Life Travel

Sunday 31 August 2014

20 best late holiday deals

Haven't booked a sun holiday yet? Don't fret – there are plenty of last-minute breaks available.

Pol O Conghaile

Published 30/06/2013 | 05:00

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Over-50s cruises with Saga.
Lazy days in Lisbon, Portugal.
Why not go solo on the Camino de Santiago?

1 Go solo on the Camino de Santiago. Not every summer holiday has to involve buckets and spades. For a change, why not pack your scallop shell and hike the last 100km of the Camino de Santiago.

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Going to press, Camino Ways still had places on a guided tour of the French Way, from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, departing August 3. The eight-day tour is a good set-up for solo travellers, and €690pp includes half-board and transfers, but not flights.

Details: Tel: 01-525 2886; caminoways.com.

2 Make a date ...in Morocco

Morocco is one of the more unusual package destinations available to Irish holidaymakers, with teeming souks, North African cuisine and desert excursions all possibilities alongside the usual sun, sea and sand.

Sunway, flying to Morocco for 21 years, has several special offers for July and August, including seven nights' self-catering at the three-star Intouriste Aparthotel from €349pp, seven nights' B&B at the four-star Agadir Beach Club from €649pp, and seven nights all-inclusive at the four-star Founty Beach Hotel from €699pp.

NB. Customers must call the reservations number below to avail of sale prices.

Details: Tel: 01-288 6828; sunway.ie.

3 Last-minute sun ...in Lanzarote

Fancy some sun? The Canary Islands dish it up year-round, and Thomas Cook has packages for a family of four in Lanzarote from just €1,640.

Departing July 18, the deal includes flights, transfers and accommodation on a self-catering basis at the three-star Montana Club in Puerto del Carmen.

The complex is set on a quiet street away from the resort centre, but close to golf and all resort amenities. And bathed in sunshine, of course.

Details: Tel: 01-514 0328; thomascook.ie.

4 Buy one USA roadtrip...get one free

It's the kind of offer travel fans dream about. Buy any North American tour with GoHop.ie and you can bring a friend for free, or get a 30pc discount for yourself.

What's the catch? Well, time is tight – to avail of the offer, you must book before July 15 and travel before July 31.

Tours include three days in Yosemite and Tahoe from €336 (add flights from €544pp), three days from New York to Niagara Falls from €220 (with flights an additional €477pp), or a 22-day road- trip from New York to San Francisco from €1,100.

Details: Tel: 01-241 2389; gohop.ie.

5 Cruise control ...with Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean has just opened its peak-season goodie bag, with special offers including a seven-night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise from €513pp, based on two adults sharing an inside stateroom.

The cruise is on Navigator of the Seas, which departs Rome (Civitavecchia) and calls at Sicily (Messina), Athens (Piraeus), Kusadasi and Crete, with everything from ice skating, kids' clubs, pools and rock climbing to Broadway-style theatre shows to keep you amused en route. Flights are not included, but can be booked through RCI.

Details: Tel: 1800 932 619;

royalcaribbean.ie.

6 Kick back ... in the Canaries

If only Ireland could be towed 3,000km south, we could all enjoy warm waters, year-round temperatures in the 20s and not have to worry about another flake of snow. Until then, at least we've got the Canaries.

Lastminute.com has two weeks for a family of three at the four-star Morasol Suites in Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, departing July 20 from €2,776.

The price includes direct flights, 20kg luggage allowance per person and all taxes.

Details: See lastminute.com.

7 Juicy July offers ... in Croatia and Montenegro

The Adriatic coastline of Croatia and Montenegro is quite the sun trap, with watersports and culture to hand when you haul yourself off that lounger.

Concorde Travel has lots of offers, with departures on July 17 to Dubrovnik ranging from €499, staying at the three-star Antuninska Apartments, to €799, at the five-star Hotel Croatia. There are also departures from July 24 including the three-star Slovenska Apartments in Montenegro from €499pp and the four-star Hotel Avala from €879pp.

