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3 years ago


4* Gloria Palace Amadores Hotel with Flights, Baggage & Transfers, 1 week, 3rd May, €699!

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Grab an early booking offer to one of our most popular hotels, the Gloria Palace Amadores.


Perched on a cliff with stunning views of the sea, and only 300 meters from the beach it is not surprising why the Gloria Palace Amadores Hotel and Thalasso has been a favourite with Irish holiday makers for many years. Boasting one of Europe’s top thalassotherapy centres, the spa is just one of the many amenities this hotel offers.

The Gloria Palace Amadores Hotel, July 2016 only €590 from The Travel Expert

Renowned for it’s high quality cuisine and attentive staff, the Gloria Palace Amadores Hotel has received a certificate of excellence from trip advisor along with excellent reviews from repeat customers.  Situated between Puerto Rico and Mogan, this hotel offers the best of both worlds. A relaxing holiday but the option to travel to nearby resorts if you fancy a livelier scene. Its situation on the south west coast of Gran Canaria is perfect for sheltered sun bathing which can be ideal in the cooler months.

The Gloria Palace Amadores Hotel, July 2016 only €590 from The Travel Expert
Puerto Mogan

Fly to Gran Canaria on the 3rd of May and spend seven nights in the Gloria Palace Hotel and Thalasso for only €699 per person. This amazing deal includes transfers and checked baggage too and a deposit of €75 secures your booking 🙂

Click here for more details:


Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Note, some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.



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Long HaulTravel

5 Ultimate Luxury Holidays With Free Upgrades And Exclusive Offers

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From Mexico to the Maldives, Barbados to Thailand, check out my top luxury holidays with free upgrades and exclusive offers.


I have teamed up with Tropical Sky to bring you some of the best luxury holidays for less. Want all-inclusive hotels where spa treatments, tours and golf are included? Fancy an over water bungalow in the Maldives with an upgrade to full board? Maybe a free upgrade to a jacuzzi suite in Thailand or perhaps up to 50% off in Sandals Barbados… These are just some of the amazing luxury holidays on offer with Tropical Sky.


Hurawalhi Island Resort – Maldives

From €2409 with seaplane transfers for seven nights.

The Maldives are probably one of the world’s most romantic destinations. Over water bungalows, pristine white sandy beaches and an underwater paradise, it is not surprising that the barefoot luxury of the Maldives is on everyone’s bucketlist. Hurawalhi Island is a picture postcard island resort that encapsulates the image of the Maldives. Complete with the world’s largest undersea restaurant and over water bungalows that lead right into the crystal clear waters of the lagoon, it is an adults-only paradise island. There are plenty of other restaurants to choose from it you want to eat above sea level, as well as an infinity pool, a luxury spa and a host of watersports. Watch the sunset from the Coco bar or the Champagne Pavillion and if you fancy a lively night, there is a choice of evening entertainment including live music and even a disco!

Tropical Sky are offering a free upgrade to full board when staying in an Ocean Villa, Ocean Sunset Villa, Ocean Pool Villa & Ocean Sunset Pool Villa, if you travel from the 1st of November to the 30th of April and book before the 31st October. Prices start at €3589 in one of only 15 luxurious ocean villas which are nestled in stilts over the water ❤️ This includes a saving of €1000 per person and includes flights, seaplane transfers and accommodation on full board basis.

Click here for more details


The Paradise Koh Yao – Thailand

From €1039 on a bed & breakfast basis in a jacuzzi studio for seven nights.

If you are looking for one of Thailand’s best kept secrets – you found it! Koh Yao No is located an hour by boat from bustling Phuket, yet world’s apart. This romantic hideaway is perfect for anyone looking to experience unspoilt Thailand without breaking the bank. With stunning views over Phang Nga Bay, this is where you will enjoy lazy beach days with your loved one. There is also a large infinity pool, twice daily open air yoga classes and a host of watersports available.

Tropical Sky have an exclusive offer of a free upgrade to a jacuzzi studio, yes your own private jacuzzi in your room! You will also receive 1 hour spa aromatherapy treatment for two per stay, if booked by the 31st of October. And that’s not all, if you book 60 days before arrival you can save an additional 20% discount on the hotel cost! Prices from €1039 on a bed & breakfast basis in a jacuzzi studio.

Click here for more details:


Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

From €879 on a half board basis for six nights

Only an hour from Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, or ‘Rak’, has white sandy beaches, desert dunes and rugged mountains. Explore the ‘Omani Fjords’ on a traditional dhow, visit a Bedouin desert camp or see ‘Rak’ by gyrocopter at the Jazirah Aviation Club. The Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah was inspired by Arabian palaces and the building is an architectural masterpiece. It’s location is perfect too. Situated on it’s own private beach it also has the luxury of a dramatic mountain backdrop, an 18 hole golf course and the Arabian Gulf, all visible from the hotel. The interior also has the wow factor. The stylish décor compliments the five star service and facilities on offer. There is a wide selection of international restaurants and bars to choose from, a luxury spa, golf course and swimming pool. Check out the short video below and you will see why it is rated number 1 on tripadvisor.

Tropical Sky have an exclusive offer of a free upgrade to half board with free airport transfers if you book by the 31st of October. You can also avail of a free upgrade to a sea view junior suite with balcony, if you book by the 9th of October.  Prices from €879 for a six night stay in June.

Click here for more details:


UNICO – Mexico

From €2099 on a premium all-inclusive basis for seven nights.

Imagine staying in an all inclusive hotel with spa treatments and golf included, where you can take Mayan jungle tours, sailing trips or swim with dolphins, and just pay a 20% service fee. UNICO 20°87°’ differs from other luxury hotels because of their unique all-inclusive offering. With personal training sessions, spa treatments, water-sports and incredible tours included in the price, this is an all-inclusive resort like no other. All you pay is a 20% service tax – see a full list of inclusions here. UNICO 20°87° is a brand new adult-only luxury hotel, located on a stunning beach and is the best hotel in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, according to tripadvisor. It’s contemporary décor manages to incorporate traditional Mexican style with lavish furnishings. They also offer unique cultural experiences, including cookery classes and a cocktail hour in a nearby Mayan village. There are three swimming pools, a wide variety of dining options as well as a luxury spa and yoga and exercise classes on the beach. Rooms are not standard either, choose an Alcoba swim up pool room or a room with an ocean view and an outdoor spa tub. You even have your own personalised Anfitrión, or host, available 24 hours a day.

Tropical Sky have an exclusive saving of €200 per person with unlimited select spa and beauty treatments included in the all-inclusive package (20% tax paid locally). Prices from €2,099 per person for seven night stay on an all-inclusive basis.

Click here for more details:


Sandals Resort, Barbados

From €2379 on a premium all-inclusive basis for seven nights.

Barbados is one of my favourite Caribbean islands. It’s combination of amazing beaches, UNESCO world heritate sites and vibrant nightlife means there is something here for everyone to enjoy. It’s cosmopolitan population means you are as likely meet an Irish man behind the bar as a Bajan. In multicultural Barbados, anything goes. Read my Barbados blog for more info.

Sandals Barbados is the ultimate couples only resort. The unique all-inclusive offering includes unlimited fine dining in eleven different restaurants with your choice of premium branded drinks from seven bars. Unlike many all-inclusive resorts, Sandals also offer unlimited scuba diving and other water sports included in the price of your stay. It’s location close to the lively St Lawrence Gap gives you the option to pop into town if you fancy trying one of Barbados’ legendary street parties.

For a limited time Tropical Sky have a staggering 50% off at Sandals Barbados. Price for flights, transfers and a deluxe room on a premium all-inclusive basis is €2379 in November, €2629 in April, May or June or €2789 in July and August.

Click here for more details:


Why not start your luxury holidays in style, by flying business class. Go one better and enjoy a free upgrade to first class when you purchase a business class ticket with British Airways to Mexico, Canada or the USA. Travel by 31st December.


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



The Travel Expert




It’s Double Avios Points Weekend! Shop Via The Avios Estore From 5th – 8th October!

online shopping

I get very excited when I hear about Avios promotions! Yes, I will no doubt be doing some serious online shopping this weekend, to take advantage of the Avios eStore Double Avios Weekend!


For those of you who have been following me on my journey, I am delighted that have already accumulated almost 30,000 Avios points this year. I just need another 7,000 for a business class upgrade to New York with Aer Lingus – how cool is that! Most of my Avios points were collected by shopping, I have only collected 2469 points by flying. I shop in Supervalu regularly and convert my Real Rewards to Avios. Occasionally I shop in Kildare Village, but the majority of my points were accumulated by shopping through the Avios eStore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not spending a fortune online, I’m just clever with my purchases. Recently I bought the kids school supplies from Easons, their uniforms from Marks & Spencer and new runners from Adidas. Those three purchases accumulated 6000 Avios! For anyone who is not familiar with Avios, read my first post about how to get flights and upgrades with Avios points.


Here are some of my top store picks from the eStore Double Avios Weekend. I have highlighted a few offers that I think you should watch out for but click here for the full list of all participating stores.


Marks & Spencer: 8 Avios for every €1 spent.

Choose their best selling jeggings, some mens polo shirts, cute kidswear or Rosie’s latest underwear, there is always something to be bought in M&S. If you spend €100 that gives you 800 Avios points. Shop here.

double avios points

Expedia: 14 Avios for every €1 spent.

Planning a Christmas market break or a sun holiday in the near future? You can massively increase your Avios points with accommodation or holiday purchases. A hotel break for €500 will give you 7,000 Avios or a €2000 family holiday will give you 28,000 Avios. You could almost have your business class upgrade in one purchase! Shop here.

double avios points

Adidas: 20 Avios for every €1 spent.

