Eight Irish hotels make Forbes world’s-best list

Ashford castle wins five forbes stars; k club, merrion and marker hotels receive four each.

forbes travel ireland

Forbes Travel Guide 2020 Star Awards: Ashford Castle, in Co Mayo, is the first Irish hotel to receive the top rating

Eight Irish hotels have won places on Forbes Travel Guide’s ranking of the world’s best hotels, restaurants and spas.

Ashford Castle, in Cong, Co Mayo, is the only one of the eight to be awarded five stars in Forbes' 2020 Star Awards; it is also the first Irish hotel to receive the guide's top rating.

The hotel, where rooms for a midweek break in March begin at €325 for bed and breakfast, posted on Twitter that is honoured by the recognition. “Every day, our team go above and beyond to make every stay special – this award is a reflection of their hard work and passion.”

We are honoured to be the first and only hotel in Ireland to have achieved the prestigious @ForbesInspector Five-Star rating! Every day, our team go above and beyond to make every stay special - this award is a reflection of their hard work and passion. — Ashford Castle (@ashfordcastle) February 12, 2020

The K Club, in Co Kildare, and the Merrion and Marker hotels, in central Dublin, were each awarded four stars. The Westbury, the Shelbourne, the Fitzwilliam and the InterContinental Dublin appeared on the list as recommended hotels.

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Could Monaghan be Ireland’s most underrated county?

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Aviation as a hobby: ‘I fly planes – that’s kind of cool’

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Conor Pope’s good-value guide to happy family camping holidays

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The guide, which lists 1,898 star-rated properties in 73 countries, says earning a Forbes rating is "the hospitality industry's most prestigious achievement, as hotels, restaurants and spas are inspected anonymously and the star ratings can't be bought".

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Forbes Travel Guide’s 2023 Star Award Winners By Forbes Travel Guide Editor Jennifer Kester

February 15, 2023

Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa

Travel’s continued resurgence in 2022 meant more people are embarking on adventures all over the globe. To help travelers make every trip count, Forbes Travel Guide revealed its 2023 Star Awards winners, a list of the world’s finest hotels, restaurants, spas and—new this year—ocean cruises.

To compile the 65th annual Star Awards, Forbes Travel Guide’s incognito inspectors check into hotels and cruise ships, dine in the restaurants and experience spa services while posing as ordinary guests. The inspectors test up to 900 rigorous standards, from modern-day luxuries—such as whether a room is set up to enhance sleep quality or whether the food-and-beverage choices support a guest’s well-being—to more traditional elements, such as the décor and the attention the staff pays to a guest. Seventy percent of a property’s rating relies on its service—with a more exacting look at the guest experience as a new service metric for 2023—while the remaining 30 percent accounts for the quality and condition of its facilities. 

This year’s list features 48 new Five-Star hotels, 64 new Four-Star properties and 45 new Recommended hotels. Several new countries—including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Tunisia and Cyprus—make their first appearance in the Star Awards while nine international destinations welcomed their first Five-Star hotels this year, including Athens ( Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens ), Capri ( J.K. Place Capri ), Kuwait ( Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya ), Lake Como ( Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como ) and Shenzhen ( Mandarin Oriental, Shenzhen ).

See the full list of Star-Rated properties here , and learn about the most notable new achievements in hospitality below.

forbes travel ireland

Inaugural Ocean Cruise Ratings

For the first time in its 65-year history, Forbes Travel Guide dove into ocean cruises, launching its inaugural ratings with five ships. Celebrity Apex , Celebrity Flora and Celebrity Millennium earned Four-Star awards, while Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Summit received Recommended honors.

Known for fine dining—Celebrity Cruises named Five-Star chef Daniel Boulud as its global culinary ambassador in 2022—and cutting-edge design (including the Magic Carpet, the cruise industry’s first cantilevered venue), Celebrity offers relaxed a luxury resort experience at sea with ships that make their way to as many as eight destinations in one sailing.

A second wave of cruise line ratings will be announced later this year and evaluations are already underway on several ships worthy of star ratings for 2024.

New International Five-Star Destinations

Sicily captured international attention in 2022 as the breathtaking backdrop of the second season of HBO’s The White Lotus , and it landed on FTG’s list as a new international destination. The series was filmed at the newly minted Four-Star San Domenico Palace, Taormina , showcasing scene-stealing locations like a clifftop alfresco breakfast setting overlooking the Ionian Sea. The island also added Four-Star accolades for Grand Hotel Timeo , Verdura Resort , Villa Igiea and Villa Sant’Andrea .