Prices include flights, 20kg luggage, transfers and seven nights' accommodation.

Details: Tel: 01-775 9300; concordetravel.ie.

8 Cut-price holidays ...in Corfu and Cyprus

Going to press, Sunway has some nifty sale prices available for July and August, with seven nights at the Vlachos Apartments in Corfu from €469pp and the Aphelandra Apartments in Cyprus from €499pp.

Accommodations are basic, two-star self-catering set-ups, but they also have pools and Aphelandra is only 200m from Ayia Napa.

Both islands have more beaches than you'll know what to do with, but surprising cultural sides, too – and great food.

NB. Customers must book with the reservations number below to secure sale prices.

Details: Tel: 01-288 6828; sunway.ie.

9 Theme park treats ... in Orlando

Got kids below school age? Families who can holiday in September stand to make extra savings – as with this seven-night special from Tour America.

Departing Dublin on September 10, the package includes accommodation at the four-star Hard Rock Hotel & Resort at Universal Studios, with two-park Universal tickets, allowing entry for 14 days, from €919pp.

Guests at the hotel benefit from express (and early) park entry, complimentary shuttle buses and free transfers to resorts such as SeaWorld, Wet 'n' Wild and Aquatica.

Details: Tel: 01-817-3500; 021-242 9222; touramerica.ie.

10 Let's talk Turkey ...

Is it safe to travel to Turkey following recent protests? The Department of Foreign Affairs advises tourists "to exercise caution and avoid all demonstrations", while Jill Guest, a PR consultant specialising in Turkish tourism, adds that holiday resorts "are almost entirely unaffected. Any protests outside Istanbul/Ankara have been peaceful ... and certainly not grounds to cancel holidays".

Nevertheless, bookings have tailed off. Perhaps that's one reason Direct Holidays can offer seven nights at the Pasha Star in Side from just €987 for two adults and one child. The complex features pools with waterslides, and flights depart Dublin on July 14.

Meanwhile, Direct Traveller has a summer sale with 25pc off its Turkey offerings, which include seven nights at a three-star in Icmeler, departing Belfast July 15, from €730pp.

Details: See directholidays.ie; directtraveller.com.

11 Lazy days ...on the Lisbon Coast

The Lisbon Coast may not be the hidden gem it was several years ago, but it remains a fantastic alternative to the Algarve – particularly for holidaymakers interested in mixing up the sand and surf with regular trips into a very tasty European capital city.

Joe Walsh Tours has seven nights at the four-star hotel Costa da Caparica from €499pp (plus tax of €75pp) throughout July, including flights with Aer Lingus, 20kg of luggage and the assistance of a rep at airports.

Our tip? Book your departure for July 18. On that date, there's €50 off your holiday.

Details: Tel: 01-241 0800; joewalshtours.ie.

12 A family frolic ...in Phuket

Fancy five free nights in Phuket? Of course you do. But there is a catch. You have to buy a package holiday to the three-star Centara Karon Resort in Thailand with Trailfinders first. Flights from Cork, Shannon or Dublin with Malaysia Airlines, along with 10 nights (including the five freebies), come in from €989 per adult and €895 per child, saving €410 per family, based on two adults and two children under 11 sharing.

Departures are valid from August 22-30, but hurry – they need to be booked by tomorrow (June 30).

Details: Tel: 01-677 7888; trailfinders.ie.

13 Over-50s cruises ...with Saga

Looking for a holiday without kids? No children – zilch, zip, nada? Saga, the over-50s cruise line, has a summer sale, with some great reductions throughout the Mediterranean, Norway and the Atlantic.

Highlights include a seven-night Norwegian cruise departing August 9 from £845pp (€995), a 14-night jaunt around the wine regions of Europe departing August 1 at €1,699pp (€1,999), and a 16-night tour of St Petersburg and the Baltic States from £1,835pp (€2,159).

The deals – available through John Galligan Travel – include free flights from Ireland.

