5 Great Getaways In Europe, From Christmas Markets To Continental Rail Travel

Hopscotch for weekends across Europe was almost on the endangered species list, but if our social media feeds are anything to go by, the city break seems to be back. Alternative destinations appear to be proving to be popular this fall and Lisbon has almost become the new Paris with many Irish travelers falling for its aesthetic streets, good food and alluring tantalizing energy. This weekend, all Covid regulations are lifted in Portugal, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the Iberian social experience. You’ll also find great value for your money, whether you go for a DIY trip or opt for a package deal with a travel agent. Cassidy Trip (cassidytravel.ie) currently has a number of pretty amazing city break deals in the Portuguese capital with three night stays including flights and a three star city hotel starting at € 95 per person. For a destination more off the beaten track, Kiev is one of my favorite European cities and the Ukrainian capital which is bursting with culture and history is also one of the cheapest city breaks in Europe. Roundtrip flights in November from Dublin start at just € 80, including luggage.


Maltese movement

Narrow medieval street at dusk, old town of Mdina, Malta

Driven by low Covid rates, strict vaccination entry requirements and even free incentives for hotel stays, Malta has emerged from the pandemic more popular than ever. These direct (but currently suspended) flights from Cork helped draw the masses from Munster to its southern climates. And with its sun-drenched arts, culture and food scene, Malta has become a prime destination for the winter sun. In terms of accommodation, the island is famous for its seaside resorts, but don’t overlook some of the superb Maltese heritage properties; the five-star Xara Palace is the only hotel located in the historic medieval town of Mdina with rooms starting at € 225 a night, while if you’re looking for a total change of scenery, check out Gozo’s incredible farm rentals on Airbnb. Flights from Dublin start from € 170 including luggage and are also not deactivated by the 3.30am flight; you will save some of the transfer time when you land!


Train journey

The Orient Express goes from Verona to London
The Orient Express goes from Verona to London

No-flight vacations will always be a hard sell for an island nation, but once you make landfall on the mainland, there is a whole fleet of train travel options to tempt the rail romantics – and it doesn’t. that grow! This year has seen the launch of a series of new sleeper train lines across Europe as a new French start-up called Midnight Trains is set to build a network of train hotels by 2024 If you are looking for an alternative adventure in autumn or winter, take the night train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi for an alternative route in Lapland: cabins start from € 89 per couple via Finnish Railways (vr.fitarget = “_ blank” rel = “noopener noreferrer”>). Budget travelers can hopscotch through various countries with an Interrail pass (interrail.eu): Consider a seven-day travel pass from London to Istanbul from € 251. And if you really want to travel first class, the iconic Orient Express is back on track this winter; they offer a series of bucket list trips with an overnight trip from Verona to London starting at € 2,800.


Christmas markets

The Christmas market at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin
The Christmas market at the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

The smell of roasted chestnuts and glühwein seems like a distant memory, but Christmas markets are back on the holiday calendar and now is a great time to book. The travel department has a series of deals for the Bruges or Prague Christmas market, but Berlin is one of their cheapest deals this season. The three-night break includes a guided walking tour of the German capital at the most magical time of year, passing highlights such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie. You’ll also spend the night in four-star accommodation in the heart of the city with easy access to Berlin’s 80 different markets. The rates of € 499 per person include return flights from Dublin, three nights in a 4 * B&B, the city tour and transfers with flights departing on November 27 (traveldepartment.com). If you’re in the mood for a break from the DIY Christmas market, Ryanair flies from Cork to the beautiful city of Gdansk with round-trip flights starting at € 90.

Speed ​​regulator

Cruise ship in Santorini, Greece
Cruise ship in Santorini, Greece

Cruises have been one of the sectors of tourism that really sank during the pandemic, but now a combination of consumer confidence and compelling offers has seen them become the number one port of call for a European getaway. Irish operator Sunway has seen an increase in cruise bookings: it offers a seven-day Mediterranean adventure from Barcelona (departing October 10, 17 or 24) with the cruise including coastal gems like Valencia, Genoa and Palermo before to return to Spain. Prices from € 473 per person include all meals and entertainment on board, and you can shell out an additional € 99 for unlimited drinks and other bonuses. To see another expanse of the seas, Sunway’s Greek and Italian Delights Cruise starts from € 525. Tip: Don’t be discouraged by booking cheaper interior cabins when you’ll be spending a lot of your time sunbathing on decks.


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