Categories
Featured Las Vegas USA

Las Vegas – All you need to know for your trip

On August 26th at the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas strip, Irish UFC hero Conor McGregor will fight Floyd Mayweather in what will surely be a historic boxing match. If you’re thinking about heading over, we’ve got all the details you need to plan what will be a definitely be memorable trip, no matter what the outcome of the bout may be.

Getting there:

Currently, there are no direct routes from Dublin to Las Vegas. One of the most popular ways and easiest for Irish people to get to Vegas is to fly from Dublin or Shannon to JFK in New York and get a connecting flight from there to Vegas. You can also fly from Dublin or Shannon to London and then on to Las Vegas. Alternatively, you could fly to California and get a flight, rent a car or bus it to Vegas from there. Aer Lingus have a number of different direct flights to American cities and offer connecting flight to Vegas so you can work out which option suits you best. You’ll also need an ESTA in order to get into the country.

 

The ESTA is an electronic registration system requiring travellers who are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to register in advance of travelling to the US. You should register through the Department of Homeland Security website, where you will have to pay a fee (currently $14).
Registration can be done by third parties on your behalf, such as travel agencies, and multiple applications can be completed and paid for in one transaction.

You can submit an ESTA application at any time prior to travel – the Department of Homeland Security recommends that it be submitted at least 72 hours in advance of travel. Once approved, it will be valid for multiple entries into the US and generally for up to two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

  • If you don’t get authorisation to travel you’ll need to go to your nearest US Diplomatic or Consular Mission and apply for a visa.
  • An ESTA approval does not determine admissibility into the US. The final decision for entry to the US rests with immigration authorities at the port of entry.
  • The ESTA programme does not apply if you have a visa for the US.
  • Children, including infants, who are endorsed on a parent’s passport must have an individual machine-readable passport or else obtain a visa in the parent’s passport.
  • In most cases, to enter the US, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter. However, Ireland has an agreement with the US that allows you to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration – so your Irish passport needs to be valid only for the duration of your stay in the US.
  • However, if you’re travelling visa-free on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and your passport is valid for less than 90 days, you will be admitted only until the date on which the passport expires. If the passport is not valid for the duration of your stay, you must apply for a new passport from your nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate while in the US.

Information gathered via The Department of Foreign Affairs

 

Getting around:

Most of Vegas is accessible on foot. However, the Las Vegas Strip is 4 miles long so public transport is a better option for most. Buses on the strip are very easily accessible and run 24/7, every 15 – 20 minutes. You can also travel the strip by monorail, which has trains arriving every 4-8 minutes and runs Monday 7am – 12 midnight, Tuesday through Thursday 7am – 2am and Friday through Sunday 7am-3am.

 

Things to do:

You’ll never run out of things to do in Las Vegas, it just depends on how long you’re there for. Here’s just a couple of things we recommend doing while in Sin City:

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Place a bet: No trip to Vegas would be complete without a little gambling. Try your hand at one of the thousands of slot machines around or have a go at red or black. If you’re feeling more confident, take a seat at one of the more serious tables in any of the hotel casinos.

Watch the Dancing Waters Fountain Show at the Bellagio: One of the best free attractions in Vegas. Over 1,200 water cannons dance to music in the lake in front of the hotel, reaching highs of over 400ft. They take place every 15-30 minutes until midnight, depending on the time of year.

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SlotZilla Zip line: One for the thrill seekers! This zip line flies you over downtown Las Vegas. It has two different height levels, depending on how daring you feel. Prices vary from $20 to $45.

Go to a pool party: Dayclubbing is a phenomenon which has really developed in Las Vegas in the last few years. What better way to cool off from the intense Vegas heat by partying it up poolside with some of the world’s best known DJs? Some of the most popular are Encore Beach Club, Drais Beach Club and Wet Republic at MGM Grand. A full schedule of DJ sets and venues is available here.

See a show: Whether you’re interested in concerts, magic, sport, cirque, comedy or musicals, Vegas has a show for you. Most hotels have venues in their establishments with nightly entertainment from some of the world’s best performers. Full schedules and ticket information is available here.

Visit The Hoover Dam: The Hoover Dam is one of the largest in the world and is just an hour from Las Vegas. Tours go daily from most of the hotels on the strip.