Kids football boots, the fashion must haves – Superstars, or the latest Stella Mc Cartney gym gear, there is something in the Adidas store to suit everyone. With 20 Avios for every €1 you spend, a new pair of Superstar runners will give you 2000 Avios points. Shop here.

double avios points

Groupon: 14 Avios for every €1 spent

From short breaks to Christmas gifts, restaurant offers to teeth whitening deals, Groupon is your one stop daily deals website. Collect 1400 Avios for every €100 spent on top of their already discounted prices. Shop here

double avios points

Lego: 10 Avios for every €1 spent.

Shopping for Christmas already? Parents know too well how expensive Lego can be but if you can accumulate Avios points while buying toys for the kids, it will soften the blow. Collect 1000 Avios for every €100 spent. Shop here.

double avios points

ASOS: 14 Avios; 6 Avios; Pretty Little Thing: 10 Avios, for every €1 spent.

Shopping for yourself or your daughter perhaps? Get the latest autumn winter looks from the UK’s biggest online fashion stores and collect Avios points at the same time. Shop here.

double avios points

Apple: 4 Avios

Planning on a getting a new phone, iMac or apple watch for Christmas? Perhaps you are thinking of treating the kids to new iPads? Buy them now and collect Avios points too.  Collect 1500 points if you buy the new apple watch or 2000 points if you buy a mini iPad. Shop here.

double avios points


How to sign up.

If you are already an AerClub  member, your existing log in and password will suffice. Collect Avios points by logging in to with your AerClub details and clicking through to the Avios eStore. For those who have not yet joined, you can join any of the airline programmes here. Why not download the free Avios app too, it will allow you book flights on the go, check your Avios balance and find out where to collect.


Where else can I collect Avios points?  There are many ways to collect Avios points but here are some of my favourites:

  • Fly with Aer Lingus, British Airways and Iberia and book car hire with Avis.
  • Shop at SuperValu, Kildare Village and Appleby.
  • Make your restaurant reservation by using Restaurant Circle. Normally you receive 250 Avios for each restaurant reservation but from now until the end of December you receive 500 Avios.  Christmas party bookings perhaps?
  • Irish Independent are giving customers a staggering 30,000 Avios points if you subscribe to the Irish and Sunday Independent for six months.



The Double Avios points offer is valid from 00.01 Thursday 5 October till 23:59 Sunday 8 October on the Avios eStore. Selected retailers are excluded from the Double Avios points offer and certain exclusions apply to each stores, see individual retail pages within the Avios eStore for details.

Click here to shop the eStore


This post was sponsored by Avios but all views, as always, are my own.Sarah

4* All-Inclusive Family Holiday, Algarve, 8th July, 2ad & 2ch from €2799 Inc Flights, Baggage & Transfers!


Take the kids to the Algarve next Summer. I have stayed in the pretty resort of Alvor a few times and loved it! Check out this all inclusive family holiday to the highly rated Alvor Baia apartments.


falcon holidays

Alvor’s white sandy beach is four miles long and personally one of my favourites in the Algarve.  My kids loved it too, they played in the many rock pools and went crab hunting which occupied them for hours! There are great beach bars that cater so well for families as well as the fantastic choice you will find in the old town of Alvor. Unlike most of its neighbouring resorts, Alvor remains somewhat unspoilt. It’s small town is full of character and is filled with a wide selection of shops, bars and restaurants. The small marina is another alternative if you fancy a change of scene. The beauty of Alvor is that it is nestled between the larger and busier resorts of Praia da Rocha and Lagos so if you fancy a lively night, a short taxi ride and you are there. For more information, read my blog post on Alvor.

all inclusive family holiday to the algarve

I found a great deal staying in the all-inclusive Alvor Baia apartments. These four star apartments are highly rated on tripadvisor, with certificate of excellence and are a great choice for an all inclusive family holiday. Not only have they excellent facilities for families but all meals and drinks are included in the price of your stay. The pool area is huge with plenty of space for sun loungers and the apartments are very spacious too. The children will love the kids club ( open from 10am – 530pm ), kids pool and the large playground as well as the numerous sport facilities on site, including mini football, water polo and dance lessons. In fact there is a daytime activity programme as well as the nightly entertainment programme, including the all important mini disco! Adults are not forgotten with aqua aerobics, aerobics and a spa with sauna, steam room and massages available.

all inclusive family holiday

Unlike many all-inclusive resorts, there is a great choice of food available. Tripadvisor reviewers comment on how good both buffet restaurants as well as the kids buffet are.  There are two bars to choose from, the Grand Bar which opens from 10am to midnight and the pool bar which is open from 10am to 11pm. The bar even serves mocktails for kids!  And if all that hasn’t sold you, there is even free WiFi 🙂 Falcon Holidays have free child places still available throughout July and August but I found the best deal on the 8th of July. Fly direct from Dublin and enjoy a seven night stay for only €2099  based on 2 adults and 1 child or €2799 based on 2 adults and 2 children.  These prices include flights, transfers, checked baggage and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis with NO HIDDEN EXTRAS! This is a traditional package holiday where you will have a Falcon Holidays representative in resort and the best part – a deposit of €75 per person will secure your booking!