The Scandinavian region made its first showing on the list with the Four-Star Hotel d’Angleterre Copenhagen and Recommended winners Amerikalinjen (Oslo), Ett Hem (Stockholm) and Grand Hôtel Stockholm .

forbes travel ireland

After being closed to tourists for the past three years, Macau dethroned London this year as the city with the most Five-Star hotels in the world. London, which reigned as the Five-Star hotel capital for four years, had 21 top-rated properties, while Macau had 22 award winners. The onetime gambling capital of the world, Macau added five newcomers to its elite ranks, including the opulent Grand Lisboa Palace Macau , which debuted in 2021 and houses fellow Five-Star winner The Karl Lagerfeld , the world’s only hotel fully designed by the late fashion icon. Integrated resort The Londoner Macao also had two new honorees: the all-suite, British-style Londoner Hotel and the exclusive Londoner Court , which offers 24-hour butler service and an in-room wellness program. Galaxy Hotel also made the list with Asia’s only Macallan bar and a massive 807,000-square-foot resort deck that includes the world’s largest rooftop wave pool.

The Maldives expanded its scope as a star-studded destination with four new top-ranked hotels this year. The serene Joali Being  focuses on all-encompassing wellness, while Soneva Jani stands out with villas featuring retractable roofs and waterslides that launch guests into a lagoon. The Fari Islands, an archipelago in the North Male Atoll, also scored a double win with the hip Patina Maldives, Fari Islands , whose art collection includes James Turrell’s Amarta, a pavilion with an open ceiling to the skyscape, and the sleek The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands , whose round overwater villas circle a stunning spa.

Other noteworthy new Five-Star properties include the legendary Raffles Hotel Singapore —established in 1887, the hotel, which invented the famed Singapore Sling cocktail, recently emerged from a massive two-year renovation; Adare Manor , a grand Neo-Gothic castle surrounded by 840 verdant acres in Ireland’s County Limerick; Capella Bangkok , which has riverside villas with outdoor hot tubs and a new Five-Star spa ; Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa , a modernist getaway among the vine-laden hills of Champagne, France; and Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre , a sophisticated stay tucked inside the Burj Daman skyscraper.

forbes travel ireland

Achievements in the Americas

Stateside, California racked up two Five-Star wine country wins, including Four Seasons Resort and Residences Napa Valley and Montage Healdsburg in Sonoma, both of which opened in 2021. On the East Coast, the historic Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod comes with sweeping ocean views and meals spotlighting fresh produce from its farm, and The Rittenhouse in Philadelphia offers a contemporary gem with the lauded Lacroix restaurant. While in Florida, The Boca Raton Beach Club received double Five-Star honors for its luxurious beachfront hotel and 44-treatment-room Spa Palmera , which was designed to resemble Spain’s Alhambra Palace. In the Midwest, the 92-story riverfront Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago earned its first Five-Star status.

In Canada, the stylish The St. Regis Toronto , which boasts the country’s largest collection of luxury suites and a new top-rated spa , earned Five Stars this year. And in Mexico, Los Cabos scored big wins for Grand Velas Los Cabos , an all-inclusive, all-suite hotel in a sail-shaped building where every accommodation overlooks the water, and Zadún, a retreat where every room comes with its own outdoor plunge pool.

The Caribbean also added three new Five-Star properties: Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla , where guests can enjoy one of three picturesque pools (including the adults-only, infinity-edge Sunset Pool); Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa , a colorful escape on Grand Cayman’s famous Seven Mile Beach; and Rosewood Little Dix Bay , a secluded slice of sandy paradise in the British Virgin Islands.

forbes travel ireland

Winning Restaurants

This year’s Star Award winners demonstrate that experiential dining isn’t just a trend du jour—it’s a gourmet mainstay. The Restaurant at Justin in Paso Robles, California, became the first Five-Star restaurant in a vineyard with its win. Meanwhile, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong ’s Four-Star SOMM delivers memorable sommelier-led meals and more than 100 wines and sakes by the glass. And in Las Vegas, Bellagio’s Five-Star restaurant Picasso immerses diners in the cubist master’s vibrant art and chef Julian Serrano’s culinary masterpieces.

