Left it late to escape? The summer holidays are flying by, but there’s still time to find a holiday...
Somehow, August is just around the corner. Which means it’s last chance saloon for a summer holiday.
Nabbing the best peak season breaks usually means booking months in advance, but that’s not always the case. Between the summer of airport chaos and uncertainty around Covid, not everything is as booked as you might expect it to be. Besides, sometimes last-minute bookings can be a great way to nab a deal, particularly if you’re looking at a package holiday with charter flights.
And don’t forget, if you see availability, always get in touch with the operator directly to see if you can get a discount, whether it’s a travel agent, hotel or self-catering property. When compiling this piece, I stumbled upon many a last-minute discount, from €100 off package holidays to 40pc off a hotel stay. So if you’re looking for an August holiday, here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Magic in Mallorca
There are some stonking savings to be had in Europe with Tropical Sky at the moment. You can save up to €500pp on a seven-night holiday at the four-star Dream Calvia Resort & Spa in Mallorca, and it’s a half-board package, too. There are 10 restaurants and nine bars, making for plenty of variety, and it’s right on the beach. If you feel like treating yourself, you can upgrade to a balcony room or an all-inclusive deal. You’ll have to be quick, though — the discount is only for bookings made before August 10.
Details: Seven nights half board now from €1,099pp, departing Dublin on August 12, including checked bags and private transfers; tropicalsky.ie
2. Laze in Lanzarote
Think it’s too late for a family break in Lanzarote? Think again. Cassidy Travel has a week available in the four-star Sands Beach Resort in Costa Teguise. The resort itself is pretty swish, with a pool for each area of rooms and its very own private beach. While this break is self-catering, there are a few different restaurants and bars on site, if you don’t feel like cooking. There’s a pretty cool floating restaurant too, with great views of the sea.
Details: Prices from €823pp, based on two adults and two kids, departing August 22; cassidytravel.ie
3. A Guernsey getaway
Aurigny launched its Dublin to Guernsey route a few months ago, making this island a whole lot more accessible. There’s a distinct French vibe to the place, with cider farms and great bakeries, as well as dreamy white sand beaches and rugged cliff tops for walks. On this package, you’ll stay at the gorgeous Duke of Richmond Hotel, with sea views and an outdoor swimming pool.
Details: Four nights B&B from €828pp including flights and luggage, departing August 9; cassidytravel.ie
4. Lake Garda, Venice and Verona
It’s not just families looking for last-minute holidays in August. This trip with Travel Department is perfect for couples or solo travellers — it’s fully guided, but with plenty of free days to explore on your own. You’ll kick things off with a boat tour of Lake Garda itself, then get the chance to potter around medieval villages and historic sights in Riva del Garda, Limone and Malcesine. There are full day tours of Venice and Verona, too. Can you imagine a more fabulous place to see out the summer?
Details: Seven nights including flights, departing August 9, from €1,149pp; traveldepartment.com
5. Go to Gran Canaria
If your kids aren’t back in school until September 1, you can nab a great week in Gran Canaria with Click and Go. This seven-night holiday is based at the Riosol Aparthotel, a three-star on the southwestern side of the island. Its elevated position in Puerto Rico means killer views, either from your apartment or from one of the pools overlooking the ocean. The beach is walking distance away, as is the harbour, where you can wander around and nosy at the visiting yachts.
Details: Seven nights from €2,399 for two adults and two children, departing August 24; clickandgo.com
6. Cruise on the Mediterranean
Solo travellers tend to get the sharp end of the stick when it comes to holidays, particularly in peak season. But this cruise on Norwegian Epic is for a cabin in the Solo area of the ship, specifically designated for solo travellers. There’s even a lounge where you can meet other people travelling on their own. The package is full-board, and you’ll stop at Corsica, Rome, Naples, Florence, Cannes and Mallorca, before returning to Barcelona.
