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10 Winter Holiday Destinations With Direct Flights From Ireland

Winter holidays

Are the travel restrictions getting you down? Can’t wait to get back on a plane again? Check out my top winter holiday destinations with direct flights from Ireland.

We all need something to look forward to, and with some summer holiday destinations looking a little uncertain, perhaps now is the time to plan a well deserved winter holiday. I understand some of you wish to travel alone or with friends, and many will be travelling with kids – so with this is mind I have selected a broad range of winter holiday destinations to suit all tastes and budgets.

top winter holiday destinations for families - skiing

There are of course many great winter holiday destinations available to us, South Africa and the Caribbean spring to mind. However, I have limited this list to winter holidays with direct flights from Ireland, something I think there is an appetite for at the moment. Hopefully this list will give you lots of inspiration to plan a well deserved break away.

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1. The Canary Islands

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The combination of direct daily flights from Ireland, balmy temperatures, and a low cost of living, has made the Canary Islands our most popular winter holiday destination for many years. There are many accommodation options to choose from, with hotels and apartments to suit all tastes and budgets.
 

 

 
Fuerteventura is blessed with stunning white sandy beaches, while the sheltered resorts of Puerto Rico and Puerto de Mogán in Gran Canaria are popular with sun seekers. Tenerife has the largest selection of luxury hotels, but my personal favourite is Lanzarote – find out why, here:

Read: Why Lanzarote is my favourite Canary Island
 

 

 

2. Dubai

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Dubai is another great winter holiday destination if you want sunshine, but it is also packed with things to do. Try a desert safari, go to the top of the world’s tallest building, ski in the worlds largest indoor ski slope, or simply relax on one of its stunning beaches. We visited Dubai last year and had a blast. Activities and dining are expensive, so you will need to budget accordingly, but if you can afford it, it is a great destination for winter sun.

Top ten things to do in Dubai

The best family activities in Dubai
 

 

 

3. Ski trip

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A ski holiday is one of my favourite winter holidays, and is the only holiday where I can completely switch off. The crisp cold air, snowy mountains and pretty villages are things I never tire of, as is the natural high I get from skiing. Austria, France and Italy are the firm favourites from Ireland and there are plenty of direct flights available during the winter holiday season.  Söll in Austria is one of my favourite resorts, but if money is not an option, check out Val d’Isere in France.
 

 

 
Top Tip: If you are looking to ski in Austria, flights to Munich are usually cheaper than Salzburg and the transfer times are similar. 

Read: Skiing in Soll, all you need to know and why you should go

Read: My top tips for family ski holidays

Read: My love affair with Club Med Val d’Isere
 

 

 

4. Lapland

 

 
 
 
 
 
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I will never forget the look in my children’s eyes when we went to Lapland to see Santa Claus. It was a magical family experience that we will never forget. It has been seven years since we visited, but the memories never fade. There are many ways to visit Lapland, with packages from Dublin with TUI and Sunway to see Santa, as well as the option to go via the UK for a longer holiday. 

Read: Our trip to see Santa in Lapland
 

 

 

5. Christmas market breaks

best winter holiday destinations - european christmas markets

A Christmas market break is a great way to kick-start the festive season without breaking the bank. Many markets open from the end of November and there are super deals available on flights and hotels, especially if you can travel mid-week.

More and more cities are embracing the trend, but there are still a few show stoppers! Germany is probably the most famous country for Christmas markets, with Cologne and Berlin being most popular. However Budgapest, Vienna and Salzburg should not be overlooked.
 

 

 
Copenhagen is another city you may not have thought of, but if you are looking for a Christmas market break with children, this is a great choice. Tivoli Gardens comes alive with over 500,000 Christmas lights and there are plenty of activities to keep all the family happy. It stays open after Christmas too so it is an ideal choice for a Twixmas break.

Read: Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets

Read: Wonderful wonderful Copenhagen
 

 

 

6. Paris

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Paris might be popular in the Spring, but winter time is also a great time to visit. There are no crowds, its great for shopping, and is have you ever seen the Eiffel Tower look so pretty?  We went for New Year and loved it. If you happen to have children, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris at Christmas time – it is magical.

Read: Our visit to Disneyland Paris at Christmas time
 

 

 

7. Iceland

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Scratch one off the bucket list and choose Iceland for your next winter holiday. Go in search of the Northern Lights, swim in the Blue Lagoon and enjoy Iceland’s typical winter weather. Iceland is one of the best winter holiday destinations if you are looking for a snowy destination with winter wonderland feels, and plenty to see and do. 

Read: Top things to do in Iceland
 

 

 

8. New York

 

 
 
 
 
 
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New York is amazing to visit at any time of year, but I think it is a great winter holiday destination. You don’t need to worry about the roasting summer time temperatures or the jam packed streets, and of course you can ice-skate in Central Park in the winter time! We all know New York is a super city for shopping so it is ideal for a pre or post Christmas break.
 

