Ask Joan: Leaving cert holidays and Irish breaks

Things to do in Barcelona in June after the Leaving Cert and a nice hotel in Ireland for a spring break

 Hit the beach at Barceloneta as well as the bars and clubs in the city on a post-Leaving-Cert holiday

Hit the beach at Barceloneta as well as the bars and clubs in the city on a post-Leaving-Cert holiday


My friends and I are going to Barcelona from June 21st to 25th as our Leaving Cert holiday. I want to show them there is more to Barcelona than drinking and clubbing. Any suggestions on things to do or see would be really appreciated.
–LR, Wexford

Barcelona is a wonderful city and you should try a see a bit more than the inside of clubs – though the clubs are very good, and the beach clubs will be hopping in June. The beaches are fun and easy to get to, try Barceloneta, Mar Bella or Caldetes for a dip in the Med.

You will be in the city for the feast of Sant Joan, or St John, on midsummer night, celebrated on June 23rd with parties, firecrackers and fun all over the city. The biggest party is on the beaches and it goes on all night – the next day is a holiday. Watch this website for details:

Barcelona’s most famous artist, Gaudi, is responsible for many architectural works around the city. The Sagrada Familia cathedral is an amazing building, as is Parc Guell, slightly outside the city centre but well worth visiting for its quirky, colourful, crazy tiling

There are many museums and art galleries in Barcelona, pick one for the experience. Picasso lived here and began his career in the city, Famous food in Barcelona is pinxtos or tapas. I like to ramble around Santa Catarina Market and eat in the canteen-style restaurant, which is great value.

The city is comprised of a number of districts and the Gothic Quarter oozes history. The tiny streets are a warren that at times open into beautiful squares with ornate churches.

A friend of ours, a single lady in her late 40s, is to take a holiday for a week in May. She stayed in Kelly’s Resort Hotel before and enjoyed it very much. However, she would prefer a new destination this year. Could you suggest somewhere similar and reasonably priced? She lives in Dublin, and is from Waterford, and drives. – JK, Waterford

From the south west to the north west, I can suggest some hotels that I think would be relaxing and have friendly staff and guests. It is also worthwhile telephoning the hotels to ask for the best rate, as there can be special offers and discounts for lone travellers.

Starting in Ballylickey, near Bantry, the Seaview House Hotel has great views, a beach to walk on and is friendly and informal. You can explore the lovely gardens and the beautiful Beara Peninsula. Rates are from €130 half-board per night, or tel: 027-50073.

Just outside Killarney on the shore of Lough Leane is the Lake Hotel, run by the Huggard family for more than 70 years. The views are fabulous, and you have the town of Killarney on the doorstep, afternoon tea is a speciality, rates from €120 half board, tel: 064-663 1035,

Ross Lake House Hotel, in the Connemara town of Oughterard, will make your friend feel like gentry. The Georgian house is full of antique furniture and set in lovely grounds. It’s only 20 minutes from Galway city, and it is easy to explore Connemara from here. Rates from €110 half board, tel: 091-550 109,

In Donegal, the trip to Ballyliffin Lodge takes in part of the Wild Atlantic Way and would be an opportunity to explore the Inishowen Peninsula.

Ballylfifin Lodge has a lovely spa, and is on the sea. Rates from €125 half board, tel: 074-937 8200,

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