Additional Five-Star culinary highlights include Gabriel Kreuther , the first new independent restaurant in New York City to receive the top rating in 10 years; 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana Macau , chef Umberto Bombana’s Italian fine dining tucked inside Galaxy Macau; Jean-Georges Philadelphia , chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s French restaurant atop Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia in the Comcast Center; and The Ocean Room , a sophisticated steakhouse in The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort with a seasonal menu of local meats.

forbes travel ireland

Sumptuous Spas

Six destinations picked up first Five-Star spa accolades: Barbados ( The Spa at Sandy Lane ), Ireland ( The Spa at Ashford Castle ), Kuwait ( Spa and Wellness Centre at Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait Burj Alshaya ), Madrid ( The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Madrid ), Mauritius ( One&Only Le Saint Géran’s Wellness Spa ) and Vancouver ( Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim ).

Other new Five-Star standouts include Crown Spa Sydney , with La Prairie treatments and an Aqua Retreat; Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico , a tropical oasis that incorporates ingredients such as rum and coconut in its spa services; The Retreat Spa at Okada Manila , which features a foot spa, reflexology center and barbershop; Serrano Spa in Highland, California’s Yaamava’ Resort & Casino looks to the earth’s elements (fire, water, earth and wood) to power its treatments; and two L.A. retreats: Fairmont Spa Century Plaza (offering a Himalayan salt room) and The Spa at West Hollywood EDITION (which includes touchless treatments like infrared therapy). Whether you want to indulge in a spa vacation or make the best of traveling for work, these Star Award winners represent the pinnacle of pampering.

forbes travel ireland

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Ireland named as Forbes Best Bucket List Trip

Day dreaming of your next vacation while stuck in quarantine now may be the best time to plan out that once-in-a-lifetime trip to ireland..

Copper Coast, Co Waterford, Ireland.

Forbes has named Ireland as a destination to put on your bucket list, for that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

As COVID-19 restrictions gradually start to lift around the world, many people are day dreaming about the day when they can travel again. And although your next vacation is realistically still some time away, now might be the perfect time to think about where you want to go when life gets somewhat back to normal.

Forbes travel journalist Larry Olmsted recommends that when we can travel again, we should aim to “travel better than before.” He suggests mapping out a multi-year travel plan to make sure you get to see the places and do the things that are most important to you. 

Read More: Stunning Tourism Ireland video highlights beauty of Ireland during lockdown

“Life is short enough without not knowing when the next shoe will drop. A lesson to be learned right now is that if there are things you want to do in your life, you should get a move on it,” he writes.

In an ongoing travel series for Forbes, Olmstead presents 30 best bucket list destinations to consider, including Ireland .

Is Ireland on your bucket list? Credit: Getty Images

Is Ireland on your bucket list? Credit: Getty Images

The Emerald Isle is on many travelers’ top dream destinations list for several reasons. For the estimated 80 million people around the world with Irish roots, many simply wish to visit the homeland of their ancestors. 

But even for those without Irish roots, Ireland has much to offer , including beautiful scenery, castles and historic sites, vibrant culture and music, a “hot” food scene, the best beers and whiskies, and some of the world’s best golf destinations. And that's not even mentioning Ireland’s friendly, welcome people.

“Why Ireland? Because it is the land of 100,000 smiles and welcomes. Those who have visited find it the friendliest place on earth,” says Anne Scully, the president of luxury travel agency McCabe World Travel .

She adds: “To many American visitors it is their ancestral home, and the need to walk the land of their ancestors is so important to them. Ireland is also known for beautiful castles, fine hotels and welcoming B&Bs.”

Where to go once you get there? Dublin, Ireland’s thriving capital city which is full of attractions like the Book of Kells at Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse, is the first stop for many visitors.

The Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin. Credit: Getty Images

The Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin. Credit: Getty Images

On the other side of the country, West Cork is “rich with history, the Dromberg Stone Circle stands there, and Kinsale is renowned as the gourmet capital of Ireland.” The famous Ballymaloe cookery school, in Shanagarry near Cork, is also here.

And when traveling on the Wild Atlantic Way , the spectacular scenery of the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula should not be missed.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland you can visit the capital city of Belfast , the Titanic museum, Bushmill’s whiskey distillery, Game of Thrones sites such as the “Dark Hedges,” and the spectacular Giant’s Causeway.

