Travel Insider: Why autumn is the best time to book a city break
With the kids back in school, airline schedules booming and seasonal bargains aplenty, our Travel Editor says there's never been a better time to book a city break.
Now is the time to book a city break.
Schools are in session, flights are on the rise out of Dublin and Cork, and Irish travel agents, fresh from a bumper summer, are increasingly adept with dynamic packages (combining scheduled, as opposed to charter, flights with accommodation deals).
Right now, it's no exaggeration to say you can book flights and two nights at a 4-star hotel for less than €200pp (see deals below).
Value doesn't necessarily mean cheap, of course. The more we travel, the more astute we get - Irish holidaymakers are looking for better hotels, not the suburban schleps of old. They're seeing the merit in buying city breaks as packages, as well as piecing flights and hotels together themselves.
We're looking for richer experiences - combining Lisbon city and coast, say, nearby cities like San Sebastian or Bilbao, or booking river cruises on city breaks.
Barcelona, Paris and London are as popular as ever, but I'm seeing great deals to Berlin, Prague, Rome and Lisbon, and other cities are much cheaper on the ground. Independent Travel (independent.ie/traveldeals) has Dubai city breaks from €599pp this November, too - a tempting alternative to US shopping trips given the current exchange rates.
It sounds early, but this is also the time of year to start thinking about Christmas markets - when Vienna, Krakow and Budapest come jingling onto our radar.
PS. One more thing
Always book big attractions like Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum, the Louvre in Paris or Barcelona's Sagrada Familia online before you visit. You'll save time, money and sweaty queues that can really take the oomph out of a trip.
Deals of the week...
CHICAGO: Looking for an alternative to New York? Chicago could be it. Tour America (touramerica.ie) has flights plus three nights at the Essex Inn from €799pp departing November 12. Meanwhile, Joe Walsh Tours (joewalshtours.ie) has flights plus four nights at the 4-star MileNorth Hotel from €899pp in October.
PRAGUE: Prague's got beauty, it's got beer, and it's one of Europe's best cities for an amble, particularly when the Christmas markets strike up. Cassidy Travel (cassidytravel.ie) has flights plus four nights at the 5-star Corinthia Hotel from €329pp, departing December 3. A 3-star package in September starts from €219pp.
PARIS: Fancy a cruise on the Seine with your city break? Travel Escapes (travelescapes.ie) has a Paris Seine River Cruise package departing October 28. Return flights, transfers and three nights on a 4-star cruise with all meals, excursions and taxes are included from just €619pp.
NB: All prices subject to availability/change.
#WIN: A Suite Treats City Break at the 5-star InterContinental Dublin
To celebrate our first Weekend Extra travel supplement, we've teamed up with the 5-star InterContinental Dublin to offer one lucky reader (and their guest) a super staycation in the capital. Prizes don't come better than this!
To win a Suite Treats break for two, including two nights in the newly refurbished Guest Suite, full Irish breakfast each morning, an ESPA personalised facial for both guests and a three-course dinner in Seasons Restaurant, simply log onto our Facebook page (facebook.com/IndoTravel.ie), like the competition post, and tag the person you'd like to take along!
We'll pick the winner after midnight this Monday, September 21. T&Cs apply.
Nestled on two acres of gorgeously landscaped gardens, boasting beautifully refurbished guest suites, an award-winning spa, pool, thermal suite and dining areas, the InterContinental Dublin is the city's only true 5-star urban resort.
For more information on the InterContinental Dublin Suite Treats package, call 01 665-4000 or visit intercontinentaldublin.ie.