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There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than a spontaneous cross-country day trip, and with so many fantastic destinations dotted around this little island of ours, there's no reason to ever be stuck for something to do on your day off. 

Ireland is bursting with pockets of cultural, scenery and heritage just begging to be explored, and seeing as most of them will only cost you the price of petrol money or bus fare, it'd be rude not to, really. 

Here's our top five picks:

1. Glencar Waterfall

Situated near the Leitrim-Sligo border, Ireland's most beautiful waterfall flows from a height of 50ft and once served as inspiration for the William Butler Yeats poem, The Stolen Child.

The relaxed atmosphere offers the perfect escape from urban life and is a popular day trip destination for families, couples and friends alike.

There are picnic and café facilities available on site, as well as ample parking and tranquillity for days.

2. Lough Derg

Easily accessible from all corners of the country, the Lakelands Lough Derg are absolutely bursting with scenery and heritage just waiting to be discovered.

Located between the counties of Clare, Tipperary and Galway, the lake offers a huge variety of water activities including stand up paddling, sailing, cruising canoeing and fishing.

And for those of you who don't fancy getting wet, there are plenty of scenic walking routes to explore and local food to be sampled.

 

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3. Kinnagoe Bay – Donegal

One of Ireland's most beautiful 'hidden' beaches, this small stretch of golden sand is completely enclosed by a sloping hillside, making it the perfect spot for some serious rest and relaxation… well once you get down the hill, of course.

There are a handful of parking spaces available, however, if you're not lucky enough to nab one of these, you'll need to continue your journey on foot.

The steep descent does require some hard work, and you'll probably fall more than once, but hey, it'll all be worth it when you get a glimpse of that breathtaking ocean view.

 

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4. Cobh – Cork

Popular among tourists and local alike, Cork's colourful waterfront town is one of the most charming Ireland has to offer.

Visitors can grab a bite at one of the many bars and restaurants, or soak up the history at the Titanic experience.

Or, if you fancy, you can even hire your very own self drive boat and take it for a spin around the world's second largest natural harbour.

 

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5. The Japanese Gardens – Kildare

Created between the years of 1906 – 1910, the world famous Japanese Gardens were laid out by Japanese gardeber Tass Eida and his son Minoru.

Designed to symbolise the 'Life of Man', the gardens offer vistors a uniquely peaceful experience as they stroll through the seamless fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.

Oh, and if you fancy a bit of retail therapy to go along with all the soul searching, Kildare Village is just a 4 minute drive away – just saying.

 

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Looking for a weekend break with a bit of a difference?

Why not look beyond Berlin and Amsterdam, and try some of the alternative destinations Europe has to offer.

Here's our top picks:

1. Bonn – Germany

Located on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bonn effortlessly combines a nostalgic historical flair with a lively urban vibe.

With a huge selection of top-rated museums and a picturesque riverside setting, Bonn is the perfect city for a relaxing weekend away.

Oh, and it's also home to a number of cherry blossom tunnelled streets, which are every bit as magical as they sound. 

2. Riga – Latvia

While Latvia's capital may have held onto its classic Gothic aesthetic, it's flamboyant art, trendy bar scene and youthful population give this vibrant city a fresh and modern vibe. 

The streets of the pedestrian-only Old Town are steeped with culture and seeing as art nouveau architecture makes up roughly one-third of all the buildings in the city centre, it's the ideal destination for art lovers who aren't afraid to let their hair down. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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3. Vilnius – Lithuania

This charming and compact city is the perfect destination for anyone looking for incredible value for money.

Visitors can immerse themselves in a warming sense of historical awareness, or simply soak up the culture in the city's bustling cafe scene.

What's more, the cobbled streets boast some of the most Instagrammable graffiti eastern Europe has to offer.

 

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4. Girona – Spain

Located just over 100km North East of Barcelona, the so called “City of the Four River” serves as the capital of the Girona Province in Catalonia.

Its winding streets and old city walls offer the perfect base for travellers who wish the explore the surrounding areas, and with Ryanair offering Irish passenegers a direct flight from Dublin, it's be rude not to, really.

5. Sintra – Portugal

Often described as a Portuguese fairytale, this picturesque town is nestled among the pine-covered hill of the Serra de Sintra.

A popular destination for those looking to take a day trip away from Lisbon, this magical resort is famous for its hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace that boasts a whimsical design and spectacular views.

 

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6. Utrecht – The Netherlands

Often overlooked by tourists who instead flock to the neighbouring cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, this vibrant student centre offers all the charm of a mediaeval Dutch city – minus the stag parties.

Its canals are some of the prettiest in Europe and with world-class festivals, hip cafes and fascinating museums, it is truly The Netherland's hidden gem.

 

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Sick of the same pubs, the same people, conversations, bus routes and seemingly never-ending days that blur into each other?

You, my friend, are not alone.

And the answer? Travel. 

Travelling alone might seem like this big, daunting, terrifying thing – and in this day and age, no-one could blame you.

But what about those visions of sitting on a side-street cafe in Paris having your Instagram-worthy morning croissant and black coffee?

