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3 years ago

Travel News and Reviews

My Review of Turkish Airlines Economy Service

Turkish Airlines

I travelled to Sri Lanka recently with Turkish Airlines so I was fortunate to experience their service on a short haul and long haul flight. Check out my review of Turkish Airlines economy service below.

 

We have all seen their award-winning ads, Lionel Messi with Kobe Bryant competing for a little boys affection, Messi outshining Drogba to find the best food around the world, and the latest ad from Morgan Freeman, reminding us to ‘Widen Your World’. They make it look cool to fly with Turkish Airlines, yet despite flying from Dublin Airport 14 times each week, I only flew with Turkish Airlines for the first time last month.  
 

 

 
Turkish Airlines have been voted the best airline in Europe for six consecutive years by Skytrax World Airline Awards and even the Irish travel trade voted them best airline in Europe this year. So what makes them so special, I hear you say? Hopefully my review of Turkish Airlines service will tell.

my review of turkish airlines
 

 

 

No hidden extras!

When you book a flight with Turkish Airlines, everything is included in the price and I mean EVERYTHING! Checked baggage, seat selection, meals and even alcoholic drinks are included. Not only are all of these included in the price of your ticket but the allowances are very generous too. You have a whopping 30kg checked baggage allowance in economy class as well as an 8 kg cabin baggage allowance.
 

 

 
You also don’t have to worry about seat selection, you can pre book seats free of charge, or pay a small supplement if you want to secure seats with extra legroom, see full details here. Meals are also included on board as well as complimentary drinks. Now I am all for drinking alcohol in moderation, but if you fancied it, you can have as many drinks as you like!

my review of turkish airlines
So much room at the exit seats.

 

 

 

Good food

The food on board is quite good, well as good as airplane food can be! In fact Turkish airlines have won numerous awards for their inflight catering and even have their own flying chef. Although the flying chefs don’t actually cook the food on board, they do help prepare it before it is served. It certainly gives the impression that even in economy class, Turkish airlines care how their food is presented. I had meatballs on the way out and a chicken pasta dish on the return, both were nicely cooked with plenty of flavour. They were accompanied by a salad, delicious chocolate mousse and a nice glass of Bordeaux.

Breakfast was good too, a nice portion of scrambled eggs with bread, cheese and yogurt, although it wasn’t served at breakfast time, which was a little strange!  There were plenty of small snacks throughout the flight too, so I never felt hungry.

my review of turkish airlines
The Flying Chef

 

 

 

Seats

I was lucky enough to have an exit seat from Dublin to Istanbul which was great. Unfortunately they were unavailable on the Istanbul Sri Lanka flight but the standard economy seat was very comfortable. Turkish Airlines have wide spaces between seats and a comfortable 32 inch seat pitch with a foot rest, making them more comfortable than an average economy class seat. The seats reclined 7 and a half inches and the movable head rest was so handy. I slotted my travel pillow between the bars which meant I wasn’t leaning forward when I fell asleep.

my review of turkish airlines
 

 

 
There are also usb ports so I was able charge my phone and powerbank when I needed to. The individual inflight entertainment screens have wide selection of movies to choose from, so as soon as I was fed and watered, I reclined my seat and enjoyed two new releases, Gifted and Our Brand is Crisis.

my review of turkish airlines
 

 

 

Extra touches

As well as the nice blanket and travel pillow, I was pleasantly surprised with the Chopard amenity kit. I expected the tooth brush, paste and some socks, but the slippers, earplugs, eye mask and lip balm, inside a silver wash bag was certainly above average.

my review of turkish airlines
 

 

 

Free tour of Istanbul

On this occasion I only had a short layover in Istanbul, but if you happen to have a layover of more than 6 hours, you can avail of a FREE tour of Istanbul. You don’t need to make a reservation, just go to the TourIstanbul desk in the arrivals hall in Istanbul. This is not only a fab thing to do, but it is great if you are struggling to get connecting flights at a good price. I regularly find that the lower priced airfares tend to have longer layovers so if you are on a budget – this is an excellent option. You can visit Tour Istanbul website for more details.


my review of turkish airlines

 

 

 
Turkish Airlines fly from Dublin to Istanbul 14 times a week with onward connections to more than 300 destinations in the  Middle East, Far East, Asia, Africa, Europe and America. Be sure to check their website before booking your next trip away.