Read More: Stirring Mayo tourism video says "When the storm settles, we’ll see you again"

According to Scully: “All of Ireland is a land to experience slowly, enjoying and savoring the joy of its people, the great food of their land and sea, and the hospitality of their lodgings. One trip is never enough - Ireland is always calling you back for more!"

LISTEN: Celtic Thunder's new album "Odyssey" is out now!

LISTEN: Celtic Thunder's new album "Odyssey" is out now!

Study in Northern Ireland at Queen's University Belfast Summer School 2024

Study in Northern Ireland at Queen's University Belfast Summer School 2024

Ireland's oldest and most charming pubs

Ireland's oldest and most charming pubs

forbes travel ireland

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  • 10:46, 16 FEB 2023
  • Updated 10:50, 16 FEB 2023

Ashford Castle Spa

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An Irish hotel has been hailed as one of the world's best as it receives a five-star rating from a lauded travel guide.

Forbes Travel Guide has given Ashford Castle the maximum rating for hotels in their 2023 awards as it becomes the only hotel in Ireland to earn the accolade.

The nod from Forbes also acknowledged its world-class spa, which was also given a five-star ranking by the respected business magazine.

Read more: Galway business woman spearheading 'growing new fashion trend' inspired by granny turns international hit

It's not for the first time either, as 2022 also saw it grab the coveted five-star ranking.

The hotel, nestled in the idyllic backdrop of Cong in Co. Mayo is well known across the world for its stunning grounds, luxurious rooms and incredible architecture in the 350 acre estate.

The hotel is part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and a member of Leading Hotels of the World.

The luxury hotel is routinely mentioned as one of the most stunning in Ireland, but you might not be surprised that a stay there costs a pretty penny.

According to hotel booking sites, a room at the hotel will cost around €800 for one night.

To check out the full list of Forbes award winners, head to the website here .

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forbes travel ireland

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Rates can vary widely by room type and season. "We Paid" is intended to give a general sense of price, but you might find considerably different rates for your trip.

When we book, we aim for the optimum season for the destination, but we avoid holidays and major public events, when prices are highest. We generally book a room at one category up from the most basic.

We take advantage of promotional rates, when possible. That means the rate you see above might have included other benefits, such as spa or meal credits.

Adare Manor

Presiding over hundreds of Irish countryside acres, the secluded Adare Manor exudes both Old World extravagance and fun. Built in 1832 on the crest of the Gothic Revival, its chateau styling with gargoyles, four towers, 52 chimneys and 365 leaded windows sits in rural splendor.

Studded with Augustus Pugin-designed (the architect behind the new Palace of Westminster) fireplaces, the former ancestral home of the Earls of Dunraven carries a regal air, but it’s a friendly destination, welcoming locals and guests alike. Walls whisper céad míle fáilte — a Gaelic greeting meaning “a hundred thousand welcomes” — while the manor experience elevates body and soul to banish the knotted stresses that come along with 21st-century life.

Four restaurants and a spa are hospitable touches, but the highlights here are the outdoor adventures. From fishing to falconry, the sporting options are fit for Irish nobility. And much like the manor itself, the Tom Fazio-designed golf course combines the modern and historical in the most luxurious way.