Click here for more details: 2 adults & 1 child €2099

Click here for more details: 2 adults & 2 children €2799


falcon holidays


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




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A 5 Star Weekend In Marrakech, 26th April, Flights & Hotel, 3 Nights, €225!


Are you looking for a city break with a difference?  Want to explore somewhere new?  Try a weekend in Marrakech!


The city of Marrakech is a feast for the senses and is a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Even David Beckham thought it was cool enough to celebrate his 40th birthday there – so why not give it a whirl! Temperatures are usually in the mid twentys in April so as well as exploring this unique city you can also chill out by the pool and catch some rays 😎

weeekend in Marrakech

Stroll through the Medina and admire the traditional private mansions or riads as they are more commonly known. These house some of Marrakech’s top hotels now and are definitely worth exploring. Go bargain hunting in the souqs and spend some time on the main square, Djemaa el-Fna. Street artists are everywhere, from snake charmers to cookery shows  – this square is the heart and soul of Marrakech. Don’t worry though, if you are craving some modernity in this old city you can explore the new town, with it’s modern shops, bars and art galleries.

weekend in marrakech

Fly from Dublin to Marrakech on the 26th of April and spend three nights in the luxurious 5* Riad le Jardin d’Abdou for only €225. This is an incredible deal – it even includes breakfast and free WiFi! Check out the reviews on tripadvisor – it is a great choice for a weekend in Marrakech. This traditional boutique hotel is situated in the medina but there are only 9 rooms so you will need to act fast……

Click here to book flights: €98pp

Click here to book hotel: €127pp



Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Note that some of links in this post are affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 travel deals

Travel Tips

Flight Cancelled With Ryanair? You May Be Entitled To Expenses And Compensation


Another week, more headline grabbing news from Ryanair.  Ryanair are cancelling 40 – 50 flights every day for the next six weeks. If you have a flight cancelled with Ryanair, you may be entitled to compensation.


Although Ryanair say that this is less than 2% of their schedule, this doesn’t offer much consolation for those affected. To make matters worse the only explanation given by Ryanair is

“We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that”.

Ryanair have only offered cancellation notices until Wednesday 20th of September so those who are travelling later in September or October still have no idea of whether their flight will operate. For a full list of flights that Ryanair have already cancelled click here

flight cancelled with ryanair


The Commission for Aviation Regulation have issued the following statement:


If you have been affected by the Ryanair programme of flight cancellations you are entitled to a choice of refund or rerouting. Compensation may also be payable depending on the notice period Ryanair has given you.


Cancellation with prior notice.

Under the terms of the Regulation your entitlement and compensation varies depending on when you were informed of the cancellation.

The airline must provide at least two weeks notice to avoid paying compensation and they must then offer either:

  • an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or at a later date of your choice subject to the availability of seats; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

If you have been given between two weeks and seven days notice the airline must offer a choice between:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than two hours before your original departure time and allowing arrival at your final destination within fours hours of the original scheduled time of arrival; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

Less than seven days notice requires the airline to offer the choice between:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than one hour before your original departure time and allowing arrival within two hours of the original scheduled time of arrival; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

Airlines are entitled to offer a passenger comparable transport to the final destination if no alternative flight with the carrier is available.


Cancellation upon arrival at the airport.

In the event of a cancellation without prior notification the Regulation provides the following:

  • The air carrier shall provide a written notice setting out the rules for assistance in line with Article 14(2) of the Regulation. In addition, a sign must be displayed at the check-in area with the following text:

“If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, ask a the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance”

  • Passengers must also be offered care and assistance free of charge while waiting for their rerouted flight– specifically, meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time, hotel accommodation in cases where an overnight stay becomes necessary, transport between the airport and place of accommodation and two telephone calls, emails, faxes or telexes.
  • An alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or by comparable transport to the final destination.
  • A full refund of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose to the passenger’s original travel plan or when relevant a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity.
  • When a city, town or region is served by several airports, a carrier may offer a flight to an alternative airport to that originally booked. The carrier is then obliged to bear the cost of transferring the passenger to the airport to that which the booking was made or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.



Compensation in the event of a cancellation depends on the distance of the flight and the reason for the cancellation.

If an airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by an extraordinary circumstance which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken no compensation is payable.

As previously stated, the distance of a flight determines the amount of compensation due.

If the flight distance is:

  • 1500km or less the amount payable is €250
  • 1500km – 3500km and all EU flights over 3500km the amount payable is €400
  • 3500km or more the amount payable is €600.

If an airline can offer rerouting to the final destination that does not exceed:

  • two hours for flights of less than 1500km;
  • three hours for flights between 1500km and 3500km; and
  • four hours for flights over 3500km

the compensation will be reduced by 50%.

