Last-minute holiday deals from Ireland
1. Dublin to Bratislava, Slovakia – return flights in June from €46*
It may be just an hour’s drive from Vienna, but Bratislava is a world away from the Austrian capital’s high prices. Here, a cappuccino on a leafy riverside terrace, or a glass of delicious Slovakian Grüner Veltliner white wine will set you back about €2.50.
It has plenty of culture to offer, too: from the coronation church of the Kings and Queens of Hungary, to the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, set on a boat-shaped promontory just south of the city. Meanwhile, opera buffs will be drawn by the reputation of the Bratislava conservatory, which has produced a steady stream of world-class singers since the Second World War. You can hear the latest crop of talent perform in the Slovak National Theatre. Tickets start from €10.
Where to stay in Bratislava
Bunk down for the night on the mighty river Danube, courtesy of the Botel Marina. It’s just moments from the atmospheric Old Town, and has doubles from about €50 a night in June.
2. Dublin to The French Alps – return flights in June from €91*
It’s weird. The Alps are never more beautiful than in summer. And yet, this is the off-season, when prices fall through the floor. So jump on a flight to Geneva, hire a car and prepare yourself for a week of mesmerising views and invigorating activities.
In the resort of Les Gets mountain activities for the whole family are on offer, from cycling to rafting and paragliding. And to sweeten the deal even more, the Multi Pass Portes du Soleil gives you unlimited access to 60 of them at a great price. Make sure you go for a walk, too. The most beautiful moments come when you’ve got the time to look up, and admire the scenery.
Where to stay in the French Alps
Alpine summers get really cheap when you stay in a self-catering apartment. Often, you need to book them for a whole week, but at the upmarket Alpages de Chantel (which has its own indoor pool) works out at about €57 a night for two.
3. Cork to Wrocław, Poland – return flights in June from €66*
If you’re looking for a cultured summer break with plenty of old-world charm, check out Wrocław. Poland’s 4th biggest city has a romantic and historic core, complete with a medieval Town Hall, pastel-coloured houses and narrow cobbled streets – without Krakow’s tourist hordes. It’s perfect for a wander and a pint in the sunshine (for about €1.90). Eerie Ksiaz Castle – where the Nazis constructed a huge underground concrete HQ – is just an hour out of town and is not to be missed.
Where to stay in Wrocław
Hotel Europejski Wrocław Centrum is a short walk from the Old Town, with doubles starting from €40 a night in June.
4. Dublin to Gran Canaria, Spain – return flights in June from €121*
For big ocean views and warm, balmy breezes, you can’t beat the Canaries. And they have long specialised in affordable holidays. Of all the islands, Gran Canaria offers some of the greatest variety, from the eerie sand dunes of Maspalomas to the wild, volcanic interior and spectacular cliffs of the west coast.
It’s well worth hiring a car and spending a day or two wiggling along it’s less-travelled roads. It’s not short of beaches either, with Playa del Ingles, San Agustin, Maspalomas and several smaller resorts all beckoning on the south coast.
Where to stay in Gran Canaria
Go self-catering to really keep a lid on prices. The Diamond Resort Cala Blanca in Taurito offers bright, simple apartments in a complex with pool and fitness centre from €32 a night. And there’s a water park nearby as well.
5. Dublin to Zadar, Croatia – return flights in June from €87*
Dubrovnik gets all the attention, but Zadar – further up Croatia‘s azure coast – offers similarly beautiful Venetian towers, Roman remains and marbled streets. Each summer it has a laid-back, party atmosphere, thanks to the music festivals held nearby. Sample the electronic vibes of Hideout at Zrće beach on Pag island (1-5 July 2019) or Love International at Tisno (3-10 July 2019) – and relax on Sakarun’s beautiful cove between times. Some are calling Zadar the new Ibiza, so get ready to groove til sunrise – with beers costing about €2.50 whenever you’re thirsty.
Where to stay in Zadar
Simple, clean self-catering studios and rooms are easy to find. A 15-minute walk from the beach, doubles at Villa Valentina start from around €71 a night in June.
Fun of Game of Thrones? In Dubrovnik and all around Croatia you’ll find some of the most stunning locations from the series.
6. Dublin to Izmir, Turkey – return flights in June from €173
Set on Turkey‘s sun-drenched Aegean coast, Izmir is perfect for a beach break. And with a typical evening meal for two costing around €15-€25, it’s great value too. The town has an attractive harbour and palm-lined pier, but it’s the surrounding coastline that’s the real draw. Head south to Kusadasi for volleyball, sunloungers and beach bars. Or hunt down historic gems such as Alacati, with its cobbled streets, fishing-village vibe and luxury hangouts.
Where to stay in Izmir
Near Kusadasi, the 3-star Altinsaray Hotel offers cosy rooms, a pretty courtyard and a shimmering pool. Doubles start from €40 a night in June.
Value for money holidays in Turkey are a big draw for Irish travellers. Dalaman made our list of top trending destinations for 2019.
7. Dublin to Burgas, Bulgaria – return flights in June from €167
If you like to tan all day and dance all night, Sunny Beach – a short hop up the coast from Burgas – ticks all the boxes. It really is cheap, with a pint costing around €1. For more low-key holidays, head to historic Sozopol – or stay in Burgas itself, which has big sweep of sandy beach, a buzzy, pedestrianised centre and great seafood restaurants – where dinner will set you back just €12.
Where to stay in Burgas
With hotel prices so reasonable, why not treat yourself to something five-star? The highly-rated Primoretz Grand Hotel & Spa is set in lush gardens, right on the beach, and has doubles for less than €100 a night in June.
Looking for beach holidays off the beaten track? We’ve put together a guide to the best secret beaches of the Med – and we tell you exactly how to reach them.
8. Dublin to Chisinau, Moldova – return flights in June from €241
Fancy something utterly different? Direct flights to Moldova‘s capital aren’t especially cheap. But once you get there, your euros go a very long way, with a hearty meal costing around €5. It’s like taking a step back into old-school Eastern Europe, surrounded by vast Soviet-era buildings and triumphant statues, many adorned with the hammer and sickle.
It’s not all high-rise apartment blocks, though. The city is also adorned with pretty parks, the neo-classical Nativity of Christ Cathedral, and some buzzing coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Make sure you try the wine. They’ve been making it here for thousands of years, and modern standards are high. Rich, powerful Cabernet Sauvignons, crisp Chardonnays, Champagne-method sparkling wine: they’re all on offer. And you can get a sense of the quality by calling into one of the city’s upscale wine bars, such as Carpe Diem.
Where to stay in Chisinau
The Edem Hotel offers simple rooms in a cosy villa surrounded by gardens with a pool from around €40 a night in June, when you’ll also find cheap last-minute flights from Ireland.
8 destinations for cheap last-minute holidays this summer
|1. Bratislava, Slovakia|
|2. The French Alps|
|3. Wrocław, Poland|
|4. Gran Canaria, Spain|
|5. Zadar, Croatia|
|6. Izmir, Turkey|
|7. Burgas, Bulgaria|
|8. Chisinau, Moldova|
*Updated May 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only on 16 May, 2019 and are subject to change and/or availability.