Monday 21 May 2018

Haven't booked your summer holiday? Here are 6 great destinations to fly to

Áine O Donnell

The countdown to summer is on.

Given the constant grey skies, you wouldn’t know it here in Ireland but summer is just around the corner. With the rain pelting the windows, we have all been dreaming of our next trip away to the sun.

Whether you are taking a short city break in Europe or a two-week adventure to the States, the excitement is starting to build for long awaited fun in the sun.

Before browsing online for a new bikini and stocking up on standard Irish sun cream requirements of SPF50, you need to decide where exactly you want to go.

With so many places to choose from, and if you have a family, so many opinions to consider, it is often hard to settle on one destination. In need of some holiday inspiration? Look no further!

AerClub is Aer Lingus' new loyalty programme. By joining AerClub, you can collect Avios points when booking flights and accommodation. You can also pick up Avios points when shopping with AerClub retail partners like Kildare Village and Supervalu. You can then use your points to book reward flights to destinations all over the world.

Here are some of the top summer holiday destinations and how many Avios points you can collect by joining AerClub:

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Lisbon - 477 Avios points collected

The Portuguese capital has become a top destination for foodies thanks to their great local seafood and delicious national pastry, the Pasteis de Nata. This little custard tart has had tourists flocking to Belém in west of the city for years to a bakery of the same namesake, Pasteis de Belém. Enjoy your treat on the steps of the nearby Torre de Belém, this 16th century tower at the mouth of the River Tagus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lisbon has all the best of a jampacked city break but is only a short train journey from the seaside. Make sure to take a day trip to the beach towns of Estoril or Cascais to soak up the sun and take a swim in the Atlantic.  The first thing you will notice about Lisbon is the trams: the city is built on seven hills so you will need the trams to get around. Take the yellow Tram 28, a restored vintage tram which brings you around many of the main tourist sites.

The city is home to the world’s first Time Out Market, a novel idea which features stalls from the best chefs in Lisbon like the foodie answer to a Greatest Hits album. Round the corner from the market is Povo, a restaurant where up and coming singers perform traditional Portuguese music called fado, the perfect way to end your stay in the city.

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Los Angeles - 2046 Avios points collected

After the success of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, everyone has fallen in love with the idea of Los Angeles all over again. This beautiful city on America’s west coast is famous for being home to the film industry but there is so much more to see. For LA with a difference, walk along the boardwalk in Venice Beach with everything from street performers and bohemian shopping to skateboarding and the best tacky souvenir t-shirts.

Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and spot the names of your favourite actors. The best way to see the iconic Hollywood sign up close is with a walk through Griffith Park, keep walking to Griffith Observatory for uninterrupted views of the city. One of the main attractions of Los Angeles has to be the shopping. It has some of the best vintage stores in the world and the 2-mile long Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is the epicentre for shopping in the city.

Next to the Grove Shopping Complex is the Farmer’s Market, an institution in the city where you can sample the best local eats. The year round sunshine means that street food has become incredibly popular and arguably the king of street food in LA has to be the humble taco. You can find these food trucks all around the city but how can you tell which ones are the best? Look for a queue.

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Budapest- 528 Avios points collected

In the Hungarian capital, it really is a tale of two cities. As the name would suggest, the city is in two parts: the hilly Buda and the flat Pest, divided by the River Danube. Start your break away in the city by taking the funicular to the summit of Buda’s Castle Hill or if you are up for a challenge, scale the sprawling stairs to the top. Drink in unrivalled views of Pest across the river from Fisherman’s Bastion but you might not be able to take your eyes off the structure itself: it is like something straight from the pages of a fairy tale.

In the bowels of the castle lies a real surprise, the Rock Museum. The caves beneath the castle were repurposed as a makeshift hospital during World War II and you can take a guided tour in English of the bunker. Feeling Hungary? Once you have got over that awful pun, cross the Chain Bridge to Pest to Budapest Bisztró. This restaurant is known for serving the best goulash, the national dish.

Make the short walk to the nearby Parliament Buildings, one of the most beautiful sights in the city. The best way to relax after a long day exploring Budapest is in the thermal baths. We recommend the baths at Szechenyi, it is the biggest and most popular of the baths in Budapest.

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New York- 1236 Avios points collected (JFK Airport)

The Big Apple, the trip of a lifetime. Catching a Broadway show, eating a hot dog on a street corner, seeing the Statue of Liberty: things many of us have dreamed about doing on our first trip to New York. With so much to see and do, whether you have never been or count yourself as an adopted New Yorker, there is always something to bring you to this amazing city.

