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Dublin

Published in Destinations

(Photography by Steven Pratt- Instagram)
Overview

You've probably heard that Guinness tastes better in Dublin (fresh from the factory), but what you may not know is that Dublin is a perfect destination for the whole family. No, we're not suggesting you let the kiddies drink a pint. Instead, take them to the Dublin Zoo, to feed the ducks in Stephen's Green or on a picnic in Phoenix Park. Scholars enjoy walking in the literary footsteps of such writers as Yeats and Joyce, while discerning shoppers have their pick of designer boutiques.
Best Time to Visit

Dublin is delightful year round with many Irish festivals year round, especially St Patrick's day in March, Although the weather is best in summer.
Dublin
 Transportation
Getting around the Dublin area is easy. Jump on the coastal train, the DART, to discover the beautiful towns and villages dotted along the coast, or use the extensive public bus network or the Luas tram system to get you out to the suburbs too as well as bicycle hire throughout the city! If you are here for a few days then the best value across bus and rail options is the Leap Visitor Card.
Dublin Weather
December to February are the coldest months, with an average low of 45°F (7°C) and July is the hottest month, with an average high of 66 °F (19 °C).

Know Before Visiting
Although Dublin is an amazing city, don’t spend all your time there, Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and to really see Ireland you need to leave the City, go see the spectacular scenery of the Irish coasts.

Language
Mainly English, although you might hear a bit of Irish.
Electric
Type G (three-prong plug)

Currency
Euro (€)
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Things to do
Guinness Storehouse

What better place to begin your Dublin adventure than the city's number one attraction, the Guinness Storehouse. Located in the heart of the St James’s Gate Brewery and home to the black stuff since 1759, this massive seven-storey building, a former Guinness fermentation plant, has been remodelled into the shape of a giant pint of Guinness. A visit will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about this world famous beer. The highlight for many visitors is the Gravity Bar where they receive a complimentary pint of Guinness and a chance to relax and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree views across Dublin City.

(Photography by Steven Pratt- Instagram)
Opening Times: Daily 09:30-17:00 (Sep-Jun) 09:30-19:00 (Jul-Aug)
Admission Fees: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: St James's Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8, Ireland
Website: Click Here
Dublin Zoo
See many rare and exotic animals living and roaming in a wide variety of natural habitats at Dublin Zoo. Wander through the African Savannah and gaze at the giraffes, zebras, scimitar oryx and ostrich, then head to the Kaziranga Forest to see the magnificent herd of Asian elephants that call this beautiful place home.

Opening Times: Daily 09:30-4:30 (Mar-sep closes at 18:00)
Admission Fees: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Phoenix Park, Dublin 8, Ireland
Website: Click Here

Trinity College Library
Dublin’s Trinity College Library isn’t only the biggest library in Ireland but one of the most eye catching in the world. With over 5 million printed volumes reflecting more than 400 years of academic development. The most famous of its manuscripts, the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. It's 680 pages of vellum contain the Latin texts of the Four Gospels.

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 09:30-17:00 (May-Sep) and 12:00-16:30 (Oct-Apr)
Admission Fees: Yes (for the book of tells and tours)
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: College Street, Dublin 2
Website: Click Here

Temple Bar
Located on the south bank of the River Liffey in central Dublin, Unlike other parts of Dublin's city centre, it is promoted as Dublin's cultural quarter and has a lively nightlife that is popular with tourists. Popular venues include The Palace Bar, The Temple Bar Pub, Oliver St. John Gogarty's and The Auld Dubliner (fine boys bar).

(Photography by Steven Pratt- Instagram)
Opening Times: 24/7
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes (but cobblestone roads)
Address: Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland

National Botanic Gardens
Located on the south bank of the Tolka River, the National Botanic Gardens is a great place to have a picnic and explore the exquisite gardens.

Opening Times: 9:00-17:00
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland
Website: Click Here

The National Gallery of Ireland
Today the National Gallery of Ireland's collection includes over 2,500 paintings and some 10,000 other works in different media including watercolours, drawings, prints and sculpture. The gallery's highlights include works by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 09:15-17:30, Thurs 9:15-20:30 and Sun 11:00-17:30
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Merrion Square West, Dublin 2, Ireland
Website: Click Here

Croke Park
Gaelic football and hurling at Croke Park are an unusual and essential experience for those with even a modest interest in sport. On match days, make noise on the Hill 16 terrace cheering on the sky blues of Dublin.