Or trekking through the Grand Canyon or swimming in the sea on one of the many Greek islands?

I can see the crystal-clear sparking water in my mind as I write this. 

So what are you waiting for?If you find yourself single and your mates are doing their thing then don't sit at home and wait for someone to be free.

Pack a suitcase and be that free-spirited person you always wanted to be – life is short, right?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The essential tips for travelling alone are important and as follows:

1. Screw the itinerary (kinda)

It might sound cool and spontaneous to just go wth the flow and not plan anything but when you're flying solo, it ain't so clever.

Do you really wanna arrive in a foreign place and, tired and with no idea how to get around and have no bed sorted for the night?

Didn't think so.

Always have accommodation arranged and a rough idea of what city is to come while still keeping your plans loose. 

Better to safe than sorry, right?

2. Be careful with the booze

All-you-can-drink-in-two-hours might sound tempting and if you're flanked by mates then go for it.

But when you have to watch your own back, maybe skip Margarita Hour.

I'm not saying you can't enjoy a glass of local vino or try out he popular beers in whatever city you're in, but don't get hammered.

It's easy to lose your bearings, your possessions or become a target for crime.

Also, nursing hangovers alone is plain old depressing tbh. 

3. Curiosity killed the cat

A little mystery never hurt anyone, right?

While it might seem like you've known the people you've met on your travels for years as you laugh at dinner together but they are also strangers.

So when it comes to talking about where you're staying, keep scutum.

Ditto on where you're planning to go – be breezy and vague. 

No-one needs to know you're every move and the info might end up falling into the hands of someone, let's say….undesirable. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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4. Don't take everything and the kitchen sink with you

You don't need to bring that much shit.

One of everything is enough – are you really gonna wear three pairs of runners and four pairs of heeled boots?

Obvs not.

And remember that you're gonna be lugging all this stuff around with you so if you don't mind carrying your entire wardrobe on your back, go for it. 

5. MIX WTH EVERYONE

This is your time to be whoever you want to be, approach anyone you want and not having to worry about seeing them again.

The world is full of interesting people and you – go forth and meet them.

And think of all the funny stories you'll have to tell your mates in the pub when you're back not to mention the KILLER Instagram feed that will have everyone frothing at the mouth with jealousy.

Now we're off to buy some tickets…

Feature image credit: solofemaletravel/Instagram

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Anyone getting ready to get married knows that picking where to go on the hen party is important.

It needs to be cheap, have a selection of bars and restaurants, good weather and a party buzz.

Can you guess where the top destinations are?

Mecca Bingo ranked them and the first is…the gorgeous city of Prague. 

1. Prague

The Czech capital is good for nights out and cheap food, with the average price of a meal around a fiver. 

It has an enormous 620 bars and clubs, making it an excellent night out. 

You could have a spa weekend and choose from one of Prague’s 161 establishments.

2. Barcelona 

The Spanish city is good for sunny weather, relaxing spas a there is also a beach nearby.

With 531 bars and clubs, and the average price of a bottle of wine is just five quid, so it’s also a great night out.

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3. London

It is chock-a-block with bars, clubs, and restaurants as well as many spas.

However, meals, taxis, and bottles of wine could really chip into your bank balance. 

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4. Madrid

This city is good for bars, clubs, and cheap taxi fares.

The city boasts 613 bars with cab prices starting at just three Euro and a good choice for sun-worshipping hens too.

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5. Budapest

This Hungarian city is great for cheap food and alcohol, with the average cost of a bottle of wine just five quid and main meals around the same.

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6. Sofia

This Bulgarian city is home to outrageously cheap taxis and eating out is affordable also.

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7. Berlin

The German city is good for cheap booze and nights out.

Berlin has 515 clubs – what more could you want?

 

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Is it just us, or does anyone else feel like winter is here to stay?

Below average temperatures and cloudy skies have us pining for beer gardens, BBQs and long summer evenings, but alas, it looks like it'll be a while yet before the sun makes its annual appearance on Irish shores. 

But why wait? There are plenty of sunny holiday destinations just waiting to be explored this Spring, and with so many Bank Holidays coming up over the next few months, you've no excuse. 

To help you decide, we've put together a list of the best last-minute spots –  perfect for topping up your tan before summer officially begins. 

Sicily, Italy 

Rising temperatures, celebrations, and delicious food make Easter is one of the best times to visit Sicily.

With daytime highs of 18°C, you'll get a well-needed does of Vitamin D without feeling like you've been burnt alive.

What's more, each town celebrates the religious occasion with its own traditions and processions, so you'll get an authentic look into Sicilian culture.

Tenerife, The Canary Islands

With the mercury rising to the early twenties, and miles upon miles of sandy beaches, Tenerife is pretty much a sun worshipper's paradise.

Sure, it's nothing compared to the highs experienced in July or August, but unless you're in potion to cough up for flights to the Caribbean, it's probably the best you're going to get for this time of year.

The island has something for every type of holiday maker so make sure to choose your location wisely.

