Big Read

The world’s your oyster, find out what’s hot for 2015

TRAVEL and how we experience that longed-for getaway, be it in the sun, snow, wilderness or a city break, changes faster than those enticing last-minute holiday package offers posted in your local travel agency shopfront.

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Farmlands, crystal clear waters, mojitos, rum, music — all in a day’s cycling in Cuba

Elizabeth O’Neill joined an international crew circumnavigating the island of Cuba.

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Ever wished you could pack it all in and sail off into sunset? This family did.

Martina Tyrrell and her husband packed in their jobs, bought a boat and with some trepidation, sailed off into the sunset with their young family.

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The secrets to finding that cheap holiday

Research is key when planning a fulfilling — and financially viable — break. Among other things, it pays to shop around and be flexible in terms of your travel days, writes Tony Clayton-Lea.

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Freeride Horn Kitzbühel Powder Skiing

Ski, snow and some schnapps in Austria’s Kitzbueheler Alps

Alan Shortt quickly finds his feet in Austria’s Kitzbueheler Alps and discovers zooming down the slopes, arms outstretched, is the closest a man can get to flying without wings.

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Stockholm

Stockholm is made up of 14 islands well worth a visit

Fascinated with Nordic Noir and Scandinavian street fashion, Michelle Doyle wasn’t disappointed with a visit to the Swedish capital where cool truly rules.

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The highs and lows of my first ski trip in Austria

Conall Ó Fátharta hits the slopes as a beginner, in Austria, and discovers the thrill of the descent as well as a true sense of achievement, which make his aches and pains more tolerable and a beer more welcome.

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Lusty Beg Island

Hideaways for after Santa’s visit and before the new year resolutions kick in

Twixtmas, you say? What’s that when it’s at home tucked up with a hot water bottle and a hot whiskey?

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Lift a glass to the joy and history of whiskey

Bill Linnane enrolled in Midleton Distillery’s Irish Whiskey Academy, where, after learning how whiskey has been produced on the site for 200 years, he savoured the spirit direct from cask and even blended his own.

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Bologna is so dishy, stylish and charming

It’s all about the food, apparently. And intellectual pursuits. And let’s not forget bricks.

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Munich: Where you're guaranteed bier und good times

The train from the airport to Munich’s Hauptbahnhof train station, is a very precise 50 minute ride. 

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Ashford Castle

Your guide to some great Christmas breaks-aways

From cosy comfy country hotels to über-cool cities and snowdust covered cottages Tony Clayton-Lea has got every yuletide base covered

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Lovely bubbly in the Champagne region of France

CHAMPAGNE. The word needs little explanation to any adult and is almost guaranteed to conjure up a memory or two.

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King Cong in Co Mayo

Dan Buckley enjoys the royal sport of falconry and takes in the sights of the majestic Corrib at the Lodge at Ashford Castle.

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There is never a bad time to visit Edinburgh

You may not be able to catch the St Andrew’s Day celebrations next week, but there is never a bad time to visit Edinburgh, says Denise O'Donoghue.

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Gorillas in the midst of Africa

An awestruck Geoff Power is smitten after his close encounters with gorillas deep in the heart of Africa.

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A voyage of discovery in lovely Lisbon

The Portuguese capital Lisbon has an abundance of beautiful buildings that hark back to its golden past. Eoghan Cormican stretches his feet to check out the Tower of Belém, Vasco de Gama’s tomb and many other attractions, such as the old town. 

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The Christmas market in Bath.

Magical world of Christmas markets in Europe

The tradition of Christmas markets dates back to the late-Middle Ages throughout the German-speaking regions of Europe, but these days they pop up all over the world. Tony Clayton-Lea chooses the best and most atmospheric to visit in the UK and Europe.

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The Cabot Trail

Nova Scotia, a home from home

Jennifer Hough says Nova Scotia’s Irish immigrant influences are obvious, but it also has its own charm.

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The Alentejo in Portugal is uncrowded and beautiful

Tell someone you are visiting Portugal and they assume you are visiting the Algarve on a sun or golf holiday, or perhaps taking a weekend break in Lisbon.

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Canet-en-Rousillon is a charming old town with the Pyrenees on its doorstep

I AWOKE with techno music still beating in my head. 

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Eating out in Vietnam, literally

Street food is hugely popular in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, but follow the locals’ choice, says Sarah Harte.

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Madonna Di Loreto, Caravaggio

In the Eternal City hoping for a brush with a Caravaggio

Conor Power dodges the pigeons as he pounds the pavements of the Eternal City while visiting its churches and chapels on the trail of the fast and furious Caravaggio — famed as both genius and sociopath.

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Chateau De Cruix, France

Travel Europe by bus for an amazing adventure

Liz O’ Brien ticked off her continental bucket list with a Contiki ‘European Highlights’ tour in London, Paris, Nice, Monaco, the French Riviera, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Rhine Valley, St Goar, Munich, Edam and Amsterdam    

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Hitting the slopes of Meribel in France

Michael Schumacher’s tragic accident at Christmas threw the renowned French skiing resort of Meribel into the centre of an international media storm, but Fiachra O’Cionnaith assures that this shouldn’t convince skiers to steer clear of slopes.

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Lake Enol and mountains at Los Picos de Europas National Park in northern Spains offers mindboggling views for miles.

Basque countryside like a step back in time

Joe McNamee ventures to the provinces of Cantabria and Asturias in North Western Spain where he swops the sun, sea and sangria familiar in the south of the country for some sun, sea and sidra.

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Cannes: Perfect holiday straight from a film – almost

Noel Baker liked classic comedy ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ so much, he decided to base his family holiday around it. Here’s what he found…    

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Alpe d’Huez, for the best skiing fun

VARIETY is the spice of life, is it not? We should be open to new things and seek to experience as many different activities and places as possible.

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