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 0930-1700, Sun 1030-1700 (Jan-May and Sep-Dec); Mon-Sat 0930-1800, Sun 1030-1700 (Jun-Aug).
Admission Fees: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Jones Road, Dublin, Dublin 3
Website: Click Here

Kilmainham Gaol
A former prison that housed the leaders of failed uprisings against the British from the 1780s to the 1920s, this museum gives a detailed insight into Ireland’s political history and includes the site of the execution of 14 members of the Easter Rising in 1916. The history of the prison itself is also explored. Access is by guided tour only.

Opening Hours: Daily 0930-1730.
Admission Fees: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Inchicore Road, Dublin, Dublin 8
Website: Click Here

Ha'penny Bridge
The Ha'penny Bridge, known later for a time as the Penny Ha'penny Bridge, and officially the Liffey Bridge, is a wonderful pedestrian bridge separating Dublin’s city centre and a popular love lock bridge.

(Photography by Steven Pratt- Instagram)
Opening Hours: 24/7
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Bachelors Walk, North City, Dublin, Ireland

Public transport
Bus, train (DART) and Luas (tram) from the main transport infrastructure in Dublin, though only the bus makes its way out to the airport.
The Luas is quick and modern, but best for commuting and short city-centre hops.
Dublin Bus is far more extensive and easy to use thanks to sign upgrades and the handy Dublin Bus app.
For travel to the coast, local train services via the DART are frequent and efficient.
Most public transport options don’t run late at night, so you need to make alternative arrangements after midnight.
You can pay for a bus, Luas, DART and suburban rail services using a Leap Card, available online or at 400 Payzone outlets across the city. You load the smartcard with money and the fare is deducted each time you travel, with daily and weekly caps and savings on cash fares. A Rambler card (which you can also load onto a Leap Card) allows five or 30 days of unlimited bus travel.

Taxis
Taxis sit on almost every street corner in Dublin. Well-established companies like Eight Twenty Cabs and NRC are safe bets, while the Hailo app is a popular option. A nightlife ‘rush hour’ at around 3 am invariably leads to long, expensive rides at weekends. Tips are typically in the 10% range.
*Uber is also available in and around Belfast and is a great alternative than Taxies. Click here for your first journey free.

Driving
While driving in the city is generally safe, rush hour traffic (0830-0930 and 1645-1800) can see aggressive driving. Dublin features a somewhat confusing one-way system, based on single-direction traffic along the quays. Outside the city centre though, driving is relaxing and comfortable.
The city’s ring road, the M50, has a camera-based toll that requires online payment within 24 hours.
Street parking is limited in the city centre. The city’s main car parks, with various hourly rates, are Arnotts, Middle Abbey Street, and Brown Thomas, Clarendon Street. For street parking, kerb side pay-and-display meters are standard.

Bicycle hire
While busy times of day can be less than pleasant for nervous riders, cycling is a great way to get around. Dublin Bikes offer a city-wide bike share scheme with lots of central hubs to collect and deposit bikes. 

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Budapest

Published in Destinations

 
Overview

Budapest, the bright capital of Hungary, bisected by the Danube river giving this one city two personalities. Buda built on a series of hills and known for its old town where as Pest is flat and busy with an assortment of bars, cafés and gourmet restaurants.
Best Time to Visit

Budapest is a year-round destination, though it fills with tourists in July and August. The most pleasant time of year to visit is May to June and September when temperatures remain warm but visitor numbers and hotel prices are significantly reduced. Although flights prices may be a little more expensive, the winter months can offer that magical dusting of snow upon the grandiose buildings, which can make this magnificent city even more magical.

Budapest
 Transportation
Budapest’s extensive transportation system is run by BKK (Link), Which offer a metro, tram, bus and rail service. All the lines connect together to make your transportation experience as simple as possible.
Budapest Weather
Hungary has a mild continental climate. There are four distinct seasons, with a very warm summer from June to August where temperatures can rise to as high as 35°C (95°F). Spring and autumn are mild, while winters are very cold, as low as -10°C (14°F), although expert some snow during your winter city break.