Liked my review of Turkish Airlines service? Check out my other airline reviews:

My review of Qatar Airways service.

My review of Ethiopian Airlines service

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 

 

 

 

Travel

Four Night Break In The Algarve, Flights & 4* Apartment, 16th May, €199!

beach-1838501_1280_opt

Kickstart your Summer with a four night break in the Algarve. Stay in the four star Solaqua apartments in May, for only €199 per person.

 

The Algarve is one of the top destinations for Irish holidaymakers and Albufeira is one of the most popular resorts. The combination of the old town, full of character with traditional Portuguese eateries, and the modern new town, means it offers the best of both worlds. Albufeira offers some great nightlife if you are looking for a lively holiday but there are long sandy beaches too if you just want to chill out, relax and enjoy the Atlantic surf. Average temperatures for the same week for the last three years were a balmy 24 degrees and sunny – check out the historical tab on wunderground here.

four night break in the Algarve

You will be staying in the four star Luna Solaqua apartments which are centrally located in Albufeira, receive excellent reviews on tripadvisor and have been awarded a certificate of excellence. There is an indoor and outdoor pool and a spa offering massage and beauty treatments.

four night break in Algarve

So go on grab a few mates and get your Summer off to a super start! Fly from Dublin to Faro on the 16th of May and enjoy a four night break in the Algarve for only €199 per person! I have priced this based on flying out on Wednesday evening so you only need to take two days off work. If you want to stay longer, there are three flights every day and you can change the search dates on the accommodation link to suit you.

 

Click here to book flights to Faro: €101 pp

Click here to book apartment: €98 pp

 

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

 

Sarah

travel deals

Travel

Amazing Christmas Shopping Offers via the Avios eStore!

AVI0156-Black-Friday_Aer-Lingus_Solus-Header-Banner-2880x1920px_opt

Shopping online this Christmas?  Make sure you shop via the AerClub eStore and collect Avios while you shop!

 

Christmas shopping from the comfort of your own home, there is nothing like it! No trouble getting parking, no battling through crowds and no queuing to pay! I am already a big fan of shopping via the AerClub eStore so when I see bonus Avios promotions, I’m in heaven! My kids are lego fanatics so I was thrilled to hear that the online Lego Store are giving 10 Avios for every €1 spent! Not only were the prices cheaper than what I was paying in Smyths, but I got over 1000 Avios when I spent €100 online! I also picked up some books from Eason, they are giving 7 Avios for every €1 spent and to get 4 Avios for every euro spent at Apple – well it doesn’t get much better than that!  The AerClub eStore offers are not limited to Irish online stores, you can also collect bonus Avios with popular fashion stores like Pretty Little Thing and Topshop and beauty store Lookfantastic.

Once you are logged into the AerClub eStore you can click through to your favourite retailers and shop online in the usual way at no extra cost, but your purchases will be tracked, and your Avios account will be topped up with points! It really is that simple – you shop in exactly the same way as you would normally shop online but the online shops will see that you came to their website via the AerClub estore. You can also see the stores you have clicked on in  your history so you know your transaction is being tracked. Click here for the full list of all participating stores.

avios estore

For those of you who have been following me on my journey, I am delighted to say that I have already accumulated over 60,000 Avios, and most of these were collected by shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not spending a fortune shopping, I’m just clever with my purchases. To give you an example I have highlighted some special offers below, to show you just how easy it is to accumulate points by shopping at the AerClub eStore. For anyone who is not familiar with Avios, read my first post about how to get flights and upgrades with Avios points.

avios estore

 

Marks & Spencer: 4 Avios for every €1 spent.

With 3 for 2 on Christmas gifts and decorations as well great value in clothing, there is always something to be bought in M&S. If you spend €100 that gives you 600 Avios points. Shop here.

avios estore

 

 

 

 

 

Eason: 7 Avios for every €1 spent.

The latest blockbusters, toys, games, or stationary, everyone makes a trip to Eason before Christmas. Do it online instead and collect 7 Avios for every €1 spent until the 19th of December.  Shop here:

 

 

 

Lookfantastic: 14 Avios for every €1 spent.

Lookfantastic are offeri . Shop here.

Avios estore

Expedia: 7 Avios for every €1 spent.

