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Family Holiday in Lake Garda for October Mid Term Break: 1 week Flights & Apt From €2097

sirmione_lake_garda_italy-1544123_vxfeni(1)_opt (1)

Thinking of getting away for the October mid term break? This family holiday in Lake Garda might do the trick! 

Lake Garda has scenery, sights, and plenty of style! Relax in its pretty lakeside towns, enjoy thrill rides in GardaLand, or cycle the new bike path that opened last year. I love taking water taxis across the lake and discovering new towns. The nearby city of Verona should also not be missed. Choose a family holiday in Lake Garda and you will be spoilt for choice.


Gardaland is one of the best theme parks in Europe and is a great day out for all the family. I would also recommend a visit to the amphitheatre in Verona, but for more inspiration check out my Lake Garda travel guide.

Gardaland, Lake Garda

I have been asked about the average temperatures during October, and while it may not be suitable for sunbathing, hopefully it will be warm. The average day time temperature was 74 degrees last year – see historical weather here.


I found flights from Dublin to Verona on the 28th of October for seven nights for €206 per person with Ryanair. There are many different resorts to choose from but Peschiera is one of the most popular resorts for a family holiday in Lake Garda. It is located in the southern end of the lake within easy reach of Sirmione and Gardaland.

top things to do in Lake Garda - visit Sirmione

The Residence Garda Palace is located just 10 minutes walk from the town centre of Peschiera, and is rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor. There are a selection of one and two bedroom apartments available. Price for a seven-night stay in a superior two-bedroom apartment is €1273 and these can accommodate up to six.


Search flights here 28 Oct – 4th Nov €206pp 

View Garda Palace €1273


All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability. Please note flights and accommodation has been researched on third-party websites and facilities are subject to change. 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.

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Top 10 Things to Do in Lake Garda – Lake Garda Travel Guide

Lake Garda

From medieval towns to modern theme parks, windsurfing to wine tasting, I’ve got the best things to do in Lake Garda, as well as day trips to Italy’s nearby cities. 

It is no surprise that holidays in Lake Garda are so popular. Italy’s largest lake has stunning scenery, over 50 villages and towns to explore, and it provides easy access to some of Italy’s most iconic cities. It is a place I wanted to write about many times, but it has been over 12 years since my last visit – I need to go back! However, travel journalist Kevin Flanagan visited recently, and offered to help me write this Lake Garda travel guide. He has compiled the top things to do in Lake Garda along with top tips to help you make the most of your visit. 

Kevin Flanagan visits Lake Garda
Kevin Flanagan visits Lake Garda

About Lake Garda

As a travel writer with 30 years of experience, Lake Garda is a place I would recommend to just about anyone, says Kevin Flanagan. Be they young or old, married or single, with or without family. Why? First and foremost, Lake Garda is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Sirmione, Lake garda
Set at the base of the soaring Italian Alps, and carved out of the mountains by gigantic glaciers in the last ice age, it offers breathtaking views wherever you are on the lake. It also has its own micro-climate, making it welcoming and warm during the summer months. But it also experiences cooling winds that flow over the lake during the day. And it is these same winds that make the lake a sailing and watersports paradise.


Many visit Lake Garda for peace and serenity, while others love exploring its medieval towns, and let’s not forget it is Mecca for active travellers and families too.

Read: Family holiday in Lake Garda for October Mid Term Break, 2ad & 2ch from €1543

There are many great things to do in Lake Garda to suit all types of travellers – here are my top ten.



1. See Sirmione

top things to do in Lake Garda - visit Sirmione

If you only have time to visit one place on Lake Garda, make it Sirmione. This medieval town is situated on a long, narrow peninsula on the southern tip of the lake, and is arguably the most beautiful town in Lake Garda. 


Sirmione boasts a stunning 13th-century castle that looks straight out of a Disney fairytale. Scaligero Castle is one of Italy’s best preserved castles, and one of the top things to do in Lake Garda. You can take a tour of the castle and enjoy beautiful views from its towers.

You will simply love exploring Sirmione’s pretty streets, but if time allows take time to enjoy a cruise around the peninsula too.
See cruise here

Top Tip: Sirmione is very busy during the summer months – my advice is to get there early before the crowds arrive.



