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4 years ago

Long HaulRest of the World

Why You Should Choose the Emirates of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Instead of Dubai…

Snorkelling

Did you know that Dubai was only one of seven Emirates? Why not get away from the hustle and bustle of Dubai and choose Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah instead.

 

There are a staggering 39 direct flights every week to the Emirates from Dublin airport. Many of you may have travelled to Dubai or stopped there en route to other destinations. Next time why not take the road less travelled and visit the quieter, more unspoilt Emirates. You will discover a relaxed atmosphere, lower hotel prices but still the same great beaches and expansive deserts. They are both very close to Dubai so you can easily take a day trip if you fancy a change of scene. Tropical Sky feature holidays to Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, two Emirates that combine sandy beaches and magnificent mountains with the Arabian desert. They are an ideal choice for a relaxing short break with some guaranteed sunshine. There are some amazing offers flying with Emirates direct from Dublin to Dubai until the end of the year, all with airport transfers included. I have hand picked some of their best to showcase why you should get off the beaten track and choose Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah instead of Dubai.

 

Ras Al Khaimah

 

4* Cove Rotana, Flights, Transfers & 5 Nights, All Inclusive, €889!

This traditional beachfront hotel is the perfect place to chill out. Choose from two swimming pools and a great choice of bars. Enjoy bottomless drinks and snacks while you watch the sunset in the Sunset Bar or some cocktails at Breakers at the beach. There are plenty of facilities to keep you active like their on site gym or if you want to chill out at the spa, thats cool too. They will also arrange sightseeing tours to the desert or you can enjoy a round of golf at the nearby course! Transfer time from Dubai: 90 minutes.

Click here for more details:

 

 

5* Rixos Bab Al Bahr, Flights, Transfers & 5 Nights, All Inclusive, €969

If luxury is what you seek, look no further! This 5* hotel is located on a magnificent private beach in Marjan Island, yet only 5 minutes drive from the large Al Hamra Mall. All rooms have sea views and the amenities on site are second to none. There are seven pools to choose from including a adult-only infinity pool. The all-inclusive arrangement includes dining at one of the Emirates largest buffet restaurants, with live cooking stations and a BBQ as well as six other restaurants where reservations are required. The spa offers Turkish Hammam (self-service), steam room, sauna and an ice fountain and non motorised watersports are also included in the price. The hotel provides an excellent entertainment program for adults and children, as well as an on site kids club and teen zone. Chill out at the end of the day with a cocktail in the Mojito Bar or the fantastic beach bar. Transfer time from Dubai: 1 hour.

Click here for more details:

 

Fujairah

 

5* Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah, Flights, Transfers & 5 Nights, All Inclusive €989

The Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah is situated on a private beach in the Indian Ocean. All rooms have sea views, perfect for a romantic drink on the balcony. There are excellent on site facilities including six restaurants and bars, a spa, fitness centre and dive centre. There is a water park for kids as well as a club offering snorkelling, sailing, games and crafts. Make sure to visit the nearby Madhab Park with its healing mineral springs. The hotel also offers a shuttle to Dubai, twice per week at an additional charge. Transfer time from Dubai airport: 90 minutes.

Click here for more details:

 

 

5* Le Meridien Al Aqua Beach Resort, Flights, Transfers & 5 Nights, All Inclusive, €1369

This luxury Indian Ocean resort is set on its own private beach with the stunning backdrop of the Hajar Mountains. The Le Meridien Al Aqua Beach Resort is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Fujairah and is rated number 1 on tripadvisor. The on-site facilities are world class including one of the largest swimming pools in the region, a luxury spa, outstanding international cuisine and lush gardens. There is a dive centre, tennis and squash courts and a health club on site. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to Fujairah City and Dubai, if you fancy a day trip. For a limited time you will receive 30% off stays until the 20th of October, price above includes this discount. Transfer time from Dubai: 90 minutes.

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own 🙂

 

EuropeFamily HolidaysFeatured

The Definitive Guide to Ferrari Land, Spain

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No man alive could have pried my fingers off that safety bar. Zero to 180km in 5 seconds, I couldn’t even imagine what that would feel like, and what did G Force factor of 1.3 actually mean anyway?