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Before travelling, it’s recommended that you take out annual multi-trip travel insurance. This will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

If you’re planning to rent a car while in the US, and you’re an AA customer, you can get up to 10% off and an additional driver added free with Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental. Click here for more information.

Categories
Featured Ireland

AA Roadwatch’s favourite Irish staycations

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Main photo – public domain

While travelling abroad is wonderful, it’s all too easy to overlook the holiday gems that we have right here on our doorstep. There are countless good reasons why almost nine million people visited Ireland in 2016, and they are all available for Irish holidaymakers to enjoy at a fraction of the cost, hassle and travelling time of those glamorous foreign destinations.

From spectacular coastlines to picturesque villages, bucket-and-spade fun to vibrant nightlife, Ireland has it all. We asked the AA Roadwatch team to recommend some of their favourite ‘staycations’, most of which bring back fond memories of those hazy childhood holidays. So leave the passport in the bottom drawer, hop in the car or on the train and get exploring![/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][image_with_text image=”22123″ title=”KILKENNY CITY” title_tag=”h2″]

Photo by Aldebaran, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence

[/image_with_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]IN A FEW WORDS:

Whether you’re in the mood for a raucous weekend or want something a little more sedate, Kilkenny is a city that has something for everyone.

HIGHLIGHTS:

If you’re staying in the city, a walk along the River Nore by Kilkenny Castle and a detour into the castle grounds is worth a few hours of your time. I’ve never done a tour of the castle itself but it’s on my list for the next time I visit.

Just over the road on The Parade, Ristorante Rinuccini serves delicious, authentic Italian cuisine. The Grapevine Wine and Tapas Bar on Rose Inn Street is another great spot but in each case I would ring ahead and book in.

Not too far away from Kilkenny City is beautiful Inistioge which looks like a movie set. In fact, a number of films have been shot there, including Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture in 2015. The village is a perfect place to have lunch, ideally before or after visiting nearby Woodstock Gardens which overlooks the River Nore Valley.

If you want to bring home a souvenir, then spending an afternoon in the Nicholas Mosse Pottery Factory should be added to your list. Located in an old stone mill in Bennettsbridge, just south of Kilkenny City and only two minutes from J9 on the M9 motorway, the views from the cafe are worth a visit alone.

GETTING THERE:

There are lots of public transport options available for Kilkenny City such as Bus Eireann, JJ Kavanagh & Sons, Dublin Coach and Irish Rail, all of which offer regular services. If travelling by car, exit at J8 Kilkenny or J9 Kilkenny South (if staying at Mount Juliet) on the M9, or J4 Urlingford on the M8.

WHERE TO STAY:

There are plenty of options for all budgets in Kilkenny, but if you are treating yourself, there are number of AA approved hotels to consider. A short drive from the city, the four-star Lyrath Hotel Estate is set on 170 acres of mature parkland and boasts two AA Rosettes. Alternatively, you may prefer Butler House on Patrick St, a stone’s throw from Kilkenny Castle. For the keen golfer, the triple AA Rosette-awarded Mount Juliet Hotel is an attractive option. Set in 1,500 acres of parkland, it boasts a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. This means nothing to me, which is why I would probably spend my time in the hotel’s excellent spa. Esther O’Moore-Donohoe[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][image_with_text image=”22170″ title=”DUNMORE EAST, WATERFORD” title_tag=”h2″]

Photo by Flickr user karenandkerry used under CC BY 2.0 licence

[/image_with_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]IN A FEW WORDS:

Explore the picturesque fishing village where BBC drama Kat & Alfie: Redwater was filmed.

HIGHLIGHTS:

As well as half a dozen beaches and coves (my favourites are Lawlor’s Strand and Ladies Cove), sailing, fishing, kayaking and diving are all on offer in the village – check out the Adventure Centre in the harbour for activities for both children and adults. There’s also a cliff walk from Dunmore East to Portally Cove which takes about half an hour.

The biggest event in the village calendar is the Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival in August. Over the weekend, groups from all over the world perform in pubs and bars across Dunmore and turn the whole village into a toe-tappin’, roots and country music party.

If you’re looking for a pint any other time of the year, you’ll be well looked after in Powers Pub (“The Butcher’s”) and for a bite to eat, try The Lemon Tree and The Spinnaker (especially for seafood lovers).

As well as what Dunmore has to offer, the county’s newest attraction is the Waterford Greenway, a 45km walking and cycling trail which runs along the old railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan.