Planning a post Christmas break or a Summer holiday? You can massively increase your Avios balance with accommodation or holiday purchases. A hotel break for €500 will give you 3,500 Avios or a €2000 family holiday will give you 14,000 Avios. Shop here.

double avios points

 

Adidas: 10 Avios for every €1 spent, Nike 7 Avios for every €1 spent.

Kids football boots, Superstar runners or the latest gym gear, there is something in the Adidas and Nike stores to suit everyone. With 10 Avios for every €1 you spend, a new pair of Superstar runners will give you 1000 Avios points. Shop here.

double avios points

 

Groupon: 7 Avios for every €1 spent

Groupon has every time of Christmas gift imaginable. From restaurant vouchers to teeth whitening deals, short breaks to mobile phones, Groupon is your one stop daily deals website. Collect 700 Avios for every €100 spent on top of their already discounted prices.  Shop here

avios estore

 

Lego: 10 Avios for every £1 spent.

I know too well how expensive Lego can be as I have a 10 year old who is obsessed with it! Thankfully I can accumulate Avios points while making my purchases, and the offical Lego store has the widest range of lego available. Collect 1000 Avios for every €100 spent until the 23rd of December. Shop here.

avios estore

 

  Pretty Little Thing: 5 Avios, for every €1 spent.

Looking to get something new for Christmas? Get the latest 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 for every €1 spent.

Fancy a new phone, iMac or apple watch for Christmas? Perhaps you are thinking of treating the kids to new iPads? Apple are giving a staggering 4 Avios for every €1 spent, so if you splash out on a new iPad Pro before the 16th of December and you will accumulate over  2500 Avios! Shop here.

double avios points

 

Looking to sign up?

If you are already an AerClub  member, your existing log in and password will suffice. Collect Avios points by logging on to the AerClub estore and shop in the usual way. For those who have not yet joined, you can join 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.

Note: certain exclusions apply to each stores, see individual retail pages within the Avios eStore for details. This post was sponsored by Avios, but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Click here to shop the eStore

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 

 

Travel

My Top Short Breaks With Flights & 4 Star Hotels, €199 or Less!

city break

I give 10 top short breaks for less than €200!  All prices include flights and highly rated, 4 star accommodation!

 

1. Rome – 3rd March, 3 Nights, €199

One of my best sellers this year, this weekend deal to Rome is sure to impress! Fly from Dublin on the 3rd of March and spend three nights in a superb 4 star hotel for only €199 per person.

Click here for more details:

christmas gift ideas

 

2. Porto – 11th May, 3 Nights, €195

I’m just back from a fantastic weekend in Porto, a city I would highly recommend for a weekend break. Read my blog here. Enjoy a three night, four star stay on Friday the 11th of May, for only €195 per person.

Click here t0 book flights: €75 pp

Click here to book accommodation: €120 pp

christmas gift ideas

 

Travalue

 

 

3. Algarve – 16th May, 4 Nights, €199

Kickstart your Summer with a four night break to the Algarve. Fly from Dublin on the 16th of May and enjoy a four night stay in the highly rated Solaqua apartments, Albufeira, for only €199 per person.

Click here to book flights to Faro: €101 pp

Click here to book apartment: €98 pp

christmas gift ideas

 

 

4. Madrid – 9th June, 2 Nights, €183

A city break to Madrid is always a good idea! Fly from Dublin on the 9th of June and enjoy a two night stay in the highly rated 4*  Claridge Hotel for only €183pp. I have chosen the early flight out on Friday morning and the late flight back on Sunday evening so you really get 3 full days to explore this wonderful city.

Click here to book flights €85 pp

Click here to book hotel: €98 pp

christmas gift ideas

 

Multitrip.com

 

5. Marrakech – 21st June, 3 Nights, €185

Marrakech is a feast for the senses and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Fly from Dublin on the 21st of June and spend three nights in a highly rated 4* Riad, in the heart of Marrakech, for only €185 per person.

Click here to book flights: €90 pp

Click here to book hotel: €95 pp


christmas gift ideas

 

6. Prague –  20th January, 3 Nights, €188!

Beat the January blues by treating yourself to this bargain weekend in Prague. Stay at the highly rated 4* Theatrino Hotel, for three nights with breakfast, for only €188 per person, departing the 20th of January.

