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5 months ago

Europe

How To See The Northern Lights Through Your Own Glass Igloo

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Seeing the Northern Lights is pretty spectacular no matter where you are, but to see them from your very own glass igloo is the ultimate bucket list experience. 

 

I had a few requests from people asking how to get to ‘the place with the glass igloos’. It seems many people want to turn their dreams into reality, or spoil their partners for special birthdays or anniversaries. So I decided to do some investigating and find out how to see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo. 

how to see the Nothern Lights
 

 

 
Kakslauttanen is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, during the aurora season from late August to late April. It is situated 250 km north of the Arctic Circle, so you can expect to find the cleanest countryside, the purest water (you can drink straight from the stream) and the freshest air from almost anywhere in the world.
 

 

 
However Kakslauttanen is not all about the igloos and the aurora. There are so many activities available, you will be spoiled for choice. Think snow mobiling, husky or reindeer safaris, ice fishing, tobogganing, cross country skiing and lots more. For a truly unique experience try their ice swimming and smoke saunas combination.

how to see Northern Lights in a glass igloo
 

 

 
There is a wide choice of accommodation, including log cabins, chalets, snow igloos and of course their famous glass igloos. They also have large glass igloos with a fireplace and sauna, that hold up to six people, if you want to bring a few friends or family along. 

Northern Lights
 

 

 

How to get there?

Kakslauttanen is located in Finland, but it is so far North that it is actually a 90 minute flight from Helsinki. Finnair fly from Dublin to Helsinki almost every day, but to get the connecting flight to Ivalo you need to take a morning flight which only operates three times per week. You will find alternative flights, but be careful, they will involve multiple stops with flying times over ten hours.

Another option is to spend a night or two in Helsinki before flying to Ivalo, this will give you more options with flights. Ivalo airport is only a short thirty minute transfer to Kakslauttanen and the hotel will arrange transport for you.

Northern Lights
 

 

 
I found a great deal on flights departing Patricks Day 17th March for four nights, for just €253 return. This should give you optimum time to see the Northern Lights and try some of the many activities available, including snow mobiling, cross country skiing etc.

There are various room types to choose from, but the price for four nights in a glass igloo is €1413 per person including breakfast and evening meal – this brings the total cost to €1666 per person for a four night stay, based on two sharing. Larger igloos for groups or families are also available.

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So now you know how to see the Northern Lights through your own glass igloo, the question is will you scratch one off the bucket list to experience a trip of a lifetime?

 

 

View flights here €253pp

View hotel here €2826

 

 

Like this post? You might like:

25 Bucket List holidays to inspire your next big trip.

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Note some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

Travel

Special Offer to Sorrento, October Mid Term Break, Flight & 4-Star Hotel, 1 Week, €455!

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Spend the October mid term break along the Amalfi Coast. This special offer to Sorrento includes flights for seven nights and hotel with free cancellation!

 

The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most beautiful coastlines, and this special offer to Sorrento gives you the perfect opportunity to explore all its highlights. The views from the coastline, combined with colourful hilltop towns have made it a bucket list favourite for many years.

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Sorrento is one of the biggest resorts along the coast, and also one of the liveliest. The streets are full of al fresco eateries and plenty of designer shops. Sipping a cocktail as you watch the stylish Italians pass you by is a nice start to the evening, and a nice meal in one of Sorrento’s fantastic restaurants is the perfect way to end it.

special offer to sorrento
 

 

 
However, Sorrento is just the tipping point, you simply have to explore the neighbouring resorts too. Take a water taxi to Positano, Amalfi or Ravello and admire the local villages. Visit the isle of Capri, or if you are feeling adventurous take a trip to Pompeii, or climb Mount Vesuvius.

special offer to sorrento
 

 

 
I found this special offer to Sorrento for seven nights over the October mid term break. Stay in the 4-star Hotel Prestige with breakfast included for only €455 – and that includes return Aer Lingus flights from Dublin. If you happen to have an Aer Lingus voucher, simply book your own flights and choose the hotel option below.
 

 

 
Highly rated on Tripadvisor, the small but elegant Prestige Hotel offers breathtaking views over the Bay of Naples. Located on the outskirts of Sorrento, The Prestige Hotel offers the best of both worlds – you can enjoy its peaceful location, or avail of its free shuttle bus to the centre of Sorrento.
 

 

This special offer to Sorrento is based on flying to Naples on the 24th of October. If this date doesn’t suit you, or you want a longer or shorter duration, simply edit the search to suit your requirements. This rate also includes free cancellation, so if you change your mind at a later stage, there is no cancellation fee!

 
View flights here €147pp

View hotel here  €308pp
 

 

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. Please note that this special offer to Sorrento contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

 

 

Travel

8 Irish Hotel Deals in August For Families

waterford family

Fancy a family break away before the summer ends? I’ve searched the web to bring you Irish hotel deals in August for families, with prices from €367!

 

I have updated this Irish hotel deals post as availability limited in July and August. I have chosen new dates in August and rates with free cancellation, but if you want to book a non-refundable room, the rates should be even less. All prices are the total cost per family for three nights, but you can change dates or duration to suit your requirements.

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Please note that some of these Irish hotel deals may have only one or two family rooms available, so if they are sold out please check alternative dates or durations. This post is for families, but this post on September hotel breaks in Ireland is ideal for couples. 
 

 

 

5-Star Druids Glen Resort, Wicklow: Deluxe Family Room, 3 Nights, €640

review of druids glen hotel

We were fortunate to stay in the luxurious Druids Glen Hotel last year and loved it. The grounds, the pool, and the close proximity to Dublin made it a perfect getaway break for us. I wrote my review of Druids Glen Hotel for Groupon, but it has lots of information about the family facilities in the hotel that you may find useful. Rooms are currently available on 11th and 18th August.

Read: My review of Druids Glen Hotel & Resort

View offer here
 

 

 

4-Star Shearwater Hotel, Galway: Family Suite, 3 Nights, €518

hotel deals in ireland for families

Recently refurbished, this popular Galway hotel boasts an elegant interior with a luxurious lobby, a 20-meter swimming pool, an awarding-winning spa, kids clubs and live entertainment every Friday – Sunday.

View offer here
 

 

 

4-Star Johnstown Estate, Meath: 2 Bedroom house, 3 Nights, €627

Irish hotel deals for families

If you want to enjoy all the facilities of a hotel, but want the space of a two bedroom lodge, then this deal is for you. With a private terrace to enjoy some pre-dinner drinks, and full access to the leisure centre and restaurants in the hotel – what more do you need? Price of €627 is available 11th and 18th August, or €767 arriving 14th August.

View offer here
 

 

 

3-Star Kenmare Bay Hotel & Resort, Kerry: Family Room, 3 Nights, €417

kenmare bay hotel deals for families

Located just a short stroll from one of Ireland’s prettiest towns is the popular Kenmare Bay Hotel and Resort. Complete with a state-of-the-art leisure centre, it has everything you need for a family break away.

View offer here
 

 

 

3-Star Hotel Killarney, Family Suite for 2 adults & 3 children, 3 Nights, €527

The Hotel Killarney has a leisure centre, kids clubs and lots of outdoor activities, as well as large family suites that sleep up to five. Price for two adults and two children is only €462.