While the Empire State Building is one of the top attractions in New York, locals recommend Top of the Rock, the observation deck at the Rockefeller Center. It gives you the best views of the skyline including the impressive Empire State Building. No doubt sights like Times Square and Central Park are top of your list but don’t miss the city’s art museums like The Met and the Museum of Modern Art, known as MoMa. Some of the most famous paintings in the world are housed in these museums including Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” in MoMa.

For some classic NYC eats, head to Katz Deli for a pastrami sandwich or stop along the street for a slice of pizza, New York style of course. Once the sun sets, the city really comes to life. Have a drink at The Dead Rabbit, an old-style bar run by two lads from Belfast which is considered by many to be the best pub in the whole of New York.

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Athens - 810 Avios points collected

Greece has long been a favourite destination for Irish travellers with many of us visiting Athens as the launching point for an island-hopping getaway. With so much to see in Athens, it makes this city very hard to leave.

Your first stop should be the Panathenaic Stadium where the opening ceremony for the first modern Olympic Games was held way back in 1896. Take the audio tour to hear about the birth of the marathon and the Olympic Games while climbing the steps of this entirely marble stadium. Top tip: an exhibition of all the Olympic torches of the modern games can be accessed through a tunnel in the stadium.

No doubt the main event in Athens is the Acropolis which looms above the city. It is home to many major architectural and historical sites, the most famous being the Parthenon. Not far from the Acropolis is one of the city’s open air cinemas, Thision. Watch classic films in the shadow of the Acropolis as the sun sets – don’t worry, the films are shown in English with Greek subtitles.

One of the main attractions of Athens has to be the food and the Greeks love to dine al-fresco in the summer. Enjoy local delicacies like moussaka and souvlaki with tzatziki and pita on the restaurants’ terraces. Want to act like a local? Grab gyros from a street vendor and eat on the move.

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Miami - 1290 Avios points collected

Miami, nicknamed the Magic City, is like a little slice of paradise on the Florida coast. Temperatures reach highs of over 30 degrees in July and August, the ideal time to go is September for a late summer holiday outside of peak tourist season.

The city experienced an influx of Cuban immigrants during the 1960s, they settled in a neighbourhood west of Downtown which became known as Little Havana. Visit the area for some incredible Cuban food and if you can’t decide where to eat, why not book the Little Havana Food Tour where you can sample the best the neighbourhood has to offer.

Miami has its very own Art Deco District, a must-see for any tourist. It’s like being transported back to the 1930s and Ocean Drive is only minutes from South Beach’s white sands. You might be tempted to spend all day lazing on the beach in the sun but Miami’s growing art scene awaits. Wynwood has made a name for itself as Miami’s Design District and is home to some of the coolest street art in America.

You would think that cocktails would be the tipple of choice in this beachside oasis but the city has an impressive number of craft breweries. Just round the corner from the Wynwood Walls is The Butcher Shop, a bar that specialises in craft beers – have a pint of Miami Pale Ale while you catch some rays in their beer garden.

All Avios points listed per destination are average estimates based on 1x return economy flight from Dublin between June-September 2017, as Avios points collected vary dependent on flight cost. More information on how to collect Avios points can be found here

AerClub is Aer Lingus’ new loyalty programme. It rewards people who fly with Aer Lingus in a variety of ways and even those who only fly a few times a year can qualify for some real benefits. The best part? It's free to join.

Once you’ve signed up you can start collecting Avios points every time you fly Aer Lingus, or their partner airlines, which you can then use your Avios points to spend on flights when you want to treat yourself to a European city break, or that long planned trip to New York City.

You can collect more Avios points when booking your hotel for your next break away through Avios hotel partners. Joining AerClub and collecting Avios points is a smart way to turn your shopping into flights to wherever you want. You can also collect Avios points on your everyday shopping with AerClub's many retail partners such as SuperValu and Kildare Village which you can then spend on reward flights.

AerClub has a tiered membership, Green, Silver, Platinum and Concierge and the more you fly, the more benefits you’ll accrue. Each level has benefits from collecting Avios points to priority boarding, lounge access and companion tickets. Green is the entry level membership and signing up will automatically give you membership.

Get rewards by choosing to fly Aer Lingus. For more information and to join AerClub, click here.

Sponsored by: Aer Club

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