Click here to book flights: €111 pp

Click here to book hotel: €77 pp

christmas gift ideas

 

 

7. Athens – 4th May, 2 Nights, €199

Culture vultures will love Athens. The combination of the ancient Acropolis and the modern new town makes Athens is a great city break destination.  Stay two nights in the four star Art hotel for only €199 departing Friday the 4th of May.

Click here for more details:

christmas gift ideas

 

8. Lisbon – 27th January, 3 Nights, 5* Hotel, €191

Spend a weekend in one of Europe’s favourite city break destinations, Lisbon. Enjoy a three night stay in a five star hotel for only €191 including breakfast, departing the 27th of January. #LoveLisbon

Click here for more details:


CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FROM THE TRAVEL EXPERT

 

 

9. Valentines Day in Paris – 2 Nights, €176

Treat your loved one to a two night break in Paris for Valentine’s Day. Price of €176 includes flights and a two night stay at a highly rated four star hotel.

Click here for more details:

christmas gift ideas

 

10. Zadar – 11th May, 3 Nights, €194

Go somewhere new in 2018 and travel to Zadar in Croatia. Enjoy a three night stay in the highly rated 4* Villa Vanilla  from €194, departing the 11th May.

Click here to book flights: €111 pp

Click here to book apartment: €83 pp

Christmas gift ideas

 

Now that you have read my top 10 short breaks, the only problem is which one will you choose?

All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Note that some of the links above contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

 travel deals
Long Haul

G Adventures Tours – From Cuba to Vietnam, Prices From €1129 Including Flights!

Solo traveller

Chase the Northern Lights, hike the Inca Trail or discover daily life in Tibet. There are holidays, and there are G Adventures holidays.

 

G Adventures with Sunway, offer the widest selection of small group tours to over 100 countries.  Want to see South East Asia on a shoestring or spend three weeks touring Australia and New Zealand? Is a cruise around the Galapagos on your bucket list? Or maybe you are like me and want to trek to Everest Base Camp. G Adventures with Sunway Tours have nine different travel styles including  classic, active, 18 – 39’s , family, rail and cruising;  you name it – there is one there for you. You will live like the locals, immerse yourself in the countries culture and explore exotic places off the beaten track. The average group size is 8 with none larger than 16.  All tours go, whether there is one passenger or sixteen, they never cancel a tour due to lack of numbers. And if all of that hasn’t sold it to you, 65% of the value of your tour will stay in the local community – so technically you are making the world a better place!

G Adventures

I have teamed up with Sunway, who are the G Adventure specialists and can offer you all G Adventure holidays, in euro prices with flights from Ireland included. You can see all of their itineraries here but I have picked three of my favourites to give you a flavour of what you can expect.

 

Cuban Rhythms Adventure Tour

So many people go to Cuba and spend a week in an all-inclusive beach hotel. But I think we all know that’s not the REAL Cuba… On the Cuban Rhythms tour, you will visit the enchanting town of Trinidad, which is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it also home to the best live music scene in Cuba. You can drink rum, smoke cigars and salsa all night long in Old Havana. You will actually live like a local by overnighting with locals in homestays. A visit to the Che monument, a salsa dancing lesson and a walking tour of Havana are just some of the activities you will find included in the cost. On this G Adventure tour, you will experience the REAL Cuba, but also manage to squeeze in some beach time too! Note this tour is for 18 – 39’s only.

G Adventures

Prices from €1389 per person including flights and an 8 day tour, with accommodation, tours and local guide included.

Click here for more details:

 

Classic Vietnam Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City Adventure Tour

I love this tour, it is definitely one on my bucket list! You will visit Halong Bay, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the city of Hue; G Adventures have managed to include all the highlights in just 10 days. Don’t worry, you are not expected to see the whole country by bus; an internal flight, a sleeper train and even a boat trip is included in the price!  The experienced G Adventure guide will be on hand each day while you discover Vietnam’s vibrant cities, and during your sail on a traditional junk boat. A seafood lunch and dinner is included in the Halong Bay boat cruise and entrance fees to the Imperial Citadel and Tomb in Hue, as well as the Cu Chi Tunnels are also included in the price. You will even be treated to a noodle making demonstration with lunch!

G Adventures

Prices from €1759 per person including flights and an 10 day tour, with accommodation, tours, internal flight, train, entrance fees and local guide included.