It is very important to note that compensation is distinct from and separate to the notion of reimbursement of expenses and/ or the refund of the cost of an unused flight ticket.

Claims Process

If you choose to make a claim for expenses or compensation from Ryanair, you must contact the airline directly.  This is covered in Article 15 of their terms and conditions found on their website.  Ryanair aims to deal with your application within 4 to 6 weeks.

It is important to remember that Ryanair is not required to pay compensation if the cancellation was outside of their control (extraordinary circumstances).   Once Ryanair has finished dealing with your claim and if you do not agree with their decision, you can refer the matter to:

The Commission for Aviation Regulation.

3rd Floor Alexandra House

Earlsfort Terrace


Telephone number +353-(0) 1-6611700

Irish passengers who remain unclear about their entitlements as set out in EC Regulation 261/ 2004, or who have further queries in relation to same, should contact this office at or on 1890 787 787 or + 353 1 6611700.





The Travel Expert


DestinationsEuropeFamily Holidays

My Review of PortAventura World


PortAventura, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land, read my review of PortAventura World for tips, tricks and recommendations for visiting all three parks.

The first thing that struck me was – it’s huge! With the addition of Ferrari Land, PortAventura World now has the largest number of theme parks in Europe. If you want to visit the main PortAventura park, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land, I would suggest taking three full days to see them properly.

review of portaventura

PortAventura Park

Home to 41 attractions and 40 daily shows, I was really impressed with this park and the variety on offer. There are plenty of rides for all ages and my 6 and 9 year old had a ball. There are six different lands, each with their own unique feel. When you walk into Mediterrania, ‘O Sole Mio’ bellows from the sound system, while ‘The Good, The Bad And The Ugly’ plays in the Far West land, it is extremely well thought out and the attention to detail is superb. We loved the water rides. Grand Canyon Rapids is perfect for kids of all ages while Silver River Plume is more like a coaster with one big drop, and you will need to factor in that you will get quite wet!

review of portaventura

The wooden coaster Stampida is a good choice for those who like rollercoasters but don’t like going upside down (my type of coaster!) It is still intense though and I would say suited to 8 years and above. There are plenty of rides for adrenaline junkies, Shambhala, Dragon Khan and Tutuki Splash, being the most popular.  The one attraction that we all disliked was El Secreto de los Mayas, a maze of mirrors which was extremely hard to get out of. Luckily we met a staff member inside who helped us out – definitely not for anyone with claustrophobia! Little ones are well catered for too with the Sesamo Aventura land offering 11 rides as well as sesame street characters wandering around.

family holiday in Salou

The park itself is spotless and the restaurant choices are excellent. Thankfully not all burger joints like some other parks I have visited. We ate in Raco de Mar in Mediterrania and it was great. There are pretty views across the lake and flowers everywhere, you would never think you were in a theme park! Prices were very reasonable too and they had a good mix of pizzas, chicken Caesar salad as well as a kids menu. Beers and ice creams didn’t break the bank either, dearer than in the resort centre but not extortionate. We found the park overall very reasonably priced compared to others we had visited.

review of portaventura

We went during a weekend in July, which I was told was quieter than going midweek strangely enough. I guess holiday makers tend to arrive over the weekend and go to the park during the middle of their visit. We didn’t have express passes and the longest we queued was 30 minutes. We didn’t opt for the express passes for two reasons. They were very expensive and most of the rides they covered (the high speed rollercoasters) we weren’t going on anyway. If you want to go on the fast coasters, then possibly you should consider them, but it really depends on how busy the park is and the time of year you visit. There are many options to choose from. The Express Max (€33pp), only allows one fast access per attraction (and not front row seats). The Express Premium Gold (€58pp), allows unlimited express access to the main attractions rides, with one single ride in the front row on the three main coasters, Shambhala, Furios Baco and Dragon Khan. See more details here.

review of portaventura

Another highlight was the parade and fireworks display at midnight. Not only is night time a great time to visit the park as there are virtually no queues, but the fireworks are in my opinion a ‘must see’. We arrived 15 minutes before the start time and got a perfect viewing point, in Disneyland you would need to arrive an hour before hand and even then you may not have a clear view.

