holiday season | 

Dreaming of swapping snow for sun? Readers tell us of their experiences of Christmas abroad

The change of scenery at Christmas is a favourite festive trope films like The Holiday and Christmas with the Kranks – with varying results.

A Thomson Holidays passenger jet prepares for an early morning take off at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex.© PA

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Many Irish people are opting to spend Christmas away from home this year – with festive deals in travel agents offering sunny silly season trips to the Costa Del Sol, Benidorm and beyond.

The change of scenery is a favourite trope of festive films like The Holiday and Christmas with the Kranks – but with varying results.

"I would never do it again,” Belfast native Katie Fischer told after visiting a friend in sunny Australia for Christmas a few years ago.

"It was the longest time I could get off work to make a trip like that.

"I missed home too much and it didn’t feel like Christmas whatsoever – the dinner was cold! It was potato salad and everything.

The Artists' Studio in Bantry, Cork - a cottage available on Airbnb over the Christmas period.

"I didn’t like being away from family. It was made pretty evident that I only have so many with my grandparents and they don’t have many left, I don’t think I would want to miss another Christmas with them.”

Alex has also jet-set Down Under for the festive season to visit family, admitting the summer vibes “alleviated the pressure to deliver all of the Christmas magic.

"The expectations were different and everyone was able to switch off.

"But I did miss the winter ritual of cosying up to the fire with a Baileys Hot Chocolate,” she said.

Some Irish people just aim to “avoid the season” by going ‘away’, with Alannah travelling to Canada this year to visit family.

For many people, she says spending the festive season abroad is a way to “take the sting out of spending Christmas alone”.

Tiny home in Clare with a lake view, available on Airbnb for €77 per night over the Christmas period.

Heading abroad also allows people to scoop up some deals as Alannah booked a €600 return flight from Canada – the same cost as a one-way ticket from Toronto to Dublin in the days before December 25.

The top festive destinations for Irish people are resorts in Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Morocco, a representative of Irish travel company Sunway told

"Christmas cruises and all-inclusive trips that are multi-generational are especially popular this year as people have not been travelling for the last two years.

“Bookings are back up to 2019 levels again this year after dropping over Covid. Winter sun is especially appealing as you have guaranteed sunshine in places like the Canaries.”

Festive trips to Lapland were also sold out for this year, with organised families booking them almost a year in advance.

Big deals within Ireland are also available on Airbnb for the festive season – as apartments, cottages and rare finds pop up across the country as people retreat to their hometowns.

For €150 per night from December 23 to Stephens’ Day, Airbnb boasts a beautiful cottage in Bantry with a king bed, rustic wooden beams and a pool.

The Artists' Studio in Bantry, Cork - a cottage available on Airbnb over the Christmas period.

Another Christmas getaway escape is nestled in the Clare countryside for just €77 a night to stay in a cosy tiny home from Christmas Eve to Stephen’s Day.

“As the cold draws in, we often find searches for sunnier climates on the rise,” says Amanda Couples, the Airbnb General Manager for Northern Europe.

Airbnb revealed to that their top travel spots for Irish people are Malaga, Alicante, Edinburg, Nerja, Playa de las Américas, Paris, Alvor, Cape Town Quateira and Split.

Today's Headlines

More Travel

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos