Ask Joan: Family trips and ski travel

 

As a Christmas gift, myself and my brother bought a trip to Amsterdam for my wife and our mother. We will be travelling in mid-late April and I’ve just realised it’s the weekend before the king’s birthday. We planned to rent an apartment, but it’s difficult to find somewhere central that also has three bedrooms, for the right price. My benchmark was €150 a night for the apartment and we’ll be there for three nights. – BOS, Donegal

The king’s birthday, Koningsdag, is Wednesday, April 27th, so you will just miss it. I have noticed that prices in Amsterdam have been climbing steadily in the past few years. It is a very popular city break destination.

You may have to up your budget a bit. Homeaway. com has a few three-bedroom places around your budget. There are a few places still available on only-apartments.com and on Airbnb. com. Booking. com and housetrip. com have the best selection of places, but the prices are very high.

The Amsterdam tourism website is useful for planning your trip, iamsterdam.com. The Amsterdam city card gives free transport on trams and buses and entry to a number of museums. The Rijksmuseum is not included but is well worth a visit.

A family member who lives overseas has bought a place not far from Chania in Crete. Sounds great, but I am having trouble finding flights there. Ryanair seems to go only in high season and is quite expensive. Are there any tour operators I could book flight only from? We are a family of four. – AW, Dublin.

Next summer there will be competition on the Dublin to Athens route between Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Aegean Air. Ryanair prices will be the cheapest and they have daily services to Chania from Athens. It may be possible to shave a bit off the fares going this way. A round trip in July to Chania would be from €250 and via Athens would be about €200. Aegean Air return to Athens will be from €180.

Last year my daughter went on a school ski trip to the Italian town of San Martino di Castrozza with Topflight. My daughter and I would like to plan a return visit for the February mid-term, but it is not available from Topflight. I would prefer a package deal, but have looked at the DIY option. I am unsure of airport transfer times and flight arrivals. – DW, Wicklow

Package trips for ski holidays always work out a bit better as the costs of transfers can be high and usually quite longish distances. The nearest airport for San Martino di Castrozza is Venice, a two- hour transfer, but flights only operate some days of the week and not the days that the bus to the resort does – Saturday and Sundays. See brusutti.com.

You could consider driving, and would need snow chains. There are flights to Bergamo, a four-hour transfer, from €260 each. You can book accommodation on sanmartino.com. Also see tognola.it/en for booking accommodation, lift passes and lessons.

You could consider another resort in the Dolomites, Madonna di Campiglio is on a par with San Martino di Castrozza and available through crystalski.ie. A week over mid-term would cost from €974pps and that would include flights, hotel accommodation, half-board with transfers. Madonna is a lovely resort, lots of nice high-end shopping and great skiing.

Send your queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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