View offer here
 

 

 

4-Star Breaffy House Hotel & Spa, Mayo: Family bunkbed room for 2 adults and 4 children, 3 Nights, €549

irish hotel deals for families - Breaffy House Hotel

Breaffy House Resort consists of two hotels, this deal is based on staying in the 4-star Breaffy House Hotel. Guests have complimentary use of all resort facilities including 20 metre swimming pool, paddling pool, gymnasium and award-winning spa. Children are well catered for with two playgrounds, crazy golf, GAA pitch and plenty of opportunities for forest walks. 

View offer here

 

 

 

3-Star Claregalway Hotel, Galway: Family room for 2 adults and 3 children, 3 Nights, €359

Irish hotel deals for families in the Claregalway hotel

For anyone looking for Irish hotel deals in August, it doesn’t get much cheaper than this! Located just 20 minutes from Galway City, within easy access to the Wild Atlantic Way, and with a leisure centre onsite, this is superb value for a family of five. 

View offer here
 

 

 

4-star Clayton Hotel Sligo, Family Suite up to 2 adults and 3 children, 3 Nights, €687

irish hotel deals for families at the clayton hotel sligo

The Clayton Sligo is a firm favourite with families. All family suites come with fridges and microwaves, the leisure centre has a separate kids pool, and there is plenty of entertainment to keep the kids happy throughout the day.

Set on beautiful grounds overlooking Benbulben Mountain, yet within walking distance of Sligo Town centre, this could be one of best Irish hotel deals for families this summer. 

View offer here
 

 

 
I hope this post on Irish hotel deals for families will help you plan a family break away soon. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotel for clarification. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you. 

These deals were researched across various hotel booking sites. When you make a booking you do so via a third party website. Prices are correct at the time of publishing but may change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.  Read more in my privacy policy.

 

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

FeaturedTravel Tips

Latest Travel Updates Due to Coronavirus

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Ireland’s Green List of countries remains unchanged, the same four countries remain on the list. 

 

I will be updating this post regularly with travel updates due to coronavirus, so bookmark it and make it your go-to post for the latest travel information. If you have queries in relation to airline refunds and vouchers,  these posts might also be of interest:

How to get a refund if your flight is cancelled

 
 
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Green List remains unchanged, same four countries remain on the list until 12th October 2020.

 

The government has revised the list of  ‘Green List’ countries where people can travel to without having to self-isolate on their return, before it opts in to the EU’s centralised travel plan in October. This list will be updated on a weekly basis.

“Inclusion on the list will require a cumulative disease incidence rate per 100,000 of 25 or less, based on the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).”
 

The revised list is as follows:

Finland, Cyprus, Latvia, Liechtenstein
 

 

 

Travel Restrictions may still apply to Irish people visiting selected countries in EU and around the world:

It is important to note that many countries require negative Covid PCR tests to be produced on entry, if you are arriving from a high risk country. As Ireland’s infection rate is 71.6 per 100,000 cases ( 24th September), we may be considered high risk in selected countries. In fact, Germany recently added Dublin to its list of high risk regions. It is imperative that you check the entry requirements with the country you are due to travel with before you fly.
 

 

 
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs website:

“Inclusion on the list does not imply the absence of any restrictions on arrivals in those locations. Citizens should be aware that countries continue to announce new restrictions on arrivals from abroad, including the requirement to quarantine on entry. This can include restrictions on arrivals from Ireland. The situation will continue to evolve quickly. Citizens who are considering travel to particular locations are advised to monitor news and information from the public authorities in their destination. The list and our Travel Advice is under regular review, based on ECDC data and advice from experts, and will be updated on a regular basis.”
 

Read: Top 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19

Read: Make sure to fill out Passenger Locator Forms before you travel overseas 
 

 

 
On September 15th, the government has confirmed that it broadly supports the idea of opting into EU’s centralised travel restrictions, but currently Ireland is still adopting our ‘Green List’ model.

The European Commission earlier this month proposed a common traffic light system for EU member states to coordinate border controls. High risk areas include ‘regions’ rather than whole countries and this system will be based on the ECDC rates of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population.
 

 

 
It is likely to have a three or four tiered approach. Green List countries or regions will have an infection rate of 25 or less per 100,000 of population, Orange List countries will have an infection rate of 50 or less per 100,000 of population, and Red countries will have an infection rate of over 50 per 100,000 of population.
 

 

 
It is assumed that countries with high infection rates will require a negative Covid-19 / PCR test to enter. This new system is currently being finalised in the EU and a plan is due to be announced on October 13th.
 

 

 
Our current Green List is also calculated on the ECDC rates of cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 of population. Currently Ireland’s rate is 71.6 (at 24th September), but our green list of countries will only allow us to travel to countries with a case rate of 25 per 100,000 of population or less, without having to quarantine on our return.

This website is a handy source to have, it shows you the number of Covid-19 cases in each European country, and may be useful if you wish plan overseas to a country with a lower infection rate than our own.
 

 

 
Please note that travel advice against non-essential travel does NOT apply to Green List countries, instead ‘normal precautions’, apply. The change in travel advice means that travel insurance should cover you for travel to these Green List countries, as long as the country you are due to travel to is on the Green List when you depart Ireland.
 

 

 
Multitrip.com have already confirmed that they will cover cancellation as a result of positive Covid-19 diagnosis and cover medical expenses abroad resulting from Covid-19. This will be added to new and existing policies.  

Read: Covid-19 travel insurance cover confirmed for Green List countries.
 

 

 

 

 

 

What if you don’t want to travel?

If you do you wish to travel, but your flight is operating, you are not entitled to a refund, regardless of your health situation. You should be able to change your travel dates, but if you cancel because you do not want to fly, that is seen as your own personal decision and no refund will be due.
 

 

 
Ryanair announced that cancellations up to end of July have been processed and all passengers notified. Therefore if you have not received any notification that your flight is cancelled, it is more than likely operating. They are currently NOT waiving change fees for existing bookings, so if you choose to change dates, you will have to pay the appropriate change fees. 

cancelled flights

Aer Lingus will allow you to change your dates without paying change fees for all departures up to 31st December. 
 

 

 
If the government advice is still in place against non-essential travel to the destination that you are due to travel to, then you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. You will need to have had a policy taken out with travel disruption cover or government advice, before the advice came into effect.
 

 

 

Refunds and Vouchers:

Many airlines are offering vouchers instead of refunds and there has been a lot of confusion across the travel industry. The Irish government has recently backed a new refund credit note that can be used by travel agents and tour operators to give to customers instead of a refund – note this is not applicable to airlines. These credit notes will be guaranteed by the state in the event that the travel agent or tour operator ceases trading. It will be issued with a future redeemable date, and on that date it can be exchanged for its cash, or can be used to book another holiday. According to Shane Ross, ‘the refund credit note aims to strike a balance between preventing sector-wide bankruptcy (with associated immediate job losses) and consumer rights.’
 

