Ask Joan: Family stay in Lecce and a sixth year holiday for the girls

Your travel dilemmas solved


We are a family with three young children, travelling to Lecce for a mid-term break at the end of October. Can you recommend activities or places to see in Lecce and the surrounding areas? We will be renting a car.

– A W, Dublin

Lecce is a lovely ancient Roman city with a first century arena and is the capital of Salento region. It is a university town so it’s lively. This whole area of Puglia is steeped in history and there are some really ancient places to visit such as Otranto, Galipoli and Monopoli.

Agriculture and wine-growing are the main activities in this region and there are lots of nice small villages and towns to explore. The east coast is rocky and full of inlets, with some spectacular drives overlooking the sea. The best sandy beaches are on the west side, the inside of the heel, so to speak. The weather may be mild enough for paddling.

Where the Adriatic and Mediterranean meet is Santa Maria de Leuca, or just Leuca. It is a lovely port town where you can take a boat tour to look at the sea caves and see the holiday homes of the wealthy.

Take a drive along the valley of Itria and visit Ostuni and see the olive groves and tiny farmhouses. Visit its most famous town, Alberobello. It will charm the children, with dozens of circular trulli houses with conical roofs all jammed together in tiny streets. Try to go earl or late in the day as it gets really busy with tours from cruise ships.

We are a group of 10 girls planning a sixth year holiday. We really want to go to a festival called Volt in Sopron, Hungary. We were also planning to visit Amsterdam. What would be are best option in a) getting from Dublin to Sopron and b) getting from Sopron to Amsterdam? We are on a very tight budget but the length of the journey doesn’t matter too much. Also, any recommendations on hostels and cheap and cheerful food spots in Amsterdam would be greatly appreciated.

– CG Dublin

You can choose to fly to Budapest with Aer Lingus or Ryanair; the fares may go down a bit after Christmas with usual early booking sales. At present they are €98 and €110. Sopron is easy enough to get to by train from Budapest-Keleti and is a three-hour trip.

From Budapest to Amsterdam, it may be worth going by air. Wizzair fly to Eindhoven, about 90 minutes by train from Amsterdam. Fares are around €35 and the train would cost €22. See

The bus service run by Eurolines. com takes more than 24 hours and would cost from €29-€50 one way, depending on day of the week. There are train services via Munich and Berlin to Amsterdam and the cost would be around €70. See details on or

The Flying Pig hostels in Amsterdam are fun places to stay, with their own bar, good prices and deals on tours. Prices in July will be from €29-€37 per night. You could get a 10-bed dorm to stay together. There are two Flying Pig hostels in the city, Downtown is closest to Central Station.

A cheaper alternative is Camping Zeeburg, which is a campsite really close to the city, just a short tram ride from Central Station. On Camping Zeeburg you can pitch your own tent from €7 per night per person or rent a wagonette or eco-cabin for more privacy. There is a bar and restaurant on site and kitchen facilities. See

See for more.

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