 

When my invitation to visit Ferrari Land arrived to my inbox I had mixed emotions. I was genuinely delighted to be invited, but absolutely terrified at the same time. Rollercoasters are not really my thing, but how do you turn down an invitation from Ferrari? One of the world’s most iconic luxury brands combining with Port Aventura, Europe’s largest theme park, in a €100 million development! There was no way I could accept without actually going on Red Force, the tallest (112 meters) and fastest (180km) rollercoaster in Europe, that would be pointless and unfair to whomever could have gone instead of me. I had no option, I had to do it…

I stood in line for the third time. The first two times there was a ‘malfunction’ somewhere and we were told to come back! I began to wonder was somebody trying to tell me not to do it… There were six of us who travelled together from Ireland for the official ‘Grand Opening’ of Ferrari Land in Spain. I appeared to be the only one who was remotely scared of Red Force. At one point the others actually discussed waving their hands in the air – seriously!!

Ferrari Land

The best part of the whole experience for me, is that it was over in 24 seconds! Actually to be fair, if you are into rollercoasters, it is amazing. It is the tallest and fastest in Europe and the feeling of reaching that height and speed is something I thought I would never experience. My colleagues thought it was incredible, all of them wanted to go on it again and for brief minute, I thought I did too. My eyes were closed the whole time and listening to the others discuss the view from the top, I suddenly had this feeling that I didn’t experience it properly, and I SHOULD really do it again. Then I spotted a sign that said that the Red Force has a 30% chance of rolling backwards from the crest, depending on the weather, and that it might not make it to the top! That was the end of Red Force for me, but for thrill seekers it adds a whole new level of excitement…

While Red Force is the main attraction in the park and is a ‘must do’ for serious adrenaline junkies, there are other rides there too. There are two Thrill Towers, one a free fall and the other a bounce back tower. They are relatively tame compared to Red Force. Children will enjoy the Maranello race track where families can compete against each other and race around a track. There is also a Junior Championship for younger kids.

Ferrari Land

The Ferrari Experience is housed in a vibrant Ferrari Red building, a must visit for Ferrari enthusiasts. Learn all about the legendary Italian Scuderia and try the two simulator rides, The Flying Dreams and Racing Legends. Petrol heads will love the Pole Piston Challenge. You get to feel what it is like to ride in a Formula 1 car in the on site simulators, these are similar to the simulators that the F1 drivers practice on.

There are only 8 simulators though (6 for adults and 2 for children) and they were booked very quickly so unfortunately we didn’t get to ride them. Similarly with the Pit Stop Record. Two teams compete against each other to change four wheels on a full size F1 car as quickly as possible.

TOP TIP: Make sure you go to both of these rides as soon as you enter the park to book your place. You can wander around the park and come back at your allotted time. There is an additional charge of €20 for both of these rides.

Ferrari Land

While the iconic red Ferrari colour is visible throughout the park, the designers also managed to create an authentic Italian environment too. Walking around the park amidst the Colosseum and Venice’s St Mark’s Campanile, you might forget you are actually in Spain. There are some excellent Italian restaurants to choose from as well as famous Italian ice cream parlours.

An acrobatic show with dancers, acrobats and BMX performers is scheduled three times per day during the week and four times at weekends. There is also a fancy souvenir shop with Ferrari merchandise at the exit – bring your credit card! Overall the park feels upmarket and classy and you can see how they spent a whooping €100 million creating it.

Ferrari Land

Ferrari Land will be open from 10am to 5pm, and in high season there will also be an evening session from 6pm to 1am. It is a small park so a half day is probably enough time to see it and I would recommend visiting it as part of a trip to Port Aventura World, Europe’s largest theme park. 

TOPTIP: You must pre book tickets, the entry is limited to 5,000 people per day so if you have not pre-booked your ticket you may be turned away!

 

How to get to Ferrari Land:

Reus is the closest airport to Ferrari Land, only 15 minutes drive away and there are numerous charter flights available with Sunway and TUIand scheduled flights with Ryanair. Combine with a holiday in Salou and Port Aventura World. Port Aventura is a world class family resort, now with three theme parks, five hotels, three golf courses and a beach club! Read my blog on reasons to visit Port Aventura World this year. Barcelona airport is another option, only an hours drive or train ride and there are daily flights with Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

Ferrari Land

 

How much does it cost?