You could also check out The Viking Triangle, the cultural and heritage quarter in Waterford City – about 20 minutes’ drive from Dunmore.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Waterford City is connected to the rest of the country by the M9, the N24 and the N25. From there take the Dunmore Rd (R683/R684) – or if you’re using public transport, Suirway runs buses out to the village throughout the day.

If you’re coming from Wexford, there’s also a ferry to Passage East (15 mins from Dunmore).

WHERE TO STAY:

The Strand Inn sits right next to Lawlor’s Beach and is one of the most featured locations in Redwater. There are plenty of B&Bs and hotels in the village too, but if they’re all booked up, Faithlegg House Hotel is about 15 mins away and would be an AA-recommended alternative. Ruth Jephson[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][image_with_text image=”22126″ title=”NORTH COAST OF ANTRIM” title_tag=”h2″]

Photo by Chmee2, used under CC-BY-3.0 licence

[/image_with_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]IN A FEW WORDS:

A host of world-famous tourist destinations set in spectacular scenery.

HIGHLIGHTS:

There’s only one place to start here – the legendary Giant’s Causeway. The bizarre rock formation is made up of hexagonal columns of basalt which sweep down from the cliffs to the wild Atlantic. It’s a must-see, and I recommend making a day of it as there are some fantastic coastal walks in the area too.

A couple of miles from the causeway, you can pay a visit to the historic Old Bushmills Distillery to find out about how their world-famous whiskey is made – and to sample the goods. The tour is great but a weekday visit is best as the bottling plant falls silent at weekends. If you’re a golfer, you’ll be spoilt for choice – Darren Clarke’s home course Royal Portrush will host the The Open in 2019, while Graeme McDowell’s home links Rathmore is just next door.

Game Of Thrones fans shouldn’t miss the chance to see the eerie Kingsroad for themselves. Also known as The Dark Hedges, the beautiful avenue of beech trees is a key filming location for the show, and it’s situated at the entrance to Gracehill House near Stranocum – about half-an-hour’s drive from Portrush. Then there’s the ruined Dunluce Castle, glorious sandy beaches, Carrick-a-Rede’s hair-raising rope bridge… Lots to do.

HOW TO GET THERE:

From the south and east, take the M1/A1/M1 to Belfast, then follow signs for Derry to join the M2. Exit at J6 Antrim and take the A26 to Coleraine. From there, it’s a short drive to the coast.

From the west, take the N17 Galway/Sligo Rd and then the N15/N13 to Derry. From there, take the A2 to Coleraine and onward to your destination. Use AA Routeplanner for exact directions, travel times, fuel costs and traffic information from AA Roadwatch.

WHERE TO STAY:

Bushmills Inn is a perfect base for a north coast holiday – situated right in the centre of Bushmills and walking distance from the distillery, it’s also just three miles from the Giant’s Causeway. The hotel is described as “spotless and welcoming” by AA inspectors, and I can vouch for the excellent food and cosy bar.

If you’re on a budget, there’s a Premier Inn in the nearby town of Coleraine. Chris Jones[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][image_with_text image=”22127″ title=”LAHINCH, CLARE” title_tag=”h2″]

Photo – public domain

[/image_with_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]IN A FEW WORDS:

Lahinch is a seaside town with all the essentials: a 2km beach, fun activities and plenty of pubs!

HIGHLIGHTS:

One of the first things people think of when they hear ‘Lahinch’ is surfing. Lahinch Surf School and Ben’s Surf Clinic are based on the prom and offer lessons whether you’re a pro or just starting off. The latter also offers rock climbing, kayaking and archery in his adventure centre.

Lahinch is a great spot for a night out. Kenny’s usually has some great live music and The Nineteenth or The Shamrock are welcoming pubs. If you’re in the mood for some dancing, The Claremont is certainly an experience… O’Looney’s also boasts a late bar, with live music or a DJ. Finally, no night out in Lahinch is complete without a visit to the Chinese where Billy will look after you.

From Lahinch, it’s less than a 15-minute drive to the Cliffs of Moher (pictured). It’s a beautiful spot for an Instagram and the fresh breeze will sort out any hangovers. There’s also a visitor centre there if you’d like to discover more about the geology and wildlife of the area. I’d definitely recommend doing (at least some of!) the cliff walk down to Doolin to really experience the rugged beauty of the cliffs.