Caribe Aquatic Park

This is right beside PortAventura park, in fact you can walk from one to the other in minutes. This was another big hit, we all loved it. There is a huge Caribbean style wave pool with sun loungers if you just want to chill out, a splash park for younger kids and a pirate ship pool with slides for older kids. I loved that there were plenty of family rides and queues were minimal. The longest we queued was 30 minutes but on average it was about 10 – 15 minutes for most rides. All of us were able to go down on one ring in El Torrente and we were able to go on double rings in lots of other rides. We also raced each other on Rapid Race and relaxed on the lazy river.

review of portaventura

Needless to say we weren’t brave enough to try King Khajuna, where you free fall from 31 meters and reach speeds of 6 meters per second! We did however, find that there was plenty of rides to suit us all and we left happy! Note you will need to rent lockers (big queues) for your camera, glasses etc, as you can’t bring anything on the rides with you, including waterproof cameras. You can purchase a photo pass, where an automated machine takes pictures of you on the rides, but unfortunately I didn’t notice this until we were leaving! Note Caribe Aquatic Park is only open from June to mid September.

review of portaventura

Ferrari Land

We didn’t visit Ferrari Land on this occasion but I was there for the opening launch, you can read my review on Ferrari Land here. This is also located beside Port Aventura park but in my opinion a half day is plenty of time to discover it. Europe’s highest rollercoaster Red Force is a must for rollercoaster fanatics where you reach 180km per hour in 5 seconds! Car enthusiasts will love the F1 simulator rides (extra charge) where you can feel what it is like to drive a Formula one car. However I thought most of the other rides are fairly tame and not as good as the rides on offer in PortAventura, so we opted to skip it on this occasion.

review of portaventura

Where to stay:

Salou, Cambrils and La Pineda are nearby holiday resorts offering a wide range of self catering and hotel accommodation. We stayed in the lively resort of Salou in Camping La Siesta for two nights and also in one of the PortAventura hotels for two nights. Camping La Siesta is a four star family resort that offers high quality bungalows and mobile homes. There is a day and evening entertainment program and a great pool area with slides for children of all ages. This is a great option if you are looking for a lively resort but within easy access to PortAventura. Read my review of my family holiday in Salou.

review of portaventura

If you want unlimited access to the park and plan on visiting at night time, then you should consider staying in one of the PortAventura hotels. You can come and go as often as you like throughout your stay. We were staying at the Gold River hotel and we loved it. The wild west theme was a huge hit with the kids and the rooms were very spacious and well equipped. We were staying on a half board basis and we were able to dine in the a la carte restaurant which was great. They have a dine around system, where you can dine in any of the restaurants in the park or the a la carte options in the hotels. There may be a small supplement to pay, depending on what you choose but in our case it was minimal.

review of portaventura

TOP TIP: If staying in one of the PortAventura hotels, check that your booking automatically includes access to the other parks. In our case it didn’t and we had to pay an additional €75 to enter the Caribe Aquatic Park (and that was with a 30% discount for staying at the hotel). If you are staying in one of the hotels or apartments in Salou or surrounding areas, I would definitely recommend pre purchasing your tickets, it is much cheaper than buying them at the gate and you get a better choice of ticket options. Make sure you read my blog post on the best tickets to buy for PortAventura before you book.



The Travel Expert

DestinationsEuropeFamily HolidaysFeatured

My Family Holiday in Salou


My family holiday in Salou thought me that there is a more to this sunshine resort than beautiful beaches and busy bars. Check out my review.


Busy built up resorts are not really my style, in fact normally I run a mile from them. However I really wanted to visit PortAventura and I had heard so many promising things about the Costa Dorada in general, that I thought I would go and see for myself what it was really like. We had an action packed four days and thankfully managed to see most of the highlights during our family holiday in Salou.

family holiday in Salou


Salou was pretty much as I expected, built up and busy! To be fair, the tree lined boulevard is impressive and spotless. The beach is also superb with lots of fancy sun bed offerings and an inflatable water park for kids. The fountain displays on the promenade are also a big hit at night-time for all the family. So although very lively, Salou has a nice happy atmosphere throughout. There are some excellent shops too and prices are very reasonable.


A family holiday in Salou is popular with Spanish holiday makers too who come from Barcelona and neighbouring cities, so there is a good mix of local and international shops to choose from. Similarly with dining options, don’t be put off by the rows of fast food outlets along the main road, if you walk along the promenade down by the area known as ‘The Rocks” there are some nice restaurants and bars to choose from. Look out for the pointed metal sculpture that resembles a ship’s sail (its called Els Pilons) and you will not only find lots of tapas bars but also some great cocktail bars to watch the sunset. We ate in Bamboo, a typical family restaurant but the pizzas were great (€11.90) and the kids menu is only €6.90!

family holiday in Salou



Things to do on family holiday in Salou:

One of the best things about holidaying in Salou is that there is so much to see and do in the surrounding area. If you find Salou is too busy for you, there are numerous quieter resorts dotted along the coast, that are easily accessible. Cambrils is only 7km away or 10 minutes by bus, and this is definitely worth a visit, especially during the evening time. The beachfront is lined with cafes and bars, perfect for a evening cocktail and there is a wide choice of top dining options. From tapas bars to Michelin star restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice in Cambrils. We ate in Meat Market, a good choice if you fancy a steak. They offer a choice of meats which are cooked on the stone and they even have fillet steak on the kids menu.

family holiday in Salou


We also took the bus to nearby Tarragona, and this was a real treat. Walking down from the bus stop we came across the Monumento a los Castellers, which is a sculpture of the human pyramid, a famous Spanish tradition that has been celebrated since the 18th century. The Concurs de Castell festival takes place in Tarragona every two years. Thirty two teams (including children from 5 years of age) climb on top of each other to make the tallest human pyramid. It must be a fantastic sight to see! We had to settle for the sculpture instead!