Golden Triangle Adventure Tour

This 8 day tour of India will bring you to the Taj Mahal, the world’s most iconic mausoleum ❤️. You will also visit bustling city of Delhi and the pink city of Jaipur. You will sample village life in Abhaneri where you will overnight, and experience first hand the G-Adventures-supported New Delhi StreetKids Project, during a walking tour of Delhi.  As well as a private vehicle you can expect cycle-rickshaws as a mode of transportation!

G Adventures

Prices from €1129 per person including flights and an 8 day tour, with accommodation, tours, entrance fees and local guide included.

Click here for more details:

 

The above are just a sample of the many G Adventures tours that Sunway offer. If you want to stay closer to home try trekking Mont Blanc or sail around the Greek Islands. The opportunities are endless with G Adventures and Sunway, I urge you to explore them.

Like long haul holidays? See more here.  This post was sponsored by Sunway Holidays but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

AmericaLong Haul

Is UNICO 20°87° The Best All-Inclusive Hotel In Mexico?

Unico

Imagine staying in a hotel where spa treatments and golf are included, where you can enjoy free excursions and swim with dolphins, and just pay a 20% service fee. UNICO 20°87° is an all-inclusive resort like no other.

 

UNICO 20°87° is a new adult-only luxury hotel, located on a stunning white sandy beach in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It has broken boundaries on so many levels. You may expect to dine in any of the restaurants, enjoy premium drinks and avail of a host of water-sports; but it is their extra inclusions that make the all-inclusive arrangement so unique. Where else would you find excursions included in the price of your say? You can visit the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum, zipline in Selvatica Park, swim with dolphins or enjoy a romantic dinner on a tall ship. All of these tours are included in the price of your stay, you just pay the 20% service fee!

Fancy a relaxing massage or a detoxifying facial? Why not treat yourself to a pedicure or a blow dry. You can even get a couples massage, so men need not feel left out 😉. Imagine paying €6 for a manicure, or €10 for a blowdry – that is (approximately) what the 20% service fee equates to! You can also enjoy a round of golf, or golf lessons with a Pro or enjoy personal training sessions and a host of fitness classes. Whether you fancy yoga on the beach or a spinning class in the fitness centre, Unico 20°87° have you covered. You can see a full list of all inclusions here.

Unico

Rooms are pretty special too! Choose an Alcoba swim-up pool room, or a room with an ocean view and an outdoor spa tub. If you are travelling with friends and fancy your own private villa, they have that too, complete with a huge terrace and two spa tubs! Regardless of what room you choose, you will have your own personalised Anfitrión, (private butler), available 24 hours a day. They will help you with restaurant reservations, organise tours, un pack your suitcase and even organise your laundry!

Unico

If you just want to relax, why not chill out in one of the three swimming pools? You might fancy a cocktail in one of the cool bars or some delicious food in one of the five restaurants; which, like most things at this hotel, are included in the price of your stay.  They also offer unique cultural experiences, including cookery classes and a cocktail hour in a nearby Mayan village. And if you still need convincing, check out the amazing reviews on tripadvisor, where Unico 20°87° gets a five star rating and is rated the best hotel in the Riviera Maya.

 

Tropical Sky have exclusive offers in Unico 20°87° with prices from €1459 for a seven night stay, on an all-inclusive basis with flights and transfers.  

 

Click here for more details:

 

Like Long haul ? See more here.  This post was sponsored by Tropical Sky but all views, as always, are my own.

 

Sarah

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ContributorsTravel News and Reviews

Finding Dublin’s Hidden Gems

dublin-1049403_1280

City Staycation: Finding Dublin’s Hidden Gems

 

If you visit on the weekend, Dublin is teeming with overseas tourists looking for a good time. They queue outside the Guinness Storehouse (and rightly so, it’s a fascinating experience), they fill the pubs in Temple Bar, and then leave on a Monday morning, having had a great weekend of revelry in Ireland’s capital. This leaves the rest of the week free for locals to discover, and those of us who can take a midweek trip to explore Dublin’s hidden gems. From dawn to dusk, here’s your local guide of what to do in Dublin.

