If you’re ready to pack up and head for the hills for the next long weekend, I’m here with some holiday inspiration for at home and abroad. Last minute trips both in Ireland and overseas that won’t break the bank and are perfect for a last-minute getaway.
Looking for a last-minute holiday? Stay or go, you decide!
Firstly, you need to consider a few details before making your decision on a staycation or something further afield. Holidays in Ireland aren’t always necessarily cheaper overall, so contemplate the following factors;
- Travel time - how long are you willing to travel to get to your getaway destination? While a flight to Paris might take less than two hours, consider the extra time getting to and from the airport, allowing for security etc. On the same token, road trips at home in Ireland might take longer than you think, leaving time for rest breaks, traffic and snack stops. Decide what your maximum travel time is, which will help you choose the location of your last-minute getaway.
- Costs - budgeting for an unplanned break can be tricky. Take into consideration if you’ll need to hire a car, how much train tickets cost, the average price of eating and drinking out. Staying at home in Ireland, accommodation, food and drink can add up fast, but you’ll be saving on transport and contributing to the local economy. Decide which is best for you.
- Environmental factors - with all the talk of climate breakdown, lots of people are considering forgoing air travel in a bid to contribute to lessening carbon emissions. You might be able to take public transport at home to a part of the country you’ve never visited.
Hot Spots at Home & Abroad
Ireland for couples
Head to the southern coast and the starting point (or finish, depending on which way you look at it) of the Wild Atlantic Way, Kinsale in Co. Cork. Known for its restaurant scene, the recommendations will come in thick and fast. There’s Fishy Fishy, Bastion, and Finn’s Table to name a few (don’t forget to make reservations). Pop into The Black Pig Wine Bar for pre-dinner drinks and enjoy a local Blacks of Kinsale beer or gin in Dalton’s pub along with some live music. Book a romantic room in The Old Bank House hotel, a charming guesthouse in the centre of town complete with cosy residents lounge for a game of cards or chess.
Ireland for groups of friends
There’s nothing like mixing a few outdoor activities with good food and drink to keep everyone in your friend group happy. Dingle in Kerry is one of my favourite spots on the west coast for a long weekend away with pals and very easy to plan for a last-minute getaway. Try a surf lesson with Dingle Surf, eat fish and chips on the seafront, hike the Conor Pass loop walk, enjoy a pint in Dick Mack’s pub and try brunch in My Boy Blue.
Ireland for young families
A self-catering last-minute getaway in Antrim won’t break the bank and will keep both parents and kids happy. Look for holiday parks in Ballycastle where you can base yourself and avail of on-site activities such as swimming pools. A short stroll into town brings you to a kids' playground, some of the best ice-cream shops and a beautiful 1.2km long sandy beach. Adults will love the proximity to many Game of Thrones locations close by. They’re free to see and not just for fans of the show. As with most of these sites, early morning is best to beat the crowds. Stop off at the little coffee van at the side of the road afterwards for the best caramel slices in the north. Ballintoy Harbour is also worth a visit, you’ll recognise it as the town of Lordsport in the Isle of Pike. The narrow, winding road that leads down to the harbour provides stunning views before you arrive, some say it’s even more scenic than the Giant’s Causeway. You decide! Also close by; the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
Last-minute getaway for Foodies!
Look no further than London for some of the very best in food, from pop up restaurants and food markets, to world-famous chefs - the city is a tasting paradise. While London has a reputation for being expensive, you can avoid excess charges by using your Currency Card to tap your way around, from the London Underground to paying for pizza. For breakfast try 40th floor Duck & Waffle (or a late night bite, it’s open 24/7), lunch at Borough Market with some extra treats to take home and dinner at the London Brasserie of Light in Selfridges. Keep an eye out for London’s largest scale artwork by Damien Hirst in the restaurant, in fact you can’t miss it!
Last-minute getaway for culture in Europe
From architecture and history, to comedy and whisky, Edinburgh ticks all the right boxes for a culture-filled long weekend, not too far from home. Top up your Currency Card with Sterling and book into some of the events on over that weekend. Here are my top picks; The Juniper Festival in Summerhall gives you a chance to meet local gin producers, attend masterclasses and try cocktails from some of the best bartenders in the country. Tickets are £20. The Comedy Attic at the Beehive Inn on the heritage pub trail. Tickets for Coronation Street’s Gareth Berliner at Edinburgh’s only late-night comedy club, £9. 25 Live: The Big Birthday Show marks 25 years of the Festival Theatre. Tickets from £10 including a glass of fizz on arrival. Bill Bailey: Larks in Transit 20 years of touring tales from ‘the brainiest comic of our generation’, world-renowned Bill Bailey. Tickets from £40.15.
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The newest getaway hotspot in Europe
While it seems that half of Instagram have visited Lisbon in the last couple of years, much smaller Porto is now the one to watch. Gorgeous tiled buildings, riverside bars and restaurants and of course, the world-famous wine are all big draws to the city. Situated on the Douro river in northern Portugal, you can fly direct from Dublin in a couple of hours. Stay close to Ribeira which is within walking distance of all the shopping and nightlife hotspots. While you’re in town try Vinho Verde, a light and slightly sparkling Portuguese wine, tuck into a Francesinha; a layered sandwich with meat, egg and melted cheese, smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and taste a white Port with tonic. Sightseeing cruises along the Douro are cheap and are a good way to cross over to Gaia on the other side of the river where the port houses are located. Harry Potter fans should check out Livraria Lello, the bookstore which is said to have been the inspiration for the book JK Rowling was writing while in Porto. There’s a redeemable €3 entry fee but expect queues to get in the door!
Also make sure your last-minute getaway doesn’t cost more than it should! You can read up here on how to avoid those hidden holiday costs.