with 4.5 million visitors in 2008, a rise of 2 percent. The five-star Merrion Hotel was TripAdvisor users' favorite.

1 The Merrion Hotel
2 The Westbury Hotel
3 Hampton Hotel
4 Number 31
5 The Croke Park Hotel

Average price range €118 - €218


Cork is the Republic's second city, although residents have been known to describe it as "the real capital of Ireland." Guests of the Hayfield Manor Hotel voted it as the most popular in the city, describing it as a "land of luxury and serenity."

1 Hayfield Manor Hotel
2 Clarion Hotel Cork
3 Fitzgerald's Vienna Woods Hotel
4 Kingsley Hotel
5 Cork International Airport Hotel

$159 - $209 (€124 - €163)


Limerick boasts a colorful and fascinating history and is a key city of entry into Ireland thanks to Shannon Airport, which is rapidly catching up to Cork.

1 Limerick Strand Hotel
2 The Savoy Hotel
3 Absolute Hotel & Spa
4. No. 1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa
5 Kilmurry Lodge Hotel

$93 - $107 (€73 - €83)


Galway is well known as being one of Ireland's most vibrantly cultural cities and the home of the Irish language - so much so that it is sometimes referred to as the "Bilingual Capital of Ireland."

1 Park House Hotel
2 Galway Bay Hotel
3 Forster Court Hotel
4 The g Hotel Galway
5 Westwood House Hotel

$124 - $273 (€97 - €213)


Kilkenny is known as the Marble City for its medieval buildings, even though it doesn't have a city council.  Lyrath Estate Hotel was travelers' top choice, described as "beautifully unspoilt, spacious and luxurious."

1 Lyrath Estate Hotel, Spa & Convention Centre
2 Pembroke Hotel
3 Newpark Hotel
4 Berkley House
5 Zuni Hotel

$116 - $284 (€90 - €222)

Data is taken from millions of independent reviews and rankings surveyed at TripAdvisor taken on July 21, 2010.