Pod travel, cruise holidays, responsible travel, and exploring The Wild Atlantic Way, are just some of the travel trends in Ireland for 2021, check out my top ten below.
There is no doubt that 2020 is a year that we all want to forget. Most of us were unable to travel overseas, and with travel restrictions constantly changing, we had to cancel or defer holidays in Ireland too. Hopefully, 2021 will be a brighter year for all of us, and we will get back travelling regularly again. However, it is likely that some travel restrictions will remain, so it is important to keep an eye on key travel trends, to know what holidays will be the most sought after in 2021.
I hope to be able to travel overseas, and that there is robust testing in place at airports in the near future, but nevertheless, many people may still choose to stay at home next year. With this in mind I thought I would let you know what I believe will be the top travel trends in Ireland, to help you plan a much needed vacation. Watch out for a post on overseas travel trends coming soon.
Top Tip: If you are booking a holiday many months in advance, you should try to book a room with a free cancellation policy. There may be changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or you may have to cancel at the last minute. This means you can secure a holiday for 2021 now, but with no risk attached.
Read: My top tips for holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19
Here are my top 10 travel trends in Ireland in 2021
1. Holiday homes on the Wild Atlantic Way
If there is one positive to take from 2020, it is how much we learned to appreciate our home country. I saw some stunning images of Ireland’s dramatic coastline posted on social media throughout the summer, and have a long list of places that I wish to visit as a result. From sea swims to cliff walks, there is no doubt about it, the most sought after accommodation in Ireland is one thats close to the sea.
One of the other key travel trends that emerged during Covid-19 is the popularity of holiday homes and Airbnbs. As well as the extra space that a holiday home brings, it also allows for flexibility with dining, and helps with privacy and social distancing.
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When you add both of these travel trends together, you get the holy grail of holidays for 2021 – the elusive holiday home beside the sea.
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the most searched terms for Irish holidays, and I can only assume it will be the same in 2021. And it’s not just natives that want to visit – Lonely Planet rated The Wild Atlantic Way the 21st best experience in the world, on it’s Ultimate Travel List. I discovered some stunning beaches myself in Mayo this summer, and I hope to visit some of Donegal’s hidden gems next year.
Read: The best places to stay on the Wild Atlantic Way
2. Hotels with self catering lodges on site
Following on from the trend of self catering holiday homes, is there anything better than having the benefits of a self catering lodge, with the facilities of a hotel on site? This is my ideal holiday accommodation.
I like to have a nice bar and restaurant close by, and ideally a swimming pool, but also to have the freedom and space that a lodge brings. I particularly love when breakfast is included in the cost. Not only do I love hotel breakfasts, but it also gives me that extra push I need to ensure I get up early in the morning!
Read: 20 hotels with lodges in Ireland
3. Pod travel
With restrictions on house visits and pubs, an overnight stay or a weekend get-together should prove to be a big travel trend in 2021. Travel pods or quarantine bubbles are a safe way to hang out with extended family or friends, without the worry of mixing with strangers.
The range of holiday experiences are endless. You may decide to book a few rooms in a hotel, but I personally think that a large Airbnb or hotel lodge will be the more popular options. You can also rent an entire castle or a large cabin cruiser.
Read: 20 Airbnbs in Ireland for groups for large family holidays
4. Cruise holidays
Similarly to getting a holiday home on the Wild Atlantic Way, trying to book a cruiser on the River Shannon in July was next to impossible – believe me I tried!
A river cruise is a great way to explore many of Ireland’s towns and villages in one trip. You also get a great sense of achievement by captaining your very own boat.
You don’t need a license to rent a cruiser, and you can enjoy the freedom of deciding where or when to stop. Self-drive River Shannon cruisers range from 2-10 persons and can be hired in Carrick-on-Shannon, Athlone, Lough Ree and Banagher, Portumna and Whitegate on Lough Derg.
You can also enjoy the lakes around Lough Erne, in Co. Fermanagh. They tend to be quieter than the Shannon, so you really get the feeling you are exploring on your own. If you fancy a cruise holiday next summer, I suggest you book it now…
5. Pet friendly hotels and holiday homes
Covid-19 has seen a massive upsurge in people buying pets. With ‘staying in’ being the new ‘going out’, 2020 seemed like the perfect year to get a pet. I predict that many people will want their pets to come on holidays with them, making pet-friendly holidays a big travel trend in Ireland in 2021.