2. Visit more of Lake Garda’s pretty towns by boat

one of the top things to do in Lake Garda is visit the pretty towns and villages by boat
Malcesine, by Kordula Vahle, Pixabay

While Sirmione get’s most of the headlines, there are many more towns in Lake Garda that you should visit. Traffic on the main road around the lake can be quite heavy during the peak summer months, so visiting by boat is a much more enjoyable experience. There are regular ferries from most towns, or you can choose private boat tours.

See tours here


We stayed in the small but beautiful town of Limone on the western banks of the lake and spent many hours walking around. Jewellers and shops are filled with sparkles and beautiful designs. And best of all – what the region is famous for – the leather goods sold in classy shops. From designer bags to hip wallets, and travelling cases to sharp leather jackets.

Limone, Lake Garda
Limone, by Reinhold Schlager, Pixabay

The sights and sounds are enthralling, from the grocery shops with the ever-present display of lemons, to the designer bags with that unique Italian leather smell.


Riva del Garda is located on the northern tip of Lake Garda and is a must-visit. This pretty town has a historic centre with colourful buildings, pretty piazzas and medieval towers. 

You can walk along the lake to nearby Torbole (5km), or if time allows hike the Old Ponale Road, which brings you through tunnels and fortifications of the first World War. It is one of the regions most popular hiking trails and offers stunning views over the lake. 


The small town of Malcesine is another popular place to visit, and many say it is the one of prettiest towns in Lake Garda. It is famous for its 13th century castle, which you can climb, but it is worth a visit for its colourful cobbled streets, choice of beaches and for being the town where you access the cable car to Monte Baldo. 



3. Ride the cable car to Monte Baldo

take the cable car to Monte Baldo for views of Lake Garda
Monte Baldo, by Tommy, Pixabay

The cable car to Monte Baldo is a great way to see the lake from above – it rises to 1800 metres in minutes. You will see many paragliders jumping off the top of the mountain – it is a remarkable sight.

You can simply go for the ride and enjoy the views, or join in some of the many outdoor activities available including hiking or mountain biking. The ticket price is €25 return, but you can also chose to go one way and hike or bike back down the mountain.

See more here



4. On yer bike 

cycle around lake Garda

If mountain biking on Monte Baldo is not for you, then the long awaited Lake Garda cycle path might well be. The 140km path is not due to be completed until 2026, but parts of it have been opened already, including the 2km scenic path from Capo Reamol to Limone.

Lake Garda cycle path open at Limone
Limone, by stefanie_koelbli, pixabay

There are specially designed tracks that join many towns along the lake’s coast, and we saw a wide variety of people using bikes to enjoy the views.

There are cycle hire shops in every lakeside town providing a range of bikes for everyone from kids to adults. E-bikes are particularly helpful if you want assistance going up the steeper mountain tracks. Prices start from around €15 day hire for a push bike, double that if you want an e-bike, and for the more adventurous there is a range of mountain bikes to take on the more hilly, rugged terrain.


This two-hour e-bike tour is a popular choice and priced at only €55. You are led by a local guide through vineyards and olive groves to a local winery. Cured meat, local cheese, and bread await, along with a selection of wine to toast the end of the ride.

Book it here



5. Take your pick from the wide selection of watersports in Lake Garda

canoeing in Lake Garda

When it comes to activities, Lake Garda is best known for its watersports. Not only are the waters of the lake crystal clear, they are, in my experience, not too cold. There are watersports centres in most towns with lessons and equipment readily available for hire.


I took my two grandkids on the lake in a pedalo and at around €10 per hour it is great value, says Kevin. The hire comes with life jackets which are mandatory for kids. The surface of Lake Garda is generally smooth, the only disturbance coming from passing boats and ferries.

Children enjoying pedalo in Lake Garda
Children enjoying pedalo in Lake Garda

You also have to watch out for areas with heavy use of water skis and racing yachts. But if you stay close to the shore, you can have a ball. Our pedalo had a slide which the kids loved. 


SUP or Canoeing are the best and calmest ways to discover all the hidden nooks and crannies of the coastline. I tried this and loved getting up close and personal with the coves and cliffs that surround Lake Garda. There are schools and rental shops abound.



Why is Lake Garda so good for watersports?

Lake Garda is one of the best places in Italy for watersports
windsurfing Lake Garda by Marjon Besteman, Pixabay

The Lake Garda basin enjoys two types of wind every day. The strongest wind, the Pelèr, blows when the sun’s rays hit the west coast of the Lake. It is usually 20 knots but can reach up to 30 knots – a dream for watersports enthusiasts. The Ora or south wind makes its presence felt in the afternoon – the change due to the heating up of the waters of the lake. Indeed, it is no coincidence that many elite teams specialising in water sports choose Lake Garda to train in.