Those in search of a party atmosphere should head to the resorts of Playa de Las Americas or Los Cristanos, while those looking for something more relaxed should try Los Gigantes or Puerto Santiago.

Faro, Portugal 

Located in the heart of the Algarve, Fargo is often overlooked by tourists who instead opt to spend their holidays in the neighbouring towns.

History and culture are two of the city's biggest draws, and its position makes it a great central base from which to explore the rest of the Algarve.

With temperature once again hitting the early twenties, this picturesque little city is the ideal destination for a relaxing couples break or a well-deserved chill-out trip with the girls.

St. Paul's Bay, Malta 

During the day, Easter sun-seekers can enjoy highs of 20°C at the Golden Sands Beach, before spending the evening relaxing at one of town's glamorous bars and restaurants.

What's more, the Maltese resort also caters for the adventurous traveller, with scuba diving, snorkelling and water sport activities.

Heraklion, Crete

A prt city and the capital of the Greek island Crete, Heraklion (also called Iraklio) offers holiday-makers the perfect balance.

City vibes, seaside views, and a bustling nightlife – what more could you want?

Temperatures typically peak in the late teens or high twenties in March and April.

 

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Look, we'll lay it on the line here  – Vienna has a reputation for being a bit… well… uptight.

As European destinations go, it's not quite up there with the likes of Berlin, Madrid or Prague, and yet as cities go, it is easily one of the most captivating and breathtaking on the continent.

Chock-full of stunning parks, awe-inspiring architecture and some of the most decadent dining experiences you can imagine, Vienna is a cultural dream.

Austria's capital city straddles the traditional and the modern with an ease not seen in every major city, and can ultimately provide any tourist with both a glimpse into the past and a glance into the future.

And here are 5 hidden gems if the capital city is next on your to-do list.

Beach in the City

It's not often you get to experience beach life in a landlocked country, but Austria manages it.

Along the Danube Canal, tourists visiting Vienna can get their chill on in a deckchair on the sandy beaches which run along the city's canal.

Most people just happen upon the area, but those in the know are a little more savvy.

Kolar

If flatbreads float your boat, you have got to check out Kolar while exploring the city.

Famed for their delicious (and inexpensive) fladenbrote, excellent service, and chill atmosphere, this restaurant is an absolute must.

(Oh, and be sure to check out their Nutella version!)

Kleeblattgasse 5, 1010 Wien, Austria

Downstairs Cocktail Bar

Located just off Mariahilferstrasse – one of the city's main shopping thoroughfares – Downstairs is a cosy bar which sells some of the best cocktails in the city.

Unlike other cocktail bars where a smart dress code is a given, Downstairs is super chill, and the perfect place to grab a few cocktails and kick back, or get competitive over a few games of pool.

And with some cocktails coming in at just €4.70, it's definitely one to keep in mind.

Theobaldgasse 15, 1060 Vienna, Austria

Sigmund Freud Museum

Unlike other museums in the capital, a trip through the Freud's home and place of work makes for a particular intimate experience.

Considered the father of psychoanalysis, the small apartment allows the visitor more than a passing peek into the environment where the famous physician lived and worked.

From personal effects to official plaques, this museum combines the various aspects of Freud's life, and will definitely make an impact.

 

Прикоснуться к источнику #psychologyst #freud #sigmundfreudmuseum

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Berggasse 19, Vienna 1090, Austria

Vienna State Opera

OK, the opera is hardly a hidden gem of Vienna, but the uber-reasonable price at which you can get tickets for some of the world's best-known operas definitely is!

While many tourists might assume they'd have to pay an arm and a leg for a night at the Vienna State Opera in the heart of the city, you can actually get tickets for some shows for as little as… wait for it… €10.

Definitely something to look into when tapping into the cultural side of things!

 

#viennaopera vs #bolshoitheatre впечатляющая #травиата

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Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria

 

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Backpacking around Thailand sounds cool and exciting, right?

Asia never really appealed to me because it was so far away and the culture is so different to what I'm used to – but I've realised they should've been the reasons why I wanted to go.

My boyfriend had travelled around the country for three months last year so he was the perfect travel companion – also, he took care of all the boring booking so I had more time to drink Margaritas. 

Right, if you have a spare two weeks, are cash-strapped and have a desire to go on an adventure, then read on…

Before we begin, these are some of the essential things to pack:

Sunscreen (It's HOT)

Mosquito spray (I was eaten alive)

Flip-flops – easy to shower in and throw on/off because many restaurants and hostels expect you to be barefoot. 

You will also need vaccinations if you haven't gotten them – I got typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, tetnus. 

Change your money from Euro to Baht.

Before our flight, we had only booked a hostel with a private room for one night because we knew we'd be jet-lagged – so don't plan too much. 

Where to stay

Hostels all the way.

They are cheap AF – like 250 upwards Baht a night (around 7 Euro). 

Obviously, make sure they come with air-con or fans included. 

The best place we stayed in Bangkok was Pop Art Hostel run by Luca, a cool Italian guy. It's central, bright, clean and we meet other backpackers there in the communal rooms.

