Ask Joan: Travel advice for singles and groups heading away
White nights in St Petersburg, Tallinn in summer, cheap hotels in Paris and a big house for all the family
The Nice coastline can be good for family groups. Photograph: Getty Images
I’m looking to go to St Petersburg in Russia, next June, around the summer solstice. I’ll probably try to get to Tallinn in Estonia on my way there or back. I’m a female in my mid-30s and will probably travel alone. So I want to know if St Petersburg is safe for a female travelling solo? – NM, Clare
Tallinn is a good access point for St Petersburg as there is a direct train each day for about €30 and it takes about six-and-a-half hours. Buy your ticket at the train station in advance, gorail.ee. Ryanair has flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays to Tallinn for about €70 each way.
Both cities are fine for lone travellers. Tallinn is a nice small city, easy to get around and English is readily spoken. A couple of days would be plenty to see the capital.
Summer is a busy time in St Petersburg, with many visiting for the white nights festivities from the end of May to mid-July. It would probably be better for you to stay in the city centre in at least a three-star hotel as language could be a difficulty. As it is so busy you might be best to purchase museum tickets in advance or take a guided city tour to enjoy the cultural capital of Russia and you may meet other lone travellers this way.
See saint-petersburg.com and fest300.com/festivals/white-nights
Scandinavian Airlines have a good quick routing through Copenhagen back to Dublin for about €167, flysas.ie. You will need a visa to visit Russia, which can be obtained from the Russian embassy in Dublin (ireland.mid.ru) it costs €60 and you will need a letter of invitation from the hotel you will be staying in.
We are looking to gather an extended family of 12 plus infants for a grandmother’s 60th birthday celebration somewhere in Europe for seven nights next summer. Members of our group will be travelling from Cork, Dublin, Bristol and Cardiff. Have you any recommendations for a sunny and warm location – but not too hot (not much over 30 degrees) with direct flights from each of these airports? We would consider hiring several cars to get everyone to the destination, but would prefer less than an hour’s drive. A spacious house or villa to accommodate everyone with a pool and air-conditioning would be ideal. – AOL, Dublin
There are a number of routes common to all four airports such as Malaga, Majorca, Alicante, Barcelona, Lanzarote, Faro, Lisbon and Nice. So there are plenty of options in Spain, Portugal and France. It would probably be better to go in June rather than August as temperatures in Europe get very high by August. Portugal and Spain will be less expensive than France for a big property but you can estimate about €2,000-€4,000 for a week.
There are quite a few companies in the market that rent villas to large groups with air conditioning, swimming pools, nice grounds and lots of space for everyone. Most bigger places will be available to rent from Saturday to Saturday only, so take this into account when making flight bookings. They may also require a substantial deposit.
All these companies have a telephone service and you can talk to a booking agent to get exact details of distances from airports and property descriptions.
We are a group of over-55s who are going to Paris next March 13th to 18th and we require five rooms. We have spent a lot of time looking but all the rooms are very expensive. We just want a clean, central enough location for the rugby. Could you give us the names of some options please? – KK, Wicklow
Paris can be surprisingly expensive for hotel rooms but you will find rooms for under €100 per night on hipotel.info and budgetplaces.com. Needless to say, for that price, you will get one- or two-star hotels, and some may be slightly out from the centre of the city. As you need five rooms, it may be better to telephone or email the reservation.
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