These thermal winds make the lake an ideal destination for sailing, kitesurfing and windsurfing. There are sailing clubs and surf schools in just about every lakeside town, offering courses for beginners/kids to advanced.

There are also many international regattas, the most famous being the Centomiglia freshwater sailing regatta which is held in September every year. Nago-Torbole is Mecca for windsurfers, while Malibu Beach or Campione del Garda in the north of the lake are the best places to try kitesurfing.

scuba diving in Lake Garda
Photo Sebastian Pena Lambarri, Unsplash

Not many know that Lake Garda is a haven for scuba diving, with caves, boat wrecks and even the remains of WWII tanks on the bottom of a lake, which, at its deepest, is a staggering 346 metres.

Spring and autumn are the best time to try scuba diving as the waters are clear of summer algae. Porto San Nicolo and the Sirmione peninsula attract serious divers but beginners can learn here as well.

See more here



6. Do something different in Lake Garda

try wine tasting in Lake Garda

A two-hour Guided Trike tour, where you drive a three-seater motorbike into hillside villages away from the tourist crowds, looks like a unique thing to do in Lake Garda!

Some tours bring you over the same roads that James Bond covered in the spectacular Quantum of Solace movie. This experience is suitable for licensed drivers over 21 and passengers over the age of six. 

See tour here


Thrillseekers will love Canyoning in the mountains north of the lake. Experienced guides lead groups from beginners to advanced up gorges, across swaying suspension bridges and down dizzying, roaring waterfalls – this is not for the faint-hearted! Trentino Climb are specialists who look after people of all abilities.

See more here


No trip to Lake Garda would be complete without trying some local food and wine. Lake Garda’s microclimate makes it perfect for producing great quality wine, and this two-hour wine tour to the vineyards in Lazise is a lovely way to appreciate it. 

See tour here



Day trips from Lake Garda

Lake Garda is just over two hours from Milan and Venice, and only an hour from Verona – so if you are looking for a holiday where you can get out and explore some more of Italy, then Lake Garda is the perfect choice.



7. Visit Verona

Juliet's balcony in Verona
Juliet’s balcony in Verona

A day trip to Verona from Lake Garda is simply a must-do! Verona was made famous by Shakespeare as the setting for his great love story Romeo & Juliet. You can even see Juliet’s famous balcony (though no one is quite sure if it is the original!)
What is not in doubt is the magnificent 1st-century Roman amphitheatre, Arena Di Veroni, that now hosts great operas, ballet performances and rock and pop shows.

Radiohead has appeared here, while Peter Gabriel is headlining this year. One show not to miss is their spectacular version of Aida, complete with exotic live animals. It is a perennial bestseller so make sure to secure tickets in advance.
Book here


Not withstanding the above, Verona is a beautiful city with attractive shops and cafes lining its historical streets, it is a pleasure to explore.

There are buses available to Verona from many towns, and depending on where you are staying the drive time can be anything from 30 – 90  minutes. Alternatively why not book a full day guided tour from just €55.

Book here



8. Explore Venice

a day trip to Venice from Lake Garda

In my humble opinion, Venice is the most beautiful city in the world and worthy of a place on everyone’s bucket list. And even if a day trip seems too short to take in the wonders of the Dodge Palace, the Grand Canal and more, it will only whet your appetite and encourage you to come back!


There are many ways to enjoy a day trip to Venice from Lake Garda. You can catch the train to Venice from Peschiera del Garda or else enjoy a full day excursion with pick up from most towns in Lake Garda from just €82 per person.

See tours here


Read: Top things to do in Venice



9. Bring the kids to Gardaland

Gardaland is one of the top things to do in Lake Garda with kids

Gardaland is one of the best theme parks in Europe. There are 40 attractions to keep kids of all ages entertained, including thrilling rollercoasters for teens, as well as Peppa Pig World, Kung Fu Panda Academy, Legoland and Sea Life for younger children. There are also water rides here – perfect to cool the family down on a hot Italian summer’s day.

Gardaland is one of the top things to do in Lake Garda for families, and is one of the reasons Garda is such a popular choice for family holidays in Italy.