Attraction Tickets Direct offer the best selection of packages to Ferrari Land. At the time of issue prices are €60 per adult and €52 per child for a one day, two park ticket; or €109 per adult and €94 per child for a four day, three park ticket.

Ferrari Land

 

For more information on attractions, height requirements and prices, click here.

 

 

Sarah
The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery
 
AsiaLightening DealsLong Haul

Book 5 Nights, Stay 5 Nights Free at the Luxury Katathani Phuket, 1 week inc Flights & Transfers, €1179!

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The luxury Katathani Phuket Beach Resort has something to suit all travellers. This hotel epitomises everything that Phuket has to offer, beauty, adventure and culture.

Phuket is not only a place for honeymooners, it is the largest and busiest of Thailand’s tropical islands. It’s diversity attracts couples and singles as well as families. You can choose to lounge on a beach all day and enjoy some spa treatments, party all night in one of Patong’s lively bars or go exploring with the kids. Although still a tropical paradise there are numerous things to do here. A trip to one of the neighbouring islands, Phi Phi being the most popular, or a visit to the old town of Phuket, with it’s quirky streets will not disappoint. It is also a great place to chill out after a trip to bustling Bangkok or elephant trekking in Chang Mai.

luxury Katathani Phuket

Situated on one of Phuket’s best beaches with a lush green forest as a backdrop, the luxury Katathani Phuket Beach Resort is paradise! I love their slogan ‘for those who want to get away from it all yet can still have it all’. There are six swimming pools and six restaurants to choose from as well as a luxury spa full of pampering options. The fitness centre has a fully equipped gym with personal trainers and also offers yoga and aqua aerobics classes. If you are feeling more adventurous there is waterpolo, a dive school and even Thai boxing! Foodies will love the Thai cooking and fruit carving classes as well has a wide selection of dining options available. If you just want to chill out on a sun lounger, thats cool too, why not opt for a massage, manicure or pedicure in the garden 😍 If you fancy a night out or a trip into the old town of Phuket, the hotel has a shuttle bus to Patong and Phuket. But with views like this over dinner, why would you want to leave….

luxury Katathani Phuket

The Katathani Phuket Beach Resort is paradise for children too! There are four swimming pools suitable for kids, including one with a mini water slide. There is a shaded area with a sand pit and a kids club for 4- 12 year olds. The hotel also has kids menu options and a babysitting service. There is also numerous sports facilities including golf putting greens, waterpolo, volleyball, table tennis and billiards. Grand deluxe family rooms have a sliding door between parents and kids’ sleeping areas and for a limited time, two kids under 16 go FREE when sharing a rooms with 2 adults!

luxury Katathani Phuket

There is a wide selection of rooms available including oceanfront suites. family suites and even three bedroom villas. Even the standard deluxe rooms are fab!  . If you pay for 5 nights, you can get 5 nights FREE, stay for one week and get a second week FREE! Prices are available from €1179. Prices include flights, taxes, transfers and hotel on a B&B basis for seven nights. So what are you waiting for?

Click here for more details:

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own 🙂
Best Travel Deals

NO Single Supplements on selected China and Vietnam Tours

Solo traveller

Is the Great Wall of China on your bucketlist? Have you always wanted to visit Vietnam but thought travelling alone might be too daunting? Well now is your chance! Wendy Wu Tours have NO single supplements on selected China and Vietnam tours!

 

I believe travelling solo is something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. Face your fears, step outside your comfort zone and be adventurous! What may seem daunting will in fact be exhilarating and it will probably be one of the most rewarding holidays you will ever have. The cost of travelling alone however, can often be expensive. Single Supplements are high in hotels and car and transfer costs can cost a lot more, when you have no one to split the bill. The other complaint I often hear is that when you are lucky enough to see a wonder of the world like the Great Wall of China, you want someone to share it with. You want to sit down that evening and relay your excitement over dinner about how amazing your day really was.  That’s where Wendy Wu Tours come in…

no single supplements

Wendy Wu Tours are the UK’s leading Asia specialists, with a 97-98% positive tour experience rating. Their tours are fully inclusive, with flights, transfers, accommodation, visas, meals and entrance fees included in the price. And if all of that isn’t enough they are no offering NO Single Supplements on selected China and Vietnam tours.

book Vietnam and get Cambodia free

 

In Pursuit of Pandas, 9 day fully inclusive tour, €2890.