HOW TO GET THERE:

You can get to Lahinch from Dublin using the M7 southbound and then the N18 northbound until you turn off at J12 Killow. You’ll bypass Ennis on the N85 and continue along the road to Ennistymon, where you’ll turn left at Blake’s Corner and head out the N67 Lahinch Road to your destination.

WHERE TO STAY:

If you’re looking for a treat, Moy House is a five-star AA lodge overlooking the bay. You can also dine in the restaurant, which has two AA Rosettes.

For a budget option, Lahinch Hostel is located at the top of Main St. At weekends, it’s €18 per person per night with a light breakfast included. Róisín Nestor[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][image_with_text image=”22128″ title=”SALTHILL, GALWAY” title_tag=”h2″]

Photo by Terence wiki, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence

[/image_with_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]IN A FEW WORDS:

Head west to one of Ireland’s best seaside destinations.

HIGHLIGHTS:

With sandy beaches, beautiful scenery and great craic, there’s plenty to do in Salthill. A dip in the world famous Galway Bay, a stroll along the promenade or a flutter in the iconic casinos are just a few of the activities on offer in this charming old seaside resort.

If you fancy something different, though, there are also some less conventional options. Salthill is the home of the Galway Atlantaquaria – Ireland’s largest native species aquarium. With tours and talks throughout the day that include big fish feeding, touch pool tours and freshwater fish feeding, this is the perfect spot to combine education and fun. There are plenty of knowledgeable and friendly staff on hand and it’s affordable, with tickets priced from €7.50 to €12.

One of my favourite ways to spend a day in Salthill is to catch a match in Pearse Stadium. Galway is one of Ireland’s most successful GAA counties and on a sunny day it’s hard to beat the colour, noise and atmosphere of the Tribesmen’s home ground in the heart of Salthill. Whether it’s football or hurling you’re into, with the Championship running from May to September there are lots of opportunities to catch a game.

HOW TO GET THERE:

Located at the western edge of Galway City, Salthill is easy to get to by road and well served by public transport. Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann and a number of private companies run numerous train and bus services from various locations around the country to Galway City every day. From Eyre Square in the city centre, the 401 Bus Eireann City Service will bring you right to the heart of Salthill in 15 minutes.

WHERE TO STAY:

The smart, country-house style Ardilaun Hotel in the nearby area of Taylor’s Hill is one of west Galway’s best hotels. With friendly staff, exquisite food and landscaped gardens, it’s a great spot to relax and unwind. Ann-Marie Donelan[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

DON’T FORGET!

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Take out or renew your AA Membership before you start packing the car. For just €8.25 a month, you get 24-hour breakdown cover in Ireland and the UK (meaning you can take the car to Northern Ireland in confidence), personal cover (which covers you in any car) and Home Start, which means you’re covered at your home or very near your home address.

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Categories
Featured New Zealand

Following the Lions tour to New Zealand: the AA Roadwatch guide

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Main image by Melanwell, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

The British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is underway, with the three test matches against the All Blacks scheduled for Auckland and Wellington at the end of June and beginning of July.

Whether or not the Lions roar on the pitch, it’s set to be a trip of a lifetime for those fans fortunate enough to be heading down under to follow the team. If you are one of them, read on for our practical guide to visiting the country![/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”WHEN YOU ARRIVE” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”22139″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]Image used under CC0 licence.

Most international flights arrive at Auckland Airport, around 20km outside Auckland in the far north of the country. From there, you can catch domestic flights to towns and cities all over New Zealand.

To get into the city centre from the airport, catch the SkyBus which operates two different routes. Whichever one you’re on, it should take between 40 and 60 minutes depending on traffic conditions. You can buy tickets from kiosks at the bus stops outside the terminal, from the driver (cash only) or online. Naked Bus and Intercity also operate bus services between the airport and city centre.

You can connect to the Auckland rail network (see the Public Transport section below) by taking the 380 Airporter Bus to Papatoetoe station on the Southern Line and Eastern Line. Plan your journey here.

Taxi ranks are located outside the arrivals area (door 8) at the international terminal and outside door 4 at the domestic terminal. A taxi journey into the city could cost anywhere between NZ$38 – NZ$75. The airport’s website has more information on the specific companies and their pricing. Find it here.

Car hire is available on the ground floor of international arrivals. For more on hiring a car and driving in New Zealand, check out the Renting A Car section below.