Details: Seven-night cruise with flights and baggage, departing August 14 from €1,926pp; grenhamtravel.ie
7. Kick back on the Costa del Sol
There are still a few deals to be found in Spain’s Costa del Sol this summer, like this week at the Pyr Apartments in Fuengirola. You’ll stay in a self-catering family studio with a balcony or a terrace, and it’s super close to the beach and harbour, too. There’s a nice big pool surrounded by grass, and a kid-friendly version as well. You’ll also find loads of shops and restaurants just a short stroll away, and this deal includes checked bags and private transfers.
Details: Seven nights from €2,712 for two adults and two children, departing Dublin on August 22; sunway.ie
8. Make for Mexico
If you’re in the mood to say ‘sod it’ and head for far flung climes, this package from American Holidays is just the ticket. You’ll have 7 nights at the Dreams Vista Golf and Spa, a family resort in Cancun. There’s plenty to keep the kids active, from the climbing wall to the surf pools, as well as three regular swimming pools. You can also go snorkelling or kayaking in the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Oh, and it’s all inclusive, so you don’t have to worry about a stinker of a bill at the end.
Details: 7 nights from €1,752pp all inclusive, based on two adults and two children sharing, with flights from Dublin on August 23; americanholidays.com
9. Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney
The Gleneagle has undergone a €7.2m refurbishment, and is now a four-star hotel. As well as the reboot, there’s a huge amount of choice, depending on what you’re after — you can get a lovely balcony room with views over Killarney National Park, or a self-catering apartment, for example. Hotel67, a 24-room “hotel within a hotel” is another option (it made our Fab 50 list of the best places to stay in Ireland this year). Family rooms offer good value, especially considering the numerous free activities for families and the kids’ club that runs throughout August. There’s also a series of free concerts for guests as part of Live at The Gleneagle.
Details: Family rooms from €255 a night B&B in August; gleneaglehotel.com
10. Harvey’s Point, Co Donegal
One night in a hotel doesn’t quite cut it when you go on holiday. To make the most of things, this five-night package from Harvey’s Point means you can properly settle in, and make time to explore the local area as well as enjoying the hotel itself. The Homemade Holiday Package includes a four-course Sunday lunch when you arrive, breakfast every morning and dinner on three evenings in the Lakeside Restaurant. You’ll be staying in a Mountain View Balcony Room, and there’s availability for arrivals on August 14 and 21 as we go to press.
Details: Five-night package from €899pp; harveyspoint.com
11. Keenan’s of Tarmonbarry, Co Roscommon
We love a good family run hotel. And Keenan’s of Tarmonbarry has been in the same family for 150 years, having passed through six generations of the Keenan family. This hotel, restaurant and pub is set on the banks of the River Shannon in Tarmonbarry, right by the Royal Canal Greenway, the new National Famine Museum in Strokestown Park House and the National Famine Way. It’s in a great spot for cyclists, who can set off on the 165km route, and there’s bike storage at the hotel, or you can get rental bikes delivered.
Details: Rooms from €160 B&B; keenanshotel.ie
12. Redcastle Hotel, Co Donegal
Nothing beats a stay right on the sea. And at Redcastle, you couldn’t get any closer without getting your socks wet. This hotel is set on the shores of Lough Foyle and has just had a €500k refurbishment, so the bedrooms come with a serious upgrade. Opt for a sea view or balcony room to make the most of the scenery — when I looked, it generally added about €30 a night to the price. It’s close to Moville and in a good spot to explore the Inishowen Peninsula, and there’s a spa and golf course on site. They’re offering three nights for the price of two in August, which is a great deal.
Details: Rooms start from €311 for three nights; redcastlehotel.com
13. Dunadry Hotel And Gardens, Co Antrim
It’s just a 20-minute drive from Belfast, but Dunadry feels a million miles away from the city. Built in courtyard style around a pretty central garden (complete with two resident peacocks) and a gently babbling river at the bottom of the lawns, this stay has the feel of an old country house hotel. It’s close to Lough Neagh, and you can also nip off to explore the Causeway Coast on a bit of a road trip if you fancy it.