You can sit outside, get some local beers from the shop right next door – it's perfect. 

We stayed in hostels in Pak Chong and the coastal province of Krabi too. 

We later took a boat to the island of Railay where it was a bit more touristy.

We stayed in Rapala Rockwood Resort which cost a tenner for a room and a communal shower.

We also spent a night in Railay Viewpoint Resort with was 14 quid a night and came with a pool.

The cutest place we spent two nights was in Koh Lanta. 

They were rows of actual mini huts with a huge double bed and private bathroom and the cutest porch with chairs and a hammock.

It was near the beach where we had an evening swim and pubs/restaurants were a few minutes away.

It came with breakfast and set us back 8 quid a night – like C'MON. 

We booked everything online the day before – it was sooo easy.

Food

While you're in Thailand, eat the local food.

Not only is DIRT CHEAP (like 1.50 for a meal) but it tastes unreal.

Who knew fried rice and vegetables could be so delicious?

We are vegetarian so no meat for us, which helped lower the risk of food poisoning. 

Ethos restaurant is kinda hidden but such good food and massive portions.

For snacks, we ate sticks of pineapple from street stalls (my boyfriend drank, no joke, four fruit shakes a day at the stalls).

It's easy to eat cheap in Bangkok, but more touristy places like Railay can be a bit pricier and less local. 

Be careful of water there are 7-Elevens on every corner so no excuse not to stock up on bottled water.

I also didn't try any scorpions etc but people we met in one of our hostels did and they were fans. 

The best Pad Thai is in a place called Thipsamai in Bangkok, there's always a queue but they stay open until 2am – and when you eat it you'll know why it's in such demand. 

Transport

First off, you've gotta get a few tuk-tuks.

You can haggle and get them for quite cheap and it's so fun to be whisked around the Bangkok traffic in one. 

If you're getting taxis ALWAYS ask for one with a meter so they can't charge you tourist prices. 

For a 15-minute drive, it was less than two Euro for us. 

Motorbike

If you have a driving license, you can rent a motorbike (well, moped) there.

My boyfriend drove so it was fine – bit f*cking scary the first time we're speeding along the main roads.

By day three, I was as relaxed as the locals…a family of four with a toddler went by us on a bike one day.

Train

We got the train from Bangkok to Pak Chong – it was four hours of gorgeous scenery and no Wi-fi.

Prices were around four quid one way – there are fans and people walking up and down selling soft drinks and bags of rice, of which we devoured.

Night bus

This goes from Bangkok to the coast, for everyone who wants to get to the islands.

It leaves at 7pm and we got to Railay around 10am the next day.

It's not the comfiest (obviously, we slept on recliner chairs) and they put on The Shallows, which was an odd choice for a group of travellers going to the beach for the weekend. 

We stopped off for food and drink at around midnight and all in all, it was a long trek but worth it when we arrived at the island.

We got the day bus back to Bangkok and I wouldn't recommend it.

We chose it because we wanted another night in Koh Lanta but we spent our last full day – 12 hours – on a bus…it wasn't fun. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Things to do

Temples 

There are millions of temples across Thailand, all of which expect you to be covered up clothes-wise just FYI.

However, the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi is special and is famous for its 1,260 steps to the top, which are ''fun'' to climb.

DO NOT attempt this if you're in any way unfit because I died several times on the way up.

Khao Yai National Park

It was seven Euro entrance fee and then we biked through it, saw waterfalls and slept in a tent next to a river – a dream come true for anyone who loves nature.

That isn't me, it's more my boyfriend so it was tough, but worth it because we saw monkeys, gibbons, porcupines, deer. 

We also did many hikes as well as the Night Safari where we went around the park after dark with rangers to see if we could see any wildlife at night.

We rented the tent, sleeping bag and pillow there and it was super cheap.

P.s A deer broke into our tent because my boyfriend stupidly left peanuts in there so don't have any food on you. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Beaches

Thailand has some stunning beaches – and the sea is the perfect temperature for a swim. 

We spent the weekend on the island of Railay where we just swam in the sparkling blue sea and sunbathed. 

The beaches were busy enough but it was absolutely stunning. 

In Koh Lanta and Krabi we biked around different beaches and just swam lazily in the sea for hours – it was perfect (especially after the nights spent on a bus and in the jungle).

For a more touristy vibe, Ao Nang beach in Krabi is the place to be.

Massage

When you're in Thailand, you need to get at least one massage.

We had three – two full body ones and one just neck, back, and shoulders.

Be warned – the therapists are not gentle but you will feel a million dollars after. 

An hour costs about five quid. 

Nightlife

Bangkok is obviously mad with bars and restaurants and the insane Khaosan road, which everyone should visit.

We went onto the adjoining road and got beers and cocktails in one of the many bars.

Try the local beer – Chang, Leo or Singa and there's always cocktail deals everywhere.

It was a relaxed holiday so we did a few bars, live music and then some nights we had drinks with other backpackers we met.

All in all, we spent 300 Euro each in 12 days backpacking – not bad, right?