Book here



Free things to do in Lake Garda 

10. Enjoy La Dolce Vita!

Lake Garda alleyway
Lake Garda alleyway by Kabomani-Tapir, Pixabay

Italians have an exceptional attitude to life, summed up by this immortal phrase La Dolce Vita, meaning the sweetness of life. In Lake Garda, you can indulge in La Dolce Vita all day and all night long, says Kevin!

I went with my two grandkids Kuba (8) and Maya (6) and when I asked them what they most enjoyed about the lake, they said simply, “Just walking around!” I know exactly what they mean.


Each town on the lake has its old churches, beautiful squares, shops to die for and a range of bars and restaurants to suit all tastes. More importantly, each town has a promenade where you can simply walk, take in the spectacular views and enjoy the world-famous gelato or ice cream.

Kevin Flanagan visits Lake Garda
Kevin and his grandchildren enjoying La Dolce Vita in Lake Garda

If you want to enjoy La Dolce Vita on Lake Garda, simply find a coffee shop or bar that faces the lake and sit sipping an espresso in the morning, or an Aperol Spritz in the afternoon and watch the world pass by, while the mountains soar over the ever-present lake.

Lake Garda really is so beautiful that it literally takes the eyes out of your head. And it is never boring. From watching the ferries disgorging locals and visitors alike, to the buskers and musicians filling the air with song, to waiters bustling about taking orders, to kids playing catch while retirees watch on, hands resting on their walking sticks.

The sun, the water, and the laughter all combine to give one a great slice of La Dolce Vita. And one more thing – it costs no more than a coffee or a drink!


Swimming in Lake Garda is glorious, fun and free! The water in the summer is a bracing 23C. As people here say ‘You get into the water to cool off!’ There are many promenades and beaches where you can enter the water.

beaches in Lake Garda for swimming
lake garda beach by Michelle Raponi, Pixabay

My favourite is in the town of Garda itself, which has a long, sandy beach. A wooden promontory extends into the lake, offering a vantage point for those brave enough to jump off.

It may only be four meters high but it felt more like forty as I stood waiting my turn on the edge. But when you hit the water and came up shouting with joy you know it was worth it! (Six-year-old Maya tried it and was reduced to a quivering silence for half an hour after!)

Top Tip: Be careful as many places have shingles with rough stones as you enter, so suitable footwear for the feet is recommended. The water can become deep very quickly, so caution is required.


Lake Garda literally has something for everyone. From water sports to day trips, ionic medieval cities to mountain treks. And all set against the most beautiful views in the world. But best of all it has that unique Italian welcome. That smell of Italy. That taste of espresso and gelato. Visit Lake Garda. I guarantee you’ll have the time of your life!



How to get to Lake Garda:

aer lingus and ryanair fly to airports close to lake garda

Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly directly from Dublin to Verona, which is the closest airport to Lake Garda,  30 – 60 minutes depending on the resort you are staying. There are also flights to Milan Bergamo airport from Knock and Cork which is just a 75 – 90 minute drive from Lake Garda. 


I hope my travel guide to Lake Garda will help you with your travel plans and that my top things to do in Lake Garda will enhance your holiday experience in this beautiful part of Italy. 

While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, prices and attractions are subject to 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.



In The Media

Last Minute Holidays As Seen On TV3’s SundayAM, 24th July 2016


Looking for a break in July or August? Check out my top picks for last minute holidays as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM.

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Availability to the popular destinations (Spain & Portugal mainly) in July and August is always scarce, and this year is no exception. However, there is increased capacity with Aer Lingus and Ryanair so airfares are quite low. In fact Aer Lingus have a seat sale with up to 25% off European flights during August & September, if booked by midnight on Monday, 25th July. If you are prepared to go off the beaten track and stay somewhere further from the resort centre, you can pick up good deals on last minute holidays. I found that Italy is better value than Spain and Portugal at the moment, here are my top picks.

Last minute holidays as seen on TV3's Sunday AM

Italy Deals:

Crystal Holidays are offering a  2* Hotel in Lake Garda, the Miravalli, from €340 per person on the 6th of August. This is a basic hotel but located in the heart of Garda, so it’s perfect for anyone who just wants to use the hotel as a base. If you want to upgrade your hotel, Topflight have a Summer sale until the 29th of July with savings of €420 per person. They have Sicily, Lido di Jesolo and Sorrento on sale in August as well as Lanzarote, the Algarve and Madeira.