Details: One night midweek with gin, dinner and breakfast from €210 for two; dunadry.com
14. Delphi Resort, Connemara
If you fancy an active break (or have some kids who love to keep busy) the family adventure holidays at Delphi are great. You can stay in the main hotel, or trim the budget by sleeping in a private room in the hostel, which is well kitted out for families. The family adventure package includes a full breakfast each morning, dinner on one evening, a land activity (think zip lining, aerial treks, archery and so on) and there’s a kids’ movie shown each night in the cinema. Additionally, you can book into kayaking, raft building and more, or make the most of the walking and cycling.
Details: Four night family adventure package from €799 in the hostel; delphiadventureresort.com
15. Oaklane Glamping, Kenmare Bay, Co Kerry
Oaklane Glamping just opened a couple of weeks ago, so there’s still good availability in August. There are two cabins on site, both with amazing views over Kenmare Bay, which you can enjoy out at the fire pit or even from bed, gazing out through the full glass front. The beds are also finished with swish bed linen from the Irish company White and Green. They’re pretty compact, built in the tiny home style, but there is a full bathroom with a double-sized shower out the back, with views over Mucksna Mountain. There are breakfast bits left in the cabin for you, too.
Details: Cabins from €165 per night; oaklaneglamping.com
16. Rock Farm Slane, Co Meath
The bell tent craze seems to have died down a bit in recent years (with most being replaced with pods). But the tents at Rock Farm Slane are still going strong, and will likely win the hearts of little ones when they clap eyes on them. They’re all well spaced apart in a meadow, have fully made beds, and there’s a communal kitchen and hang out area with pizza ovens and campfire. But the real winner is the natural wild swimming pool, where you can take a dip. There’s a wood-fired hot tub, too.
Details: Four nights midweek in August from €517 for two adults and two children; rockfarmslane.ie
17. Ryan’s Loft, Co Tipperary
This cosy little loft is everything you want in a countryside escape, from the ivy draped over the old stone walls to the exposed beams inside. It’s a studio space, so you’ve no separate bedroom, but there’s everything you need, like a full kitchen, dining table and sofa. It’s set on a working farm with adorable Connemara ponies, which amps up the cute factor even more. It’s half a mile from Ardfinnan, so you can stroll over to nip to the shop or the pub. At the moment, it’s free from August 27-September 1, with the sister property next door available from August 6-10.
Details: Five nights in August from €329; sykescottages.com
18. Deburgo Castle, Co Mayo
At a time when even the rankest self-catering property can charge astronomical rates, going for the more exclusive self-catering lets can oddly make more sense. This ancient castle is the stuff of medieval fantasy, with four poster beds, a minstrel’s gallery, and a 17th-century oak banquet table. There’s even a secret chamber, hidden behind a bookcase. There are 16 acres to explore and you can get great views from the top floors. OK, so it’s a little pricey. But bear in mind, it sleeps up to 12 people, so if you’re splitting with friends it works out as €376pp for the week.
Details: Seven nights from €4,515 with shorter breaks available; oliverstravels.com
19. Cottagecore in Scotland
While flights to sunnier European destinations can skyrocket in August, there are still great deals to be found to Scotland, with flights to Edinburgh starting from around €15 one way with Ryanair as we publish. While the city will be taken over with festival fever, you can escape to the beautiful Bughtrig Cottage on the grounds of an estate near the village of Leitholm, just over an hour from the airport. This pretty cottage has everything your country heart could desire, from a rolltop bath to a spacious garden. Week long stays in August have now been discounted from €1,400 to €1,171, and it sleeps four.
Details: Seven nights from €1,171; crabtreeandcrabtree.com
20. Slip away to Suffolk
If you want to get out of Ireland without going too far, Suffolk could be a great choice. This 17th century-style cart lodge is a beautiful countryside bolthole, with a lush garden, outdoor furniture and oodles of cottagecore charm. The upstairs bedroom is a light-filled dream, with a balcony overlooking the countryside. There’s also a single bedroom, making it a great choice for a small family or three friends looking for a break together. It’s less than an hour from Stansted Airport, with one-way flights from Dublin currently from €15 in August with Ryanair.
Details: Seven nights in August from €1,030 for three; suffolkhideaways.co.uk
NB: All prices are subject to change/availability.