Where to Travel in 2017: 20 hottest tickets for the year ahead
Travel tips & advice
Where will you go in the New Year? Nicola Brady has 20 of the hottest tickets in travel for 2017.
It may well be welcoming a few more citizens come January 20, but Canada has plenty of other reasons to celebrate in 2017. The year ahead marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and special events are taking place throughout the year. Lonely Planet also named Canada its top country to visit in 2017. And if you need another excuse to get interested, I have two words for you: Justin Trudeau. Oh Canada, indeed.
How: Air Transat (airtransat.ie) has extra summer flights scheduled to Toronto and Montreal this year. Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) and Air Canada (aircanada.com) fly direct to Toronto, while WestJet (westjet.com), Europe Airpost (aslairlines.fr) and Air Canada Rouge (flyrouge.com) fly to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Vancouver respectively.
Got an Irish passport? Don't forget you now need an eTA for entry - it's $7 (€5) at Canada.ca/eTA. Read more here.
2. Airbnb 2.0
After revolutionising the way we travel (and causing a few controversies along the way), Airbnb has just launched Trips, the latest string to its bow.
No longer just offering a place to rest your head, the new, updated service can hook you up with 'Experiences' to live like a local while you're away. Think truffle-hunting in Tuscany, or shadowing a reality TV producer in LA.
And that's not all - pretty soon you'll be able to book flights and restaurants, hook up with other travellers and download audio guides, all from the Airbnb App.
How: Experiences are currently available to book in 12 cities worldwide (Dublin will follow soon). See: airbnb.ie
3. A Titanic Hotel
Titanic Belfast was just crowned the 'World's Leading Tourist Attraction' at the World Travel Awards, and the good news is set to continue. Summer 2017 sees the opening of the Titanic Hotel, bringing 120 extra beds to Belfast's Titanic District.
The boutique hotel, in the restored Harland & Wolff Headquarters building, is set to be "the world's most authentic Titanic-themed hotel". Until that's open, check out Bullitt Belfast, the Cathedral Quarter's chic new hotspot.
How: Rates at Bullitt Belfast start at £120 (€143). See: bullitthotel.com, titanicbelfast.com and titanic-quarter.com and visitbelfast.com.
4. Miami Nice
Get ready to party in the city where the heat is on, because Ireland is finally getting a direct route to Miami. From September 1, Aer Lingus will fly to the city three times a week, opening up a wealth of holiday options. Miami is a world away from Orlando - it's a fast-paced party town, with decadent clubs and supermodel-strewn beaches. But there's another side to it - Little Havana is a charming, colourful district, and there's a thriving art scene, too. It's also the starting point for countless Caribbean cruises.
How: Flights start from €299 one-way.
See: aerlingus.com. WOW Air (wowair.ie) flies to Miami via Reykjavik for just €159.99, but that includes a hefty layover (and no checked baggage).
5. Hello Porto!
With a new route from Aer Lingus, and Ryanair doubling capacity come summer, the city of Porto is set to welcome a lot of Irish visitors in 2017. Portugal has long been a popular destination for us, with its pleasant climes, clean beaches and bargain prices. Could Porto become the hottest new spot for a cheap city break?
Next year will see the launch of one of the newest Vogue Cafés, in the city's beautiful Infante Sagres hotel... and don't miss the Hogwarts-like Livraria Lello bookshop (above). That's an order.
How: Aer Lingus begins flying to Porto on March 27, from €39.99 one-way.
See: aerlingus.com, ryanair.com
6. 70th Birthday Trips
They say '70 is the new 50', and we're tipping this big birthday as a popular reason for multigenerational holidays in 2017. Extended family trips have been booming in recent years, as noted by Cathy Burke of Travel Counsellors.
"Cruising is very popular for multigenerational holidays, because some of the cruise lines tick all the boxes, regardless of what age you are. Even though people in their early 70s adore their children and grandchildren, the 24/7 aspect of it isn't what they had in mind. If they go on a cruise, everybody's catered for."
But it's not just cruises - from pre-Christmas Lapland breaks to sun holidays, parents, kids and grandparents are teaming up like never before.
