How realistic is a European break this summer? Tom Breathnach weighs up the options

You could call it a Continental drift. No sooner has Ireland’s staycation summer rebooted its reservation system, many travellers are already shimmying their holiday horizons to the mainland; from a city-break to Barcelona, to soaking up some distancia social on a Costa Brava beach.
How realistic is a European break this summer? Tom Breathnach weighs up the options
Paris, France.
Cala Figuera, Mallorca, Spain: the country rebooted its tourism industry on Monday with the country dropping quarantine regulations for the mainland.
Cala Figuera, Mallorca, Spain: the country rebooted its tourism industry on Monday with the country dropping quarantine regulations for the mainland.

You could call it a Continental drift. No sooner has Ireland’s staycation summer rebooted its reservation system, many travellers are already shimmying their holiday horizons to the mainland; from a city-break to Barcelona, to soaking up some distancia social on a Costa Brava beach.

I’m also hanging on the updates - with a pre-existing Aer Lingus booking to Dubrovnik still offering hope of a Balkan breakaway in July. And like many, for the last three months I’ve been logging every travel update, every national reopening and seeing every border-crossing pact between Serbia and Montengero as a step in the right direction.

To Europe.

While our Euro Summer 2020 was initially unthinkable, as our national road-map fast-forwards, so too is the airline industry. Just eight airlines were operating out of Dublin Airport earlier this month.

By July, that fleet will rise to 33. Cork Airport is also ready to taxi. “Our Swiss service to Zurich and Air France service to Paris are due to restart next month while KLM is looking at an August launch of its new Amsterdam service,” Kevin Cullihane, Head of Communications of Cork Airport, tells me.

And Ryanair is also gearing up to restart twenty two routes from July 1.

Expect some bargain deals to come into land, too.

It’s those Ryanair routes, with attractive summer fares and waived booking charges, which will dangle over consumers’ heads this month like forbidden Valencia oranges. There is that caveat, of course.

The Irish Authorities advise against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice, plus our 14-day quarantine remains in place. For now, European getaways will come with the socially loaded suspicion of possibly importing infection back onto the island. And while you may be thrilled your gilded Algarve tan - you’re not going to want to be spotted down your local Centra with it.

For now, I'll hold out for July - and that sense of European escape experienced while searching for an Airbnb in a hamlet in North Macedonian. “The best advice is to stay in close contact with the respective airlines as they ease out of lockdown,” according to Cullihane.

“But watch also for Government decisions in relation to foreign travel advisories and the current mandatory quarantine which is due to be reviewed again on July 9”.

Aer Lingus are yet to make an announcement about adding more to its current Heathrow service from Cork but fingers crossed and roll on those July 9 updates. I might make it Dubrovnik yet.

Spain

Spain rebooted its tourism industry on Monday with the country dropping quarantine regulations for the mainland, with the Canary Islands following suit. Regions like Valencia with its 134 blue flag beaches are gearing up to welcome sun-worshippers while rustic favourites like Galicia and Aragon can expect a tourism bounce for those seeking more escape. You can fly from Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Knock and Kerry to the costas this summer.

Fares from Shannon to Malaga start from €170 return. ( spain.info )

Portugal

Endless 30 degree weather, €10 three-course lunches and not having to change your watch - Portugal just does the holiday numbers so well. Their national tourism board has created a “Clean & Safe” stamp so tourism businesses can offer peace of mind to visitors, and while there have been outbreaks on the Algarve - 80% of Portugal’s cases have been confined to Lisbon.

The mainland and Madeira impose no quarantine, while the Covid-free Azores require a two week self- isolation to keep it that way. Fly from Cork to Faro from €120 return. visitportugal.com

France

The world’s most touristed country, France also launched their tourism bienvenue this week as the country reopened on Monday. And they’ve been busy preparing: the Palais Versailles has enjoyed a massive deep-clean while the Louvre has new measures to peter out crowding: you may never experience a Paris like it again!

Paris, France.
Paris, France.

The South of France is also looking inviting; Cork fares to Carcasonne start from €110 return. france.fr

Croatia

With one of the lowest Covid-19 case rates in the EU, Croatia was one of first countries to open up its tourism sector, while neighbouring Montenegro officially added Ireland to their welcome list earlier this month.

With the highest inventory of Airbnbs per capita in Europe, Croatia’s Adriatic coast will appeal to visitors looking for self-catering value, but expect the cobbled streets of Split and Dubrovnik to be far less-tourist choked this summer. Fly from Dublin to Split in July from €165 return. ( croatia.hr )

All fares correct at the time of print and include 10kg cabin baggage. (ryanair.com)

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