  • Adare Manor makes for an impressive tableau against the surrounding countryside, but the interior is just as jaw-dropping. The Gothic-style mansion’s vaulted roof adds extra height to rooms that are filled with light from leaded windows.
  • Its history is foremost throughout, from the falconry and gundog experiences offered by local outdoorsman Willie Forde to wood carvings inspired by the bestiary, a medieval book of mythical creatures. Naturally, ravens are prominently featured — a nod to the mansion’s original owners, the Dunravens.
  • Embrace Irish pub culture from the estate’s three unique lounges. From the cozy-chic environs of The Tack Room to the elegant Drawing Room to the clubby velvet bar in The Carriage House, you’ll find no shortage of places to whet your whistle.
  • The restaurants give off their own distinct vibes: the impressive 132-foot-long Gallery where afternoon tea is served, The Carriage House's art deco dining room and The Oak Room’s plush fine-dining ambiance.
  • The Spa at Adare Manor is a light-filed oasis centered around a 26-foot pool and relaxation area beneath a vaulted skylight. Inspired by the folklore of Ireland’s forests, treatments range from the Inner Strength chakra therapy to Codladh Samh, a ritual designed to induce deep sleep.
  • Just beyond the 842-acre estate is the delightful heritage village of Adare, known for its boutiques, sporting prowess and oak woods.
  • Before heading out on your hunting, fishing or falconry adventure, stop by the Boot Room to gear up like an Irish noble. Dubarry boots and waxed jackets are available to borrow.
  • Adare’s signature scent drifts throughout the tapestried chambers. If the aroma tickles your nose in such a way, bespoke crested candles can be purchased in the gift shop.
  • Thirty minutes from the hotel, Shannon Airport provides direct flights from the U.S., Europe and the U.K.
  • The 103-room County Limerick hotel has six categories ranging in size from 463 to more than 1,000 square feet. All offer sumptuous 19th-century style, marble bathrooms and gorgeous views of the Irish countryside.
  • Step back in time with a stay in one of the Dunraven Staterooms. These accommodations once served as the private apartments of the earl and his family — the fireplace mantel still bears his crest that says, “ Quae sursum volo videre, ” or “I wish to see what is beyond.”
  • Views of the verdant estate frame every bedroom, while generous marble bathrooms and vintage-style dressing areas add intrigue to the interiors. Much is derived from original furnishings.
  • Concealed technology makes for contemporary ease: televisions within bathroom mirrors, bedside tablets and USB ports built into brushed bronze plaques.
  • Adare Manor is invitingly tactile, from carved staircases and mantels to tasseled drapes. Bouquets from H&W Blooms complement the décor.
  • The craftsmanship of everything from the fashioning of stone walls to leaded windows and marble furniture is stunning.
  • Enjoy the Irish art — a piece by painter Richard Hearns, a 13-foot bronze bear by sculptor Patrick O'Reilly, original prints and cartoons that illustrate Ireland’s history all adorn the luxury hotel.
  • Drift through the Manor’s Great Hall and Gallery, with 17th-century Flemish choir stalls, to arrive at the new West Wing decked out in similar limestone. The marbled white and gold-leaf grandeur of this space opens only for private occasions.
  • Less than half a mile from the manor, David Collins Studio-designed The Carriage House is a chic place for relaxing and dining. A working replica of an 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen (regarded as the world’s first automobile) in the lobby provides a jolly icebreaker.

forbes travel ireland

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These Are the Best and Worst Times to Visit Ireland

Whether you want small crowds, sunshine, or affordable rates, here are the ideal times to go to Ireland.

forbes travel ireland

Somehow even greener than the pictures promise, Ireland is a land of fairy tales and political revolutions, poetry and pubs, rainbows and, well, quite a bit of rain. Millions of tourists flock to the Emerald Isle each year, seeking its quaint villages, lush green landscapes, stunning coastline, historic castles, and more.

While there is no one "perfect" time to visit Ireland, different seasons offer different experiences, from the quiet and drizzly winter to the sunny (but crowded) summer. Here's a basic breakdown of what you can expect.

  • High Season: June to August, plus the month of March
  • Shoulder Seasons: April to May and September to November
  • Low Season: December to February

The best time to visit Ireland is, ultimately, up to you — and the items on your to-do list.

Best Times to Visit Ireland for Smaller Crowds

Since Ireland's rainy climate can be a deterrent for some travelers, the country sees its largest influx of tourists in summer when the odds of a warm, sunny day are at their highest. If you value smaller crowds over perfect weather, you'll want to visit outside of this busy season.

Winter is the least crowded time of year in Ireland, and it offers a great chance to enjoy indoor attractions, from the historic Trinity College Library to the thousands of pubs scattered across the island. Spring and fall are also less busy than the summer months, but the crowd-averse should avoid March, when St. Patrick's Day draws hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Visitors may also want to keep an eye on the Gaelic sports schedule. Many Irish people who don't live in Dublin stream into the city for major tournaments, so game days can be crowded in the capital but peaceful in the emptied-out countryside.

Best Times to Visit Ireland for Good Weather

Ireland's weather is changeable, but it's not extreme. The temperature rarely falls below freezing in the winter or rises above 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. It's not uncommon to see bright sun and cloudy skies in quick succession, regardless of the time of year.

And let's get this out of the way: It will rain, so be ready for it and pack your bags accordingly . Trip timing, though, can affect just how much rain (or sun) you are likely to see. Summer is sunniest, with daylight stretching late into the evening, especially in late June and July. Between November and February, meanwhile, Ireland is dark, cold, and wet — but it can also feel quieter and cozier. Keep in mind, though, that your trip is unlikely to be a total rain-out no matter when you visit. Short, isolated showers are more common here than full-day lashings.