 

 
 While Ryanair and Aer Lingus are ‘officially’ offering refunds for cancelled flights, they are actively trying to get passengers to accept vouchers or change their departure dates. Other travel companies are not offering refunds at all. I have full list of my most popular questions answered, and the links to apply for refunds in these posts:

How to get a refund from Ryanair

How to get a refund if your flight is cancelled
 

 

Face masks are mandatory with most airlines:

Like many airlines, Aer Lingus and Ryanair have confirmed that face masks are now mandatory. While social distancing is not possible on board aircrafts, there will be extra distancing measures in place in airports, and in-flight services will be reduced. 

Read: Top 10 tips for travelling during Covid-19
 

 

Cruise lines & Tour Operators latest updates:

  • MSC has cancelled all sailings for UK & Ireland residents until 31st October. They will have a reduced number of ships in both the East and West Mediterranean from 15th August for Schengen residents only, (not UK or Ireland passengers).  Guests booked on a summer cruise can, up until 31st October, take advantage of the MSC Cruises’ Flexible Cruise Programme which allows guests to reschedule their cruise to a future departure date through to 31 December 2021. Guests affected by cancellations will receive a Future Cruise Credit of the value of 125%. If you are not in a position to take a Future Cruise credit, MSC Cruises will refund 100% of the balance paid on Cruise only and Fly Cruises.
  • Princess Cruises cancel all operations until the 15th December. Passengers can request a full refund or receive 125% cruise credit.
  • Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Azamara and Silversea have cancelled most sailings until 31st October. Passengers can request a full refund, a 125% cruise credit or can change existing cruise to 2021 at the same cost – see more here.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line have cancelled all sailings until 31st October. Passengers can request a full refund or receive 125% or 150% cruise credit, depending on departure date. Cruise credit is valid until December 2022.

 

 

 

US bans travel from Europe including UK & Ireland.

President Donald Trump has amended the US travel ban to include Ireland and UK effective midnight 16th March.The ban applies to anyone who has been in Europe within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US. This does not apply to US citizens, however they will have to undergo health screenings on arrival.
 

 

 

Travel Insurance to exclude Covid-19 for new policies issued. 

With effect from 6pm on Monday 16th March 2020, a general exclusion for Covid-19 (Coronavirus) will apply to all new Blue Insurance travel insurance policies issued by travel agencies. This general exclusion will apply to all sections of the policy document. It is likely that all insurance companies will follow suit. Schedule Airline Failure and Third Party Supplier Insolvency will also be temporarily withdrawn. 

Coronavirus: What travel insurance covers:

 

Book Insurance Here
 

 

 

Note: This post is being updated constantly but travel advice and updates are changing on a daily basis. It is important to check with the company / airline you are booking with before taking any steps to cancel or travel abroad.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

 

Other related posts on the blog:

Coronavirus: What travel insurance covers:

Why you need to add travel disruption cover to your travel insurance policy

 
Like travel tips? See more here.
 

 
Sarah

The Travel Expert
 

 

 

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The Best Family Holidays With Teenagers

royal caribbean island perfect day at cococay

Family holidays with teenagers can go one of two ways – get it right and you will wonderful lifetime memories, get it wrong and you may wish you stayed at home…

 

Choosing the right holidays with teenagers can be tricky. Depending on their age, they might be going through mood swings, tantrums, and will probably have their phones surgically attached to their fingers 24/7. However, maybe they have outgrown that phase and have finished school, in which case they will want to go on holidays with their friends… Regardless of age, the number of times where you will all be holidaying together is diminishing year by year. Make sure these remaining family holidays are good ones.

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There are a few things to consider when booking family holidays with teenagers. I suggested chatting to them first to see what type of holidays they are interested in. Depending on their age you may find they just want to flake out at a pool with good WiFi or perhaps a gym onsite is a necessity. However, if your budget allows, maybe this the time to tick off some holiday destinations off your bucket list. I have listed some of my recommendations for holidays with teenagers below, with types to suit all tastes and budgets. Hopefully there will be one here to suit you and your family.

holidays with teenagers

 

Foolproof destinations that teenagers will love

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that not all teenagers are the same. Some don’t like sand, others are fussy eaters, but most find sightseeing a chore. However, there are a few foolproof destinations that tick all boxes for family holidays with teenagers.
 

 

 
Orlando is probably an obvious choice, where else can you find over 20 theme parks in one place? Most parks have rides that are suited to teens as well as younger kids, and even if you have never read a Harry Potter book or seen any of the movies, you would need to be made of stone to be unimpressed with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. 

best holidays with teenagers - orlando

Most hotels in Orlando have swimming pools, but it is just over an hour’s drive to Daytona Beach if you fancy a beach day. The Kennedy Space Centre is also only an hour’s drive from Orlando – that is a great experience for all the family. Orlando is also great for shopping and fussy eaters don’t need to worry, there are food courts everywhere! 

Read: Where to stay in Orlando

Read: 10 things you need to know about Universal Orlando Resort
 

 

 
Dubai is another superb holiday destination for families. Dubai has year round sunshine, stunning beaches and so much to see and do for all the family. My only recommendation would be to try avoid the summer months, as temperatures can get over 40 degrees.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Kids and teens of all ages will love the Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis The Palm, as well as IMG Worlds of Adventure – the world’s largest indoor theme park. You can also trying skiing in the Mall of the Emirates, go to the top of the world’s largest building the Burj Khalifa, but my favourite family experience in Dubai was the desert safari – whatever you do don’t miss it! 

Read: The best family activities in Dubai
 

 

 

Sun holidays with teenagers

The annual summer family holiday to the sun may not have the same appeal to teenagers as it did when they were younger. However, there are a few things that should keep teenagers happy on sun holidays. WiFi is vital, especially if you are away for a week or two – you may get away with limited browsing on a city break, but you won’t on a typical sun holiday.  Make sure the hotel or apartment you are staying in has good Wifi, preferably free. Check reviews from previous guests on Tripadvisor, and remember having WiFi and having good WiFi are two different things….

holidays with teenagers with waterparks

As well as WiFi, having a decent swimming pool is important for holidays with teenagers. A pool with waterslides is ideal and can keep teenagers entertained for hours. If this is not available to you, try to choose a property close to a beach with good water sports. Remember older teens may need a gym.
 

 

 
If your teenager is happy to mix with other teens, a teen club can be ideal. Make sure it caters for teenagers only, they will not want to mix with 10 year olds in a regular kids club. Additional activities such as a football academy, DJ lessons or an aerial adventure course are a bonus. TUI’s Splashworld resorts have free access to a waterpark (onsite or close by) throughout your stay, while their Holiday Villages have a host of activities for kids of all ages. 

Read: TUI’s Exclusive Collections – How to choose the right family holiday for you

Read: My Top Waterpark holidays

Read: Top 10 family holidays in Greece
 

 

 

Activity based beach holidays with teenagers 

While waterparks and teen clubs might be ideal for some teenagers, specialist activity based holidays are a great choice for active teenagers. Club Med and Mark Warner holidays have a host of sports facilities including sailing, surf lessons and even scuba diving. You will also find some creative activities such as film design and mixing beats. They are all-inclusive too, so you don’t need to worry about your teenager looking for hand-outs for every activity, as most are included in the cost.
 