Details: Tel: 01-207 6555; jgt.ie.

14 Fly away ...to the Algarve

Portugal's Algarve makes for a stonking great family holiday, but last time we checked, sandy beaches, snap-fresh seafood and whitewashed villages made a pretty enticing offer for couples, too.

Direct Holidays has the four-star Vila Gale Cerro Alagoa in Albufeira available for seven nights, departing Shannon on July 7, from €545pp. Set close to Fisherman's Beach, between the old and new town, it's ripe for a couple's retreat.

Details: Tel: 01-514 0341; directholidays.ie.

15 Count the savings...on the Costa Dorada

Crystal Alfresco has just announced discounts of up to 30pc off a selection of summer-holiday departures in July and August. The offer is available on departures from July 18 to August 10, with 20pc off departures from August 11-24.

Taking the reductions into account, July prices in Sanguli in Costa Dorada – a family-friendly nugget popular with Irish holidaymakers – start from €999 in a two-bed Puccini mobile home, with August rates from €1,245.

Details: Tel: 01-433 1055; crystalalfresco.ie.

16 Grand bargains ...in Gran Canaria

Dynamic packaging has shaken up the sun-holiday market in recent years by allowing customers to pick and mix accommodation with scheduled flights.

Clickandgo.com is one of the companies making a name for itself in this niche, and one of the best deals it's got this summer is a free upgrade from half-board to all-inclusive holidays at the four-star IFA Catarina Hotel in Playa del Ingles.

Sample prices for the offer, available July 14 to August 31, range from €719pp to €1,969 for a family of three, and €2,579 for a family of four. Prices include flights with Aer Lingus, airport transfers and seven nights' all-inclusive accommodation.

Details: See clickandgo.com.

17 Escape ...to Egypt

If it's not just sunshine you're after, but snorkelling, swimming and scuba diving in tropical waters, too, then consider Egypt's Red Sea. A five-hour flight from Dublin will have you finding Nemo off the shores of Sharm El Sheikh, where Thomas Cook has an all-inclusive seven-night break for a family of four from €2,085.

Accommodation is at the four-star Dreams Beach Resort, a cliff-top property with a private beach and kids' club. Flights depart August 21.

Details: Tel: 01-514 0328, thomascook.ie.

18 Splash out ...in Spain

Going on brochures alone, it can be hard to tell one resort from another. Falcon's Splashworld properties have a very family-friendly USP, however – guests get unlimited access to on-site waterparks included in the price.

Going to press, seven nights all-inclusive at the three-star Hotel Saturno in Majorca were available from €676pp, based on July 13 departures from Dublin and Cork. Later in the summer, the four-star Caribe Hotel on the Costa Dorada is available half-board from €797pp. Flights depart August 16.

Details: 1850 946164; falconholidays.ie.

19 A city break ...on the Cote d'Azur

Not every sun holiday has to be sweated out in a high-rise resort. And not every holiday has to last seven or 14 days. In fact, by being flexible with your dates and flying off-peak, you can open up options in some pretty surprising locations.

Take Nice, where ebookers.ie has flights plus five nights at the three-star Quality Hotel Menton Mediterranee from €482pp based on an August 4 departure. Before you know it, you'll be living it up alongside Bono, Elton John and chums on the Cote d'Azur.

Details: See ebookers.ie.

20 Cruising couples ...on the Med

Tour America has a nine-night Mediterranean cruise for two from €899pp, including return flights from Dublin, departing August 30.

Your ship for this holiday mission, should you choose to accept it, will be the Carnival Sunshine, sailing from Barcelona and stopping at Marseilles, Livorno (Pisa/Florence), Rome, Naples, Messina (Sicily) and Dubrovnik before disembarking at Venice. The price includes flights, taxes and transfers.

Details: Tel: 01-817 3500; 021-242 9222; touramerica.ie.

NB: All prices and availability correct going to press, but subject to change. Packages include flights, accommodation and taxes except where stated otherwise

Irish Independent

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