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Travel News and Reviews

Portugal Wins World’s Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards

I have visited Portugal many times so I was delighted to hear it won the World’s Leading Destination award at the prestigious World Travel Awards last week.

 

It is great to see Portugal being recognised with such an accolade, as well as Lisbon winning the world’s leading city break destination. While the Algarve is one of Ireland’s most popular destinations for holidaymakers, regular direct flights to Lisbon and Porto are making Portugal’s cities, firm favourites too. In fact passenger growth from Ireland has increased dramatically and now Ireland is considered one Portugal’s fastest growing markets. I am just back from a weekend in Porto and I loved it. The city of Porto is UNESCO World Heritage site, full of colourful buildings, delightful streets and has a great food and wine scene. If you haven’t already visited, read my blog on why you need to choose Porto for your next city break.

world travel awards

These awards are a fantastic achievement, particularly as Portugal is the first European country to win the World’s Leading Destination award. Portugal won Europe’s Leading Destination in September which automatically entered them into the final along with 17 other countries. It beat off competition from the USA, Brazil, as well as six time winners, Dubai, to win the coveted prize of at the World Travel Awards, on the 10th of November in Vietnam.

But that’s not all, Portugal also won 6 other awards:

– World’s Leading Tourist Board for Turismo de Portugal
– World’s Leading Tourism Authority Website for Visit Portugal
– World’s Leading Island Destination 2017 for Visitmadeiraofficial
– World’s Leading City Break Destination 2017 for Visit Lisboa
– World’s Leading Conservation Company 2017 for Parques de Sintra
– World’s Leading Luxury Leisure Resort 2017 for Pine Cliffs, a Luxury Collection Resort

world travel awards

Ana Mendes Godinho, Secretary of State for Tourism said, “It is the acknowledgment of the country that we have. An authentic, innovative, reinvented country that combines a wide variety of experiences and landscapes, a country that combines cosmopolitanism, history, tradition, sun, nature and gastronomy. A country that knows and enjoys to welcome everyone. We must now continue this work of showing all the diversity of what Portugal has to offer and which makes us a tourism destination of excellence”.

 

So if you haven’t already visited Portugal, go see it in 2018!

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

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Christmas Gift ideas: 10 Four Star Christmas Breaks for less than €200!

christmas

Give the gift of travel this Christmas. I give you 10 holidays for less than €200!  All prices include flights and accommodation  🙂

 

1. Rome

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

Click here for more details:

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FROM THE TRAVEL EXPERT

 

2. Porto

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

Click here t0 book flights: €75 pp

Click here to book accommodation: €120pp

 

3. Algarve

Kickstart your Summer with a four night break to the Algarve. Fly from Dublin on the 16th of May and enjoy a four night stay in the highly rated Oceanus apartments, Albufeira for only  €191 per person.

Click here to book flights: €102pp

Click here to book apartment: €89pp

christmas gift ideas


4. Madrid

A city break to Madrid is a fantastic Christmas gift! Girls will love the shopping on the Gran Via while the lads can take the tour of Real Madrid’s stadium!  Fly from Dublin on the 9th of June and enjoy a two night stay in the centrally located 4*  Claridge Hotel for only €183pp. I have chosen the early flight out on Friday morning and the late flight back on Sunday evening so you really get 3 full days to explore this wonderful city.

Click here to book flights €85pp

Click here to book hotel: €98pp

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FROM THE TRAVEL EXPERT

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5. Marrakech

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

Click here to book flights: €90

Click here to book hotel: €95

weekend in marrakech

6. Prague:

Treat your loved one to a romantic weekend in Prague. Stay at the 4* Theatrino Hotel, for three nights with breakfast, for only €164 per person, departing the 20th of January.

Click here for more details:

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert talks about Prague

 

7. Athens

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

Click here for more details:

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FROM THE TRAVEL EXPERT

 

8. Lisbon

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

Click here for more details:


CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS FROM THE TRAVEL EXPERT

 

9. Valentines Day in Paris

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

Click here for more details:

 

10. Zadar

Go somewhere new in 2018 and travel to Zadar in Croatia. Enjoy a three night stay in the 4* Villa Vanilla  from €188, departing the 11th May.

Click here for more details:

Christmas gift ideas

 

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

 

Sarah

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In The Media

Staycations and Short Breaks on RTE’s Marian Finucane Show

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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.