Imagine strolling along the Great Wall of China, exploring the Forbidden City or visiting the remarkable Terracotta Warriors. You will see all of these amazing sights on their 9 day ‘In Pursuit of Pandas’ tour. You will also visit the world famous Panda Conservation Centre in Chengdu, see the Great Buddha of Leshan and sample some street food in Jinli. Save the €340 single supplement on selected dates in July, August and September, making the total cost including flights, accommodation, tours, meals, visas etc from €2,890.

no single supplements

Click here for more details:

 

Vietnam at a Glance, 12 day fully inclusive tour €2690

On their 12 day ‘Vietnam at a Glance’ tour you will have the chance to explore the incredible Cu Chi Tunnels. You will visit the ever changing city of Saigon as well as the fast paced capital Hanoi, the rural village of Tra Que and the dignified city of Hue. You final day is spent aboard a traditional junk cruise in Halong Bay ❤️. Save the €360 single supplement on selected dates in July, August and September, making the total cost including flights, accommodation, tours, meals, visas etc from €2,690.

no single supplements

Click here for more details

 

Go discover some of Asia’s wonders, enjoy the peace of mind of a group tour, meet like minded travellers and make new friends! Call your local travel agent, visit www.wendywutours.ie or call the team on 0818 776 380

 

This post was sponsored by Wendy Wu Tours but all views, as always are my own 😎

 

Sarah

 travel deals

 

Uncategorized

5 Star Luxury Cruises in July or August from €1199 Including Flights!

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There are some amazing offers on 5 star luxury cruises in June, July or August. I had to read them a few times to see was I missing something – the prices are that good!

 

Three iconic cruise ships, the same impeccable service. Cruising with Cunard is classic, sophisticated and elegant. Expect daily white gloved afternoon tea, glamorous black tie events and unforgettable experiences. There are numerous dining options to choose from, world class entertainment as well as some traditional activities such as deck games, fencing and salsa dance classes. You will also find famous speakers giving informative presentations, another notable difference on Cunard cruises.

Click&Go have incredible offers on all three Cunard ships in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Choose a Greek Islands, Croatia and Italy cruise or a Western Mediterranean cruise taking in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. If you fancy Northern Europe, choose from a Norwegian fjords cruise or the Baltic Capitals. If you want a longer break there are also great deals on 9, 12 and 14 night cruises. What ever you choose you can enjoy 5 star luxury cruises in June, July or August from €1199, including flights from Dublin. I have listed two of my favourites below, but for details on all of their latest offers, click here.

 

Queen Victoria – Flights & 7 Night Greek Isles cruise, 14th July €1199!

Following upgrades to staterooms, the bar areas, sun deck and the new Britannia Club, you will cruise on a ship fit for a Queen. Enjoy a glass of bubbly at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar or enjoy the panoramic views in the Hemisphere lounge. Complete with a glass-domed roof this is also the venue for the resident DJ and contemporary nightclub. Practice your swing with the golf nets on deck, enjoy a game of tennis, fitness classes or relax in one of the swimming pools or the Royal Spa.

luxury cruises

 

Fly from Dublin to Athens on the 15th of July and board the Queen Victoria for your seven day luxury cruise around the Greek Islands. Visit the captivating islands of Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete as well as Saranda on the Albanian Riviera, before returning to Athens for your return flight home. Price of €1199 is based on an interior stateroom but you can upgrade to a balcony for an additional €200!

Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713

 

Queen Mary 2 – Flights & 8 Night Norwegian Fjords cruise, 21st August €1299

Imagine cruising around the Norwegian Fjords on the iconic Queen Mary 2! Audrey Hepburn, Clarke Gable and even President George Bush have all cruised on this luxury liner. Now you can too…Cunard’s flagship cruiseliner the Queen Mary 2 has been remastered with a staggering £90 million makeover. She has all the glitz and glamour associated with luxury cruising but now with added contemporary styling. You will find the best wine cellar at sea and the largest library as well as a full scale planetarium. Of course if you just want to relax, there are five pools and a luxury spa.

5 Star Luxury Cruises in June, July or August from €999

Fly from Dublin to Hamburg on the 21st of August and cruise to the Norwegian Fjords on an eight night luxury cruise.  Visit Bergen, Aselund, Olden, Flaam and Stavanger before returning to Hamburg for your return flight home.