Know Before Visiting
Although Budapest is the capital of Hungary there can be quite a language barrier, as English isn’t as widely spoken as other European countries like Amsterdam. We would therefore advice to learn some basic Hungarian Phrases before you arrive to get the most out of Budapest. 

Language
Hungarian

Electric
C, E and F type plugs generally fit on Hungarian electricity sockets. 
Currency
Hungarian forint (HUF) 
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Belfast

Published in Destinations

 
Overview

Belfast, the historic capital of Northern Ireland, home to the RMS Titanic, Game of Thrones and the Ulster Fry, this rejuvenated city has a story to tell. Explore the many museums, murals, restaurants and true Irish bars for the ultimate city break.
Best Time to Visit

Belfast is brilliant year round with many festivals such as Culture Night in September, Feile an Phobail in August, St Patrick's day in March and the wintery Christmas market. Although the weather can get quite rainy and cold year round so pack an umbrella.
Belfast
Transportation
The Translink transport service offers Belfast an easy to navigate bus, train and coach service. Grab a Metro day ticket that will take you in and around the city for £3.90 (£3.40 after 9:30 am). Belfast is quite compact though so wear a comfortable pair of shoes and you could walk the famous streets.
Belfast Weather
December to February are the coldest months, with an average low of 45°F (7°C) and July is the hottest month, with an average high of 66 °F (19 °C).

Know Before Visiting
Belfast is a relatively new European city that offers some brilliant attractions but due to rules and regulations, a lot of bars, nightclubs, and shops close quite early so be sure to check closing times and Sunday opening hours.

Language
English

Electric
Type G (three-prong plug)

Currency
British Pound (£)
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Things to do
Titanic Belfast
Possibly the greatest museum in the whole of Ireland, the six-storey Titanic Belfast sits near the docks where the ‘unsinkable’ ship was built. The same height as its namesake – and designed suspiciously like an iceberg – this informative, interactive and entertaining museum takes visitors from conception and launch through to the eventual sinking and discovery of Belfast’s most infamous ship.
Opening Times: Daily 1000-1700 (Jan-Mar), daily 0900-1800 (Apr-May), daily 0900-1900 (Jun-Aug), 0900-1800 (Sep), daily 1000-1700 (Oct-Dec)
Admission Fees: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9EP
Website: Click Here

Belfast Castle
More Victorian mansion than traditional fortress, Belfast Castle combines Scottish baronial style with baroque features, and owes much of its popularity to its superb location on the lower slopes of Cave Hill. Offering the best possible panorama of the city. Try afternoon tea in its Cellar Restaurant.
Opening Times: Sun-Mon 0900-1800, Tues-Sat 0900-2230
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: No
Address: Antrim Rd, Belfast BT15 5GR
Website: Click Here

Crumlin Road Gaol
Popular with ex-inmates (so we’re told), the Crumlin Road Goal is a large Victorian prison that carries the cold chill of a condemned man. Hour-long tours revive its stories of semtex bombs, executions, unmarked graves and escapees, whilst allowing visitors to peek into cells and gawp at the gallows.
Opening Times: Daily 1000-1745
Admission Fees: Yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast BT14 6ST
Website: Click Here


Botanic Gardens
These lovely gardens, provide a wonderful respite from the University Quarter. Now a public park, its beautiful cast-iron and curvilinear glass Palm House remains the centrepiece – though it could do with a lick of paint. The Tropical Ravine looks derelict but is being renovated, while its rose garden, bowling green and walking routes leave plenty to peruse.
Opening Hours: Daily from 0730. Closing times vary throughout the year (see website).
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: College Park E, Belfast BT7 1LP
Website: Click Here

Ulster Museum
Expect to lose half a day at Northern Ireland’s national museum and art gallery. A veritable jackdaw’s nest of British, Irish and European paintings, local crafts and Irish history, its ground floor exhibition has a good overview of the Troubles.
Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 1000-1700
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB
Website: Click Here

 

Peace Walls
Rising to 7.6m (25ft) in height, the Peace Walls are a prison-like fence of concrete, corrugated steel and wire that separate nationalist and loyalist neighbourhoods. A psychical reminder of the division caused by The Troubles, tours take in the Falls and Shankill Roads and cover clash points as well as the murals that depict those lost in three decades of fighting. For historical context, visit on a black cab tour or with a guide, most of whom have experienced the Troubles first-hand.
Opening Hours: 0900-1800 (Peace Wall gates)
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: 15 Cupar Way, Belfast BT13


