Thursday 24 October 2019

'The people are beauts' - Ireland's favourite holiday destination revealed

Winner: Italy

Italy: Your No.1 overseas holiday for 2019
Italy: Your No.1 overseas holiday for 2019
The ancient city of Matera
Vernazza, Italy

Reader Travel Awards 2019

For the second year running it's gone down to the wire between your two favourite overseas destinations: Italy and Spain. And for the second year, Italy comes out on top.

"Such a broad and varied destination, it has never disappointed me in all the times I've been there," as one reader summed it up.

"Stunning scenery, great food, great wine, great weather, great shopping, great people - and so much history to take in! Great value too, if you go off the beaten track."

The sheer variety of your responses to this gorgeous country struck our judges. Of course there was pizza, pasta and lashings of wine. But you also love "the countryside, the language, the history, the arts... the summer sun and winter snows."

You mentioned classic cities like Venice and Rome, but also "great campsites" and simple pleasures like "a stroll by the lake at night with a gelato".

Top 10 Travel Destinations

  1. Italy
  2. Spain
  3. Portugal
  4. France
  5. Canary Islands
  6. Croatia
  7. Greece
  8. Thailand
  9. Iceland
  10. Australia

You cited world-class sites like Pompeii and the Colosseum alongside off-radar spots like Vernazza on the Ligurian Coast ("better than Sorrento... a place to get lost and relax, so enjoyable you feel yourself get back that energy and love for living that we lose in our stressful lives").

The ancient city of Matera

Air access to Italy has blossomed in recent years, and new 2019 routes like Ryanair's summer services from Cork to Napoli and Dublin to Cagliari will bolster that. Italy is popular for both weddings and honeymoons and, like Spain, offers astonishing diversity - from Alpine skiing in the Dolomites to great cities like Florence and islands like Sicily and Sardinia.

"The people are beauts," you told us. "The food, the wine, the coffee, the crazy driving… It's simply heaven, even when it's raining, and it helps that they love the Irish."

That love is mutual. "Food, sun, happiness," was how one reader put it. "Reasonable prices," added another. Perhaps it's best not to ask why we Irish love to visit this compelling country, but to ask as you did:

"Why not?"

NB: The Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2019 are sponsored by Iarnród Eireann. Read the full list of winners here.

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