Click here for more details: or Call 01-5397713 – Open 7 days a week!

 

Interested in cruising, for cruise news, reviews and the best cruise deals, click here. This post was sponsored by Click&Go but all views, as always, are my own.

Sarah

travel deals

 

 

 

In The Media

Staycations as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM – 9th April 2017

The-Travel-Expert-As-Seen-on-TV3

Looking for a last minute Easter break or want some inspiration for Summer holidays? Check out some of my favourite staycations as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM.

 

Causeway Coast

I’m just back from a magical trip to the Causeway Coast. Before I went I thought the main highlight was the Giant’s Causeway, however there is so much more to see. What’s great about this coastline is that all the main attractions are so close together. The Giants Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges are all within a 20 minute drive from each other. The coastal drive is as good if not better than I have seen on the Wild Atlantic Way and the dining options are excellent. For more information on my trip, read my blog post on the Causeway Coast. We stayed in a beautiful 3 story 3 bedroom house in Ballycastle, a great option for families, and is available through Airbnb. The Bushmills Inn is a great choice for couples, a multi award-winning boutique hotel and restaurant, ranked in the top 25 hotels on tripadvisor in the UK.

Bushmills Inn Hotel

Price for 2 nights B&B with cocktail, 4 course meal on first evening, entrance to Giants Causeway. £255 per person midweek over Easter holidays. Summer time £258 per person 1 night B&B, £50 a la carte credit, entrance to Giants Causeway. 

Click here for more details: 

Staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday AM - Causeway Coast

Beachview House, Ballycastle ( Airnbnb)

Price per night from €130 – €150 per night during the summer months. There is limited availability at Easter from Wednesday 19th April for two nights €189 per night including cleaning and Airbnb service fee.  If you haven’t tried Airbnb before sign up here and save €20 off your first stay.

Click here for more details:

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday Am - Ballycastle

 

Castlerosse Hotel, Killarney

There is so much to do in Killarney that you really need a minimum of four days, but more if you have it! The Killarney National Park, Mucross Abbey, Torc Waterfall, the ring of Kerry are just some of the highlights. The Castlerosse Hotel is a great choice, particularly for families as they have self catering cottages on site that have access to the hotels facilities. The hotel has a 20 metre swimming pool, kids club and lots of sports activities as well having an idyllic location overlooking the lakes of Killarney.

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday AM - Killarney

There is limited availability during Easter holidays. Prices from €490 for 3 nights BB & Dinner each day, for 2 adults & 2children. Summer prices in July & August €590 for B&B & Dinner each day for 2 adults & 2 children.

Click here for more details:

 

Harvey’s Point, Donegal.

Voted best hotel in Ireland and 25th best in the world by tripadvisor, if you are looking for a staycation, this has to be on your list. Its only 6km from Donegal Town but miles apart at the same time as it is situated on the shores of Lough Eske and the foot of the Blue Stack mountains. Harvey’s Point offers award winning cuisine and is definitely one for the romantics, as suites come with a bath tub for two!

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday Am - Harveys Point

Price for a two night break in a suite with breakfast, one evening meal is €238 pp midweek and €299pp weekend until the 21st of June. There is availability over Easter holidays, not Easter Saturday but before or afterwards.

Click here for more details:

 

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Galway.

Situated in Connemara, this luxury castle overlooks the Ballynahinch river in an idyllic location. This is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family break. Enjoy guided adventure walks through the woods or some fishing on the lake. Children will love the farm animals on site and the art competitions run by the hotel. The cultural village of Roundstone is only 15 minutes drive away and Leenane, the village made famous by the movie, The Field, is a 40 minute drive.

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday Am - Ballynahinch Castle

They have availability at Easter time. Price for a two night stay is €580 based on 2 adults and 2 children, including breakfast each day.

Click here for more details:

 

Like Staycations? Read some of my favourite staycations here.

 

Sarah 

travel deals

 

Sunseekers

Early Booking Winter Offer to Lanzarote – Flights & 4* Izaro Club, Half Board, 1 week, €420!

Izaro Club

The early bird catches… the best early booking winter offer to Lanzarote! A week in one of Puerto del Carmen’s best apartments, is just what you need to beat the winter blues.