The first stop of your Lions tour is unlikely to be Wellington or Christchurch unless you are travelling via Australia. However, their airports’ websites provide information on onward travel. Find it here for Wellington and here for Christchurch.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”GETTING AROUND” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”22140″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_accordion style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Renting a car” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]Image used under CC0 licence.

If you’ve travelled all the way to New Zealand, the chances are that you’ll want to get out of the cities and explore the country’s stunning and varied countryside – at least for a day or two. And while the country does have a reasonable public transport system (read on for more on that), nothing beats the freedom of hiring a car and hitting the road.

Car hire is available from our preferred car hire partners, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo. AA members save year-round on car hire and get a free additional driver – click here to learn more. You can also find Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz or Thrifty at airports and in city centres.

Most companies in New Zealand require you to be over 21 to hire a car. It’s worth noting that if your driving licence is not in English, you will need to carry an accurate translation. See NZ Transport Agency for more information.

One handy thing about New Zealand’s roads is that they drive on the left, so you’ll feel immediately at home in your rental car and on the road. There are some things to bear in mind, though:

  • New Zealand is a much larger country than Ireland, which means it can be easy to underestimate distances by just looking at a map.
  • The roads in rural areas are often narrow and winding, so you should always leave more time than you expect to need. Use AA Routeplanner for accurate journey planning.
  • A tired driver is a dangerous driver, particularly on unfamiliar roads, so don’t be overly ambitious when planning your journeys and take regular breaks.
  • Changeable weather is always likely in New Zealand, so make sure you check the forecast before setting off on any journey. Of course, it’s currently winter which means that snow is a real possibility if you’re on the South Island. Check out the Weather section below and read our winter driving tips.
  • Beware of rail crossings – only half of the 1500 crossings in New Zealand have automatic alarms. Flashing red lights means a train is approaching, so stop and only proceed once the lights have stopped flashing. Other crossings have a ‘Railway Crossing’ sign and give way (equivalent to our yield) or stop signs only. If you see this, stop, look both ways and only cross the track if there are no trains approaching.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Public transport” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]You can get around New Zealand by bus and, less commonly, train and ferry. Bus is the cheapest and most readily available way to travel between cities, with the two main providers being Intercity and Naked Bus.

Rail travel is much less common, but there are three main lines operated by KiwiRail: Auckland to Wellington on North Island (Northern Explorer), Picton to Christchurch (Coastal Pacific), and Christchurch to the West Coast (the famously scenic TranzAlpine), both on South Island. However, they don’t intersect and services are infrequent.

Ferry is a fun way to travel between North and South Island (try InterIslander and Bluebridge) and a convenient way to reach some of the many islands off the coast.

Within the cities, Wellington is surprisingly better served than Auckland, but both have their own bus, rail and ferry networks – Metlink for Wellington and AT for Auckland. Christchurch is also served by buses and ferries – Metro.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Domestic flights” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]

Flying is a popular and convenient way to get around the country. There are 25 airports that have regular scheduled domestic flights (16 on North Island, 9 on South Island), and no flight is longer than two hours – the Auckland to Wellington services takes just one. There’s more information on flying around New Zealand here.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”WEATHER” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”22141″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]Image used under CC0 licence.

The Kiwi winter generally runs from June to October, though around Auckland, cold days are actually quite rare. It’s a different story on South Island, where alpine regions often experience significant frosts and heavy snowfall and skiing is possible – especially in the Canterbury, central Otago and Southland regions. Your itinerary will have a large bearing on the weather you encounter, but definitely bring some wet weather clothes at the very least as rainfall is high all year round.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”AUCKLAND” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”22142″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]Image used under CC0 licence.

If you’re heading to New Zealand, chances are you will be spending a fair bit of time in its largest city, Auckland. Located on North Island, its 50,000 capacity Eden Park stadium is the home of the All Blacks and will host the first and third tests on 24th June and 8th July.

Fortunately, there is plenty to see and do in the so-called City Of Sails when you’re not cheering on the Lions. It’s extremely beautiful, squeezed in between two stunning natural harbours and blessed with a balmy, sub-tropical climate which means it never gets too chilly – even in winter. It’s also vibrant and cosmopolitan, with a population of more than a million people and a strong Maori and Polynesian character.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”TOP THREE THINGS TO DO IN AUCKLAND” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_accordion style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Sky Tower” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]

Standing 328m tall, the Sky Tower dominates Auckland’s skyline and is the perfect vantage point from which to take in some amazing 360 degree views. At the base of the tower, there are restaurants, a casino and a theatre. There are more restaurants near the top, as well as a viewing platform. And if you’re a real adrenaline junkie you can even walk around the edge or throw yourself off – harnesses provided!