How: Talk to your local travel agent (itaa.ie) before booking a bespoke or special trip to suit several generations. See: travelcounsellors.ie
7. Mile-high Wi-fi
It's finally possible to download Netflix and watch offline, which means you're no longer held hostage by dodgy in-flight entertainment.
If you'd rather be online above the clouds, Aer Lingus will be introducing Wi-Fi on short-haul flights from 2017, so you can Instagram those wing tips in real time. Meanwhile, over at Emirates, economy passengers can get free Wi-Fi on A380s and select Boeing 777 aircraft, as well as in-seat power.
How: Netflix on the go is available for phones and tablets on Android and iOS; membership starts at €7.99 per month. Be warned - not all shows and films are downloadable yet. See: netflix.com
8. New Zealand 2017: Pride of the Lions
If you're a rugby fan, New Zealand will be looking mighty appealing in 2017. The British & Irish Lions are heading over for a 10-match tour, running from June 3 to July 8. You can find packages that include official match tickets at Rugby Travel Ireland, Ireland's sole official sub-agent. If you're feeling flush, go for The Kiwi Tour package, which includes tickets to all 10 matches, flights, 40 nights accommodation and amazing excursions, from €12,495pp. Ouch.
How: The cheapest package available is from €8,950pp for 18 nights - shorter options have already sold out.
See: rugbytravelireland.com, tours.lionsrugby.com.
9. Cruise control
If 2016 was the year of the mega-ship, then 2017 is all about keeping things small and sweet. Cruising has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and as the market matures, there's a growing appreciation for diversity.
It's also going to get a lot easier to cruise, with Donegal-based travel company JMG Travel and Cruise & Maritime Voyages joining forces to provide trips with a Dublin departure point (with coach transfers from most major towns with JMG, too).
In 2018, Celebrity Cruises will become the first major line to home port in Dublin, with a 'mini-season' including five sailings.
How: JMG Travel has five cruising routes on offer - the Norwegian Fjords trip starts at €899pp, departing June 5.
See: jmgcruise.com, celebritycruises.ie
10. Get to Split
With North Africa and Turkey disappearing from the brochures, Irish holidaymakers are looking for new destinations to fill the void. Could Croatia fit the bill? Aer Lingus begins flying to Split next summer, and this coastal city has it all - beautiful architecture, proximity to stunning islands and a foodie scene to die for. The nearby towns of Trogir and Seget are perfect for a quieter, laidback break.
How: Aer Lingus will fly to Split from May 27 to September 30, from €69.99. The Travel Broker has seven nights B&B in nearby Trogir, departing May 30, from €550pp.
See: travelbroker.ie, itaa.ie, aerlingus.com
11. San Francisco
Feelin' groovy? It's been 50 years since the Summer of Love, when 100,000 of America's youth took to the streets of Haight-Ashbury. There are hundreds of events taking place in the city to commemorate the movement - exhibitions, street fairs, parades and tours. Take a look at the official site, summeroflove2017.com, which already has itineraries like the 'Groovy Grateful Dead Trip Through San Francisco'.
How: Combine the city with a drive through wine country and Yosemite. The 7-night Northern California Triangle Tour from American Sky starts at €1,579pp, including flights. See: americansky.ie
12. Do Denmark
Denmark is having a moment. 2017 is the year it's going beyond Lego, hygge and Noma (that said, there's news on both counts - Noma is moving to a new location, and Legoland is expanding its accommodation). Aarhus is European Capital of Culture 2017, and the recent movie Trolls is turning kids and parents on to their homeland. But the most exciting news is in the hotel department. Danish ballet dancer Alexander Kolpin will soon be opening his boutique property, Hotel Sanders, and the Nobis KBH Hotel is opening in the former Royal Danish Academy of Music.
How: You can fly to Copenhagen with Ryanair.
See: ryanair.com, visitdenmark.com
13. Iceland (and beyond) from Cork
It's all go at Cork Airport. In May, WOW air will begin flying direct to Reykjavik from Cork, opening up both the stunning country of Iceland and the possibility of bargain transatlantic flights. On that note, Norwegian Air has just been granted a licence to operate the first direct flights between Cork and the US. If all goes to plan, the first route to launch will be Cork to Boston, with New York to follow.
How: Flights from Cork to Reykjavik begin in May with WOW air, from €59.99 one-way. Flights to Washington DC via Reykjavik start at €165.99, one-way.