I like the 3* Astoria Hotel, Sorrento, it’s €789 on the 7th and 14th of August. It is situated right in the heart of Sorrento, it is great value for such a fantastic location. All of Topflight’s prices include flights, transfers and checked baggage. Click here for more details.

Last minute holidays as seen on TV3's Sunday AM

Family Holiday:

Menorca is surprisingly good value for the next few weeks. With short day time flights and very family friendly, it is an ideal choice for a family holiday. Sunway are offering package deals where transfers and checked baggage are included, staying in the popular Binimar apartments. They are a nice low rise complex, close to the town centre and the beach and have a small splash park on site. The price for 2 adults & 2 children on the 31st of July and 7th of August is €1876. Click here for more details. Last minute holidays as seen on TV3's Sunday AM

Mid to late August:

With some kids back in school as early as the 24th of August, the last week of August is best time to pick up a bargain holiday. The Aer Lingus sale has some great airfares so you should be able to pick up a package deal to Spain or Portugal for less than €400. If you fancy Greece, Falcon Holidays are offering a week package deal to Zakynthos from €399 on the 30th of August, staying in the popular Katerina Palace Hotel. Click here for more details.

Last minute holidays as seen on TV3's Sunday AM have matched the low airfares with some good city breaks too. I like this one in Madrid, it combines sightseeing, sun and shopping all in one! Fly with Aer Lingus and enjoy a three night stay in a four star hotel for only €247 on the 15th of August. Click here for more details.

Tapas Madid, Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert

5 Tips to find a last minute deal:

1. have a ‘dealfinder’ on their website where you can select sun holidays or city breaks within 30 days, 60 days etc and it will list all holidays that they have available.

2. Use Ryanair’s fare finder’ and Skyscanner’s ‘everywhere’ searches for any destination under a specific price range. Use hotel aggregators such as Trivago & Tripadvisor to search many accommodation websites for the same hotel.

3. The Irish Travel Agents association’s website combines top travel agents offers so you don’t need to search lots of different websites. And I offer my best last minute deals in my best travel deals post which is published every Tuesday on 🙂

4. Compare like with like. Remember a package holiday with a Tour Operator such as Falcon Holidays or Sunway includes airport transfers and checked baggage. A 20kg checked bag to the Canary Islands with Ryanair is €100 during July and August, so that ‘cheap deal’ you thought you found, might not be so cheap after all.

5. And finally always check with your local travel agent – they are searching late offers day in, day out and will probably know immediately what is the best value at any given time.


All prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change.



travel deals


In The Media

As Seen On TV3 – 10th January 2016


Planning a holiday in 2016? As seen on TV3 SundayAM , check out my best reasons to book early, top tips to get the best deals and where I think the hot spots will be this year.


Best Reasons To Book Early:

Generally speaking it pays to book early, particularly if you are looking for something specific or if travelling during school holidays. If you have a large family and need a two or three bedroom apartment or have to take particular holidays in work you should book now.  Most airlines including Aer Lingus and Ryanair have Summer sales and prices normally increase closer to departure. Many hotel websites are offering early booking savings of up to 20% if booked before the 31st of January. Tour Operators Falcon Holidays and Sunway are offering great early booking deals, including free child places and low booking deposits.

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Booking early makes budgeting a little easier too. Most travel agents will let you pay a deposit now and pay your holiday in instalments. It also gives you something nice to look forward to as you look out through your office window at the rain! If you over indulged over Christmas, are offering €1 deposits on all European holidays booked ten weeks in advance.

Lanzarote Family holiday by The Travel Expert


Tips To Find The Best Deals:

Rather than spending hours searching hundreds of different websites, there are a few sites that are worth checking out. The Irish Travel Agents Association and Worldchoice combine special offers from Ireland’s leading travel agents on their websites.  I also combine a list of the best travel deals from around the web every Tuesday and publish it here.