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Auckland is every inch a maritime city, with Waitemata Harbour to the north and Manukau Harbour to the south. So whether you fancy taking in the city skyline from the water or exploring some of the many small islands, there are boat trips and cruises to suit all budgets. Auckland’s tourism site has a range of options.

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Take a 40-minute ferry east of the city and you’ll arrive at Waiheke Island – a dream for wine lovers. The beautifully green island has a number of wineries and vineyards that offer guided tours and food along with the obligatory wine-tasting. There’s more to it than just vino though – a mixture of farmland, beaches, forest and seaside villages; outdoor activities such as horse riding, ziplining and clay pigeon shooting; and a thriving arts scene mean you may want to spend longer than a day there.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”WELLINGTON” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”22143″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]Image used under CC0 licence.

Located at the south-western tip of North Island, New Zealand’s capital is known as Windy Wellington, but don’t let that put you off – it was recently named the world’s most liveable city. That should make for a pleasant stay if you happen to be in town to watch the Lions take on Super Rugby side Hurricanes on 27th June or the All Blacks in the Second Test on July 1st.

Wellington is the second largest city in the country, but with a population of around 400,000 it’s less than one-third the size of Auckland, which makes it compact and practical for a short stay. It’s a picturesque place, surrounded by a large natural harbour on one side and hills on the other three, and as it’s known as the country’s gastronomic and cultural capital, there’s plenty to do.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”TOP THREE THINGS TO DO IN WELLINGTON” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_accordion style=”accordion”][vc_accordion_tab title=”Food and drink” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]With more cafés and restaurants per capita than New York City, it’s no surprise that Wellington is New Zealand’s culinary capital. Fans of Asian flavours will be impressed by what’s on offer – Indian and Malaysian cuisine is especially popular here – while you will have no trouble finding good quality seafood, thanks to the city’s seaside location. In fact, good old fish and chips is incredibly popular in Wellington – perfect if you are on a budget and fancy something familiar. The city also has a buzzing café scene, with a wide variety of cool coffee shops offering quality coffee, snacks, brunches and light meals. Vegetarians and vegans are very well catered for too.

After dark, check out the city’s vibrant nightlife. Wellington was an early convert to the craft beer revolution and as a result there are plenty of cool little bars to explore, each serving a variety of local brews that you won’t find at home.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Lord Of The Rings” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]

When director Peter Jackson needed to find the right locations for his depiction of Middle Earth, he didn’t have to look far – the areas around his home city of Wellington fitted the bill perfectly. As a result, the city has become a mecca for fans of the Lord Of The Rings films. A number of tour companies are now well-established, offering trips to see filming locations near the city such as Kaitoke Regional Park (Rivendell) and the Hutt Valley (Great River Anduin), as well as Weta Studios.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][vc_accordion_tab title=”Take a cable car to Kelburn” title_tag=”h5″][vc_column_text]You can of course explore the hills around Wellington on foot, but there’s no easier way to do it than with the Wellington Cable Car. This funicular railway (‘cable car’ is actually a misnomer) whisks you from Lambton Quay in the city centre, past Victoria University and up to the hillside neighbourhood of Kelburn, offering magnificent views over the city and Wellington Harbour.

Once you arrive you can find out more at the Cable Car Museum, check out the astronomy museum Space Place and explore the beautiful Wellington Botanic Garden – all within walking distance of the cable car terminus.[/vc_column_text][/vc_accordion_tab][/vc_accordion][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”DON’T FORGET!” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

You can get cover up to 60 consecutive days away with AA Travel Insurance, giving you peace of mind on your Lions adventure. Click here to find out more!

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Categories
Europe Featured France Germany Italy Spain Sport and leisure

Top tips for a European cycling holiday

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With routes spanning the continent, a European cycling holiday could be the perfect way to get off the beaten track and see those places that would otherwise pass you by. It’s a great way to get plenty of exercise, too. We asked Mike McKillen of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, for some advice for anyone considering taking to the saddle.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”GET THE RIGHT MAPS AND APPS” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]“Preparation is needed – you can’t just land there and do it. Get hold of the Eurovelo Cycle Route Network Map. That’s a website that is maintained by our parent organisation in Brussels, the European Cyclists’ Federation. It’s like the AA for cycling. They have an offshoot called Eurovelo, which are European bicycle routes – generally off-road but they can be on less-traffic roads like access-only routes.

