As the summer draws to a close why not grab a last minute getaway. I have city breaks in Madrid, Lisbon and Rome, and Irish breaks in Kilkee, Belfast, Enniscorthy, Enniskerry and Westport. Here are my recommendations for staycations and short breaks as discussed on RTE’s Marian Finucane Show this morning.
August break to Madrid
Late August is always a good time to get a deal and this year is no exception. Kids are ready to go back to school and those looking for a September break tend to overlook late August, when in fact, prices are much lower. ClickandGo.com have matched the low airfares with some good city breaks. I like this deal to Madrid, it combines sightseeing, sun and shopping all in one! You can take a tour of the Royal Palace and shop till you drop on the Gran Via – one of Europe’s finest shopping streets. Madrid is also home to Europe’s largest Penneys so there is shopping here for everyone! There is over 3,000 restaurants, so its safe to say it’s a foodie destination and there is enough bars and clubs to satisfy any night-owls. Fly with Aer Lingus and enjoy a three night stay in the four star Via Castellana hotel for only €240 on the 28th of August. Click here for more details.
Lisbon break with river cruise in September
Although the Algarve is one of our most popular holiday choices, the capital, Lisbon is often overlooked. You can choose to go for a holiday (which I did) and stay in one of the beach resorts, or take a city break and stay in Lisbon itself. Temperatures rarely get higher than 25 degrees in Summer and lower than 14 degrees in Winter so it is a great choice for city break. The old style trams are the best way to get around the city and there are numerous sights to see, including The Belem Tower (defence tower), the Castelo de Sáo Jorge and the Cristo Rei, which is a large statue of Christ that you can climb and see great views of the city. There are some great restaurants, cafes and music clubs, all very reasonably priced. I went with my kids and there was lots for them to do too. The Aquarium is Europe’s largest and well worth a visit. If you have time take the train to the ancient city of Sintra and some of the nice beach resorts along the coast. Theholidayshop.ie are offering a three night break in a central four star hotel from €339 on the 25th of September. They are also including a free river cruise too. Click here for more details.
Cheese & Wine Tasting Weekend in Rome in November
Rome is a great city break destination at any time of year, but personally I think it’s better to go in the winter time, as it’s less crowded. There is so much to see in Rome it doesn’t matter how many times you go, you will always find something new to discover. I found a great deal on travalue.ie where they offer a FREE cheese and wine tasting evening, when you book a two night stay. The price for flights and a two night stay in the popular three star Galileo hotel in November is only €199 per person. They also have offers in September and October from €326 per person. Click here for more details.
Christmas Market Breaks in December
Christmas markets are very much back in vogue. Ryanair and Aer Lingus have added extra capacity to many cities throughout the winter with lots of low priced airfares available. I like Berlin as it has over 50 markets to choose from and something to appeal to everyone. Sip some mulled wine while enjoying Christmas carols at the traditional markets of Charlottenburg Castle or enjoy one of the Christmas Rock concerts at the Spandau Old Town market. Europe’s largest mobile toboggan run and ice rink are at the lively Potsdamer Platz market, so there is plenty of choice for everyone. For more info on Europe’s top Christmas markets read my blog here. The price for flights with Aer Lingus and a three night stay in the 4* Park Inn by Radisson Alexanderplatz is only €249 on the 7th of December. Click here for more details.
For those who wish to stay closer to home, there are plenty of options here in Ireland.
August family break: Feather Down, Loop Head, Co Clare.
Recently I had the pleasure of glamping in Ireland’s first Feather Down tents. They have sites all over Europe and have only come to Ireland this year. They are in the grounds of a popular glamping site, Purecamping in Loophead. It is the perfect escape from a big city, you really switch off and it’s a great family experience. The ‘tents’ if you can call them that have 3 bedrooms, a private toilet, shower, stove and also a BBQ if you are lucky to get the weather. They still have availability in August, the price for a three night stay is €599 on the 12th or 19th of August. If you want a cheaper option the Purecamping furnished bell tents are pretty cool too and are priced at €75 per night. You can also choose an unfurnished tent from €35. No matter which option you choose you can avail of the excellent facilities on site, including yoga classes, sauna and a wood fired pizza oven. For more details, read my blog here.
The difference between Monart and other luxury hotels is that Monart is Ireland’s only destination Spa property. It offers a unique adults-only environment and is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here. Monart was recently awarded ‘runner up best spa retreat worldwide’, by Conde Nast Traveller. It was also named as Ireland’s best destination spa for four years in a row. If you are looking for a spa break, there is no doubt – Monart is the best! They have a three night midweek break from €329 per person, on the 29th of August, other dates are also available at a slightly higher price. This special offer includes breakfast each day plus dinner in their renowned restaurant on one evening. You will have unrestricted access to the thermal suite and they are also including a 30 minute spa treatment. Monart is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here. For more details click here.
If three nights seems too long, the Rainforest Spa in Enniskerry ( Wicklow) have an excellent offer for a one night stay at the Summerhill House Hotel You will receive a glass of bubbly and petit fours on arrival, an hours use of the spa facilities, a treatment of your choice ( see website for exact choices), breakfast and evening meal – and all for €129 mid week or €149 at the weekend, available in August. Click here for more details.
Operation Transformation at Hotel Westport
If you have over indulged during the summer months and want to get in shape for Christmas, then the Hotel Westport’s Operation Transformation package might be just what you need! You can choose a three day break from €199 or a five day break from €309 from the 9th of October. This four star family run hotel have been running this program, twice a year for four years and they have proved very popular. You will receive breakfast and dinner each day ( where light options are available) and you can join in the many aerobics and wellness classes that are provided free of charge. There is entertainment nightly and no single supplement – so it’s a great way to meet new people. There is no pressure to participate in all the activities, it is very much a laid back approach, in fact if you do not wish to be assessed, that’s fine too. If you fancy a night out in Westport, he hotel is located only five minutes from the centre. Click here for more details.
Belfast overnight with Game of Thrones Tour
For any Game of Thrones fans, this is a must! The 4* boutique hotel, Tara Lodge is offering an over night stay with breakfast, and an action packed day visiting filming locations across Northern Ireland. Start your journey along the Causeway Coastal route visiting famous sites from the show. Stop for lunch before visiting the Giants Causeway. The price is only £72 per person and it is still available in August. Weekends are busy but check out their website for more details. The Tara Lodge is rated number 1 of 45 Belfast hotels on tripadvisor and receives excellent reviews. It is a family run guesthouse / hotel and offers friendly service and excellent value. Click here for more details.