Morning

With a big day ahead of you, you’ll want to find somewhere to start your day with a cup of tea. Whilst Dublin’s artisan coffee shops are seemingly growing faster than any other business in the city, there’s nothing like an auld cup of Rosie Lee to start the day. Head to the Queen of Tarts for a cosy, quaint cuppa and a slice of cake for a little sustenance, before heading to the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art). The tourists tend to head for the National Gallery, but the IMMA is home to some incredible pieces of contemporary art.

Lunchtime

With lots of choice for lunch in Dublin, you’ll soon feel quite overwhelmed as you try to pick where to eat. In keeping with this local list of little gems, try the Beshoff Bros for Fish and Chips. Opened in 1939 and having gained a reputation for being the best chip shop in Dublin, Beshoff Bros serve up fresh Atlantic haddock, north Atlantic cod, smoked haddock and scrumptious scampi, handing you be the sustenance you need before you head out again for the afternoon. Lovers of quality, the fish is all caught in clean water, and the potatoes are farmed organically. There is even the option of gluten free batter, so even the coeliacs don’t have to miss out!

The Afternoon


You’ll probably want to walk off the fish and chips, and afternoons were designed for lazy meandering. There is plenty of space to do this in Iveagh Gardens. The gardens were designed in the mid 1800s but have a history dating back more than 300 years. Originally designed as a garden for a modest Earl in the 1860s, they were redesigned to boast the many features you see now. Get lost in the yew maze or take a wander around the rosary garden for a lazy afternoon. If the weather isn’t in your favour, duck into the Long Library at Trinity College where you can marvel at the high ceilings and take a wander around the library’s literary exhibitions.

The Evening


To truly round off a day packed with culture, you’ll have to take a visit to The Gate Theatre. The historic building is home to some of Ireland’s finest creative talent, and regularly hosts touring theatre and ballet. The Gate’s smaller performance, the Gate Studio is an experimental space which hosts artists championed by the gate and often shows unique cross-disciplinary work. Settle into a cushioned seat as you reflect on your day of culture in the capital.

There’s so much more to be seen in Dublin than Temple Bar, and there are plenty of alternative ways to spend your trip. Head out and get lost a little bit, and you might just surprise yourself.

 

Like holidays in Ireland, see more here.

 

Kate

The Travel Expert

 

Travel News and Reviews

This Week Only – Buy Avios, Get 50% Bonus Avios

Avios-Gift-Box

Do you want to give the gift of travel this Christmas but not sure where to book? Buy Avios and the choice is endless.

 

Booking a surprise holiday can be tricky. Will your other half like where you have chosen? Can they get annual leave at that specific time? Are you sure you can get someone to mind the kids? All questions that need to be asked. By giving a gift of Avios you don’t need to worry about any of that, in fact you can have great fun on Christmas Day deciding where to go!

Not only are Avios a great Christmas gift idea, but for 5 days only you will receive a 50% bonus when you purchase Avios! You now have the opportunity to buy up to 200,000 Avios, and you will receive 100,000 absolutely free! Not only have Avios moved the threshold for buying Avios ( you can normally only purchase 100,000 in a calendar year) but they are also giving you a bonus of 50% as well! This offer applies to ANY Avios purchases, if you are buying for a friend or want to treat yourself. So if you are tired waiting for your own Avios account to grow, just top up whatever you need and stop waiting!

buy avios

Wondering how much Avios to buy?

You can buy in multiples of 1,000 up to 35,000 Avios and thereafter in multiples of 5,000. You can spend as little as €36 on 1,000 Avios, €109 on 5,000 Avios or €201 on 10,000 Avios. If you really push the boat out, you can buy 100,000 Avios for €1,800. For a full price list click here.

Where can I fly to with Avios?

There are so many variations, depending on when and where you travel but to give you an idea, 13,000 Avios points will get you a return economy flight to Paris with Aer Lingus. For 17,000 Avios you can have a return flight to the Canary Islands and if you can buy 26,000 you can have a return flight to New York, Boston, Chicago or Toronto. Note these are based on off peak travel and exclude taxes and charges. For full list of date bands click here. You can also use Avios to purchase flights with British Airways, Iberia Express and other partner airlines.

buy avios

Have you always wanted to fly business class to the USA?