 

 
The Christmas lights are turned on early December so that is a great time to visit, but if you want to avoid the crowds and the high hotel prices, leave it until January.

Read: Top 25 things to do in New York

Read: Top things to do with New York with kids 
 

 

 

9. Abu Dhabi and Emirates cruise:

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Abu Dhabi is the largest and wealthiest of the Emirates and a popular destination for winter holidays. However, why not go one step further and add a cruise to your trip. Many cruise companies offer seven-day cruises around the Emirates taking in Dubai and Abu Dhabi as well as their own private islands.
 

 

 
There are direct flights to Abu Dhabi so you can choose to extend your stay if you wish. Don’t miss the opportunity to see one of the largest and most impressive mosques in the world – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the iconic Louvre Museum, and if travelling with little or ‘big’ kids – Ferrari World is a must visit.

Read: Ferrari World – Going Italian in Abu Dhabi
 

 

 

10. Florida:

best winter holiday destinations - Orlando

With direct flights to Orlando and Miami all year round, why not choose winter over summer in the sunshine state. Winter is the optimum time to visit Orlando’s theme parks, although Christmas holiday time will be busy. Take the opportunity to explore Florida’s coastline too including the beaches of Miami. Why not fly into Orlando and home from Miami to make the most of your winter holiday?

Read: 10 things you need to know about Universal Studios before you book

Read: Where to stay in Orlando

Read: The best theme park tickets to buy in Orlando
 

 

 
I hope this post on winter holiday destinations will inspire you to plan a trip overseas soon. Please 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. This helps me to run my website and bring you lots of great holiday tips and ideas!

 

Sarah

 

DestinationsEuropeFamily HolidaysFeaturedSki Holidays

My Love Affair With Club Med Val d’Isere

Ski

There are ski resorts, and there are Club Med ski resorts. Check out my review of Club Med Val d’Isere below.

Sitting in the chair lift felt surreal. The scenery was like something from a movie set. I skied a few times, but I never experienced anything like the conditions when I holidayed in Club Med Val d’Isere. The area is so vast, there are so many different mountains and when you think you can’t possibly see anything more beautiful, another majestic peak appears.

 

So many #ski options in #valdisere ⛷ Loving the mountain! #ski #skiingholiday #skiingtime #sunwayclubmedski #skiing #chairlift

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Val d’Isere is located in one of the world’s best ski areas, Espace Killy. With an altitude of 3480 meters, over 300km of runs and 96 different lifts, the conditions are perfect. You are almost guaranteed snow from late November to April, and 50% of the slopes are suitable for beginners and intermediates. I was lucky to be brought on a four day ski trip to Club Med Val d’Isere, thanks to Sunway Holidays, who are the agents in Ireland for Club Med.
 

 

 
Twelve years had passed since I skied, so I was a little apprehensive. Many told me it was like riding a bike. In the gondola going to the top of the mountain, I prayed this was true! There were eight in my group and I hoped I wasn’t going to be the one holding them back…

I need not have worried, our Club Med ski instructor made me feel completely at ease and within minutes I was skiing like a native. Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea. What I loved about Val d’Isere was that there were so many green runs (easy runs for those who don’t know the lingo) at the top of the mountain. Regardless of your ability, beginner or advanced, you can experience the thrill of skiing from the top to the bottom. It is exhilarating.
 

 

 
For many years Everest Base Camp has been at the top of my adventure bucket list, I hoped I would get there one day. Riding a chair lift over 3000 meters, with Mont Blanc in the distance, I actually felt like I was there. I know it might sound like a cliché, but honestly there were times when I felt genuinely overwhelmed. 

 

#valdisere #skiingholiday #skiingtime #skiing #sunwayclubmedski #mountains #mountain #snow

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From a personal perspective I normally find it hard to ‘switch off’. I’m not one for yoga or meditation. In fact even when I am lying on a sun lounger, I’m constantly checking my phone.  I’m always thinking about what I have to do, and when I can do it. When I skied down the mountain in Val d’Isere, all I thought about was skiing, controlling my speed and the beautiful surroundings. My time on the mountain was my own and for that brief moment, nothing else mattered. I wondered was this what meditation or mindfulness was all about, something that never worked for me in the past.


 

 

 
By day three I was able to ski from Val d’Isere into the nearby resort of Tignes. I downloaded the ski app (ski tracks) which measures altitude, speed and distance. I felt a tremendous sense of pride and achievement knowing I skied 14 km from 3000 meters, and even reached a max speed of 45 km per hour – not bad for a relative beginner!
 