 

When the cold weather and dark nights return, a week in the sun is heavenly ☀ There is nothing like lying on your sun lounger and hearing about the wind and rain back home!  The past few years we have seen a shortage of accommodation in the Canary Islands, particularly during the winter, as all Europeans look to Spanish resorts rather than North Africa for their winter sun holiday. If you can plan early you will secure this early booking winter offer to one of the most popular apartments in Lanzarote. A week in the 4* Izaro Club is only €438, with breakfast and dinner included! Lanzarote is one of the most popular winter destinations. With year round sunshine, low rise buildings and a great selection of activities to suit all ages, it ticks all boxes. Puerto del Carmen is the largest resort on the island, and offers the widest selection of shops, bars and restaurants, but thankfully, manages to be lively without being rowdy!

early booking winter offer to Lanzarote

The Izaro Club are rated number 2 on tripadvisor and are owned by the same owners as the popular Gloria Palace Hotels in Gran Canaria. They are centrally located in Puerto del Carmen and are only 15 minutes walk to the beach. These modern apartments offer all the facilities of a four star hotel but with self catering facilities. Luxury touches include robes and slippers, satellite TV and even an espresso machine! The heated pool is impressive with luxury loungers and free WiFi and the restaurant and staff receive rave reviews from customers. After a long day at the pool, enjoy a cocktail at their chill out terrace 🍸

early booking winter offer to Lanzarote

Fly from Dublin on the 11th of December and enjoy a seven night stay in the Izaro Club, on a half board basis for only €420. Travel on the 22nd of November for only €520 or change the date by clicking on the link below to find the date that suits you.

 

Click here for more details 

 

This post was sponsored by Budget Travel but all views as always, are my own 😀

 

Sarah

 

travel deals

 

 

Holidays in Ireland

A Magical Few Days On The Causeway Coast

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A land of magic and mystery, stunning scenery and seaviews. I enjoyed a magical few days on the Causeway Coast.

 

My family is originally from Kerry and my brother lives in Cork, so until recently most of my staycations were in the South of Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East are constantly cropping up in my newsfeed too, but the Causeway Coast was never really on my radar. I was asked by the kind folk at the Causeway Coast and Glens to pop up to Antrim to see the highlights. I always wanted to see the Giants Causeway but once I started googling (as you do) the first thing that struck me was how much there was to see, and how close together all the top attractions were. So off we went on a road tip to the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland.

The Giants Causeway lives up to the hype, even in the rain! Although smaller than I thought, it is very dramatic. It is steeped in myth and mystery and although personally I am not a big folklore fan, it was pretty magical. Maybe we were lucky but it was not at all crowded, despite being a Saturday morning. We took the short 40 minute walking tour and heard all about the legend of Finn McCool. The kids enjoyed it, spotting the Giant’s boot and the Wishing Chair, but if that’s not your bag or you are under pressure for time, you can easily walk down and see it yourself, with or without the self guided audio tour. There are also great walking trails, so if you fancy spending the day there, try the 90 minute, 3km route.

I’m not sure if it is a reflection of the age we are living in, but there seemed to be an unwritten rule that once you climbed to the top of the rocky outcrop, you stepped out of the way for the next person. This meant that everyone could get the perfect instagram photo! The visitors centre and gift shop are worth a look too, stocked with high quality souvenirs, paintings and gifts – a big step up from what you would normally see at a tourist attraction. The visitor’s centre also has a 360 degree grass roof with views of the Causeway coastline and a substantial coffee shop too.

The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was another favourite. A bridge that was raised annually for 250 years to allow fishermen access their nets, now stays up all year round, and is a top Northern Ireland attraction. We were all a little anxious as we took the 20 minute walk towards the bridge. It was wet and windy so the conditions were far from ideal. However I found walking the bridge easier than I expected. It was shorter (20 metres) and less ‘wobbly’ than I had anticipated, as it is actually quite sheltered. The kids were not remotely phased, in fact my daughter (6) ran back across it!

My husband, Cormac, on the other hand, wasn’t very enthusiastic and vowed never to do it again as he is not one for heights! Regardless of nerves or excitement you can’t deny that the views are stunning – and that is coming from someone who did it in the rain! The colour of the sea and the dramatic scenery make it a ‘must do’ if visiting the Causeway Coast. In fact the weather cleared the next day and I wanted to go back to do it again, but I was over-ruled! TOP TIP: To get a bridge photo from a distance head to Portaneevey car park.