When comparing package holidays with holidays you design yourself make sure you include baggage charges, airport transfers and local taxes. Most tour operator’s packages will have no hidden extras so make sure the ‘deal’ you think you have is really as good as it seems. Comparison websites such as Trivago or Tripadvisor  will search numerous websites for the same property and you may find significant savings. Check the distance from the airport too. Particularly in places like Barcelona, which according to Ryanair, has three airports! But Girona and Reus are miles from Barcelona. You may think you are getting a great deal and find out you have to pay hundreds of euro for an airport transfer.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews cruising


When booking a flight make sure you check both one way and return airfares. With Aer Lingus and Ryanair for instance, you may find it is cheaper to fly out with one airline and home with another. This can also be useful for good flight times, one airline may have better times on the outward journey and another on the return. The lowcostholidays website will combine all airlines so you can automatically find the best airfares and quite often the lowest priced journey will be with two different carriers. If travelling with kids, Ryanair allow you to select half price bags even if adults are only taking hand luggage. With Aer Lingus you need to book an adult bag in order to get a child’s case for half price.

The Travel Expert's Top Ten Travel Hacks


Top Holiday destinations In 2016.

Easter will be big this year. Children have almost three weeks off school with Easter and Patricks day falling together, so get in early before prices rocket! I checked various options and prices are already quite high. The best family option I found is a week in Salou for €925 based on 2 adults and 2 children in the 4* Sanguli Resort. For more details read by blog here.



I think campsites in Salou and Lake Garda will be particularly popular this year. Many will change from France because of the European championships and the Paris attacks. The ISIS effect also means that people will tend to stick to Spain, Portugal & Italy rather than North African destinations. This will be a European trend so the likelihood is that accommodation in these countries will be priced higher and more scarce than in previous years. This will be particularly problematic if looking for a last minute deal.

The Travel Expert on TV3 10th January 2016


There are direct flights to Mexico and Jamaica from June so they should be particularly popular with couples. With prices starting at €1589 for a 4* hotel on an all inclusive basis, including flights, transfers and baggage for two weeks, they are good value for long haul holidays direct from Dublin. You can pay a small booking deposit too, which is always appreciated! Check out for more details.

Fuerteventura by The Travel Expert


Ryanair and Aegean airlines have introduced flights to Athens so this could be the big city break destination for 2016 . There are also onward connections with Aegean airlines to Santorini and Mykonos, which are bucket list destinations for many people.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers a travel deal to Santorini in 2016


For families looking for a relaxing family holiday Menorca could be the destination of choice this year. This is an ideal family destination. There are direct flights and package deals from Dublin with Sunway and new for 2016 is a direct flight from Cork with Stein Travel.

Menorca, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


Cruising is getting more and more popular and prices seem to be getting better each year. MSC Cruises are offering Mediterranean cruise package deals from €1095 in the summer months, including flights and free drinks pacakges. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are offering buy one get one half price plus free drinks packages. The all inclusive package holiday concept seems to have transferred to cruises now!


Wherever you decide to go in 2016 – book now, sit back, relax and just wait for the sunshine ☀


Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.



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Top Ten Holiday Destinations in 2016


With the recession well and truly over and Dublin airport celebrating their best ever year in 2015, travel agents and airlines are predicting that 2016 will be even better. So where are the hot spots?


It looks like old favourites such as Spain and Portugal will be the most attractive short haul holiday destinations in 2016. Although France will be busy for Euro 2016, many families who enjoyed their Summer holiday camping in France, may decide to switch to campsites near Salou in Spain or Lake Garda in Italy. Cuba, Mexico and Thailand will prove popular for long haul travel as the poor exchange rate with the US dollar is unlikely to change. Here are my top ten holiday destinations in 2016!


Majorca & Menorca

To put it simply, Irish people love Spain! Almost 1.5 million Irish holiday makers visited Spain this year and this is sure to grow again in 2016. The Balearic island of Majorca is constantly one of the favourites. The mixture of family resorts, lively nightlife and stunning scenery is a great combination and ensures Majorca offers something for everyone.

Direct flights to  Menorca were reintroduced last year from Ireland and proved to be a great success. So much so, that an extra flight from Cork has been added for 2016. This smaller and less commercialised island oozes character and is the perfect choice for families looking for a quiet, relaxing holiday in safe surroundings.

Menorca, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


Lake Garda

Although always popular from Ireland, I believe many families will switch from France to Lake Garda this year making the popular Italian resort busier than ever. There are direct flights to Verona and the nearby resort of Peschiera offers plenty of campsite and hotel options. The fact that the award winning themepark,  Gardaland is on it’s doorstep, will add to it’s popularity.