So, book those flights and pack your bags because a holiday in Thailand is something you will never regret. 

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We have been bitten by the wanderlust bug and have been itching to get away from gloomy Ireland for far too long.

We are forever checking airline prices, swooning over travel blogger’s Instagrams and wishing we could just drop everything, grab our passports and abandon the dull realities of everyday life.

There are too many places we want to go to but one at the very top of our list is Iceland.

The Irish Globetrotter aka Niamh McDonnell sat down with us to share her words of wisdom after a recent trip to Iceland.

Niamh headed to Iceland for three full days and managed to squeeze everything and anything into her quick getaway.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Flights:

“We flew into Reykjavik on Thursday afternoon with Icelandair, who are so lovely to fly with. The two-hour flight was a breeze, especially because of the TVs.”

The flight cost €120. Niamh recommends booking your flights at least three months in advance to get the best deal.

Accommodation:

Airbnb is extremely popular over in Iceland so you’ll have a much easier time finding somewhere to stay if you rent an apartment as opposed to staying in a hotel. Niamh and her pals found an apartment that slept up to six people.

The apartment cost €625 between their gang, which works out just at a little over €100 each.

“Staying near the main strip will make your trip a lot easier, as that’s where all the bars, pubs, restaurants and shops are. Staying close by will save you a lot of hassle, especially on nights out.”

The other great thing about renting an apartment is having a kitchen to rustle up meals throughout the day. “The food in Iceland isn’t the best and is extremely overpriced, so making breakfast and sandwiches to snack on during tours was a huge help financially,” Niamh shared.

Night Life:

Speaking of nights out, like every Irish person on holidays, Niamh ended up going to an Irish pub during her trip to Iceland. She said the best thing about the Irish bars is the mix of people you unexpectedly meet there.

“There were international students and Norwegian sailors drinking in one Irish bar, and the atmosphere was so different.”

“Dubliners is a great spot, as is the Drunken Rabbit, where you can order food from the fish and chips next door whilst you’re enjoying a pint.”

"Appy Hour is a life-saving app that will show you all the local drink offers, which will be a huge help to you as Iceland can be super pricey,” Niamh shared.

Sightseeing:

“We booked our tours with Reykjavik Excursions for €330. This price included the Northern Lights tour, pick up at the airport, Blue Lagoon entrance and drinks, Golden Circle tour, a glacier tour and even pick up on our last day.”

“Head to the Blue Lagoon in the early evening because you will experience it during daylight and as the sun sets.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The main reason she headed to Iceland was to see the Northern Lights, so it’s safe to say Niamh was gutted when the weather meddled with her plans.

“We were scheduled to go see the Northern Lights on Friday evening, but the tour company cancelled the trip because of the weather.”

September and October are supposed to be the best months to go, but the weather wasn’t on Niamh’s side. It was extremely overcast and cloudly on the second night they tried to see the lights.

Despite the Northern Lights disappointment, Niamh adored seeing the glaciers and waterfalls Iceland is so famously known for.

“We went on a four-hour tour to see glaciers and waterfalls, which was an experience I’ll never forget,” Niamh said.

“The only thing is the weather is extreme. There was one point where I had to get down on my hunkers because the wind was so harsh, so dress warmly.”

Forget about your Nike runners and OOTD Instagram snaps, because all you want to wear in Iceland are a pair of boots and about 50 layers.

Flights: €120

Accommodation: €125

Spending money: €350

Sightseeing/tours: €330

Total: €925

Niamh experienced all Iceland has to offer and more for less than €1000 so if you’ll need us we’ll be booking our flights immediately.

 

 

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Oh the weather outside is frightful! And we must admit we really want to jet away.

Travel bans and Covid restrictions have seriously put a damper on our travel plans over the last two years, making our wanderlust greater than ever! To help you figure out where your post-pandemic sunny getaway should be, we composed this ultimate list based on your stars.

Aquarius (January 20- February 19)

The open-minded Aquarius loves being pushed out of their comfort zone and experience life different to their own. Pick somewhere off the beaten track for your next big adventure like Japan. Immersing yourself in a unique culture and history is ideal for Aquarius! 

Pisces (February 19- March 20)

Pieces are all about experiencing multiple things at once- they want it all and they want it now! South America is calling for you Pieces, embrace the landscapes and friendly locals of Peru. 

Aries (March 20- April 19)

A creature of habit, Aries find one spot they love and stick to it- try something different and head to USA this year. With so many different climates and cultures in the one country, America has tons to offer the Aries looking to expand their travels. 

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Lovers of aesthetic beauty and great food, Thailand is the destination of choice for Taurus. a tactile sign, they'll love the stunning scenery, smells and sounds of this bustling destination. 

Gemini (May 21-June 19)

Ever the adventurer, Gemini's love pushing the boundaries and uncovering the hidden gems of new countries. Try somewhere completely mad like Singapore and embrace the intelligence of the East. 

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Creative, emotional and artistic, Italy is the holiday of choice for Cancer. They'll love the art and architecture of Italy's museums and churches… also did someone say pizza? 