Tarragona has a medieval centre packed with Roman ruins, including a seaside amphitheatre and a stunning cathedral. The kids enjoyed exploring the ancient ruins and I couldn’t help stopping constantly to take pictures, Tarragona is Instagram heaven! We came across an old square where locals spilled out into the centre, enjoying lunch time tapas, we simply had to join in 🙂 There is a local train that you can take if you don’t fancy walking. It stops at all the high lights and I would definitely recommend it if you plan on spending the day here.

family holiday in Salou


PortAventura World is the other reason why a family holiday in Salou is a popular choice. There are now three parks, PortAventura, Caribe Aquatic Park and Ferrari Land. We spent two full days here and actually I would recommend three if you have the time. It is a great theme park that offers a fantastic variety of rides and shows for children of all ages. Don’t miss the fireworks and parade at night time! If you are planning a visit buy your tickets in advance from Attraction Tickets Direct. Not only are they cheaper but you may get 2 days for the price of 1 or free access to the water park or Ferrari Land. Read my review on PortAventura World before you go.

family holiday in Salou


Depending on how much time you have you can also pay a visit to Barcelona, it is only an hour by train from Salou. It is a great city to ramble around as well as being home to some of Europe’s most visited attractions. Enjoy some tasty tapas and watch the local street artists perform on the Ramblas, take a tour of the Nou Camp, Barcelona’s football stadium, or visit the famous Sagrada Familia. There is so much to see and do in Barcelona, you will need to plan your day in advance!

family holiday in Salou





Family holiday in Salou – where to stay:

Cambrils was where I originally wanted to stay. However I found it lacks a choice of good quality family apartments. For those screaming at me right now, I know Cambrils Park is a great family resort but it is enormous and personally I prefer a smaller complex. You also need to book it a year in advance, and I’m never that organised! We decided to mix things up a bit and stay two nights in Camping La Siesta in Salou and two nights in the Gold River hotel (one of the PortAventura hotel’s) and check out the benefits of both.



Camping La Siesta is an ideal choice if you want to stay in Salou but want a quiet area to relax at the same time. In fact although it is only five minutes walk from the promenade you would think you were miles away. It is like an oasis in the middle of a busy resort. Don’t get me wrong, the pool area is busy but you can enjoy a quiet time at your bungalow if you feel like it. We stayed in the Caribe bungalows and I was really impressed. They are modern, brightly furnished and come with a huge BBQ, sunloungers and the biggest hit of all – a hammock! We all loved the hammock and it was the first thing my kids did when they got up in the morning and when they came back from the pool. Luckily they could both fit into it as there would have been murder otherwise!



The swimming pools are great for children, there is a splash park for small children and a great choice of slides in the main pool which we all enjoyed. There is a regular day and evening entertainment program here too so it is ideal for families who are looking for a lively atmosphere. We booked it through Sunway Holidays who offer a wide range of  family holidays in Salou.

family holiday in Salou


We also spent two days at one of the PortAventura hotels, the Gold River. The reason we moved hotels was because I was reviewing PortAventura World so I want to get the most out of our time at the park. The Gold River is a great choice if you want to stay at the park. The family rooms are really spacious and come with a kitchenette. The Wild West theme was a big hit with my kids as they spent lots of time climbing in and out of props that were lying around!

family holiday in Salou


We were staying on a half board basis but never ate in the buffet restaurant at all (I’m not a fan of buffets!). Their dine around system means you can eat in any of the restaurants in the park (you need to prebook at reception) and use your dining credit. There may be a supplement to pay depending on which restaurant you choose. We ate in the Gold River’s own a la carte restaurant, Opera. It has a lovely outdoor seating area which is beside the main square so we could relax and enjoy our meal while the kids played happily. The kids disco is on here too and the kids loved the dance lessons to Despacito!

family holiday in Salou


The main reason for staying in a PortAventura hotel is to have unlimited access to the park and being only a few minutes walk proved a God send. We were able to come and go as we pleased which was particularly good at night time. There are little or no queues during the evening. We were able to see the parade and fireworks display and then walk back to our hotel afterwards. 

Read: My review on PortAventura World.



My overall feeling about the Costa Dorada in general is that it is a superb family holiday destination. Salou is busy, built up and not pretty but it has so much to offer for families. The neighbouring resorts of Cambrils and La Pineda are more relaxed if that suits your style. You will find some of Spain’s best beaches, fascinating cities and one of Europe’s largest theme parks on your door step. What more could you want?



The Travel Expert



DestinationsEuropeFamily Holidays

3 Fun Things To Do With Kids In Murcia

terra natura

Swimming with sea lions, sailing in a lagoon and visiting a Roman theatre, just 3 fun things to do with kids in Murcia.


