Getting there: To get to Westport: Renting a car and driving from Dublin is about a 3½-hour trip. Or take Ireland's national bus service, Bus Eireann, from Dublin to Castlebar (via Athlone), then on to Westport.

Aran Islands: From Westport, head south via bus to Galway (a ticket is about $17) and book a day tour of the islands at the Galway Tour Co. office on High Street. If you have free time, keep an eye out for signs offering free walking tours of Galway to get insight into the city's history. (Be sure to tip your guide.)

Lodging in Westport: Castlecourt Hotel, westportplazahotel.ie; Plougastel House B&B, plougastel-house.com; McCarthy's Lodge & Bar, mccarthyslodge.com.