Our travel experts search out the options for a family of four at several price points
Left it to the last minute to book a summer break, at home or overseas?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Though late deals are in short supply, there is still availability, if you know where to look.
We’ve scoured the websites and travel agents for late options, basing our searches on a family of four. The best remaining availability is for June and the last week in August, and our pricing is based on flights and accommodation – you will need to add extras like food, checked bags or activities to any final reckoning.
Slots are selling fast, so the information below may change at short notice. But we hope it gives you some leads, and a super summer holiday lies ahead!
House swapping isn’t for everybody, but it can be a great way to see the world and live like a local, without the whopper of a bill. There are incredible properties available, from Manhattan apartments to rural Spanish houses (though clearly you’ll have to cover flights), or options here at home. Just be sure you go with a reputable agency, like intervac-homeexchange.com or lovehomeswap.com. You can browse for free, and membership fees start from less than €9 a month. Ireland is the sixth most popular country among its members. You could always swap with family or friends, too.
Trea and Kevin Heapes run a cool camping set-up on Co Clare’s Loop Head Peninsula (pictured above), and going to press, they had options for a family of four, including six nights in a furnished bell tent from €492 starting August 9, or four nights in an off-grid wooden cabin with stove and WC from €380, starting July 11 or August 22. If there’s money left over, a pizza-oven experience is a great treat for one evening — with Kevin getting the families going with the first pizza, and they create from there. It costs €50. purecamping.ie
Lots of hotels do two-night and three-night offers. Try looking off the beaten track for the best deals, or away from hotels everybody knows. Going to press, the Hibernian Hotel in Mallow, Co Cork, for example, had a two-night family stay, including dinner on one evening, from €399 for a family of four. It has a leisure centre, too. The Acres is a 15-room bar, restaurant and guesthouse in Killala, Co Mayo, with a family special for June, July and August — a family and adjoining room sleeping four to six from four nights midweek at €500, or three nights over the weekend from €450. It includes breakfast and bike hire from Killala Bike Hire to explore the nearby Monasteries of the Moy Greenway. hibernianhotelmallow.com; theacreskillala.com
At the Apple Farm in Tipperary (theapplefarm.com), a camping pitch works out at €30 per night for a family of four, so that’s €210 for a week. The price is the same for a tent or a campervan, and includes hot showers and use of the tennis court. There’s a playground, games room and communal dining space as well. If you don’t have a tent, you can currently buy a five-man option for €180 in Great Outdoors (greatoutdoors.ie), though it’ll be a snug
fit. You can scout around for other campgrounds on campingireland.ie.
You can’t beat a Eurocamp holiday. With active kids clubs and great outdoor pools, there’s everything you need to keep the little ones happy. It also has a sale, slashing prices by 50pc until June 24. So if you can get away before the school summer holidays, you’ll be getting an absolute steal. At the time of writing, a week in Le Ranc Davaine was coming up at €282 for a family of four, from June 18-25. Flights with Ryanair to Nimes were around €394 for four, including booked seats and hand luggage, and I found car hire for around €302 with Ada. eurocamp.ie
If your dates and destination are flexible (sounds freeing, doesn’t it?), Ryanair’s Fare Finder is your friend. Go to the ‘Plan’ tab on its website, click on ‘Fare Finder’ under the ‘Explore’ heading, type in a budget, and roll the dice. The best summer value is in June, where I was able to find return flights for a family of four to Santiago in northern Spain from €436 when I searched, including carry-on bags and reserved seats. Pair that with a cheap Airbnb, camping or a hostel — a two-bed apartment on hostelworld.com, for example, was available from €110 a night. Just bear in mind, when you go DIY, you don’t have the same protection as with a travel agent, so it’s important to have travel insurance. ryanair.com
If you want to get the family completely off-grid, here’s a place to do it. On the shores of Lough Derravaragh, we’ve found a proper slice of Americana in Westmeath, with antlers on the deck and tree trunks lining the walls. There’s no electricity (or Wi-Fi), and while there is a gas hob, it’s much more fun cooking over the outdoor fire. The cabin has a sofa bed and a bunk bed, with the toilet and shower in an outhouse. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to live like a cowboy for a while, you’ll be in heaven. It costs from €100 a night in July and August. airbnb.com/h/authenticlogcabin-westmeath