 

 

Ski Facilities at Club Med Val d’Isere

I stayed in Club Med Val d’Isere where unlike most ski holidays, ski lessons are included in the price of your holiday. Lessons are twice per day, two and a half hours per session. Club Med Val d’Isere is an all-inclusive resort, so not only are lessons and lift passes included, but meals and drinks are too. Lift passes and tuition are an expensive part of any skiing holiday, so to have these included is a massive bonus.
 

 

 
The hotel is a ski in – ski out resort (in fact almost all Club Med ski resorts have this facility) so you can ski directly from the hotel to the slopes, something I had never experienced before. I can’t stress enough how great this is.

There is no need to carry heavy boots and skis, to the slopes, and you can put on your ski gear and be on the mountain in minutes. The lockers are situated next to the ski slopes and they are heated – warm ski boots each morning are better than coffee, trust me!
 

 

 
Club Med organise a great send off too, with drinks and snacks outside. When you come back from your lessons, the après ski kicks off, with a DJ playing tunes and friendly staff waiting to greet you with more drinks and hot snacks.


 

 

 

Food at Club Med Val d’Isere

The all-inclusive arrangement with Club Med is excellent. They pride themselves on their extraordinary buffets, with various cooking stations and a variety of choices. This was my second time in a Club Med resort. Although I found the variety in the buffet better in the Algarve, the standard was still far superior to anything I have seen in other all-inclusive resorts.
 

 

 
Every day there are numerous choices of fish, meat and vegetarian options, as well as a separate room with fresh pasta sauces, pizzas and even burgers. For those who don’t like buffets, there are cooking stations, where chefs plate your dish in front of you. This avoids crowded plates, piled high with food – a pet hate of mine.

Wine is served by the bottle at your table and the staff are always on hand for top ups if needed. The staff overall are very attentive. The manager greets guests at all meal times, a rarity nowadays. Deserts are delicious too and so is the selection of home made ice creams. Thankfully most of the excess calories are burned off on the mountain…

I really liked the bar in Club Med Val d’Isere – it is modern with a great atmosphere. There is a wide choice of cocktails available, included in the price of your holiday. Drinks were served in large glasses too, tiny wine glasses are a common sight in all-inclusive resorts – another pet hate of mine!
 

 

 
There is entertainment every night, from musicals to magic shows, followed by a DJ until the small hours. Guests love to get involved in the entertainment at Club Med Val d’Isere, and the dance floor was packed every night with rows of people following the entertainers dance moves. This is typical of what you can expect at all Club Med resorts, a friendly fun atmosphere throughout.
 


 

 

 

About Club Med Resorts

I should point out that Club Med have a staggering 70 resorts worldwide. Although the name suggests the Mediterranean, they have resorts in the US, China, the Maldives, as well as cruises and adult only resorts. A massive bonus for families is that children under 4 stay free at all Club Med Ski resorts, and under 6 years stay free at Club Med Sun resorts.
 

 

 
Club Med have 23 ski resorts in France, Italy and Switzerland. Club Med Val d’Isere, although suitable for families with teenagers, doesn’t offer lessons to children under 12. For that reason it tends to attract more couples and groups rather than families. However if you are planning a skiing holiday with young kids, some of the other Club Med resorts are perfect for families and include lessons to children from age 4.
 

 

 
The combination of the excellent tuition, great food and the ski in ski out facility, makes them hard to beat. I have seen many parents try to carry their children’s skis and boots as well as their own. The difference between skiing directly from your hotel, versus getting on a ski bus, carrying skis, boots, hats and gloves, is priceless.
 

 

How cool are the #kids on the #slopes in #valdisere #sunwayclubmedski #ski #luxurytravel #snow #travellingwithkids #familytravel

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Après ski in Val d’Isere

If you fancy taking a day off skiing, you can use your lift pass to take the gondola to the top of the mountain, and enjoy a coffee on the slopes while taking in the views. The town of Val d’Isere is worth exploring too, there are plenty of good shops and lots of great après ski bars. However, the best après ski bar is located on the mountain.
 

 

 
Part of a chain of French après ski bars, La Folie Douce has to seen to be believed. We went one afternoon and discovered hundreds of people drinking beer and dancing on tables to the latest tunes. It felt like a nightclub at 2am but it was only 4pm – it was crazy but fabulous at the same time! Thankfully it is situated right beside the gondola station so if you have one too many, you don’t have to ski down the mountain – although I’m sure many have tried…

If you don’t want to venture too far, you can always chill out at Club Med Val d’Isere and enjoy the on site facilities. Club Med’s stone and wooden facades fit in perfectly with Val d’Isere’s traditional chalets, and there is a great outdoor terrace with views of the mountain. If you are feeling energetic there are daily fitness classes as well as a large indoor swimming pool, sauna and spa.


