Travel 2016: Isn’t it time to book a spring or summer holiday?

There’s no better time to book your sun holiday than when the wind is whipping at your door. Joan Scales rounds up the latest options and offers her big five for the year

Blue skies ahead. Photograph: Thinkstock

Blue skies ahead. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

This is the time of the year when we start to look at where we will go for holidays. The advertisements are blasting out and it seems every airline and tour operator is having a sale

While it might seem that due to instability abroad there are less countries to visit this year, there are still a lot of places to see. People are looking to the old and reliable favourites for holidays, with safety and security a priority especially for families. Expect travel to Spain, Portugal, France and Italy to be high on our lists. There will be new European routes from every airport in the country. Tour operators will have dozens of new resorts and destinations to try.

Spain will have additional flights to Vigo Galicia with Ryanair and Murcia with Aer Lingus from Dublin and Menorca from Cork. France will have flights to Montpelier with Aer Lingus, and Nantes and La Rochelle from Cork with Cityjet. Pisa, the gateway to Florence and Tuscany will have services from both Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

France will be hosting the UEFA Euro 2016 championships from mid-June to mid-July and Ireland’s first three matches will be in Paris, Bordeaux and Lille. No reason why you can’t combine a match with a family holiday. Maybe time to consider Disneyland Europe which is within easy distance of Paris and Lille. Family camping holidays are great fun for all the family; see vacancesoleil.ie, campotel.ie, canvasholidays.ie, pv-holidays.com, brittanyferries.ieand eurocamp.ie. Steintravel.ie has packages for the games. A three-match package costs from €1,989.

The other major sporting event is the Olympics in Brazil and needless to say that is a very expensive trip. Packages with tickets and accommodation are on sale with the official agent for the games, cosport.com.

For families, package holidays will continue to be ideal with flights, accommodation, entertainment and good baggage allowances available. Falcon Holidays and Thomson Holidays will have packages from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Ireland West Knock. The Falcon Holiday Villages and Splashworld resorts are perfect for families and the all-inclusive option can work out good value. The sale is on now with discounts, low deposits and free child places.

Sunway will have dozens of choices across Turkey, Spain, Italy, Morocco and Bulgaria. About Turkey, the resorts of the Izmir, Bodrum and Dalaman are far away from Istanbul and the Syrian border and still present great value for money. Greece will be strong with three airlines flying to Athens – Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Aegean Air – and packages holidays with Falconholidays.ie to Crete, Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Zante.

Madeira is back this summer and is a popular destination for people who like a quiet time and is available through Topflight and Sunway. Topflight will have Italy covered with hundreds of choices across the country and look at what they have for families. They also have singles walking holidays in Austria during the summer.

Cruising will continue to gain in popularity with Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises the most popular lines for Irish customers. There will be some cruises from Ireland this year, details from cruisescapes.ie.

Transatlantic Though the dollar is very strong ($1.09) routes to the United States and Canada continue to expand. Aer Lingus will have three new US routes this year. The tri-state area around New York will be covered by a return to Newark New Jersey and new route Hartford, Connecticut. Los Angeles will return in September and will be a popular choice, see touramerica.ie, americanholidays.ie and sunway.ieThe big news for Cork is the Boston direct service which will be operated by Norwegian from May, though the route has not yet received clearance from the US Department of Transport. Other routes from Ireland to the United States will have additional capacity and longer operating dates.

Canada is another big success story in the past few years and for 2016, Toronto, Montreal, St Johns and Halifax will be joined by Vancouver with Air Canada Rouge three times a week.

Rest of the World: going east Ireland has incredible access to the rest of the world due to four major airlines operating from Ireland. They are Emirates and Etihad from the Gulf, Turkish Airlines and the biggest African carrier Ethiopian Airlines. More than 85 per cent of all traffic on these airlines go onwards to the East, South East Asia, Australasia and Africa. Prices on these carriers are also significantly good value from Ireland as are world fares with British Airways – cheaper from Ireland than from the UK.

For Summer 2016 we will also have direct access to Mexico and Jamaica with Thomson Holidays using the super comfortable Boeing 787 Dreamliner. For a six-week period from June, all-inclusive holidays to the Caribbean will be available from €1,500 for two weeks in luxurious resorts in the famous Montego Bay area of Jamaica and Cancun and Riviera Maya in Mexico.

JOAN’S TOP FIVE FOR 2016

Italy – Puglia region, the southern heel of Italy is full of history, beautiful farmland, ancient houses and fabulous beaches. Flights to Bari with Ryanair, see also Topflight.ie and DiscoveryPuglia.com

Jamaica – the north and north west coast of Jamaica is studded with beautiful resorts, each lovelier than the last. There is an edgy and laidback side to this Caribbean island you can find that in Negril - be careful out there.

California – 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the US National Parks Service and California has more than its fair share of parks to visit. See nps.gov for details and how to visit. The central coast from San Francisco to LA is a great drive, visitcalifornia.com and visittheusa.com.

Ethiopia – for the adventurous this African country is fascinating. Enjoy the bustle of Addis Ababa and acclimatise before exploring the highlands around Lalibela and seeing the extraordinary rock-hewn churches.

Lombok – Indonesia, overshadowed by its neighbour Bali, Lombok has not yet reached mass tourism status. Enjoy beautiful remote beaches, tropical natural surroundings and tranquillity, lombokindonesia.org.

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