Leo (July 23- August 22)

The confident and easy-going Leo's are as perfect fit for a trip down under! Take a chance and head to Oz — from golden sunny beaches to the endless deserts, Australia has more than enough room for a Leo to prowl. 

Virgo (August 23- September 22)

The logical and curious Virgo is bound for Germany. Get lost in the hustle and bustle of Berlin or embrace the nature of the Black Forest, Germany is the ultimate place for our hyper-organised Virgo to chillax. 

Libra (September 23- October 22)

A lover of balance, a Libra needs a little bit of everything to be fully refreshed after a get-away. Treat yourself with a trip to the Maldives. Libra's will just love the laid-back vibes and sunny beaches of the islands! 

Scorpio (October 23- November 21)

The complicated and enigmatic Scorpios love finding somewhere that's as complicated as themselves. Try somewhere away from the crowds for the ultimate get away. Try Romania and be the first of your friends to talk about it! 

Sagittarius (November 22- December 21)

The adventurous Sagittarian will absolutely love India. A combination of physical beauty and deeply enriching philosophies will both challenge and excite a Sagittarius. 

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

The disciplined and self-contained Capricorn is destined for China. The restrained nature and complex history of China is right up a Capricorn's ally! 

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If you love haunted houses, spooky places with f*cked up histories, listen up.

As the holiday for thrills and chills are almost upon us, ditch the local creepy haunt and stick these on your bucket list.

For a real scare, Holiday Guru has hooked us up with some of the most terrifyingly haunted places on the planet. 

1. Island of the Dolls, Mexico

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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First up is one you might be familiar with, chilling on a small island outside Mexico City is probably one of the most freakish tributes to a young girl.

A man named Don Juliano Santana Barrera was the caretaker and lone inhabitant of the island, and legend tells that he found a young girl's body who had drowned in the canals

In the 1950s, he hung her doll to a tree to remember her little life, and supposedly many believe the man was then possessed by the girl's spirit – JUST, NOPE.

He began decorating the place with more and more dolls, turning it into a bizarre wonderland of cracked, dirty toys.

If you want to see this little hellish island, grab a boat and get ready to see one of the weirdest collections of dolls in the world.

2. Poveglia, Venice

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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If creepy dolls ain't your thing, why not try the bubonic plague?

This island in the Venetian lagoon was home to imprisoned people suffering from the disease in the late 18th century, which means there are thousands of pissed off souls lurking here.

Get out your ghostbuster gear, as the island also hosted a mental asylum in 1922, and the doctors were reportedly d*cks, as they tortured patients.

The story goes that they would perform crude lobotomies and using hammers and drills as surgical instruments. – which is probably why the island is said to have a morbid atmosphere.

Tourists have reported screams and if your travels aren't entertaining enough, why not risk becoming possessed, as some people say visitors to the island have been – joyous. 

3. Aokigahara, Japan

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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At the base of Mount Fuji, forget the compass as the paranormal activity is rife. 

Aokigahara, is better known as Japan's ‘suicide forest’. The forest has sadly become known as the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. 

The forest’s malevolent energies are said to swallow up unfortunate visitors and the atmosphere is unlike anywhere else.

And, if you do frequent the forest, just don't make a Youtube video about it – *cough, cough*

4. Centralia – Pennsylvania Ghost Town

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Don't fall for the pretty colours in the image, this used to be a high way and there's a very good reason why nature is reclaiming this city.

The town of Centralia, Pennsylvania is a modern-day ghost town because they suffered a coal mine fire in 1962 – which is still burning today.

It's a real-life horror story as people began to fall ill as lethal levels of carbon monoxide billowed towards the surface.

Sinkholes literally appear in people’s back gardens – one of which nearly killed one young boy. Fewer than 10 people live here today.

While the town isn’t necessarily haunted, it does get an influx of curious, seek-thrilling tourists around Halloween. 

5. The witches of Salem, Massachusetts

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In the late 17th-century, the children of Salem Village, Massachusetts experienced something rather baffling. Cue the young ladies going into fits, making strange noises, throwing objects and contorting their bodies.

Instead of looking for a logical explanation, witchcraft was the obvious cause.

Hysteria erupted which led to the infamous Salem Witch Trials when over a dozen people were executed.

The judges involved in the trials and future sheriffs died under mysterious circumstances and today, strange noises and mysterious floating lights have been reported at the local cemetery. 

6. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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You couldn't pay me enough money to visit this place. Why I hear you scream? – Well, only controlled visits at night for ghost tours are allowed – which sends alarm bells ringing.

Would you actually risk being abused? Visitors often leave with bruises, scratches, bite marks and burns and fainting is a regular occurrence – that's some serious head rush.

But why is this place so locked with a dark aura? Well, it is said that the hundreds-year-old graveyard is protected by the ghost of George McKenzie, a ruthless judge who imprisoned and starved over 1,000 Scottish Presbyterians in the 1600s – So don't f*ck with him.

7. Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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This tale involves one evil husband and the male ego. Lady Isabella Shaw was unfortunately wed to James Shaw and couldn't produce a male heir – it's your swimmers, mate. 

When she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, James snatched the child and locked Lady Shaw in the room, leaving her to stave.

In a bid to escape, some say she fell from the window, others say she was pushed – either way, it's a grim way to die.

She has remained in the hotel ever since, gently knocking on bedroom doors and walking the corridors, looking for her child. Today, you can lap up luxury in the hotel and visit the “Ghost Room”.

8. Lawang Sewu Semarang, Indonesia

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A truly spooky place, Lawang Sewu translates to “a thousand doors”.

During WWII, the Japanese used its basement to imprison, torture and kill Indonesian nationalists and Dutch colonials.

Among the ghostly residents, there's one badass b*tch, a Dutch woman who supposedly committed suicide inside as well as the beheaded rebels who were killed by the Japanese.

 9. Château de Brissac, France

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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You really couldn't get more cliche than this: in 1477, Lady Charlotte de Breze was caught doing the dirty on her husband with Jacques de Breze. 

In a fit of rage, her husband murdered her and since the incident, guests have reported seeing the ghost through the window of the tower room of the castle’s chapel, with holes where her nose and mouth should be.

Her moans are said to be heard throughout the chateau early in the morning.

10. Bhangarh Fort, India

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Last but not least, we meet an abandoned 17th-century fort, known as one of the most haunted places in India. So much so, tourists and locals under government orders are forbidden to enter the fort after the sun sets. 

As the tale goes, a magician, Singhia fell in love with the beautiful Princess Ratnavati. The tantrik attempted to use magic to win her over, but the Princess learned of his plan and sentenced him to death. Before Singhia died, he cursed the fort's residents to die and for the surrounding houses to remain roofless forever.

Nowadays, the surrounding village is abandoned and Bhangarh Fort attracts plenty of curious tourists who have reported hearing the screams of ghosts and seeing strange lights. 

You couldn't offer me enough to get me to willingly go to any of these places.

But if you're brave, adventurous and curious, these are a definite in the travel plans, but remember – BE RESPECTFUL.

If restrictions exist, they're for your own safety – don't be that person.

 

Feature image credit: Josh Perrett/Instagram

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I took a trip to Edinburgh for the first time a couple of years ago, and was absolutely blown away by how amazing it was. 

(I've been back twice since). 

It is a city so rich in culture and beauty, combined with friendly people, good food and great fun at every turn. 

The city is buzzing with excitement, and countless things to see and do – from dungeons to castles and everything in between.

Here are the experiences in the Scottish capital that you cannot afford to miss: 

1. Dinner at The Witchery

This place is not exactly somewhere you would dine on a budget, because it is pretty fancy – but you seriously need to have an evening out for yourself and the gals here. The Witchery by the Castle has developed a world-wide reputation for its exceptional dining experience, showcasing the very best of Scotland's produce in the most magical of settings.

Now in its fourth decade, the Witchery is a Scottish dining landmark, much loved by loyal locals, its celebrity fans and visitors to the city alike. Alongside the Scottish seafood, beef, lamb and game you'd expect to find, you'll also see the Witchery's legendary Angus beef steak tartare, briny-fresh seafood platters, wild game and even some haggis featuring on the menu.

 

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2. Take in the scenery at Linlithgow Palace

Explore the magnificent ruins of the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots with a trip to Linlithgow Palace! The royal retreat was built and added to over two centuries by the Stewart kings, resulting in a superb Renaissance residence. 

High towers look out over lush greenery and a loch brimming with wildfowl, which is today a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Several monarchs were born in this royal ‘pleasure palace’, surrounded by its peaceful gardens and grounds. 

Take a jaunt around the grounds of the Palace, enjoy the lovely gift shop and explore the quaint village of Linlithgow – which is filled with cosy pubs and fun little boutiques. 

3. Experience The Real Mary King's Close

Beneath the City Chambers on the Royal Mile lies Edinburgh's deepest secret, a warren of hidden streets where real people lived, worked and died between the 17th and the 19th centuries.

The Real Mary King’s Close is a warren of underground streets and spaces, where, back in the 1600’s, Mary King’s Close and neighbouring Closes were at the heart of Edinburgh’s busiest and most vibrant streets. Once open to the skies and bustling with traders selling their wares to the Old Town’s residents, discover why would this street find itself underground 400 years later?

For years, the hidden Closes of Old Town Edinburgh have been shrouded in myths and mysteries. With a costumed character tour guide based on a one time resident, your group will explore this underground site, hearing these fascinating stories

4. Have Afternoon Tea in The Signet Library

If you manage to find yourself in Edinburgh on a weekend away with the gals then head to The Signet Library for the most wonderful afternoon tea in Scotland. You’ll discover the finest seasonal ingredients in sandwiches, delectable savouries and decadent cakes – all served on bespoke silver tea stands – so fancy.

Surrounded by vintage books and beautiful artwork, you will find yourself in ambience like no other – prepare to sit back, relax, and indulge. 