If you want to hike through the countryside, play on one of Ireland's famous golf courses, or take in the country's natural beauty with a scenic road trip , aim to visit between April and September. That way, you can take advantage of longer daylight hours and more pleasant weather.

Best Times to Visit Ireland for Festivals and Events

Ireland celebrates a lot more than just St. Patrick's Day (a holiday that, before its more raucous iteration, was historically a religious celebration). On June 16, for example, Dublin's streets swell with James Joyce devotees observing Bloomsday — the anniversary of the date when the writer's groundbreaking novel, "Ulysses," takes place.

Each August, the County Kerry town of Killorglin organizes Ireland's oldest festival, the Puck Fair , where a wild goat is crowned "King Puck" for the duration of the event. September draws legions of oyster lovers to Galway for the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival , while summer is busy with events across the countryside, like the SeaSessions music and surfing festival held each June in County Donegal.

But you don't have to wait for a festival to enjoy live music in Ireland. Tons of pubs across the country offer live tunes throughout the year, so you can sing along to classic Irish songs and enjoy the festive atmosphere whenever you visit.

Most Affordable Times to Visit Ireland

Ireland's drizzly and dark winter is the least expensive time to visit, as long as you avoid the weeks around Christmas and St. Patrick's Day. Some high-end hotels, like County Limerick's Adare Manor , offer enticing off-season rates in the winter months, but watch where you book — some smaller bed-and-breakfasts take the whole winter off, especially in summer tourist hot spots like the Dingle peninsula .

Airfare costs also tend to be at their lowest in the winter. Spring and fall, though, can also be affordable times to fly, especially if you catch one of the frequent shoulder-season sales from the Irish national airline, Aer Lingus .

The best overall tip for budget-conscious travelers is simply to avoid the summer. Flight and hotel costs are both at their highest in June, July, and August, so those busy months are the toughest time of year to snag a discount.

Worst Times to Visit Ireland

Summer's peak popularity corresponds with a rise in airfare and accommodation rates, making it a less-than-ideal time for visitors in search of good deals or small crowds. That said, though, summer does offer the best chance that even the smallest B&Bs and rural attractions will be open, so it's not without its perks.

St. Patrick's Day follows closely behind the high summer with regard to both crowds and costs. Unless you are determined to spend the holiday in Dublin's Temple Bar district, it's best to avoid traveling to or from the country around March 17.

While winter is the least busy time to visit Ireland, it's also when the weather is at its worst. For a nice compromise between weather and crowds, visit in the shoulder seasons of either spring or fall.

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St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle. Dramatic coastline. Historic towns and cobblestone streets. Pubs and parties. Folklore and green pastures… and castles. Hundreds of castles and manor houses dot the Irish countryside. They not only evoke Ireland's storied past. Many allow you... Read more

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Film Set Fantasy: Go On Location in Ireland

The Emerald Isle is Hollywood gold! Lovers of green beer and big parties may dream of visiting Ireland for St. Patrick's Day festivities. But if cinematic drama is more your style, Ireland is where your fantasy of standing in the... Read more

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How to Eat Like the Irish on St.Patrick's Day

A foodie exploration of Ireland is an island-wide adventure involving the favorite Irish pastimes of eating, drinking and socializing – from cafés and pubs, to stylish Michelin-starred restaurants.In the 'Emerald Isle', food is intimately connected to the rich green landscape,... Read more

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11 Of The Best Travel Shoes For Men, Road Tested By Experts On The Go

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In order to uncover the best travel shoes for men, we reached out to frequent flyers, road warriors and guys who live out of suitcases to find what’s on their feet. After polling 20 travelers for their favorites, a few clear winners emerged: On’s Cloud 5 won as the best travel shoe for walking, with its lightweight and cushioned design, while APL’s Streamline are the best travel shoes you can work out in. If you’re traveling for business, Cole Haan’s Chukka Boot and Allbirds’ classic Wool Runners are top picks.

