Ask Joan: Leaving Cert holidays in Croatia and Greece, family fun for New Year’s Eve

We are three 18-year-old girls looking for advice on Leaving Cert holidays for next year. We wanted to do inter-railing but figured it would be too expensive. Can you recommend somewhere culturally interesting that's suitable for young people, with good night life and preferably by the sea and relatively cheap? – DT, Dublin

Inter-railing is a great way to see Europe and if you combine it with staying in hostels, travelling at night to save on accommodation it could work out quite reasonable. Tickets will be around €441 for five days travel over 10 days and €628 for ten days travel in 22 days.

I was in Zadar on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia last year and loved it. It is a lively small city with lots of things to do. The city was formerly Roman and there are remains of that Empire scattered around as well as in the very fine museum. It is a lovely mix of ancient, old and new with the amazing Sea Organ spookily playing at night to its own audience.

It has some really great bars and nightlife and there are lots of young people. A good time to go would be around the Garden Festival at Tisno in July. (See

From Zadar you can also take trips out to the Kornati Islands. Cost of living is good value. Ryanair flies to Zadar.

Island hopping in Greece is always a popular holiday for students and I see Ios appearing again as a hotspot. It is that bit further away and it can cost more to get there but accommodation and living costs are cheap. See islands and ferries on and

If you can steer away from the six weeks from beginning of July to mid August you will find prices will be a little less.

Aer Lingus will have flights to Athens and Corfu. Ryanair are increasing flights to Greece over the next year. If you are prepared to go from a UK or European airport you may find even better prices.

We are a family with three teenagers. For New Year's Eve we would like to go for a short break that is not expensive but which will give us all a nice party. Ireland is probably the cheapest for this, but most hotels only offer adult only, or kids clubs, both would not really suit. Do you have any suggestions? – DML, Galway

Why not come east and experience the New Year Festival in Dublin. This festival began only a few years ago and will take place over three days this year with lots of exciting events for all the family, many free. The full programme is not yet out, you can watch for the details on

Last year the concert in College Green was very good with Madness and Imelda May and there were half-price sightseeing tours, a fireworks display and family friendly events in Meeting House Square and music everywhere.

There are many things to do in Dublin for all the family and it would be an opportunity to explore the capital.

Book a hotel now before prices go up. Rooms are available from €85– €130 in the city. Jurys Inns are particularly good for families. The Castle Hotel, St George Hotel at Parnell Square and Stauntons on St Stephens Green have some fine big family rooms, Call them to see what they might have available. Or consider where you can rent apartments from €152 per night for a one-bed with room for five.

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