We decided to visit Dunluce Castle instead, this was another highlight. This 14th century Castle was the inspiration for the castle in C.S. Lewis’ tale of Narnia. When you see the dramatic cliff setting, you will understand why. Once again it was relatively quiet so the kids were able to run around and get up to mischief. They climbed up towers, explored caves and enjoyed listening to the stories about vikings, drawbridges and knights, and how, on a stormy night, the entire kitchen fell in to the sea during a party!

Although I am probably one of the few who hasn’t watched the Game of Thrones, I have seen lots of images of The Dark Hedges and considering it is only 15 minutes from Ballycastle – I just had to pop down for a look. I was told it would be packed with people and impossible to get a decent picture, but in fact, it was the opposite. With the exception of the odd car passing through and a few tourists like myself, it was relatively empty. I stood for a brief moment with my eyes closed imagining the sound of horses and marching soldiers. The beech trees were planted in the 18th century as the impressive entrance to the Stuart’s family house. 200 years later Bregagh Road is one of the most photographed roads in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges is moody and magnificent and is another must see! TOP TIP: Morning or evening are the quietest times and sunrise and sunset have the best light.

A visit to the nearby Bushmills Old Whiskey distillery was in order after our busy morning, but unfortunately children are not allowed to do the tour. This meant Cormac had to take one for the team and do the whiskey tour alone. Needless to say he was heartbroken – a full hour alone, drinking whiskey! He really enjoyed the tour and recommends it for anyone even remotely interested in ‘the water of life’. Make sure you buy the smooth 12 year old ‘Distillery Reserve’ single malt Irish whiskey, that is only available to purchase at the store – the perfect gift for any whiskey lover, you can even have the label personalised. In our case, it was a nice souvenir to bring home, to remind us of our trip to the Causeway Coast. Top Tip: You might want to nominate a designated driver!

causeway coast

On our last day, the sun came out and we had clear blue skies! We decided to take a quick spin around the coast before our drive home. The drive around Fair Head and Murlough Bay is just a few miles outside Ballycastle. The scenery is spectacular. I turned into the passenger from hell, asking to stop every few minutes for photos, and the quick spin turned out to be a few hours… I only wish we were able to drive the whole causeway coastline but time was against us. The Causeway Coast has to be one of best places in Ireland for a road trip.

Our visit was only three nights but if traveling in the summer time, I would say stay longer. Try a sea safari around the coast with Aquaholics – we had planned on doing this but our trip was cancelled due to the poor weather. Adrenaline junkies might enjoy some coasteering (a combination of rock climbing and jumping into the sea) or the Gobbins cliff path walk which is due to reopen in the summer time. There are some great adventure parks for families and if you fancy a break from outdoor pursuits, indulge in a seaweed bath at Sea Haven therapy in Ballycastle or try the Ballycastle Food Tour (more info on that below). Of course you can always combine your stay with a visit to the Titanic Museum in Belfast.  What ever you do, make sure you allow time to drive the full Coastal Route because the small amount we saw was incredible.

So the only thing left to say is – the Wild Atlantic what?

Where to stay:

We stayed in Ballycastle, a town I knew nothing about, but it was ideal for us. It is only 20 minutes from the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills and 10 minutes from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Bushmills is also a great town to stay in but I like that Ballycastle is a seaside town and it is halfway along the Causeway Coastal Route. You can stroll along the beach, or enjoy cliff walks with stunning seaviews. It was voted the best place to live in Northern Ireland for the past two years which is evident by the great community spirit in the town. The residents refused to let Tesco or any large chainstores in, so what remains is local shops, bars and restaurants all supporting each other. I know this might sound a bit cheesy but it was actually quite heart warming.