Lake Garda, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


Thailand still offers fantastic value for money for a longhaul destination. There are numerous flights via the UK, Dubai and mainland Europe to Bangkok and Phuket. A one week package is circa €800 including flights and hotel, proving to be a great option for those looking for a touch of exotic, without the expensive price tag.

Thailand, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert

Athens & the Greek Islands

Always great value for money and appealing to everyone, the Greek islands will continue to be popular in 2016. There are direct flights to Zakynthos, Corfu, Crete, Rhodes and Kos and extra flights to Athens with Ryanair and Aegean air. This should open up Athens as a top city break destination and allow the bucket list destinations of Santorini and Mykonos to be serviced for the first time.

Santorini, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


Another Irish favourite, the Algarve has almost twenty flights per week in the peak Summer months. The low priced airfares mixed with numerous resort options, will ensure that the Algarve will attract many Irish visitors in 2016.

Algarve, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


June 2016 will bring the first direct flights to Mexico for many years. The Thomson dreamliner aircraft will fly every fortnight to Cancun from Dublin and is bound to attract couples and honeymooners looking for the luxury all inclusive holiday resort.

Mexico, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


WOW air introduced flights to Reykjavik in 2015 which proved a great success. People chased the Northern lights and swam in the Blue Lagoon, with lots of positive reviews. It looks like Iceland will remain popular in 2016 for weekend breaks and as a holiday destination.

Iceland, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


Diplomatic relations between the USA and Cuba are at an all time high and it is likely that more and more Americans will travel to Cuba over the coming years. Many people feel they such see it before it receives the Disney effect! For this reason and the fact that there is more disposable income around, Cuba looks like it could attract many Irish holidaymakers looking to travel long haul in 2016.

Cuba, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


For those looking for somewhere a little different but still close to home, Croatia will be a top choice. The stunning city of Dubrovnik and the introduction of flights to Zadar and Pula will ensure that there are plenty of options for Irish holidymakers in 2016. The proximity to Lonely Planet’s top destination to visit in 2016 (Kotor in Montenegro) will also add to the appeal.

Dubrovnik, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


With four direct flights every day, it is almost impossible to avoid seeing this world class holiday destination on travel agency windows and media outlets, all offering amazing deals to Dubai. With the loss of direct flights to Egypt and Tunisia, Dubai is also an excellent alternative for anyone looking for some Winter / Spring sunshine.

Dubai, one of the top ten holiday destinations for 2016 by The Travel Expert


So where will you be travelling to in 2016? If I left out your favourite, please comment below 🙂



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Lake Garda, 9th July, 4* Garda Village, 2ad & 2ch €2529


Still looking to book a Summer holiday? Lake Garda ticks all boxes, it’s got scenery, sights and plenty of style!

Lake Garda has so much to offer, from quiet lakeside towns to bustling resorts. Take water taxis across the lake and visit the popular towns of Riva and Limone, explore the nearby city of Verona or simply relax and enjoy the scenery for which Lake Garda is renowned.


There are so many different resorts to choose from but my personal favourite is Sirmione. It’s situated at the south of the Lake, which is handy for visiting Gardaland as well as being close to Verona.  Sirmione is situated at the tip of a long peninsula that juts out into the Lake. The old town has a fairytale like castle that sets the tone and gives a magical feel to the place. Take time to explore the narrow streets which are buzzing with local shops and Italian eateries.

The Travel Expert discusses Crystal Holidays Discovery Packages to Italy

The Garda Village apartments are situated close to Sirmione near the lakeshore. They are bungalow style apartments in a large complex with plenty of facilities. They have kids clubs, a large swimming pool and plenty of on-site entertainment. Personally I would recommend a car ( there is free parking on site) but they also have a shuttle service to take you to nearby attractions, if you don’t fancy driving. There are so many things to see and do nearby but if travelling with kids, Gardaland is a must. This is one of Europe’s leading theme parks and is a great day out for all the family. I would also recommend a  visit to the amphitheatre in Verona, but for more information on Lake Garda check out my blog by clicking here.

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert offers a family deal to Lake Garda

Fly from Dublin to Verona on the 9th of July for only €389 per person. This includes airport taxes and 20kg checked baggage per person. The Garda Village 1 bedroom standard bungalows are €973 for seven nights. You can also choose to upgrade to the comfort bungalows (bilo) which are €1,169.  These are slightly bigger and more modern than the standard bungalows. This is excellent value for a family holiday during the summer months and one that all the family are sure to enjoy!