 

 
If you have a budding tennis star or soccer player in the family, Sani Resort in Greece is a super choice. Sani Resort doesn’t just have tennis courts and football courts. Sani has a tennis academy in collaboration with Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, and a UEFA-approved soccer pitch with football coaching sessions, in association with Chelsea Football Club. Children can enjoy a football camp with qualified coaches in various camps ranging from age four to sixteen years, and a Chelsea FC Foundation kit is given to all attendees.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sani Resort also has a KTM bike club, using the Fat Bike and Go-Pro cameras, and adventure park with high ropes and zip lines, and a PADI Scuba Diving Centre offering many diving opportunities, including shipwreck diving. Sani Resort is expensive, but it is one of the best family resorts in the world.

Read: The ultimate guide to Sani Resort, one of Europe’s best family resorts
 

 

 

City Breaks with teenagers

City breaks can provide great family holidays with teenagers, but it is important to choose your destination wisely. American cities like New York, or Washington will provide the wow factor, but Barcelona, Paris and Rome are great choices too. Iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum are sure to impress, and there are plenty of Instagram worthy locations in most major cities.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Try to plan one day to do something other than sightseeing. The RER train will get you from the centre of Paris to Disneyland Paris in 90 minutes (there are plenty of rides for teenagers too), and Barcelona is only an hour from PortAventura and Ferrari Land. You could also try to take in a sporting event while you are there, a trip to the Nou Camp in Barcelona is ideal if travelling with boys.

Read: Top ten city breaks for families

Read: 12 things to do in New York with kids
 

 

 

Skiing holidays with teenagers

A skiing holiday is regarded as one of the best family holidays with teenagers. I skied with my family for the first time last Christmas and the kids loved it. It is an expensive holiday, but one that I believe is worth it. Teenagers will be active all day and won’t have the time or inclination to be checking their phone 24/7.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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They will also have the opportunity to try snowboarding and maybe even tobogganing, depending on ski resort you choose. Many secondary schools organise a ski holiday for their students, so going skiing before this happens will prepare them for the trip, and once they try skiing, they will be chomping at the bit to get back on the slopes. 

Read: Top 10 tips for family skiing holidays
 

 

 

Road trips with teenagers

I am a big fan of road trips. I love seeing lots of new places on one trip – and most teenagers to do. The key is to make sure you don’t have too many long journeys in the car, and to spend at least two nights in each place. No one wants to arrive in a hotel at 5pm and leave at 9am the following day – it’s exhausting and you don’t get to see the place properly.

Give yourself plenty of time to explore each stop, don’t plan to much on the one road trip, and make sure you have the right tech (we use a mediashare) that will enable to the kids to watch movies while you drive. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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We travelled from San Francisco to San Diego over 17 days and it was a fantastic family experience. We cycled across the Gold Gate Bridge, visited Alcatraz, spent a day in Universal Studios, visited the California Science Centre and also managed to include some beach time.
 

 

 
Another one of my favourite road trips was driving from Cape Town to Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa. South Africa was one of our favourite family holidays and one that I am sure any teenager would love. I can’t wait to drive from Seattle to Vancouver and stop off in some of Canada’s amazing National Parks – that is a road trip that is firmly on my bucket list.

Read: Our California road trip

Read: Biking the Golden Gate bridge

Read: How to plan the perfect South African road trip
 

 

 

Bucket list adventures that teenagers will love

When your teenager finishes school, you may find family holidays harder to organise. Why not make your teenager an offer they can’t refuse and scratch one off your own bucket list at the same time? The South Africa and California road trips (above) are bucket list adventures too, but for once in a lifetime experiences, think about far away destinations like Australia or the Galapagos Islands, visit Giraffe Manor in Kenya, go in search of the Gorillas in Uganda, or catch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures have some incredible family itineraries if you have younger kids travelling with you too.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Read: 25 Bucket list holidays to inspire your next big trip

Read: Top long haul destinations for families
 

 

 

Cruise holidays with teenagers

Cruises may not be in huge demand at the moment, but trust me when normality resumes, cruises are one of the bests family holidays with teenagers. You don’t have to worry about them wandering off as everything is on board the cruise ship – in fact many new ships offer wrist bands so you can track where your kids are at all times. 
 

 

 
Water parks are practically the norm on new ships now, but some cruise lines have gone a step further. I rode around a race-track on Norwegian Encore, and their virtual reality gaming area was like nothing I had ever seen at sea – or on land for that matter. Royal Caribbean have massive water slides, rock climbing walls, surf simulators, zip lines and even ski diving on some ships, and you can ride a Formula 1 simulator on some of MSC’s cruise ships.

best cruise holidays with teenagers

Most have separate teen zones where teens can hang out until late, without having to watch theatre shows with their parents. With all meals included and some restaurants open 24/7, they can eat and drink when they like. And all of this is just what is onboard cruise ships – you will also visit some amazing destinations too, even private islands with waterparks and hot air balloon rides.

Read: My review of Norwegian Encore

Read: 10 reasons to choose Royal Caribbean for family cruises

Read: My review of MSC Bellissima

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah

 

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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Top Ten City Breaks For Families

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Check out my top ten city breaks for families, with plenty of activities for both adults and kids to enjoy.

 

City breaks for families should be embraced. Describing ancient Rome to your kids is so much easier when you are inside the Colosseum. Barcelona no longer becomes just a football club and tapas become something they enjoy eating. Talk about World War Two or the Cold War at home and you will probably be ignored – however, in Berlin its fascinating. 

Top ten city breaks for families

City breaks are the best way for kids to understand different cultures, taste new foods and enjoy some quality family time. You will be together 24/7 without kids clubs, pool games and only each other to talk to. Sitting down for a nice meal at the end of a days sightseeing, listening to your kids describing the highlights of their day, is very rewarding.
 
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However, there are only so many museums kids can take. You do need to make sure there are some ‘cool’ things for them to see too. I have some tips for taking kids on city breaks  which you might find useful, and in my list below, you will find my top ten city breaks for families. 
 

 

 

Berlin

Top ten city breaks for families

Berlin has so much to see, you could easily spend a week here. The DDR museum is a good choice for families as it is an interactive museum where kids are encouraged to touch things and interact. Checkpoint Charlie will be popular with teenagers, they can even get their photo taken with armed guards!
 

 

 
The National History Museum has three huge dinosaur skeletons, including the largest skeleton in the world, and there are numerous technology and science museums that are very child friendly. There is also a Lego Discovery Centre, a fantastic Zoo, and if travelling in the Summer, the outdoor waterpark at Friedrichstein is worth a visit.

Read: My travel guide to Berlin
 

 

 

Lisbon

Tom ten city breaks for families

This is a great value city break and one that usually guarantees balmy temperatures. The trams make everything so accessible and it is home to Europe’s largest Aquarium. Take the train to nearby Sintra and visit Quinta de Regaleira, the medieval castle full of dungeons and dragons. My kids thought they were in Hogwarts and loved it. You are on the coast so a day at the beach is also possible. 

Read: Cascais and the Lisbon Coast 
 

 

 

London

City Breaks for families - London

Right on our doorstep, London is a great city for a family break. Check out the London Dungeon and Tower Bridge, visit the Harry Potter Experience, or spend a day in Legoland. And if your kids are like mine, they will love seeing Big Ben and taking a spin on the London Eye.
 