The good news is there are so many pet-friendly hotels and holiday homes in Ireland, so it should not prove too difficult to find the right holiday for you and your four-legged friend – but I advise you to book in advance if you wish to travel during school holidays.
Read: 40 hotels in Ireland that allow dogs
Read: 20 Dog-friendly Airbnbs in Ireland
6. Outdoor activity breaks
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As well as a new found appreciation for nature in 2020, it seems that we have adopted a grá for outdoor activities too. At the beginning of July, it was almost impossible to buy a wet-suit, kayak, or even a surf board, despite the fact that outdoor specialist store, Decathlon recently opened in Dublin.
Sunrise swims and sea kayaking became the norm on Instagram, and I believe trying outdoor activities and experiences will be one of Ireland’s key travel trends in 2021. I tried horse-riding and falconry for the first time this year and loved them both. I would like to try more new experiences next year, it turns out you don’t need to travel overseas to experience something new…
All that being said, if you fancy going surfing or kayaking next summer, get shopping for a wetsuit now!
Read: The best adventure holidays in Ireland
7. Bucket list experiences & unique stays
If travel restrictions are still in place, and holidays are kept to a minimum, I predict many will splash out and visit somewhere special next year. The added incentive of claiming 20% back as a tax refund might also encourage people to spend a little more.
Read: How to claim money back with the spend and stay scheme
Did you know that Ashford Castle has an exclusive Hideaway Cottage, or that you can stay in a private Lake Lodge in Lough Eske Castle? The Cliff House Hotel has the beach house of dreams, and the secluded Inis Meáin Suites look like the ultimate luxury retreat.
Airbnb have lighthouses, treehouses as well as luxury cottages with private beaches – you can even rent a castle for a private stay. 2021 might be the year to scratch something off your Irish bucket list.
Read: Ireland’s bucket list, unique stays and luxury hotels in Ireland
Our new found love for nature has seen a massive surge in people looking for camping holidays. However, we are also fond of our creature comforts, and with Ireland’s unpredictable weather, glamping is quickly becoming the new camping.
‘Glamping’, or glamorous camping, can really mean anything from a fancy tent with a mattress, to a glass bubble dome in the woods with a waiter service. There are adult-only glamping sites for the ultimate romantic getaway, as well as camp sites with lots of facilities for kids, including kids clubs and aqua parks.
It is important that you choose the right glamping site for you. Some of my favourite memories of glamping in Ireland are cooking on an open fire, and having a private outdoor deck to enjoy the morning chorus. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…
Read: Top picks for glamping in Ireland
Read: Airbnb glamping sites in Ireland
9. Responsible travel
Sustainability is a hot topic in many aspects of life, and travel is no exception. A recent survey from booking.com shows that 55% of travellers are more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago, and 70% would be more likely to book a property if they know it’s planet friendly.
Eco camps like Pure Camping and Nire Valley Eco Camp are some of my favourites, but it is great to see more and more hotels getting sustainable too.
The Europe Hotel & Resort in Killarney operates entirely on 100% renewable electricity, as well as being heavily focused on food sustainability and seasonality, monitoring and improving recycling, and reducing waste materials and water consumption.
The eco-friendly Gregans Castle Hotel in Co. Clare is a founding member of the Burren Ecotourism Network and The Burren Food Trail, and are members of the Green Hospitality Programme.
Their tree planting has created a new habitat for wildlife, and weed killers or harmful chemicals are not used in their gardens. Most foods are sourced from local producers, and interiors consist of natural fabrics, pigment paints and natural bath products. They also offer a wide selection of eco-tourism experiences for their guests, and offer free bicycles to explore the local area.
10. Last minute short breaks
With travel and dining restrictions likely to continue into 2021, I predict there will be a large increase in last minute hotel breaks. An overnight stay with dinner in a local hotel might become a regular activity, and short last minute breaks should prove popular with people looking for great value hotel deals.
Remember to check my website regularly for the best last minute hotel deals in Ireland. As soon as hotels re-open, I will be promoting lots of hotel deals – watch this space!
I hope this post travel trends in Ireland will help you plan a trip away in 2021. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed in hotels may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotel for clarification. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or you need to cancel due to personal reasons.