Ask Joan: a pet-friendly holiday house, walking in Europe and a visa for Cuba

Self-catering for a big family, gentle walking in Europe, and do you need a visa for Cuba?

Any ideas on a self-catering dog-friendly holiday home that would suit 11 people and one dog in any location from Cork northwards to Galway/Dublin? As an extended family from Cork city, we have traditionally rented dog-friendly accommodation for a week in Kerry. It worked well but with the teenagers getting older and working, getting away together for a week is becoming less of an option. We would still like to keep the concept of a family get-together going for a three- to four-day break somewhere. ROM, Dublin.

There are quite a few places to rent that will cater for your family of 11 and the dog. allows you to check easily the number the property can cater for, and all but two of the bigger houses take dogs.

For example, Croic an Oirr, in Mullinahone, Co Tipperary, is a lovingly restored 200-year-old farmhouse with all the comforts you need. It even has a music venue for family sing songs. In west Cork on the Beara Peninsula, Chris’s Cottage near Ardgroom is a large detached house near the sea.

On the site, you can use the filters to specify numbers and pets, and you will be spoiled for choice. More than 100 properties fit the bill, including a few castles for rent. Expect to pay from €140-€250 per night for a large house with nice facilities.


Can you suggest any euro-based companies that organise guided walking holidays in Europe, at moderate level? I am aware of some UK companies who do so, but due to the sterling/euro exchange rate, it can be very expensive. MD, Kilkenny

A number of Irish companies do walking holidays in Europe, mainly at a moderate level, so no need to go afar to find them., part of Navan Travel has a lovely eight-day walk in Catalonia. Shane Gray organises walking holidays in El Hierro, one of the smaller Canary Islands in October and November; contact him through

Rory O’Grady of arranges a number of walking trips through the year in Spain. He also does the little Canary Islands of La Gomera and La Palma and the popular Alpujarras, in Andalucia. organises walking holidays with a wine-based themed in Bordeaux and Rioja, as well as the Rota Vincentina in Portugal, the Pyrenées, beyond the Cote d'Azur and more.

Crystal Holidays had a range of walking holidays in Austria, the Italian Dolomites, Switzerland and Slovenia. These will be self-guided and are usually in resorts with well-defined walking routes,

Walking holidays generally work out at about €550-€800 per week including guiding, some meals and accommodation. Flights are usually extra. If you are travelling alone, in some cases there is no single supplement.

I booked a holiday to Cuba, travelling from Gatwick direct to Havana in January with a UK travel company, which is providing Cuba tourist cards. I have an Irish passport. Do I need a visa? I have enquired with both the Cuban embassy in Dublin and the Irish Passport office but cannot get a reply. DMG, Down.

The tourist card is the visa for Cuba and can be provided by the tour operator. Irish passport holders are covered by the same tourist card as UK visitors. Ensure your passport has a minimum of six months’ validity from your departure from Cuba.

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