 

 

Los Angeles

city breaks for families

So this might seem like a long way to go for a city break, but with so many direct flights from Dublin airport, it is more attainable now than ever. Kids will love seeing Hollywood boulevard, the stars on the sidewalk, as well as their favourite characters dressed up. It is also home to Universal Studios, Disneyland California and the California Science Centre. We combined a stay in Los Angeles with a great California road trip,  it was one of our favourite family holidays.

Read: Our California road trip.
 

 

 

Verona

 ten city breaks for families

The gateway to Lake Garda, Verona is ideal for city breaks for families. In Verona you can’t miss the amazing amphitheatre and Juliet’s balcony, while kids will love trying watersports on the lake. Like most cities in Italy, kids will receive a warm welcome in the Italian bars and restaurants, and the city has a ‘holiday resort’ feel to it. For a great day out, take a trip to the nearby themepark, Gardaland. Full of rollercoasters, water rides and shows, it is a great day out for all the family.
 

 

 

Paris

DIsneyland Paris at Christmas time - great city break for families 

Disneyland Paris is a reason in itself to warrant an inclusion on this list of best city breaks for families. We visited Disneyland Paris at Christmastime and it was magical. However, there are also plenty of other things that kids will love, particularly the Eiffel Tower, and a cruise on the Seine. A Parisian food tour is a great way to see the city on foot and gives kids something to look forward to, as you stop in various chocolate and pastry shops along the way. 

Read: Top tips for visiting Disneyland Paris at Christmas time
 

 

 

Barcelona

best city breaks for families - barcelona is close to portaventura 

Where else will you find a beach, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, Europe’s largest themepark, PortAventura, and some of Spain’s best tapas bars? Barcelona definitely ticks all boxes for a family city break. It can get very crowded in July and August so my advice is go off peak, and don’t miss a day out in PortAventura.

Read: 10 reasons to visit PortAventura 
 

 

 

New York

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Older kids will want to shop, younger kids will think they are in the movies, and as for adults, well you will just be happy to be in New York! Climb to the Top of the Rock, go ice skating in Central Park, take a tour of the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, and pay a visit to the massive Lego Store at the Rockefeller Centre. They are just a small sample of what families will enjoy in New York. TOP TIP: If you plan on shopping and are bringing a relatively empty suitcase, pack a cheap scooter from your local toy shop. Kids will love to scoot around the city and if you have to leave it there, so be it!  

Read: 12 things to do with kids in New York
 

 

 

Dubai

things to do with kids in Dubai

Waterparks galore, Palm Island, aquariums, desert safaris, and even skiing – there is nothing you can’t do in Dubai. They have just opened the world’s largest indoor theme park and it is a whopping 1.5 million square feet! Being completely enclosed, it will offer a welcome relief from the hot temperatures. Expect a Dinosaur adventure zone, MARVEL superhero zone with thrilling rides, live shows, movies and lots more. Of course in Dubai, kids will love to spend time on some of the world’s best beaches. We had a fabulous few days in Dubai with the kids, it is certainly one of my top recommendations for city breaks for families.

Read: Top tips for family holidays in Dubai
 

 

 

Copenhagen

Tom ten city breaks for families

Copenhagen is a great city break during the winter time, particularly at Halloween or Christmas. Tivoli Gardens, the world’s oldest theme park is home to roller-coasters, family rides, an aquarium, restaurants and has regular fire work displays. It closes down for weeks before Halloween and Christmas to prepare for the festivities and is decorated with 120,000 lights. It is magical experience for adults and kids. 

Read: My city guide to Copenhagen
 

 

 
So now that you have seen my top ten city breaks for families, let me know which one is your favourite, by commenting below.

 

Like city breaks? See more here

 

Sarah

 

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

DESTINATIONS

My Top Ten Road Trip Movies

From the inspiring Motorcycle Diaries, to the comedy classic, National Lampoons Vacation, I’ve got ten great road trip movies to inspire your next vacation.

 

Whilst we are (somewhat) housebound, we are all most definitely watching a lot more TV, and with the variety of ‘regular’ TV combined with the streaming services on offer, we are spoilt for choice. I love a good road trip, but as it is not something that I can actively do at the moment, I thought I’d ask my movie-buff husband Cormac, to highlight his all time favourite road trip movies instead. So here we go…
 

 

 

Thelma & Louise

Let’s face it, Sarah made me include this one! Whilst this list is not in any particular order, this is one of her all time favourite road trip movies. Two women in a convertible hitting the open road, with a dash of Brad Pitt thrown in for good measure, of course she likes it!

Meek housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) joins her friend Louise (Susan Sarandon), a feisty and independent waitress, on a short road trip. However, their trip soon becomes a flight from the law, when Louise shoots a man who sexually assaults Thelma at a bar. They decide to flee to Mexico, but on the way Thelma falls for sexy young thief J.D. (Brad Pitt).
 

 

 
A sympathetic Detective Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) tries to convince the two women to surrender before their fates are sealed, but this was never going to happen. Even though it is nearly thirty years since it was released, it’s still one of the best road trip movies and you should check it out.

Read: Sarah’s top ten travel movies
 

 

 

Little Miss Sunshine

This quirky road trip movie was shot over just 30 days in Arizona and Southern California, and premiered at the Sundance Film festival in 2006. With Steve Carell in it, you know it’s going to be funny and with four Oscar nominations, you know its going to be good!

The Hoover family – (Greg Kinnear), his wife (Toni Collette), an uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano) and a grandfather (Alan Arkin) put the fun back in dysfunctional, by piling into a VW bus and heading to California to support their daughter (Abigail Breslin) in her bid to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest.

The sanity of everyone involved is stretched to the limit, as the group’s quirks cause epic problems along their interstate route. This is beautifully shot, really funny and worth a watch!
 

 

 

The Motorcycle Diaries

On a break before his last semester of medical school, Ernesto “Che” Guevara travels with his friend Alberto Granado from Brazil to Peru by motorcycle. The two men soon witness the great disparities in South America, encountering poor peasants and observing the exploitation of labor by wealthy industrialists. When they reach a leper colony in Peru, Ernesto’s values have changed so much that he sides with the sufferers, forgetting his own comfort.

Ché Guevara and Granado desire to see as much of Latin America as they can, more than 14,000 kilometres (8,700 mi) in just four and a half months. Granado’s purpose is also to bed as many women as will fall for his pickup lines. Their initial method of transport is Granado’s dilapidated Norton 500 motorcycle christened La Poderosa (“The Mighty One”).
 

 

 
I don’t want to spoil it, but the film closes with an appearance by the real 82-year-old Alberto Granado, along with pictures from the actual journey, and a brief mention of Che Guevara’s eventual 1967 CIA-assisted execution in the Bolivian jungle. It is subtitled as the whole movie is in Spanish, but I think that adds to it. In fact this is actually one of my favourite road trip movies. Want to watch it? Well you can as the full movie is on YouTube for free, just click HERE.
 