St George’s Market

Originally peddling poultry, butter and eggs in the late 1800s, a refit and reshuffle has turned this Victorian arcade into Belfast’s trendiest shopping destination. Now selling everything from fish to flamenco music, there are nearly 300 stalls to check out, with a variety market on Fridays, food and crafts being sold on Saturdays and antique stands on Sundays.
Opening Hours: Fri 0600-1400, Sat 0900-1500, Sun 1000-1600.
Admission Fees: No
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: 12-20 East Bridge Street, Belfast BT1 3NQ
Website: Click Here

SS Nomadic
SS Nomadic is the last remaining ship built by the White Star Line. This plucky tender, which took passengers to RMS Titanic from Cherbourg, has been fully restored and now relives its glory days in a dry dock.
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 1000-1700 (Oct-Mar); Mon-Sun 1000-1700 (Apr-Sep)
Admission Fees: yes
Wheelchair Friendly: no
Address: Hamilton Dock, Queens Rd, Belfast BT3 9DT
Website: Click Here

W5
Ireland’s Award Winning Science & Discovery Centre perfect for kids and With over 250 amazing interactive exhibits in four incredible exhibition areas, W5 provides a unique experience for visitors. In addition to permanent exhibits, W5 also presents a changing programme of large and small scale temporary exhibitions and events.
Opening Hours: mon-fri 1000-1700; sat 1000-1800 sun 1200-1800
Admission Fees: yes
Wheelchair Friendly: Yes
Address: The Odyssey, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ
Website: Click Here

Public transport
Transport in Belfast is efficient. The city has a good bus service (rather confusingly called The Metro) operated by Translink . The service runs approximately every 10 minutes throughout the day, and there is a less frequent night service.

You can buy single tickets or day passes directly from the driver. Alternatively, you can save money by loading trips onto a Smartlink Multi-Journey Card or by buying a dayLink card, which offers unlimited travel for one, five or 10 days. Weekly and monthly smartcards are also available. Smartcards are sold at Translink sales outlets throughout the city.
The Belfast Visitor Pass allows unlimited bus and rail travel for one, two or three consecutive days, as well as discounts on visitor attractions. You can buy it at the Belfast Welcome Centre. There are five bus stations scattered throughout the city; the main one is the Europa Bus Centre located at Glengall Street, off Great Victoria Street.

Taxis
In Belfast taxis operate from taxi ranks. One of the main taxi ranks in Belfast city centre is in front of City Hall, Adelaide Street. There are two types of Belfast Taxis: the London-style black cabs, and standard saloon cars which bear the name of the taxi company on the car roof. All taxis display a yellow disc on the car windscreen and are required to display coloured licence plates (black taxis display yellow plates and private taxis green plates). Never take a taxi without coloured plates. It is common practice to normally round up the fare.
*Uber is also available in and around Belfast and is a great alternative than Taxies. Click here for your first journey free.
Driving
Belfast is a relatively straightforward city to drive in, although the city is so compact and well served by public transport that most visitors will have no need of a car. If you do decide to drive, there are plenty of car parks in the city centre (charges apply). To pay for off-street car parks or on-street metered parking, you can either pay with coins or register with Parkmobile (www.parkmobile.co.uk) and pay using your mobile phone or online. Parking on Sundays is usually free.
Bicycle hire
Belfast is becoming a cycle-friendly city as the city now has its own bicycle-sharing scheme called Belfast Bikes. There are 300 bicycles spread out across the city in 30 docking stations and are available to hire daily between 6 am and midnight. Before hiring a bike, you must register either online or at a docking station. The first 30 minutes are free.