The best travel shoes for men are stylish, rugged, lightweight and well cushioned for serious treks. ... [+]

While there are plenty of functional shoes you can wear on a trip, the experts don’t settle for just-ok pairs. The winners here had to meet specific criteria. They’re stylish but comfortable, rugged but sleek enough to fit into a carry-on. They’re also easy to slip on and off in a hurry and well cushioned for long days on your feet. And they don’t skimp on traction either, whether you’re navigating cobblestones in Boston or icy streets in Gstaad. Here, all the best travel shoes for men that come highly recommended from our panel of pros.

  • Best Walking Shoes For Travel: On Cloud 5
  • Best Slip-On Shoes For Travel: Vans Classic Slip-On Shoe
  • Best Workout Sneakers For Travel: APL Streamline
  • Best Business-Casual Shoes For Travel: Allbirds Wool Runners
  • Best Cushioned Shoes For Travel: Kizik Vegas
  • Best Rugged Shoes For Travel: Hoka Anacapa Breeze Low
  • Best Work Shoes For Travel: Cole Haan Original Grand Moc Toe Chukka Boot
  • Best Stylish Shoes For Travel: Peter Millar Excursionist Chukka Shoe
  • Best Chelsea Boots For Travel: R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman
  • Best Packable Shoe For Travel: Suavs The Zilker
  • Best Waterproof Shoes For Travel: Blundstone Classic 550 Boots

Best Walking Shoes For Travel

Terminal-friendly footwear.

The On Cloud 5 received several votes from our expert panel. “They are the Range Rovers of shoes—every Wall Street guy has them,” says Lars Munson, who splits his time between Charleston, South Carolina, and New York. With good reason: These sneakers are easy to slip off (and back on) in an airport security line, thanks to their speed lace-locking system, and they are also lauded for containing 44 percent recycled materials—and being lightweight and comfortable. “They are good for walking long distances through expansive new airport terminals, like at LGA,” adds Munson. If you plan to wear them around Seattle, or another notoriously rainy destination, shell out an extra $30 for the On Cloud 5 Waterproof .

Best Slip-On Shoes For Travel

Easy-breezy styling, vans classic slip-on shoe.

This iconic skateboarding shoe is all grown up, and is being spotted on men in airports all over the world. “Traveling with my Vans Classic Slip-Ons is a total game-changer—while everyone else is wrestling with their shoes at airport security, I can easily slip these shoes on and off in seconds,” says Forbes Vetted gear editor Cam Vigliotta , who buys these subtly stylish canvas shoes in neutral colors like black or charcoal for a more polished look. But if you can’t resist the classic skateboard check pattern, choose a muted colorway like Harry Styles, who has been spotted traveling in the Vans Authentic.

Best Workout Sneakers For Travel

An attractive performance sneaker, apl streamline.

APL’s have a loyal legion of fans, due to their style, durability, and versatility. Sleek enough to wear to work but technical enough to work out in, they save you from having to cram an extra pair of running shoes into your carry-on. “I use them for travel and exercise. They even perform well on a pickleball court…well, better than I do anyway,” says Will Sledge, of Mobile, Alabama. Karson Chivas, who lives in Los Angeles and has a home in Miami, is also a believer. “I wear these when I’m traveling or doing a lot of walking—and I like them for work because they are subtle, and don’t have an in-your-face logo,” says Chivas. “I own eight pairs.” (Streamlines are currently available in 69 colorways, so owning a wardrobe of them is not uncommon.)

Best Business-Casual Shoes For Travel

The ultimate crossover shoe, allbirds wool runners.

A sneaker that doesn’t look like a sneaker, Allbirds’ versatility makes it a favorite among travelers. “They feel like sneakers, but the non-descript dark sole makes them look like a work shoe,” says one of the travelers we spoke to who lives in Chicago. Made from superfine ZQ Merino wool they feel as cozy as a sweater, while thermoregulation keeps feet from getting too hot. Plus, you can feel good about wearing them because the wool is grown using regenerative farming practices that help prevent climate change.

Best Cushioned Shoes For Travel

Kizik vegas.

Nondescript isn’t often used as a compliment, but in this case, it’s the very highest of praise. Caleb King, director of engineering at Forbes, wears these supple leather tennis shoes to the office because they are sophisticated enough to pass for work shoes. The Rabbit Foam outsoles ensure a cushiony commute, and the heel of the shoes collapse when you step into them (and then snap right back into the place), making them easy to step in and out of at the airport.

Best Rugged Shoes For Travel

Perfect for hiking a trail—or across town, hoka anacapa breeze low.