I love that you can use Avios to upgrade your flights and it is such good value too. A business class upgrade to New York with Aer Lingus is 37,000 Avios which will only cost you €477 if you buy Avios before Friday the 17th of November. Simply purchase 25,000 Avios for €477 and you will get 12,500 Avios free. This will give you 37,500, and voilà – you have a business class upgrade to New York! This is much cheaper than purchasing a business class ticket directly from Aer Lingus’ website.

buy avios

How do I buy Avios points?

If you would like to purchase Avios for yourself, just click here. If you are giving Avios as a gift,  you will need their Avios membership number, name, and email address. Just make sure you do it before the 17th of November..

Still not joined Avios? Here’s how to sign up.

If you are already an AerClub  member, your existing log in and password will suffice. 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.

Still not sure how the whole thing works? Read my blog post:

How to get Flights and Upgrades with Avios Points

 

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

 

Sarah

 

The Travel Expert

 

City BreaksDESTINATIONSEuropeFeatured

Why You Need to Choose Porto For Your Next City Break

porto

A UNESCO World Heritage site, full of colourful buildings, delightful streets, with a great food and wine scene. Choose Porto for your next city break.

 

Not only is Porto visually beautiful and excellent value for money, but it also easy to get to, a pleasant 2 hour 20 minute flight from Dublin with Ryanair. Considering Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, it is surprisingly underrated. It was voted Best European Destination this year, but not many people seem to know that. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing. I’m sure once the word gets out, it will no longer be €2.50 for a glass of wine along the Ribeira (Porto’s equivalent to Venice’s St Mark’s Square). Although there are many magnificent churches and landmarks to see, what I loved most about Porto was wandering around it’s dreamy streets. ❤️

Porto

Porto’s colourful buildings:

On our first morning we woke to blue skies and warm sunshine – the perfect combination to really appreciate this colourful city.  The first thing that stuck me was how compact the city was and within minutes we were crossing the famous Dom Luis bridge. This offers the picture postcard view of the Ribeira, the colourful riverside promenade in Porto, which is packed with shops, bars and restaurants. We found ourselves stopping constantly to take photos, each one better than the next. We were lucky to have blue skies to help us but I do believe it must be impossible to take a bad photograph of this view!


While the Ribeira district has an endless display of colourful buildings, these can also be found throughout the city. Many buildings are covered in vibrant azulejos (hand-painted tiles) which make the buildings seem more dramatic. Even the metro stations have walls covered in tiles! Many of Porto’s famous churches, the Saõ Francisco, Saint Illdefonso and Capela Das Almas  have blue azulejos, I was in Instagram heaven!

Porto’s must sees:

When we crossed the Dom Luis bridge we arrived in the pretty town of  Vila Nova de Gaia, on the opposite side of the Douro river. An array of Portuguese restaurants greeted us, as well a wide selection of port cellars offering tastings. If you want to try some Port, this is the place to do it!  Guia is also the best place to take a short cable car ride and a river cruise along the Douro river. If the weather is good, the boat trip is a nice way to chill out for an hour, but you can get similar views from the shore. We spent a full morning in Guia before walking back across the bridge to Porto.

porto

The Sé Cathedral is located in the heart of the old town and is definitely worth a visit. Construction started in the 12th century but it wasn’t finished until 1737, which results in many different types of architecture coming together. The stunning Saõ Francisco church was one of my personal favourites. Don’t be put off by the mundane exterior, once you step inside, you find a lavish interior that is completely covered in gold. We were not allowed to take photographs inside but you will have to trust me, don’t miss it! Not only is the church itself magnificent but the catacombs in the basement are worth exploring too.

porto

Another highlight for me was climbing the Clérigos Tower, one of Portugal’s tallest towers. We did have to wait in line for 45 minutes, but the view from the top was worth it. It has a narrow spiral staircase, that felt a little claustrophobic, but the climb itself isn’t too taxing. There are also lots of openings in the wall on the way to the top, which show off the red roofs of Porto in the optimum way.

After visiting most of the highlights on our first day, we chose to relax on day two and just enjoy the city. We took one of the old trams, which turned out to be a great idea, as we found places we missed on our walk the previous day. We stopped at the famous Lello Bookshop, considered by many as the most beautiful bookshop in the world. It is here that JK Rowling got the inspiration for Hogwarts, while she was living in Porto. Despite the €4 entrance fee (you can offset this against a book if you buy one) there was a large queue outside. We also wandered down Rua das Flores which is one of Porto’s prettiest streets. Filled with souvenir shops and quaint cafés, this tall, narrow street is another place to admire Porto’s beautiful architecture. We enjoyed watching the street artists perform and stopped for a bite of lunch on it’s busy square.