I have some some amazing holiday experiences over the years. Skiing down the mountain in Val d’Isere is up there with the best of them. All Club Med Ski holidays include flights, transfers, all meals, drinks, lessons and lift passes so if planning a ski trip make sure you take this into account when comparing prices. For information on prices and Club Med resorts visit ClubMedSunway.ie
 

 

 
Like Club Med resorts? Read my post on Club Med da Balaia in the Algarve.

 

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Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

In The Media

Winter Breaks As Seen on TV3’s Saturday AM, 24th September 2016

as-seen-on-tv3-winter

Thinking of a winter holiday this year? Check out my top picks for winter breaks as seen on TV3’s Saturday AM.

 

If you are looking for some winter sun this year, the best advice I can give you is – book early. There is a massive shortage of accommodation in the Canary Islands as a result of people not wanting to travel to Egypt, Tunisia etc. We tend to forget that it’s not just Irish people who want to go to the Canary Islands for winter sun. There are 60 million Britons, 100 million Germans as well as other Europeans, all looking at the same destinations. You will probably find cheap flights with Aer Lingus and Ryanair but finding apartments and hotels to go with them at the last minute will be extremely difficult. So don’t say you haven’t been warned…  With that in mind, I have some good winter sun options that are available now if you can book your holidays in advance.

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Canary Islands

Lanzarote is the most popular of the Canary Islands with Irish holiday makers. The combination of low rise buildings, just the right amount of nightlife and some excellent beaches means Lanzarote ticks all boxes. I found a great deal flying out on Valentines Day to a popular ‘adult only’ property in the centre of Puerto del Carmen.  The Panorama apartments receive great reviews  on tripadvisor and are perfect for couples who don’t want any kids jumping in and out of the pool. Fly from Dublin to Lanzarote on the 12th of February and enjoy a seven night stay in the Panorama for only €299 per person. Click here for more details:

Winter breaks as seen on TV3's Saturday AM

Cruises

There is some excellent value in winter cruises this year. Thomson Cruises are offering a free upgrade to all-inclusive on their Canary Islands cruises. You can fly to Tenerife or Gran Canaria and cruise the Canary Islands, Madeira and Morocco from only €859 in January and February. Prices include flights, transfers, baggage a seven day cruise including all meals, drinks and entertainment. Click here for more details:

WInter breaks as seen on TV3's Saturday AM

Another cruise destination that is great value is Dubai and the Emirates. With guaranteed sunshine and now direct flights from Dublin, this is a very appealing alternative to the Canary Islands. Royal Caribbean are offering flights and a seven night cruise around Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman from €899 in January on Vision of the Seas.  Click here for more details.

Winter breaks as seen on TV3's Saturday AM

City Breaks

There are plenty of great options for city breaks.. Flights and hotels are inexpensive during the winter time so if you don’t necessarily want sun, you can pick up a city break in Europe from €149 or even Las Vegas from €465!  I like this deal to Prague on the 21st of November. Price for flights and three nights in the 4* Union hotel is only €164. Click here for more details on this offer and other city break deals, all less than €169 per person.

Winter breaks as seen on TV3's Saturday AM

Ski holidays

Travel trends have changed over the last number of years and people are looking for more authentic holiday experiences. Winter breaks to see the Northern Lights, Lapland and of course ski trips are becoming more and more popular. Within the ski market there has been a huge increase in demand for chalet holidays. Topflight now have over 50 chalets in the French Alps alone. Chalets can accommodate from 6 – 19 people depending on the chalet you choose so if you have a few families travelling together they are ideal. Couples like them too from the social aspect. They can chat about their skiing exploits that day and pick up tips from fellow skiers. The host is very important too as they will be able to offer local information on the resort and provide tips on the best places to go etc. Chalets usually have cosy fires, comfy couches and offer a home away from home type of experience. Skiing holidays in general are more expensive than sun but once you try it once, you will be hooked, and a chalet is a great place to start.

Fly from Dublin to Les Arcs in France and spend seven nights in the Chalet Bouquetin from €849 per person on the 14th of January. Price includes flights, transfers, checked baggage and meals throughout your stay. Click here for more details:

Winter Breaks as seen on TV3's Saturday AM

Iceland

If you fancy a short break but still want the winter wonderland feel – try Iceland. WOW air are flying five times per week to Reyjavik from Dublin and prices are quite good if you are flexible on your dates. You can take a swim in the Blue Lagoon, try snow mobiling, hiking on a glacier, go whale watching and hopefully get to see the Northern Lights while you are there 🙂 Fly from Dublin to Reyjavik on the 19th of January and enjoy a three night stay in the centrally located Apartment K for only €377 per person. Click here for more details.

Winter breaks as seen on TV3's Saturday AM

 

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

 

Sarah

 

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