From Antarctica to Zimbabwe, if you're going there, chances are Lonely Planet has been there first. With a pithy and matter-of-fact writing style, these guides are guaranteed to calm the nerves of first-time world travelers, while still listing off-the-beaten-path finds sure to thrill even the most jaded globetrotters. Lonely Planet has been perfecting its guidebooks for nearly 30 years and as a result, has the experience and know-how similar to an older sibling's "been there" advice. The original backpacker's bible, the LP series has recently widened its reach. While still giving insights for the low-budget traveler, the books now list a wide range of accommodations and itineraries for those with less time than money.
From pub-hopping and leprechaun-chasing to Ogham stones and the Book of Kells, Lonely Planet presents the essential Ireland. In addition to the requisite lowdown on food and accommodations, a detailed activities section covers everything from walking and birdwatching to hang gliding and rock climbing. The book's intriguing "boxed asides" delve into topics ranging from the mystical to the environmental, including the witch of Kilkenny, the legend of Inishbofin Island, the Birr Observatory and Telescope, even Ireland's disappearing bogs. --Kathryn True