 

 

Smokey And The Bandit

I won’t lie, this movie probably has not aged well, but it is still a classic. I probably watched this movie twenty times, in my formative teens, on an old VHS video tape that my uncle had. Featuring Sally Field and the inimitable Burt Reynolds as ‘The Bandit”. This was my first time seeing swearing on TV, although it is pretty tame by todays standards! Most of it is provided by the very funny Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice.

The film follows Bo “The Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus “the Snowman” Snow (Jerry Reed), two bootleggers, as they attempt to drive from Atlanta to Texarkana, pick up 400 cases of Coors beer, and illegally transport it back to Atlanta in 28 hours or less. During their run, they are relentlessly pursued by Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), a blusterous Texas county sheriff.
 

 

 
The premise of the story is actually based on fact, as Coors was unavailable for sale east of Oklahoma in 1977. The lack of additives and preservatives meant that Coors had the potential for spoiling in a week if it was not kept cold throughout its transportation – this explains the 28-hour deadline in the movie. If you have 12 year old son, this is definitely one to watch with him. It’s action packed and funny, with some ‘cussin’ too.
 

 

 

Blues Brothers

If you haven’t seen this movie, stop reading now, head over to YouTube and rent it. This is one of the all time greats! The movie itself fell out of 1976 Saturday Night Live sketches and became a cult classic, with John Belushi at his finest and Dan Ackroyd leading the charge, as well as featuring a host of iconic music names and timeless classics.

After his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) – collectively known as the “Blues Brothers.” Jake’s first task is to save the orphanage the brothers grew up in from closing, by raising $5,000 to pay back taxes. The two are convinced they can earn the money by getting their old band back together. However, after playing several gigs and making a few enemies, including the police, the brothers face daunting odds to deliver the money on time.
 

 

 
It’s twee at times but a great movie none the less. It featured epic car chases involving the Bluesmobile, and musical performances by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker. The story is set in and around Chicago, Illinois.

This movie along with ‘Animal House’ show the genius of John Belushi, who unfortunately succumbed to an accidental overdose at the age of 33. It’s a classic and also available to rent on YouTube.
 

 

 

National Lampoons Vacation

This one sticks in my mind way back from when I was a teenager. It’s Classic Chevy Chase at the height of his career playing the bumbling idiot father – brilliantly.

Accompanied by their children, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) and his wife, Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo), are driving from Illinois to a California amusement park. As Clark increasingly fixates on a beautiful woman driving a sports car, the Griswolds deal with car problems and the death of a family member.

They reach Los Angeles, but, when Clark worries that the trip is being derailed again, he acts to get his family to the park. This is an old school comedy where a typical family holiday turns into a fiasco, but it is packed with laughs.
 

 

 

Mad Max

Mad Max was made in 1979, but I didn’t get to it until the mid eighties I’d say. This is the movie that launched Australian actor and Hollywood heart throb Mel Gibson to stardom. The film became the first in the Mad Max series, giving rise to three sequels, Mad Max 2 (1981), Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and Fury Road (2015). I think the Interceptor police car sucked me in as well. It probably hasn’t stood the test of time very well, despite being set in some kind of dystopian future, but worth a look and also available on You Tube.

In a not-too-distant future, when man’s most precious resource, oil, has been depleted and the world plunged into war, famine and financial chaos, the last vestiges of the law in Australia attempt to restrain a vicious biker gang. Max (Mel Gibson), an officer with the Main Force Patrol, launches a personal vendetta against the gang when his wife (Joanne Samuel) and son are hunted down and murdered, leaving him with nothing but the instincts for survival and retribution.
 

 

 

Rainman

Whats not to like about this road movie? Made in 1988, starring a young Tom Cruise and the great Dustin Hoffman, this movie ticks all the ‘feel good’ boxes with lots of laughs along the way. Also watchable on YouTube, Rainman won four Oscars in 1989 and was nominated in another four categories too. It was also the highest grossing movie of 1988! It should definitely be on the ‘movie night in’ list.

When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home to Cincinnati, where he discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), and that his father’s $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution in which Raymond lives.

Motivated by his father’s money, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility in order to return with him to Los Angeles. The brothers’ cross-country trip ends up changing both their lives.
 

 

 

Nebraska

Perhaps not a road trip movie in the classic sense of the words, but a good movie nonetheless. This is the only one on this list of road trip movies that is black and white – it is deliberately shot that way. It is critically acclaimed and was also nominated for six Oscars at the time. It is a lovely depiction of a father and grown sons relationship. Well worth a look if you get a chance.

Cantankerous old guy Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) can barely walk down the street of his home in Billings, Montana, without stopping for a drink. So when Woody receives a sweepstakes notice in the mail and insists on making a 750-mile trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his prize, it falls to baffled son David (Will Forte) to accompany him. During a stop in their Nebraska hometown, word gets out about Woody’s fortune, first making him a hero, then later, the target of predators…
 

 

 

Planes Trains & Automobiles

As the title would suggest, this movie is not all on the road. With an uptight Steve Martin, and an annoying but loveable John Candy, this is a great comedy to watch. Made in 1988, its full of the slapstick comedy that Steve Martin does so well.

It is a Christmas classic and the chemistry between Candy and Martin is brilliant. It is a silly movie but at the same time heartfelt and hilarious. Another one you can catch on YouTube.

Easily excitable Neal Page (Steve Martin) is somewhat of a control freak. Trying to get home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with his wife (Laila Robins) and kids, his flight is rerouted to a distant city in Kansas because of a freak snowstorm, and his sanity begins to fray.

Worse yet, he is forced to bunk up with talkative Del Griffith (John Candy), whom he finds extremely annoying. Together they must overcome the insanity of holiday travel to reach their intended destination.
 

 

 
So there it is! Ten of my favourite road trip movies from yesteryear. I’m probably showing my age as most are pre millennium. I hope you get to watch some and enjoy them as much as I did.

 

Like this post? You might like:

How to plan the perfect South African road trip

Our Californian road trip

The world’s best road trips with flights, hotels and car hire included

 

Cormac

 
Holidays in Ireland

Best Hotels in Ireland For Luxury And Romance

ireland romantic holidays

Why not surprise your loved one with a luxury escape when we can travel again? I’ve listed the best hotels in Ireland for luxury and romance below.

 

Think waiter service, 1,000 thread count bed sheets and outdoor hot tubs – we all want something to look forward to… It may seem like a pipe dream right now, but hotels in Ireland are opening on the 18th of July. Why not make that dream a reality and book a romantic escape in one of the best hotels in Ireland? I’ve listed my top picks below, which include five star luxury hotels and foodie breaks in Michelin star pubs that happen to have rooms upstairs! Hopefully one of these will be just what’s needed to rekindle some romance when this is all over. 

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1. Adare Manor, Co Limerick

best hotels in ireland - adare manor

After a staggering two-year long refurbishment, Adare Manor opened to rave reviews, and has already won numerous awards including the best resort in Europe and the 5th best resort in the world, in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards. Be prepared to be astonished by the 840 acres of pristine parkland, the lavish interiors and the award-winning spa.

This luxury five-star resort also boasts the Michelin star restaurant, The Oak Room. If you are looking to spoil yourself, or a loved one, then look no further than Adare Manor.