The fact that we stayed in a fabulous three storey, three bedroom house through Airbnb, may have helped endear me to Ballycastle too! We were greeted on arrival by the owners Esther and Paul and given a large welcome pack including clove and jelly jam made by her sister – it was delicious! The house was recently renovated and the décor and attention to detail is superb. It is excellently situated at the harbour and the bedroom has perfect seaviews. There is also a garden with a BBQ if you are lucky enough to get the weather! 

causeway coast

Where to eat:

We went on a morning food tour of Ballycastle from North Coast Walking Tours and the variety of high quality food was excellent. Caroline, our guide, educated us about Ballycastle and the surrounding area, all while eating local produce. She was also great with the kids and made sure there was something in each stop that they would like. Ballycastle and the Causeway Coast in general is becoming renowned as ‘foodie’ destination. We started with the ‘wee’ Ulster fry in the Bay Café, then tasted delicious pear, vanilla and almond homemade scones in Thyme and Co. She saved the best for last though – the seafood chowder in the Central Bar is superb! In fact we loved the food in the Central Bar so much we had dinner there too. The food, service and atmosphere was excellent and the kids really enjoyed it. Scott, the Manager happened to be a massive Star Wars fan, which went down well with Luke, my 9 year old Star Wars fanatic! After our meal we popped downstairs for some live music. Another must try when in Ballycastle are the local craft beers. The Rathlin Red ale from O’Connors, traditional Irish pub, was one of our favourites.

The Bushmills Inn is a must visit. This cosy pub has a great atmosphere and great food to match, perfect for lunch after a morning at the Giants Causeway. It is a boutique hotel so if travelling as a couple it is also a great choice to stay in. Tartine at the Distillers Arms is excellent for dinner. I was delighted to see steak on the kids menu, a welcome surprise from burgers and chicken nuggets! If you fancy a night in you can curl up in front of the fire with a take-away from Morton’s fish and chip shop in Ballycastle. The best fish and chips in Northern Ireland!

 

For more info visit CausewayCoastandGlens.com

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah

 

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Book Vietnam and get Cambodia Free!

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Book Vietnam and get Cambodia free! Book any China, Burma & Japan tour & get Hong Kong free! Both offers include a two night trip with flights, hotels, transfers & sightseeing tours!

 

Vietnam is intoxicating. You will find extraordinary experiences at every turn. Explore the amazing city of Saigon and marvel at the contrasts between the old and new. Take ten minutes to cross a road in the manic capital, Hanoi and then spend some quiet time in the rural Tra Que village.  Soak up the atmosphere in the stunning Halong Bay and wonder at the amazing Cu chi tunnels.

Book Vietnam and get Cambodia for Free, a great deal from The Travel Expert

An organised tour is the best way to ensure you see all these magnificent sights. If you choose the Vietnam at a Glance tour you will see all of the above over twelve days. For a limited time (book by 30th of April) if you book this tour or almost any other Vietnam Wendy Wu Tour, you will receive a two night stay in a five star hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This includes return flights, transfers, and a full days sightseeing in Angkor with lunch! They even include your Cambodian visa! Catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat which was recently listed as number 1 on Lonely Planet’s list of the world’s 500 top places to visit .

Book Vietnam and get Cambodia free
Angkor Wat

This special offer is not limited to Vietnam. If you book a tour to China, Japan or Burma, you can get a free two night stay in Hong Kong. This also includes a sightseeing tour, breakfast each day and transfers! Wendy Wu Tours are one of the best tour operators to China, Japan and Southeast Asia and they offer a wide selection of tours directly from Ireland. With prices starting at €2190 for their Golden Triangle Tour or €2390 for flights and a 10 night fully inclusive tour of China, they are exceptional value. When I say inclusive, I mean it. Not only are entrance fees to the top attractions included, but meals and even visa fees are included in the price! For more information on these fantastic tours, read my blog here.

book Vietnam and get Cambodia free

These amazing offers are valid on most Wendy Wu tours, flying with Cathay Pacific, if you book by the 30th of April. There are exclusions from the 20th of July – 23rd of August and from the 7th – 28th of December but otherwise this offer is valid on all departures up to the 31st of March 2018!

 The Ts&Cs!

  • €120 supplement applies for travel departing UK in September and October 2017
  • Flights must be booked with Cathay Pacific – valid from Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester.
  • Connecting Flights from Dublin, Cork & Shannon are with British Airways or Aer Lingus.
  • Single supplements will apply
  • Excludes 2018 departures for Japan.

Check with your local travel agent for more details on how to book Vietnam and get Cambodia free or book China, Burma or Japan and get Hong Kong free – but make sure you book by the end of the month!

 

This post was sponsored by Wendy Wu Tours but all views, as always are my own 😎

 

Sarah

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