Shoppers will love the main street Rua Santa Caterina which is full of  famous high street stores, with prices at least 20% less than at home. If you fancy a coffee after a few hours at the shops, check out Café Majestic, Porto’s oldest and most famous coffee shop. It is a landmark and is also considered one of Europe’s top historical coffeehouses. Note it closes on Sunday.

porto

After visiting three churches, a cathedral and walking the length and breadth of Porto, we decided we better do something a bit more child friendly! We opted for the interactive Museum of Discoveries. I had read great reviews on tripadvisor so in we went. We met the most enthusiastic host who was dressed as Vasco de Gamma, who duly showed us the highlights. The kids learned all about the places Portugal discovered and were genuinely amazed at the history.  The museum also has a boat trip inside, similar to a theme park ride (although very slow!) which Luke (10) and Alex (7) enjoyed, but it is probably more suited to younger kids.

porto

Sadly we didnt have time to visit the beach town of Matosinhos, which is only 15 minutes drive from Porto.  I am told the seafood is incredible and unbelievably cheap! I also found myself wishing I had another day so I could take the daytrip to the Douro Valley to see the winelands – I guess I’ll just have to come back to do this another time !

TOP TIP: Porto is quite hilly with lots of steps, make sure you wear appropriate footwear. If you find the steps too much, don’t panic, just hail a tuktuk or taxi back to your hotel, it will only cost a few euros.

Porto: The Foodie City:

Our flight arrived in the evening time so after a quick check-in we opted to dine somewhere close to our hotel. The concierge recommended La Ricotta a Portuguese restaurant with an Italian influence. What an incredible first impression!  The food and the service were superb. My prawn risotto was delicious and included one of the largest prawns I have ever seen!  The kids were delighted with their pasta and overall it was a fantastic gastronomic experience.

porto

Porto is a renowned ‘foodie’ city, with a wide array of Portuguese fish restaurants, tapas bars as well as some fine dining options including four restaurants with michelin stars. The value is hard to beat. Every meal we had was excellent with prices to match. A glass of wine is €2.50 and you can get a set dinner menu for €10. I did try their famous Francesinha (little Frenchie). This is a sandwich of fillet steak, chorizo and ham covered with cheese and a spicy sauce, and served with chips. For me it was something that I would fancy at 3am after a night out, rather than over lunch, but each to their own! What I loved about dining in Porto was the variety on offer. As well as top class food at low prices, there is a great choice of dining options to choose from. There are modern brasseries as well as family style Portuguese restaurants. The al fresco eateries in the Ribeira offer stunning sunset views along the Duoro River.

Porto

One of our favourite meals was in a small tapas bar, Tababento. This was recommended to me by a few people and has rave reviews on tripadvisor. However when we arrived we were a little taken aback. The location (beside the train station), the exterior and even the interior, weren’t exactly inviting! Once we sat down, everything changed. The service and the food were absolutely impeccable! Everything we had was delicious but the fois gras toastie (€13) and the wild tuna tataki (€12) stole the show! For anyone visiting Porto – you must go here!

Porto

TOP TIP: We tried to go to Tapabento for the first two nights of our trip and it was fully booked. In fact many restaurants we tried were full, so I would recommend pre booking any recommended restaurants before you go.

Where to stay:

We stayed in the NH Collection Porto Batalha hotel, an excellent four star hotel that was once an 18th century palace! Although quite modern, thankfully it has managed to keep some of the old world charm. Complete with a stunning red painted facade and stone walls in the lobby, it is a beautiful hotel. There is a small indoor pool and a spa offering a wide selection of treatments. Rooms are modern and spacious and if possible, try to get a room on the 4th floor which offer city views from the balcony. Read my review on the NH Collection Porto Batalha here.

Porto

TOP TIP: If bringing kids on a city break, try to book a hotel with a pool. It is a nice reward for kids at the end of a long day sightseeing.

 

Of all the city breaks I have taken in the last few years, Porto has surprised me the most. Choose Porto for your next city break and fall in love with this colourful city and its mouthwatering cuisine!

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

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