The Travel Expert, Sarah Slattery on RTE's Marian Finucane ShowFollow me on facebook

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

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.
short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane


City Breaks

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

Spa breaks

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

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.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. For my reviews and city break deals click here. To listen back to my chat with Marian, click HERE.

Sarah

travel deals

 

 

Travel

5 Star Lisbon Weekend Break, 3rd November, 3 Nights €240!

Lisbon

A beautiful coastal city renowned for great sightseeing and a great food scene, nothing ticks all boxes like a Lisbon weekend break.

 

Lisbon is finally getting the praise it deserves and it is slowly becoming one of Europe’s top city break destinations.  The city is very easy to navigate and if you don’t fancy walking it there are fantastic old trams that will bring you around all the highlights. There is plenty to see in Lisbon itself, but if you want to travel, you can take the train to the coastal towns of Cascais or Estoril or explore the UNESCO world heritage city of Sintra. For more information on Lisbon and it’s coast read my blog.

Lisbon city break by The Travel Expert

I found a great deal staying in the luxurious 5 star Hotel Real Palacio. This luxurious hotel receives great reviews on tripadvisor and was awarded a certificate of excellence. After a days sightseeing you can relax in the spa or one of the many lounges.

Fly direct from Dublin on the 3rd of November and enjoy this five star Lisbon weekend break for only €240 per person, including breakfast!

Click here to book flights: €103pp

Click here to book hotel: €137pp

 

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

 

Sarah

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City BreaksDestinationsEurope

Cascais and the Lisbon Coast

Lisbon

Despite visiting Portugal on many occasions, I had never visited Lisbon until recently. I wanted a beach holiday but with the opportunity to do some sightseeing too – the Lisbon Coast has both in abundance.

 

I was really impressed by the Lisbon Coast as a holiday destination, it had something for everyone. I stayed in the beautiful village of Cascais which offered the best of both worlds. We enjoyed staying in a holiday resort, but within easy access to Lisbon. Lisbon is a great city to visit. It is so colourful, has a great food scene and there is an endless supply of sights to see.

things to do on the lisbon coast

 

Things to do in Lisbon

If you are on a city break and staying in Lisbon you may get to see all of the top attractions, but if like us you are staying along the Lisbon Coast, and day-tripping to Lisbon, it is impossible to see everything! I would recommend taking one of the old fashioned trams and doing a hop on hop off city tour, this will enable you to see as much as possible. If you want to go it alone, Tram 28 offers the best route to all the sights.

 
things to do on the lisbon coast
 

The city is quite spread out, but using the trams will allow you see the cultural centre of Belem, the Castelo de Sao Jorge and even climb the Cristo Rei: a huge statue of Christ where you can see views of the whole city. If you are travelling with children, the Aquarium is a must-see. It’s one of the worlds largest aquariums, and one that you could easily find yourself spending the day in!

Wondering where to stay in Lisbon? Read my top picks of 3, 4 & 5-Star Lisbon hotels here.

 

 

 

Things to do on The Lisbon Coast 

A visit to Sintra is one of the top attractions on the Lisbon Coast. Wander through the narrow streets and marvel at the architecture that dates back to the fifteenth century. It has numerous designated UNESCO world heritage sites, the most famous being the National Palace. I loved the lesser known Quinta de Regaleira, a mystical place, great for families with children, who can explore the many nooks and crannies in its wonderful gardens. There are underground tunnels, waterfalls and a magical castle. My son Luke (6) thought we were in middle earth and needless to say he thoroughly enjoyed it!
 
things to do on the lisbon coast
 

 

 
If, like us, you want to stay in a beach resort, there many to choose from. We chose Cascais and loved it. It is such a charming town, filled with quaint cobbled stone streets, some great shops, and a huge variety of restaurants to cater for every palate. I found a little gem hidden away from the main centre called 5 Sentidos, Casa do Largo, with typical Portugeese food that catered really well for all of us. There is a nice cove beach with a marina close by and plenty of larger beaches a few minutes drive from the centre too.
 

 

 

 

 
The beaches at Guincho are particularly impressive,  with huge waves and wide stretches of sandy beach. The train station is right in the centre of the town, with trains going every 20 minutes to Lisbon and the surrounding area.

Overall it was a great trip. It was not your typical family beach holiday, but that was part of the charm. When I think of the thousands of Irish visitors that travel to the Algarve each year, I enjoyed taking the path less travelled on, it made all the difference!
 

 

 

Wondering where to stay in Lisbon? Read my top picks of 3, 4 & 5-Star Lisbon hotels here.

 

Like city breaks? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

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