See: wowair.ie, norwegian.com, corkairport.com
14. North Mayo
On the lookout for a new discovery on our own fair shores?
We reckon North Mayo is due a breakthrough next year. This wild, off-radar cut of the county is home to some of the most striking scenery in Ireland - including Nephin, the Moy estuary and Downpatrick Head, one of the Wild Atlantic Way's signature discovery points. Lie on your belly on the spongy, Teletubby cliff-top and peer over the edge at the epic Dún Briste sea stack - it's a real wow moment.
You can also go wild with Rachel's Irish Adventures, look out at the ocean from the Céide Fields and, when you need a break, tour the new Connacht Whiskey Company (their first batch is maturing nicely…)
How: Belleek Castle is new to Ireland's Blue Book for 2017. See: northmayo.ie, rachelsirishadventures.com, belleekcastle.com
15. Fico Eataly World
Food, glorious food
Eataly started life as an upscale food market in a converted vermouth factory in Turin. When a branch opened in Manhattan, New Yorkers went crazy for it, with queues snaking down the block. Other locations have since followed, but in 2017 the mothership, Fico Eataly World, will open in Bologna. Pipped as a food theme park of sorts, the 80,000sqm space will be filled with farms, markets, shops, workshops, 25 restaurants and lecture halls. As if you need an excuse to visit...
How: Ryanair flies from Dublin to Bologna (ryanair.com).
See: Updates and more at eatalyworld.it
16. Wild Swimming
We've seen adventure holidays shift into the mainstream in recent years, with adrenaline junkies never short of options to get the blood pumping. The latest trend? Wild swimming.
If you want to dip a toe into the water, check out Wild Water Adventures in Kerry. "Kerry has some of the best and most unspoilt outdoor swimming locations in the world," says owner John Edwards, who takes groups of all abilities.
If you fancy something a little more temperate, SwimTrek offer guided open swimming trips all around the world. There's even a book - Wild Swimming in Ireland: Discover 50 Places to Swim in Rivers, Lakes and the Sea, by Maureen McCoy and Paul McCambridge (The Collins Press; €19.99).
How: A half-day wild swimming tour costs €60pp with wildwateradventures.ie.
17. Tenement Museum Dublin
2017 is set to be the year of museums. Tenement Museum Dublin is opening in the summer, set in one of Henrietta Street's striking townhouses. Visitors will delve into the history of the street and hear the stories of those who lived in Dublin's tenements. The rebooted Old Jameson Distillery is due in March, ready for a big reveal in time for St Patrick's Day. Down in Kilkenny, the Medieval Mile Museum is set to open in the spring, and The Museum of Free Derry is due to open in late January.
See: facebook.com/14henriettastreet, medievalmilemuseum.ie, bloodysundaytrust.org
18. Adare Manor Re-opens
After closing last January for an 18-month refurbishment, the newly revamped Adare Manor is set to open in the autumn. So, what can we expect? Brand-new features, for one - an additional bedroom wing, a grand new ballroom, state-of-the-art spa, swimming pool, and even a cinema.
In other hotel news, Markree Castle in Co Sligo is set to open in the spring, following a €5 million restoration by the Corscadden family, who bought the property in 2015.
See: adaremanor.com, markreecastle.ie
19. Waterford Greenway
Mayo's Great Western Greenway has been a rip-roaring success, and many more are now nipping at its heels. There are plans in place for a number of greenways across the country, but the next to be completed is the Deise Greenway in Waterford. The first 23km of the trail, from Dungarvan to Kilmacthomas, is already open, with the final 22km stretch to Waterford City set to follow in March. On yer bike!
20. TDActive Explore
They've just celebrated their first year in business, and now TDactive Holidays (an offshoot of Travel Department) has launched a new 'Explore' range of adventurous holidays for 2017. There are tours of Vietnam, Sri Lanka (above), India and Costa Rica, each including itineraries delving into the culture and heritage of a country. Groups are limited to 20 people and, crucially, this is the first time an Irish company have offered trips like this; previously, you'd have joined a UK or US group.
How: Explore Vietnam departs on May 16 for 15 nights, and includes return flights from Dublin, transfers, B&B and a guide, for €1,999pps.
NB: Prices and dates subject to change/availability.
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