A Grand Tour of European Deals: Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Italy
Did you know that dealnews has an office in Ireland? That's right, 13 of us hardworking leprechauns start work at 3 am ET (8 am in our timezone) to get dealnews up and running whilst you're still in the land of nod. And this week we're hijacking the travel feature to tell you about some amazing deals we found on our side of the pond and across Europe. We'll take you on a tour from our own fair isle of Ireland and then on to Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece. Grab your passport and your camera, you won't want to forget anything on this vacation!
Fáilte go hÉireann! That's Irish for "Welcome to Ireland!" The Emerald Isle is famous for its music, literature, and pubs, but most of all our welcoming friendliness (if we do say so ourselves). And the best way to start your trip here is with a night spent learning about traditional Irish music and pub etiquette on the Musical Pub Crawl. Although our island is smaller than Indiana, it's jam-packed with things to see and do. This 10-night flight and hotel package for two (from $2,536.61, a low by $442; expires April 30) includes car rental for the length of your stay so you can travel from Dublin to Galway on your own accord. During your trip you can visit sights like the Guinness Brewery, Jameson Distillery, House of Waterford Crystal, Kylemore Abbey, Croagh Patrick, and the Ring of Kerry. We recommend you start your trip off with a pint of Guinness in Dublin's smallest pub, the Dawson Lounge.
Although Ireland has a number of great attributes, you don't come here for the sun! If you're looking for a balmier destination, hop over to Spain for a 6-night flight and hotel package for two (from $2,188.50, a low by $690; expires April 12). This vacation includes three nights in Spain's capital, Madrid, where you can take in the city's regal tradition in places such as Puerta del Sol (where you can see up close the statue of El Oso y El Madroño), Plaza Mayor, and the Palacio Real. And if you thought Ireland had a lot of bars, you'll be happy to know that it's got nothing on Madrid, which boasts the most bars per capita of any city in Europe. This vacation package also includes three nights in one of our favorite cities in all the world: Barcelona. Catalonia's gem, Barcelona gets its unique style from Antoni Gaudi, who was given unprecedented freedom to let his imagination run wild with architectural projects like Parc Güell, La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, and the still unfinished cathedral of La Sagrada Familia. Of course we recommend some traditional tapas and a glass of sangria to top off your Spanish adventure.
Not too far away, lies Portugal, which shares a border with Spain and is often overlooked for its larger neighbor. But the country's capital of Lisbon (or "Lisboa" in Portugese) is one of the oldest cities in the world — it even predates Rome! A 6-night flight and hotel stay at the Hotel Acores Lisboa (from $999, a low by $258; expires April 12) puts you within walking distance of downtown Lisbon and most of the city's major attractions. A port town, Lisbon is walkable; we recommend a stroll to Alfama, the city's oldest district, and up to the Castle of São Jorge. From here you'll be treated to breathtaking views of both the city and the Mediterranean Sea. No trip to Lisbon would be complete without a trip to a "pastelaria" for a mouthwatering pastry, which is often served fresh from the oven with a side of sugar and cinnamon.
Speaking of the Mediterranean, let's head over to the Greece, where you can't help but soak up some culture whilst basking in the sun. This 9-night flight and hotel package for two (from $2,976.57, a low by $661; expires April 12) sets you down in the capital city of Athens, where you can visit the Acropolis to see the most famous of Greek temples, The Parthenon. While you're up on the Acropolis make sure to check out the Erechtheion Temple, notable for its caryatid columns. From Athens, start playing "Mykonos" by Fleet Foxes and head over to the island of the same name. Here lazing on the beach counts as a cultural activity, as you're sunbathing on the battleground where Zeus defeated the Titans. (Interestingly, Zeus is played by an Irishman, Liam Neeson, in the 2012 movie Wrath of the Titans.) Last stop on your 9-day trip is the island of Santorini, where the volcanic landscape itself is the major attraction. This island is easily explored by bicycle, and you'll find plenty of tucked-away coves and beaches. We also suggest that you try ouzu, Greece's anise-flavored liquor, often mixed with water.
We've saved the best for last: a 7-night flight and hotel package for two in Italy (from $3,266.47, a low by $2,232; expires April 12). The package starts in Rome, one the most iconic cities in the world. There's too much in Rome for us to begin to describe here, but we highly recommend a stroll through the ruins of the Roman Forum at dusk. From Rome, your package includes a train trip to Florence, which somehow manages to eclipse every other lovely Italian city with its beauty. Florence is a UNESCO heritage site because of its wealth of art and architecture, and Uffizi Gallery is a must see for its abundance of artwork by masters like Botticelli, Giotto, and Michelangelo, to name a few. Be warned though: book your tickets online in advance to avoid spending an entire day waiting in line in the baking Italian sun. There are few things in the world worth leaving Florence for, but if you have to leave, go to Venice; there's nowhere on earth like this floating city, free of cars and the noises of the modern world. Treat yourself to a (very expensive) cup of coffee in one of the cafes in Piazza San Marco, a square that Napoleon called "the drawing room of Europe."
In summary: Guinness in Ireland, Sangria in Spain, pastries in Portugal, ouzo in Greece, and coffee in Italy — sounds like a good trip to us! If you'd like to check out more of Europe's cities, be sure to check out Lufthansa's roundtrip flight sale (from $668, a low by $10; expires April 10). And if we haven't covered your desired travel destination, have a look at our weekly roundup of the top travel deals for additional discounted flights, hotels, and vacation packages.