This shoe racks up awards: It earned The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, which recognizes footwear that promotes foot health, and it’s made out of the Leather Working Group (LGW) Gold-Rated nubuck leather (the LGA is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible leather practices that support positive social and environmental change.) Designed for hiking in warm climates (note the grippy Vibram outsole) the Hoka Anacapa Breeze Low is equally good for trekking through airports, cities, and wherever else your adventures take you. “They are perfect for every stage of travel. The shoe's ventilated upper keeps my feet cool, so I don't have to be that guy who takes my shoes off on the plane,” says Vigliotta. “And the cushy midsole makes it easy to walk for miles in pain-free comfort.

Best Work Shoes For Travel

Dressy, but not too formal, cole haan original grand moc toe chukka boot.

If you book client dinners right after work, this is the shoe for you. “It looks like a work shoe, but it’s still informal enough to go out in,” says Nick O’Grady, who lives in Minneapolis. The “desert”-style boot has been reimagined with a flexible rubber sole, and Cole Haan’s Grandfoam cushioning ensures a blister free walk, whether you’re traipsing through airport terminals or across town. “It literally feels like you are walking on a pillow,” O’Grady says.

Best Stylish Shoes For Travel

Sophisticated and extremely comfortable.

Peter Millar

Peter Millar Excursionist Chukka Shoe

These have the lace-less, slip-on ease of a traditional loafer, but with more distinctive styling. (Peter Millar updated the classic military-inspired chukka by making them lower-cut and removing the traditional laces). Water-resistant (which is impressive for suede) and offering sneaker-like comfort, they are a favorite of Stephen Pozatek of New Canaan, CT. “I like the ¾ height, and that they can work in both a formal or casual environment.”

Best Chelsea Boots For Travel

Rugged and handsome on the road.

R.M. Williams

R.M. Williams Comfort Craftsman

These boots have been being handmade in Australia since 1932, and have classic yet modern appeal. Meticulously crafted using a single piece of leather that softens with each wear, they have a rubber welt sole that makes them well-suited to trekking through cities. “They are rugged yet dressy, and just very versatile,” says Adam Borod who wears them to work in New York City and trips throughout Europe. The pull on construction is perfect for travel, but what really sets the R.M. Williams apart is their style. Everyone we showed these to immediately said they were going to buy a pair.

Best Packable Shoe For Travel

Can be crammed into the smallest of carry-ons, suavs the zilker.

Slim and flexible, these sustainable shoes can be packed completely flat to save space in your bag. Gordon Watson, who lives in San Diego, likes that they slip on easily, and that The Zilker’s moisture absorbing materials allow them to be worn with or without socks. What’s more, the shoe is constructed to magically conform to any foot shape (ranging from narrow to wide), and the sole is extra grippy—perfect for schlepping down slippery streets.

Best Waterproof Shoes For Travel

Good boots for bad weather, blundstone classic 550 boots.

These are especially popular for travelers who have to brave the elements—for work or play. Stephen Kennedy, who lives in Bedford, NY, but opened a School of Rock franchise in Ireland, likes their waterproof construction. “They are dressy enough for work but comfortable, and practical for Irish weather—and I also wear them when I go over to Austria.” Borod, who lives in New York City when he’s not traveling throughout Europe, has worn them while exploring the Dolomites and walking around town at night in Ortisei. The brand’s iconic pull on tabs make them easy to get on and off, water-resistant leather keeps feet dry, and amped-up shock absorption takes the brunt of the impact as you walk.

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Forbes Vetted contributor Lesley Rotchford has been covering style for more than 20 years. For this story, she caught up with 20 men who travel for work during the week, and jet off to ski, fish, surf or play golf on the weekends. These guys have test-run basically every shoe on the market and chose the best options that get them where they need to go—in style.

How We Chose The Best Travel Shoes For Men

In order to create this list of the best men’s travel shoes, our writer, along with our team of editors, sifted through popular men’s sneakers, dress shoes, and crossovers (as well as shoes made by lesser known, up-and-coming brands), and evaluated them based on versatility, durability, comfort, and style. We then compared our results with recommendations from our experts. The shoes that topped both our list, and theirs, made the final cut.

More Footwear Stories To Shop

Best Workout Shoes For Men

Best Walking Shoes For Men

Best Casual Shoes For Men

Best Dress Sneakers For Men


Lesley Rotchford

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