Check prices here
 

 

 

2. Ashford Castle, Co Mayo  

Ashford castle is one of the best hotels in Ireland

Is there anything more romantic than staying in a 13th century castle? I recall driving across the moat and seeing Ashford Castle for the first time – it was like being inside a fairytale. Awarded the accolade as a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, Ashford castle is undoubtedly one of the best hotels in Ireland. As well as lavish interiors and a choice of dining options, you can enjoy a host of sporting activities or relax in the stunning spa.

Check prices here
 

 

 

3. Ballyfin Demesne, Co. Laois

best hotels in ireland - ballyfin demesne

Ballyfin Demense is not only one of the best hotels in Ireland, it is one of the best hotels in the world according to Condé Nast Traveler. According to Richard E Grant “it was like stepping back in the past without the inconvenience of no electricity. The personal attention…the welcome of the people, the setting, the food, I should be their PR manager” – it sounds pretty special doesn’t it? This five-star luxury country house has only 20 rooms and is open to residents only – it is a perfect choice for an intimate escape. 

Check prices here
 

 

 

4. Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Castle Leslie Estate is one of my favourite hotels in Ireland. The fact that is one of the few great Irish castle estates that still remains in the hands of the founding family is remarkable. Surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodland, lakes and stunning gardens, I don’t believe you could take a bad photograph in Castle Leslie. If you are fortunate to get married here, (like Sir Paul McCartney and many other celebrities), you take over the whole castle – only you and your guests are allowed to stay. Castle Leslie is often referred to as ‘Europe’s most romantic hotel’ – I can see why.

Read how I was captivated by Castle Leslie here.

Check prices here
 

 

 

5. Cliff House Hotel, Co. Waterford

 

 
 
 
 
 
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I stayed overnight in The Cliff House Hotel last year and loved it. It is regarded by many as one of the best hotels in Ireland and I couldn’t agree more. This five-star boutique hotel in the small fishing village of Ardmore has only 39 rooms, and is the ultimate romantic hideaway.

I had a superb meal in its Michelin-star restaurant – in fact it one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I only wish I had time to enjoy the swimming pool and spa too. Its setting, perched on a cliff over looking the Irish Sea is absolutely breathtaking. Bring me back….

Check prices here
 

 

 

6. Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare

Dromoland Castle is one of the best hotels in Ireland

Dromoland Castle has been welcoming guests since the 16th century. It is the ancestral home of the O’Briens of Dromoland, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru. I stayed here many years ago with my husband and enjoyed a wonderful romantic weekend. The bedrooms are superb, we were fortunate to be staying inside one of the turrets! This luxurious five-star hotel is full of history, grandeur and romance – a royal stay is guaranteed. 

Check prices here
 

 

 

7. Finn Lough Bubble Domes, Co. Fermanagh

finn lough bubble domes glamping in ireland

You may have seen images of similar domes under the Northern Lights in Lapland or Norway, but you only have to venture as far as Co. Fermanagh to enjoy stargazing from the comfort of your own four-poster bed. With a 180 glass dome you will feel immersed in nature, albeit from a heated dome that comes equipped with an ensuite bathroom, Nespresso coffee machine, bath robes and complimentary breakfast. There is also a luxury spa and top quality restaurant on site.

Book here
 

 

 

8. Galgorm Resort, Co. Antrim

Galgorm Resort - one of Irelands best hotels

Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort is one of Northern Ireland’s most luxurious spa hotels. Set within 163 acres of parkland with the River Maine flowing through the estate, it has all the feels of a secluded hideaway, yet is only 30 minutes from Belfast. The riverside hot tubs and outdoor heated pools are an Instagram favourite, but there is more to Galgorm than its unique thermal village. There are numerous dining options to choose from as well as a championship golf course.

I was supposed to be staying in Galgorm Resort in March but unfortuntely had to cancel. Hopefully I will visit later in the year – watch out for my review!

Check prices here
 

 

 

9. Glenlo Abbey Hotel, Co. Galway

Ireland's best hotels - Glenlo Abbey

Glenlo Abbey is located on an 138-acre estate on Lough Corrib, and has been welcoming guests since 1740. The on site facilities are impressive, and include a Falconry, archery, fishing, golf, and the Abbey movie theatre. However, the pièce de résistance is the Pullman Restaurant, which is two former carriages that once served on the Orient Express. Can you think of anything more romantic than telling your loved one you will be dining in the Orient Express?

Check prices here
 

 

 

10. Harvey’s Point, Co. Donegal

best hotels in Ireland - Harveys Point

Harvey’s Point has been on my wish list for many years, in fact I promised myself I would visit this year – hopefully that will still happen. Although only a four-star hotel, Harvey’s Point always manages to receive five-star reviews from its guests – it has been named the best hotel in Ireland five years in a row from Tripadvisor.

Check prices here
 

 

 

11. Hayfield Manor, Co. Cork

Hayfield Manor - one of Ireland's best hotels

The prestigious five-star Hayfield Manor hotel has all the charm of a country house, yet is located just a short stroll from Cork City. However, with two award-winning restaurants and the Beautique Spa with indoor heated pool, you may find it difficult to leave.

Hayfield Manor is an independent family owned hotel whose mission is to exceed guests expectations. It seems it has succeeded, as it was won numerous awards including Ireland’s Best Welcome at the 2020 Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards.

Check prices here
 

 

 

12. Lough Eske Castle, Co. Donegal

Lough Eske Castle - one of Ireland's best hotels

Lough Eske Castle is steeped in history and romance. Dating back to the 15th century and set within 43 acres of native woodland on the shores of Lough Eske, it certainly has the wow factor. It blends its historic past with contemporary luxury beautifully, and has a luxury spa with a swimming pool for the ultimate relaxing break.  

Check prices here
 

 

 

13. Marlfield House, Co. Wexford

 

 
 
 
 
 
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My husband Cormac and I booked an overnight escape to Marlfield House last year – a rare night away without the kids. Located just an hour’s drive from Dublin, it is a great choice if you can only get away for one night.

We arrived in time for lunch and enjoyed a fabulous meal in the Conservatory Restaurant. In the evening time we ate in The Duck, a restaurant that deserves all the praise and awards that it receives. We also enjoyed a stroll on the famous Curracloe beach before returning home the following day. 

Read: My review of Marlfield House

Check prices here
 

 

 

14. Monart, Co. Wexford

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you are looking for a romantic spa break in Ireland, then look no further than Monart. You won’t find a sports facilities and nightly entertainment, but you will find one of Ireland’s best spa hotels.

When you arrive you can slip on your robe and never don clothes again until you leave – yes many people even dine in their bath robes! It is one of the most relaxing hotel stays I have experienced, but you do need to plan a quiet night with not too many night caps to experience it properly. Many Irish hotels have spas but there is only one destination Spa hotel in Ireland – Monart. 

Read: My review of Monart 

Check prices here
 

 

 

15. Sheen Falls Lodge, Co. Kerry

luxury hotel deals in ireland

Sheen Falls Lodge enjoys an idyllic location overlooking Sheen Waterfalls, as well as being within walking distance to the picturesque town of Kenmare. A Relais & Chateaux Hotel, it boasts fine food and wine and a host of activities including kayaking, paddle-boarding, archery, fishing, horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and falconry. If you prefer to relax, spend some time in the spa or indoor heated pool.