 

A rainy day in Edinburgh meant high tea at the Signet Library….

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5. Explore at Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle is one of the most exciting historic sites in Western Europe, and not even torrential rain can dampen the experience (my god, did it bucket down!)

Set in the heart of Scotland's dynamic capital city, this most famous of Scottish castles has a complex building history. The oldest part, St Margaret's Chapel, dates from the 12th century; the Great Hall was erected by James IV around 1510; the Half Moon Battery by the Regent Morton in the late 16th century; and the Scottish National War Memorial after the First World War.

The castle houses the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, the famous 15th century gun Mons Meg, the One O' Clock Gun and the National War Museum of Scotland.

 

Glorious sunshine at the castle tonight. Summer is that you? #sunshine #edinburgh #scotland #thisisedinburgh #sunshine #summer

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6. Eat haggis (yes, really!) 

I know what you're thinking, but just hear me out for a second. When one of my lovely pals suggested that I try the Scottish delicacy of 'haggis, neeps and tatties,' I initially was disgusted, at the sheer idea of it.

However, I gave in, and decided to give the sheep stomach a whirl, and it was DELICIOUS. The meal was served like a small cottage pie of sorts, and was genuinely so tasty. Arcade Bar is the spot to try this famous dish – you won't regret it! 

 

Lunch with mam

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Do you brace yourself every time you use your card in Dublin? Do you mumble excuses at the cashier when it’s declined?

I’ve taken to pre-emptively warning the staff at Zara that my card may not work. Dublin is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in, and we’re feeling it this summer.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a few tips on how to make the most of your Irish summer on a tight  budget.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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1. Get familiar with the best-for-your-euro food options around the city centre

Looking for a burger? WOW Burger does a mini burger for €4.95 that ain’t so mini. Carluccio’s on Dawson Street does a half box of delicious pasta at lunchtime for less than 4 quid.

Mongolian BBQ in Temple Bar does an enormous Lunch Bowl for €7.90 that will do as your main meal for the day.

If you need to eat out, look around and see where a fiver lunch or a tenner dinner is available- be strict with yourself.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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2. Choose culture for dates

The National Museums of Ireland are all free to visit and are simply gorgeous. The Archaeology Museum is on Kildare Street and the Museum of Decorative Arts and History is just beside the Museum stop on the red Luas line.

The Natural History Museum (think weirdly interesting stuffed animals) is on Merrion Street and is a fab place for a date or a stroll at lunch. Spend your free afternoons this summer, learning about Dublin for free.  

The National Gallery of Ireland also has breathtaking art with collections from icons like Caravaggio, Jack B Yeats, Mantegna,Titian, Monet and Picasso.

Paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photography, archival and bibliographical material all feature, as well as furniture. The inside of the building itself is worth a look for the beautiful design.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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3. Buy a good raincoat NOW

It may sound expensive, but if you make an initial investment, it will stand to you. Dublin is WET during the summer.

If you don’t have a waterproof jacket that a) has a hood and b) fits into your bag, you WILL accumulate several sh*t umbrellas over the coming months.

Not only is this a financial drain but its also the most unsustainable way to keep yourself dry this summer. Buy yourself a raincoat that will last and both your pocket AND the environment will thank you come September.

4. Drink off-peak

We don’t mean drink on your lunch break or have a liquid breakfast. We mean slightly earlier in the day or midweek.

Many places around town will have a two-for-one deal on cocktails (Fade Street Social, Pygmalion, Capitol Bar, Xico) or cheap pints (Dicey’s Garden) during the week or early in the day.

Have a scout and plan your drinks based on the deals- it will be worth the extra bit of research when you have more cash leftover at the end of the week.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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5.  Avoid the following high street stores like the plague:

  • Zara
  • Penney’s
  • H&M
  • Pull and Bear
  • River Island

Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t window shop or go in for a ‘quick look’. You WILL end up spending money. As usual, you will come across the most gorgeous clothes when you have the lowest funds available.

If your route home passes by these shops, choose another. An extra five minutes walk may save you money in the long-term. It's also beneficial for the environment to avoid these stores full stop…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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6. Look for half-price stickers

Once you get into the ‘reduced’ or ‘half price’ mindset, you'll be flying it. Food shops such as Marks & Spencer and Avoca have a system where they cut the price of many of their products (such as ready-made meals) at the end of the week.

Keep your eyes peeled for such stickers so you can eat well on a budget.

7. Shop Charity

If you take a turn up George’s Street, you will be met by an abundance of charity shop options.

St Vincent’s, Enable Ireland and Oxfam are all a stone’s throw from each other, so you are bound to find something.

The same can be said for the Aungier Street/ Camden Street area which is home to shops like Age Action, Gorta and the Dublin Simon Community Shop.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Charity shopping is a great way to save money, not to mention a greener way to shop for clothes and shoes.

Keep an eye out for the vintage racks in these shops where you might find some real treasures.

An unforgettable Dublin summer isn't impossible to reach for. If you carry out the right research and plan your budget, you can make the most out of this fun city without going into massive debt.

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