The winter months of December through February — and sometimes through March — are notorious for flight delays due to bad weather. People risk delays during the holidays because they have long periods of mandated time-off and want to spend it with their families. But no one wants to request time off in February only to spend half of the vacation managing flight delays and bad weather.

But while February isn’t the best travel month for every destination, airlines offer some pretty sweet deals on flights during the year’s shortest month. With some trips discounted as much as 79%, travelers should take airlines up on their offers. We analyzed a year’s worth of Hipmunk flight and hotel pricing data, and the following February destinations are worth the bargain.

New York, NY

Whether covered in snow or sunshine, New York is New York — a magical amusement park for both kids and adults. There will never be a shortage of indoor and outdoor winter activities. With flights and a three-night hotel stay averaging $962 in February, the Big Apple offers a steal. Take a horse carriage ride through Central Park as you admire the snow-covered terrain and monuments that make the city so enchanting. Ice skating is available through March at parks including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and Rockefeller Center. If it gets too nippy, be entertained at a Broadway show as you stay warm.

Philadelphia, PA

With 67 National Historic Landmarks, Philly ranks third in the country for most landmarks, including the famous cracked Liberty Bell and the house of poet Edgar Allen Poe. But the city is also a modern metropolis with a striking skyline, impressive street art murals, and rich pop culture. Run up the long steps to the main entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and recreate the famous opening of the cult classic film “Rocky.” Philly has one of the oldest outdoor markets in the U.S. — Italian Market — and also boasts Terminal Market, a great indoor destination. Both sell everything needed to make delicious meals. An average flight and three-night hotel stay in February averaged $819, a savings of up to $80 compared with spring months.

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

San Francisco, CA

Much like San Francisco’s weather stays constant, so do flight and hotel prices, averaging more than a $1,000 most of the year for a flight and a three-night hotel stay. But in late spring, the average was $953, making it the ideal time to head west. SF offers a multitude of varied activities sure to entertain all personalities. Pier 39 alone offers shopping, restaurants, Aquarium of the Bay, and a two-story carousel. But the most endearing attraction is simply observing the quirky sea lions lounge by the pier. In 2015 Walkscore.com gave San Francisco a score of 83.9, making it the second most walkable city in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Walk or ride the cable cars to get around.

Dublin, Ireland

Flying to Europe from the U.S. in the summer will typically cost around $1,000 or more. But flights to certain European destinations are quite affordable in the coming months. Dublin is small and easy to walk around, ensuring travelers can see and do most of what the city has to offer in a single weekend. Admire the beautiful architecture of the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Walk east for nine minutes to reach St. Stephen’s Green and appreciate the park’s original Victorian layout. Trinity College Dublin, one of Dublin’s most prestigious universities, is only a six minute walk north of the park. The college’s Long Room is eye candy for book nerds.

For the beer and whiskey enthusiasts visit to the Guinness Storehouse brewery or the Jameson whiskey distillery.

Sunset over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Paris, France

Visiting Paris in the springtime is recommended, but it’s so much more affordable in February and March, with some flights ranging between $500 and $600 dollars. Much like New York, there is always plenty to see and do in Paris. Must do outdoor activities include riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting at least one historical Parisian cemetery. Keep out of the elements at one of Paris’ many museums, the Louvre Museum being one of the most famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Louvre Pyramid. For modern art lovers, visit the Pompidou Center or the Jeu de Paume.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 2nd.

Published in Travel Inspiration

There are as many reasons to see Ireland as there are people who travel to the Emerald Isle. History, geology, pub culture, folklore, and breathtaking views are all par for the course for travelers to the island.

If you have a few days to spare, you can soak up nearly all that Ireland has to offer while rolling through the southwestern half of the country. Here’s a road trip itinerary guaranteed to make you “ooh,” “ahh,” and promise to come back.

Day 1: Dublin to Kilkenny

After flying into Dublin and spending the night in Ireland’s capital city, prepare for a cross-country adventure full of historical sites and breathtaking views. Rent a car and set off on a short drive (approximately two hours) to the artsy town of Kilkenny.

Check in at the quaint Kilkenny House Hotel before heading to Kilkenny Castle, which was built in the 1100s. Then venture on to Dunmore Cave, which features some of the finest calcite formations in Ireland. Once you’ve had your fill of history and geology, return to Kilkenny to explore its many arts and crafts shops and downtown restaurants.

Day 2: Kilkenny to Killarney

Buckle up for a day of striking scenery. There are so many sights to choose from on this leg of the journey that you can’t go wrong. If you aren’t off-put by crowds, then don’t miss visiting the popular Blarney Castle or driving part of the gorgeous Ring of Kerry. For a (slightly) less traveled path, stop by King John’s Castle, the historic Swiss Cottage, or the Muckross Friary and traditional grounds.

Arrive in Killarney and check into the quirky and contemporary Ross Hotel. Since you’ll no doubt be tired from the long day’s drive, enjoy food and drink at the hotel’s restaurant before tumbling into bed.

Day 3: Killarney to Ennis

Explore Irish history on the way to the small town of Ennis by stopping by Bunratty Castle, the geologically marvelous Burren, and/or Craggaunowen – The Living Past, where you’ll learn how the Celts lived, farmed, and hunted in Ireland. Enjoy dinner in Ennis before retiring to the upscale Ashford Court Boutique Hotel.