Click here to book flights: €389 per person

Click here to book accommodation: €973



Like what you see? Click here to see all my travel deals in one place!


All prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to availability.



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My Guide to Lake Garda, Where to Stay and What to Do.


For a long time now Italy has been one of favourite holiday destinations. I have stayed in Lake Garda twice, with and without children and loved it both times. Check out my handy guide to Lake Garda, with tips on where to stay and what to do.

Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, is extremely popular with Irish visitors. There are direct flights to Verona from Irish airports during the summer months, as well as flights to nearby Milan and Bergamo. It may sound like a cliché but Lake Garda is one of those destinations that caters for everyone. It is romantic yet family orientated, quiet but full of sports activities. It is also perfectly situated to visit some of Italy’s famous cities and towns.


Lake Garda is just over two hours from Milan and Venice, and only an hour from Verona – so if you are looking for a holiday where you can get out and explore some more of Italy, then Lake Garda is for you.

sirmione, lake garda, italy

If Venice or Milan seem a little too far to attempt on a day trip, Verona is most definitely not. It’s so easy to navigate and has some marvellous sights to see. The amphitheatre or Arena Di Veroni, is stunning, and is remarkably well preserved. In fact I thought it was more impressive than the Colosseum in Rome when I saw it for the first time.


You can also visit Juliette’s house and call out to your partner from the balcony where Romeo declared his love. If on the other hand you just want to wander, Verona is a beautiful city with plenty of shops and cafes that line its historical streets.

juliettes balcony verona, near lake garda



Things to do in Lake Garda

As much as there is to do close by, you may find it hard to leave Lake Garda. It takes approximately three hours to drive around the lake, and you will be surprised at how each town differs in style and size. Water taxis are available to most towns and are a great way to explore the lakeside towns.


The cable car ride from Malcesine to Monte Baldo is a great way to see the lake from above. You will see many jumping off the top of the mountain with parachutes – it is a remarkable sight.  If you just want to relax, there are many man made beaches to choose from, but the sandy beach of Lazise is one of the best on the Lake.


Gardaland is a must visit if on holidays in Lake Garda with kids – see more on that below, and a new cycle path is due to open in 2021, which I am personally looking forward to seeing.

monte baldo lake garda

Where to stay in Lake Garda

If you are only staying for a short time the choice of location is very important, particularly if you want to do some sightseeing. Generally speaking try to stay in one of the towns at the southern end of the lake if you want to be close to Venice, Milan and Verona.


If you are staying in the beautiful town of Riva, at the very north of the Lake,  it will take you a lot longer to travel to and from destinations. The town of Garda is a popular choice and attracts many visitors because it is only twenty miles from Verona. My favourite town in Lake Garda is Sirmione.

sirmione lake garda

Sirmione is situated at the southern tip of Lake Garda, on a long peninsula that juts out from the mainland. It is stunning! The old town is dominated by a thirteenth-century fairytale-like castle, the Rocca Scaligera. The fortress is open to the public and is well worth the visit. If you are travelling with kids, don’t despair. My daughter Alex thought it was like Cinderella’s castle, so it appeals to both adults and children. 


You can choose to stay in Sirmione, but bear in mind it will be very busy with tourists in peak season. A day trip might be a better option depending on the time of year you visit. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a more relaxed village to stay in, Bardolino or Limone may suit you.

bardolino lake garda

If you are travelling with kids, Pescheira would be my resort of choice. It’s southern location allows for a short airport transfer and it is also ideal for day trips to nearby cities. Its pedestrianised streets and Roman ruins make an idyllic setting, but its close proximity to Gardaland is the main attraction.


Gardaland is Italy’s largest theme park and one of the best theme parks in Europe. It is also home to Peppa Pig Land, and Legoland is opening a waterpark there in 2021. If you are staying in Garda for two weeks you may be better to buy an annual pass. This will allow you as many visits as you like, with automatic fast pass entry to most of the rides.


However, if one day is enough for you, order your tickets online to beat the queues. This saved us forty-five minutes queuing time in July. GardaLand is a super theme park with rides for all ages and I would highly recommend it if you are travelling with kids.


Garda is just one of the many beautiful holiday destinations Italy has to offer, but is one that I can safely recommend for everyone. Whether you want to try some fantastic water-sports, visit some stunning Italian cities or simply enjoy a peaceful lakeside setting, Lake Garda has all in abundance.



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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