Last weekend, brand new lodges opened at Drumhierny Woodland Hideaway, a 100-acre estate close to the Shannon Blueway in Leitrim. The cabins featured on our Fab 50 list of the best places to stay in Ireland this year, and with giant glass fronts overlooking the forest and firepits on the deck, they are the perfect rural retreat. In July and August, you can get a three-night long weekend for €975, or do a two-night midweek break for €650. They sleep up to six, too. drumhiernyhideaway.ie
The last week in August is always a little better for availability and pricing, because so many families stay at home to get ready for school. Trident Holiday Homes has up to 20pc off seven-night self-catering holidays on its website for the week beginning August 20, with a two-bed house sleeping four near Roundstone, Connemara, from €807, and a two-bed holiday village cottage in Dingle from €1,076, for example. The deals change all the time, and can bring different availability depending on the week, so shop around on the ‘special offers’ section if you can. tridentholidayhomes.ie
Sunway has a week’s self-catering in Mac Surfing Playa Apartments in Santa Ponsa in Mallorca for €2,017, or €2,081 if you want a balcony, for a family of four departing Dublin on July 5. You’ll be close to the pretty little bay of Caló d’en Pellicer, with the bigger beach just a five-minute walk away. Their rates from Knock are also competitive, though with flights only going on Fridays, the airfare sneaks up the price slightly. sunway.ie
It’s rare to find peak-season accommodation in Wexford at this late stage, but Wells House has availability at its Pump House Cottage for 10 nights’ self-catering for a family of four from August 16. The price is €1,320 for the total stay, and the holiday home is set within the gardens, with 450 acres of woodlands and walks, a playground, and it’s close to the local beaches, too. Bear in mind that this house is a two-bed with four single beds, however. wellshouse.ie; visitwexford.ie
Shopping around in Co Kerry, we’ve found 10 nights from August 18 at O’Connor’s guesthouse in Cloghane from €1,220 without breakfast, or €1,500 on a B&B basis for a family of four sharing a family room. Sunnyhill Holiday Homes in Kenmare has a three-bed house available for two weeks from July 3 from €1,895, while Breenville Farmhouse in Kilflynn, which is six miles from Tralee, is a four-bed house with two weeks available from July 3-17 from €1,989. oconnorskerry.com; booking.com; breenville-farm-house.business.site; see also discoverkerry.com
Departing from Belfast can often lower the price, but it’s also handy if you live in the border counties. Another handy trick? Going for six nights instead of seven can shave a couple of hundred euro off the bill. Atlantic Travel has six nights in Pierre & Vacances Benalmádena Príncipe, right on the beach in Malaga with a great pool for the kids. You’ll stay in a self-catering apartment, which will really cut down the food bills, too. Six nights start from €2,364, departing July 2. atlantictravel.ie
The Irish Landmark Trust is a good shout for heritage properties that have been sensitively restored. It still has availability for its lighthouse keepers’ cottages at St John’s Point in Co Down, offering the appeal of the rugged coastline... right alongside that characterful, black-and-yellow-striped tower. Ten nights in one of the two cottages (they sleep four) will cost €2,061 from August 23, plus light and heat at €120. If your dates are flexible, check the site’s late-availability discounts for reductions on new bookings in the two weeks ahead. irishlandmark.com
Though peak season rates are still fairly high, Turkey is a destination that’s at the lower end of the spend scale. Cassidy Travel has a week for two adults and two kids at the Tu Casa Gelidonya Hotel in Kemur, all inclusive, at a great price. It’s close to the beach, there are loads of pools, and going full board keeps the budget nice and tight. The ancient city of Olympos isn’t too far away, if you want to add a bit of culture to the proceedings. Seven nights cost from €1,954, departing Dublin on August 24. cassidytravel.ie
There’s lots of air connectivity and accommodation in The Algarve… with sun and sand to match. Peak weeks see peak prices, but fishing around on clickandgo.com toward the end of August throws up a three-star self-catering package for a family of four from €1,931 in Praia da Rocha, and a four-star stay at theLuna da Oura Aparthotel in Albufeira from €2,377. If you are playing with a search, check midweek departures as well as weekends — you can save hundreds. clickandgo.com
It’s not easy finding packages for families of four for less than €2,500 at this stage, but TUI can just about squeeze it in, with a departure from Cork Airport on July 24 for seven nights in the San Marcial Apartments in Matagorda, Lanzarote. It’s priced at €2,303 on a self-catering basis, including a €58pp discount. It sounds obvious, but a good search tip if you are flexible on destination, but less so on date, is to choose ‘any’ on the destination drop-down tab. tuiholidays.ie
NB: All prices subject to availability and change