Ask Joan: Christmas trips in South America

Buenos Aires and the Iguazu Falls, Aer Lingus value, and getting from Florida to Cuba

As you are going to be so close to Iguazu Falls, it would be interesting to see one of the Unesco world heritage sites.

As you are going to be so close to Iguazu Falls, it would be interesting to see one of the Unesco world heritage sites.

 

We are a retired couple taking a cruise to Argentina in December. We have booked a hotel for the first six nights in Buenos Aires, after which we fly to Mendoza for four nights, before returning to Buenos Aires. We have five nights that we have no plans for. We’re wondering if we should take a trip to Iguazu Falls or Uruguay. Christmas Day will fall within those five days.

– NOR, Dublin As you are going to be so close to Iguazu Falls, it would be interesting to see one of the Unesco world heritage sites. It will not be a cheap side trip, though. Access is by a very long bus journey each way or a pricey air trip. A combined package, with transport, tours and accommodation, is probably the best option.

A tour with luxury-coach transport, hotel and tours will cost in the region of $900 (€825) each for a three-day trip (see viator.com).

You can fly with LAN.com, which, in December, will cost €340-€440 return. Stay in the Sheraton in the national park to see the mist rising from the falls (see starwoodhotels.com).

You can easily take a trip from Buenos Aires to Uruguay by taking the ferry to Colonia del Sacramento across the Rio de la Plata. The former Portuguese town is pretty and popular. Allow a day to explore or stay overnight in a traditional pousada. You will find a list of these at coloniadosacramento.com/ categoria/pousadas-em-colonia/.

I would be grateful if you could advise me on the best time to book direct flights to Spain for May/June 2016 ? Should I do it now or wait till early in the new year? When does Aer Lingus usually have a sale on flights? – DD, Dublin. Aer Lingus usually has a sale early in the year. If you sign up for its newsletter, you will get advance notice of it. Prices are determined by supply and demand, and this year demand was very strong and prices rose on the popular Spanish routes.

I travelled to Spain at Easter after buying my ticket in December, and it was cheaper than the sale fare in January. The period when you are planning to travel is also a peak time, with the bank holiday and the start of the school holidays. At present, the fares to places such as Malaga and Alicante at that time are around €200 return, and they will probably not drop below this next year.

My husband has a big birthday coming up next March and I would like to take him away for a holiday. A couple of things he would like to do are drive the Florida Keys and also see Cuba. Can we go to Cuba from Florida, and what would be the best way of getting there? The European option would be somewhere in Portugal, but I would like somewhere nice to stay with a sandy beach and some history. – NN, Dublin. It would be great if you could drive the Florida Keys and then take a quick plane trip to Cuba. Restrictions on travel between the United States and Cuba will probably change during 2016, but there is no information available yet.

You can travel via a third country, such as the Bahamas, Mexico or Panama, but the cost is quite high. For example, a return to Nassau in the Bahamas is around $400 (€365) and a return from Nassau to Havana is another $400.

Probably best to make a sole trip to either Cuba or Florida (see cubatravel.ie and flydriveusa.ie).

Portugal is not very warm in March and is probably best left until mid-April onwards. See pousadas.pt and pestana.com for some very nice hotels.

Please send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com