I have visited Murcia on numerous occasions as I am fortunate to have a sister who has a house there 🙂 Most of the time we tend to laze by the pool or beach and I’m almost ashamed to say, until this year, I didn’t realise there was so many things to do with kids in Murcia! The Spanish Tourism Office in Dublin kindly helped me plan some activities this year and I am so glad they did. This is what we got up to.


Terra Natura Murcia

We spent a whole day at Terra Natura park and we had a great time. In fact my son Luke (age 9) still says it was one of his favourite places he has ever been! Why? I hear you say… He got to swim with sea lions, hand feed giraffes and lemurs, and go down a huge water slide! Yes you can do all of this in Terra Natura. Although the waterpark is small in terms of the dedicated aquatic parks you may have visited, there are ample slides for all ages, a large swimming pool with a splash zone for small children and a small lazy river too. Add this to a fact Terra Natura is also home to an animal park, and you are in a kids paradise! Terra Natura has over 50 species of animals, the usual monkeys, rhinos, giraffes etc but where they are unique is that you can get up close with many of the animals.

For a mere €5 each you can feed the giraffes or the lemurs, or both! I have no doubt a similar experience would be 10 times the price elsewhere. This was an incredible experience and not only for the kids, we loved it too. One of the zoo keepers was with us the whole time and kept us informed or what to do and the whole experience was very memorable. We also took the opportunity to swim with the sea lions, this is also an additional cost, but only €20, which I think is also very reasonable. I was surprised at how long this was, we had a group session and then an individual one where the sea lion duly jumps up at kisses you on the cheek! Luke, in particular thought this was incredible and as you can see we got some amazing photos to prove it.

Thankfully numbers are limited and there are dedicated times each day for each activity, so make sure you book the sea lion swim and the animal feeding at the entrance. There is a sea lion show a few times during the day but unless you speak Spanish I would give it a miss. While it was good to see that it was mostly educational rather than watching sea lions perform tricks, but unfortunately we couldn’t understand it. Terra Natura also has falconry displays, educational talks on bears, giraffes and otters which are all included in the admission price. We didn’t get to see them, but suffice to say there is so much to see and do in Terra Natura that you should plan to spend the day there. They also run a 2 hour night safari on a Friday and Saturday night. At €15 it is sure to get booked out early so make sure you book in advance.

I should point out that the park is a strange mix, some parts are old and look in need of repair, while restaurants and bars for instance are very modern.  It was great to be able to get up close with the animals but like most zoos, I wished the bears and lions had bigger enclosures. It is however a great family day out and one that kids will love. The entrance fees are very reasonable, only €25 per adult in peak summer months and €15 in off peak, with the 2nd day offered free if booked online. I must stress however you should pay the the extra for the interactive activities, that is what made it such a great experience for us.

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San Pedro del Pinatar

Murcia is home to numerous beaches and most have their fair share of watersports available. San Pedro del Pinatar however, offers so much more. Located beside the tranquil waters of Mar Menor, this lagoon is ideal for kayaking, sailing or windsurfing. It’s sheltered location is ideal for novices to try something new, like ourselves 🙂 There is additional salt in the water which not only helps buoyancy but it is also known to help with rheumatism and skin complaints. We spotted people rubbing the dark mud on their bodies hoping to cure their ailments as we strolled along the peninsula. We also spotted the resident pink flamingos who, like many migratory birds choose the Salinas de San Pedro del Pinatar Regional Park to nest. Walkers or strollers will love this ninety minute walk which starts at the impressive Quintín Mill and ends in the middle of the sea. The beaches are packed with cool beach bars and restaurants if you fancy a cool down after your walk.

We decided to try some of the water-sports that the region is renowned for.  We went to the Centre of Nautical Activities which is an impressive building at the far end of the beach. We could have taken kayaks out for a mere €4.8 per hour (how cheap is that) but we decided to go for the relaxing option and took a sail boat with our own private skipper, which is only €60 for an hour. We sailed across to the edge of the National Park while our attentive skipper showed Alex and Luke the ropes (excuse the pun). We had a fabulous afternoon and one I would highly recommend.

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Dating back to 220 BC, Cartagena, is one of Spain’s most historical cities. Complete with a Roman theatre, the Navidad fort and the Concepción Castle, there is so much here to explore. Children can enjoy workshops as well as interactive play as they are encouraged to become actors for the day at each of the museums. They can be pirates, Roman soldiers or even secret agents. Click here for more details.  If you venture 6km outside Cartagena you will find Tentegorra Aventura, a family adventure park. This is home to a maze, a wide selection of ziplines and a swimming pool with water slides. Why not combine some culture with some fun and visit both! Unfortunately we didn’t manage to get here on this trip but it is top of my list for my next visit to Murcia!



The Travel Expert




*Note the Spanish Tourism Office in Dublin arranged these activities for me but all views, as always, are my own.

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