Kenmare is ideally situated on the Ring of Kerry and on the Wild Atlantic Way, making it a great choice if you want to see some of Kerry’s highlights. 

Check prices here
 

 

 

16. The Hideaway at Dromquinna Manor, Co. Kerry

best places to go glamping in Ireland

For couples looking for the ultimate retreat, The Hideaway is the place to go. You will be staying in a custom made African safari tent, over looking the lake on the grounds of Dromquinna Manor. The world ‘tent’ doesn’t adequately describe your accommodation… Complete with a luxurious en-suite bedroom and private veranda, it is camping but not as you know it.

There is a separate entrance to the Hideaway via a private gated garden ensuring absolute privacy. A delicious breakfast basket will be delivered to your tent every morning and you can enjoy dinner in The Boathouse in the evening. This is my idea of pure romance and I can’t wait to visit!

Read: My top picks for glamping in Ireland

Check prices here
 

 

 

17. The Ice House Hotel, Co. Mayo

Best hotels in Ireland - Ice House Hotel

Funky furnishings and an eclectic design combine to make The Ice Hotel one of Ireland’s coolest hotels – excuse the pun! It has all the feels of a city hotel, yet located in the countryside on the banks of the river Moy. The outdoor hot tubs and superb spa garden, as well as fantastic food, fine wines and clever cocktails, have made guests return year after year.

A member of Ireland’s Blue Book the Ice Hotel boasts 32 rooms and suites, creating an intimate atmosphere for a romantic break away.

Check prices here
 

 

 

18. The Shelbourne, Dublin

shelbourne hotel is one of Irelands best hotels

I may be a little biased to consider The Shelbourne Hotel as one of Ireland’s best hotels – I got married here many years ago! It is not only a luxury five-star hotel, but it is one of Dublin’s landmarks. Located right on St. Stephen’s Green, it has been the centre of the city’s social and cultural life for 200 years.

I still love to pop into The Shelbourne whenever I am in town, and I can think of no where better to stay in Dublin if you want to plan a romantic break away.

Check prices here
 

 

 

19. The Wild Honey Inn, Co. Clare

Foodie breaks in Ireland - The Wild Honey Inn

Romantic escapes don’t need to be in five-star hotels! Foodies will love the chance to stay in this traditional Inn that was the first pub in Ireland to be awarded a Michelin star. More like a restaurant with rooms than a typical hotel, the bright airy rooms have their own terrace with views over the surrounding countryside. For couples who are looking for a unique adult-only experience with fine dining, check out the Wild Honey Inn.

Check prices here
 

 

 

20. Wineport Lodge, Co. Westmeath

Wineport Lodge - romantic hotels in Ireland

Wineport Lodge has been a firm favourite for romantic breaks in Ireland for many years. Located in Athlone, in the centre of Ireland, it is easily accesible from most cities, making it a good choice for an overnight escape. Its tranquil setting on the banks of Lough Ree makes you feel immediately relaxed once you step inside. Enjoy a treatment in their Treatment Suite or a bathe in the outdoor hot tub, and let’s not forget a glass the obligatory of wine on the terrace.

Check prices here
 

 

 
I hope this post on the best hotels in Ireland will help you plan a romantic escape in the near future. Note some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 
Travel Tips

When Can We Travel Again? 5 Things That We Need to Consider

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‘When can we travel again?’ was the top searched question on Google last week. Find out my thoughts below.

 

 

I was surprised to learn that ‘when can we travel again’ was the top searched question in Ireland last week. I should clarify, I am not surprised that people want to know when we can travel again, (God knows I do!), but I thought the question was a little vague. The answers to this question are completely different depending on where you want to travel to – be it at home or abroad, how much annual leave you have, and whether the airlines will even be flying. 

 

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There are five key questions that need to be asked before we can think about when can we travel again to a foreign country. If you can answer yes to all of these, then get planning! Otherwise you may need to hang on a little longer to find out…
 

 

 

1. Is the country you wish to travel to open for international visitors?

when can we travel again

Currently the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against non-essential travel to most countries, except those on our Green List. Most of Europe is open to International visitors, but some require visitors to produce a negative covid test to gain entry.  Many countries including Australia, New Zealand and the US are expected to be closed to International visitors for many months.  

 

 

2. When will flights resume?

ryanair - when can we travel again

 

Many airlines have already resumed flying, albeit with reduced capacity. There are temperature checks and covid tests available in many airports, and face masks are mandatory on all airlines. Ryanair’s latest video highlights the new Covid measures than have been put in place. 
 

 

 

 

 

3. Are you prepared to self-isolate on entry and on your return?

travel updates due to coronavirus - when can we travel abroad again

Even if a country is allowing foreign visitors entry, there may be restrictions with regard to self isolation. These policies are changing all the time and may be removed in due course. Tests may also be carried out at the airport (see above) to eliminate the need for self isolation. 
 

 

 
Currently Ireland has a policy whereby anyone entering Ireland has to self isolate for 14 days if travelling from a non Green List country – this applies to both tourists and residents.  It is possible that you will need to plan annual leave for up to six weeks if you want to take a two week holiday – this includes two weeks self isolation when you arrive and when you return. If you can work from home this may not be an issue for you, but it should be something you clarify with your employer before you plan a holiday.
 

 

 

4. Are you happy to holiday with restrictions still in place?

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There is no doubt that holidays will not be the same until a vaccine is found. Most countries will have restrictions on the number of people in hotels, restaurants, bars and even beaches. Selected tourist resorts in Europe require you to pre-book your beach space in advance.

However, we have managed to get used to restrictions to a certain extent at home, so perhaps we will get used to it when travelling too. Villas and self catering holidays are already proving to be widely searched, and hotels will have much smaller numbers of guests. Personally, I will certainly be happy to holiday with restrictions in place, once it is safe to do so.
 

 

 

 

5. Are you concerned about contracting Covid-19 while you are away?

when can we travel again

This might vary depending on your age, reason for travel, and whether you can take time off work if you do happen to contract Covid-19 while abroad. Most countries when open, will have restrictions in place, possibly similar to our own. You may find the likelihood of contracting Covid-19 abroad is not much more than staying at home.
 

 

 
However, it is likely that you wont be able to stick to social distancing guidelines in airports, airplanes and even beaches. Many new insurance policies may have exclusions in place and will not cover you for Covid-19 – however Multitrip.com will cover you once the Department of Foreign Affairs says it is safe to travel to your destination. Ts&Cs will apply.
 

 

 
While the free European Heath Insurance card will be allow you to get treatment in a public hospital in Europe, it will not cover you for additional expenses such as hotel bills or rebooking alternative flights, should you need to stay in a country longer than planned. It is important to have adequate travel insurance cover in place before you travel.
 


 
It is important to note that travel restrictions and airline policies are changing daily, and that social distancing has become the new normal. Of course if a Covid-19 vaccine is found, travel may back to normal sooner than we think. In the meantime, I am hopeful that the work being done at European Commission level and throughout the world will make sure airports and airlines will be adequately prepared for when can we travel again – lets hope it is sooner rather than later.

 

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Note some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 
 

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