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Top Tips For First Time Flyers

Published in Essentials

Top Tips for First Time Flyers

So you’ve booked your first flight, your wondering what know? whats my next step? If you’re like most people, exploring something new—like the cabin of an airplane, it can be daunting. While not every first-time flier will mistake the emergency exit for the bathroom, there are some tips that will help not only new travellers but frequent travellers alike.
Check in for your flight online and print/mobile your boarding pass

In this day and age where everything is done digitally, you can check in for your flight up to two weeks before your flight depending on your airline. Checking in online not only saves hassle at the desk but if you’re only carrying hand luggage you don’t even have to go and wait at the airline desk. Also on many airlines they will let you pick your own seat free of charge when your checking in online or one will be allocated for you.
Don’t pack too much

Our general rule when you pack for a trip is that you don’t need as much as you think you need, Realistically if you think ‘you may wear or need this’ you probably don’t. Off course, everybody wants to look their best for those holidays photos but you don’t need 14 outfits for a 5-day trip, just be realistic and think about space. (check out our how to pack like a pro guide here)
Check Your Carry-on Is the Right Size

Each Domestic and international Airline each have a different set of rules when it comes to carry-on bag sizes. Before you head to the airport with your luggage, make sure your tote qualifies as a carry-on handbag and check your airline’s size restrictions before you leave home as some airlines won’t allow items such as a handbag as well as a hand luggage suitcase. (check out our best-rated suitcases under £50 here)

Don’t pack any liquids or forbidden items

If you’re not checking a bag, remember that carry-on liquids, gels, and aerosols have to be 100ml/3.4 fl. oz or less and fit in a clear, quart-size bag. We normally use kitchen Ziploc Bags when travelling and have our liquid bag already packed before arriving at the airport.

Check your passport Validation

There is nothing quite like the panic that comes from booking a spontaneous vacation and realising your passport is expired—or expiring. Adding to the challenge is that some countries won’t allow you to visit within six months of your passport’s expiration date in case you take an extra-long vacation and they want to make sure you have a valid passport to travel back. In short, it never hurts to check your passport’s expiration date and, if necessary, renew it before your next big trip. (Find out how long your passport needs to be valid for here)
Double-check Your Itinerary

Traveling between time zones or around the world can be confusing. That’s why it always pays to make a list and check it twice. Go through your itinerary, confirm your airport (Did you book Heathrow or Gatwick? JFK or Newark?), your connection times (How long does it take to get to the train station? Which time zone is that?), and your plane tickets, including whether or not your name is spelled correctly on your documents.
While you’re working your way through the list, confirm your reservations for everything from hotels, flights, trains, buses, and activities.
Download that M-app

Getting lost when travelling is part of the fun and not taking that wrong turn may have never lead you to that beach, restaurant or neighbourhood, but when it comes to travel sometimes you can’t rely on that french you learned in school to ask for directions. We always carry a piece of card with the hotel/hostel/apartment’s address on it, so no matter what you have the address to at least make it back to base. We also use offline maps through either Google maps or a free third-party app from the App Store just in case we don’t have Wifi or Data. Speaking of phones…
Check Your Phone Plan

Before you head out of the country, hop online or call your service provider to get a data roaming or international calling plan. If you do not want to use your phone while traveling abroad, shut off the data roaming on your phone or risk a hefty phone bill.
Plan your currency options

It’s a good idea to have some of the local currency on hand when you land, but don’t overdo it. We recommend carrying some local currency and using a non-sterling transaction fee card when abroad to not only save money but save the disaster of having your cash lost or stolen. (explore the best travel money options here)
Alert your bank before you travel

There are few things more frustrating than having your credit card frozen when you’re on vacation because your bank thinks your card has been cloned or stolen. Before you go, notify your card company’s fraud department that you’re leaving the country. This can normally be done through the online app or a quick call to the number on the back of your card.
Pack comfortable shoes

We understand you're not climbing Mount Everest but the best way to really see a city is by foot and there is nothing more unrelaxing than sore feet. So pack your favourite trainers or shoes that go with most outfits and leave the heels at home.
Have a rough restaurant list

With sites such as TripAdvisor getting bigger and bigger its quite easy to find out where is hot and where is not. There is nothing more disappointing than spending your hard earned money on a terrible expensive meal. Make a small list either on your phone or a piece of paper with good cheap-eats, dessert bars, cafes, and nightclubs on it, We like to do this a couple of days before going to get excited about your adventure.
Don’t over schedule

Yes there are hundreds of amazing things to do in most cities but the sad truth is your not going to have time to see every nook and cranny in your short vacation. Plan what your must-sees are and don’t build yourself up for disappointment.
Don’t stress and enjoy your trip

Sit back, relax and enjoy it. More than likely something will go wrong its just the way things are, just laugh it off and take it as a memory, some of our greatest vacation memories are from things going wrong and looking back and laughing at them.

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