Day 4: Ennis to Galway

Travel to the western edge of the country in order to take in one of the most gorgeous views around at the stunning and popular Cliffs of Moher (Fun fact: These are the so-called “Cliffs of Insanity” from the film The Princess Bride). If you’re still in an adventurous spirit after visiting the cliffs, head to Aillwee Cave, which was formed by glacial melt waters and is situated close to Galway.

Finish the drive to Galway and check in at the luxurious Jury’s Inn, located near the historic Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum, and Eyre Square (If you’re feeling budget-conscious, consider staying in the friendly Galway City Guesthouse instead). After dumping your luggage, enjoy dinner and drinks at any of Galway’s many restaurants and pubs.

Day 5: Galway to Dublin

Spend the morning exploring the sites of Galway before hopping back in the car for the three-to-four-hour ride to Dublin. If you fancy some detours on the way back to the capital city, stop at medieval Athenry Castle, the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise, or Trim Castle, where Braveheart was filmed.

Upon returning to Dublin, settle in at the supremely well located Blooms Hotel before enjoying dinner and drinks out on the town. Whether you retire early or partake of the Temple Bar neighborhood’s pubs all night, be sure to contemplate what a wonderful trip it’s been.

  This article was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on August 25th.

Published in Ireland

I recently got back from a trip to Ireland. Before this trip, I had visited Ireland on a cruise. I enjoyed my time so much that I wanted to go back and explore more. I wondered how it would compare to visiting it on a cruise. As a follow up to my last blog post, Hungry for More!, here’s a recap of my experiences of cruise vs. land travel.

One Day To See It All

With only one day to see Dublin on the cruise, we got up earlier and into the city to see the sights. With tour book in hand, we walked the city all day and made sure not to miss anything. On my most recent trip, our first stop was to go back to Dublin.

Dublin, Ireland
Dublin

Walking through the city, I couldn’t believe how the streets seemed so familiar and how much we packed into the previous visit. While cruising, we saw all the major attractions and did everything we wanted to do. With this trip, since we had more time in Dublin, we were able to take a longer time in places and enjoy longer lunches and dinners. Overall, I was surprised to realize how much we saw and experienced when in port last time.

Packing & Unpacking...Everyday

Yes, I typically pack a lot of luggage, almost to an embarrassing point. One reason I love cruising is that you unpack once and enjoy waking up in a new place each morning without carting your luggage everywhere. With this in mind for Ireland, I managed to pack less and reduced the number of luggage pieces by one to help in the daily transporting to new hotels.

Ireland countryside
Ireland countryside

Although, unpacking and packing took a little bit of time every day, I realized that a part of the experience of traveling in Ireland is the hotels. You can stay in the countryside or city, in a 5-star hotel, quaint bed & breakfast, or even a castle. Driving around, there was an excitement to arriving to our hotel each night to see what it would be like. You could spend the whole day at some of the accommodations that have on-site activities like high tea, horseback riding, and gorgeous gardens to stroll through. Most of the accommodations outside of Dublin include breakfast, and I enjoyed having an Irish breakfast each morning and seeing what the different hotels offered.

Westin Dublin hotel in Ireland
Westin Dublin

In Dublin, we stayed at The Westin Dublin. The lobby was elegant and inviting. There were many nice touches including the jogging station, flavored water in the lobby (a feature that I always enjoy at Westin’s), and fresh flowers in the lobby. After walking around all day, it was wonderful to have a comfortable place sleep.

Hotel Minella in Clonmel
Hotel Minella

p align="justify">Another Hotel we stayed at was the Hotel Minella in Clonmel. When we checked in, we were escorted to our room and asked if we wanted any complimentary tea or coffee. We accepted and enjoyed our cappuccinos overlooking the gorgeous view of green scenery from our room.

So Many Options!

When on a cruise, I love that I don’t have to plan where to eat each night and budget for meals. This is relaxing for me as I’m not reading reviews, studying menus, or looking at prices every night. However, being able to spend more time in Ireland, I decided I had to be more prepared and do research ahead of time.

Oscar's Seafood Bistro
Oscar's Seafood Bistro

Reading reviews online before leaving, I found a place in Galway called, “Oscars Seafood Bistro” where the menu changes everyday based on the fresh fish that is bought that morning from the port which is only a few blocks away. The local seafood was amazing and a reason that I love to travel.

New Experiences

Driving on the other side of the road, traveling through the countryside, and meeting locals in small villages where we stopped were truly amazing experiences. We were on our own schedule and didn’t have to worry about the ship leaving without us or getting back in time for dinner.

Cruise vs. Traditional

Galway, Ireland
Galway

What’s better? Visiting a place on a cruise or spending more time on land? In my opinion, it really depends. Cruising to Ireland first, I fell in love, and wanted to go back. This is the ideal situation for me as I got to experience all the fun of cruising while visiting a new place. I enjoyed going back and spending more time there and would go back again either on a cruise or on a land trip.

Travel Tip:  When looking for a cruise, consider one that has a great embarkation or disembarkation port. This way, you can spend an extra few days at the beginning or end of your trip to have a little more time in a city that interests you.

Published in Ireland

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