“You should also go online to order trail maps from IGN, the French Ordnance Survey. They show cycling routes for the region, and you can get the scale that you are comfortable with – you would need at least 1:50,000, preferably 1:25,000. That’s just for the planning.

“Once you get there, turn on your GPS and use the ViewRanger app. That has cycling maps in it, and it gives you the detail you need to turn right here and know that in 400m you’re going to hit a cycling trail and be off-road.”

Remember too that you can use the AA Routeplanner (available on the AA app) when you are planning car journeys abroad.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”DON’T FALL FOUL OF THE LAW” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

“If you’re bringing your bikes on the back of your car, don’t forget that you have to have a lighting board on the bikes showing your number plate, indicators and stop lights, with lights to light the number plate. That has to be on the last bike of the stack. A lot of Irish drivers don’t know that French police, for example, will pull them over and won’t let them proceed. In France, you also have to have two high-vis vests and a breathalyser in your car.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”KNOW YOUR BIKE RACKS!” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]“The one on the top of the car is for lightweight sports bikes that you can lift with one hand. Touring bikes are heavier, and I would find mine difficult to lift it up onto the roof, so I have a rack that fits onto the tow hitch at the back of my car. It takes two bikes, but you can get them for up to four.”

Click here for a full AA guide on travelling with a roof rack.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”CONSIDER RENTING BIKES” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]“I lead tours, and we always end up renting bikes if we’re abroad because it’s just so much easier. The nice thing about renting a bike is, if something goes wrong with it, the company generally comes with a van, picks it up and gives you a replacement. Of course, then you’ve got to wait for the van to come to you and it could be two hours away.

“If you’re hiring the bikes there, you would need to make contact with a bike hire company, or engage the services of a bike touring company over there. They book everything for you, they know you’re going to do 80k a day on this leg or 55k on the next one, and they book you into lovely pensions, B&Bs, villas or hotels. Whatever grade you want, you just tell them. This way, you don’t have to carry a tent or sleeping bag. All you need is your camera and water bottle, and they transport your luggage to the next hotel.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”GETTING THERE…” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]“When booking your passenger fare on the ferry, there is a drop-down menu for vehicles and an option for ‘bicycle’. You just cycle in the same way as you would drive in, and the crew tell you where to put the bike. Generally they have a ‘strop’ – a strap that fixes it to a rail. If you’re travelling by train, you’ll need to bring as strop to immobilise it and stop it flying around the carriage – otherwise you’ll have to stand with it and hold it. 

“With Aer Lingus and Ryanair, you have to bag the bike. You can order a bike bag online but I don’t like taking bikes on a plane because you have to take them apart and reassemble them when you get to the other side, and then you have to find somewhere to put the bike bag. You don’t want to be carrying that with you, so you need to find somebody to hold it for you at the port or airport until you come back, and then you have to do the whole thing in reverse.”

Don’t forget to buy your AA Travel Insurance before you go![/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”ON YOUR BIKE – AND OFF…” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

“With a nice, leisurely group that don’t want to do huge kilometrage, you’d be planning on anywhere between 40k and 100k a day. That’s doable by six o’clock in the evening, and it gives you plenty of time to go and change, shower, have an aperitif and then go for your dinner at eight. It also includes a two-hour lunch break – al fresco, on the patio, in the café or restaurant! So, start off at 9:30 in the morning, have a two-hour lunch and you can still be in at 6 o’clock in the evening having done 100k.”

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“There’s a lot of myth about having to take protein supplements and so on, but you don’t. If you want to lose weight, a cycling holiday is the best way to do it. You don’t need to be stuffing your face every half hour. You’re trying to force your body to mobilise the fat reserves that you have built up to get rid of them, so it’s a great way to lose weight. You don’t need to train for these holidays. If you’re talking about a leisurely family or group trip, children are well able to do these as well.”

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”BRING A FIRST-AID KIT” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]“Most cycling injuries are from a fall off the bike, so a broken wrist or collarbone, or gashes and lacerations. Bring pads and enough to do a splint so you can strap up a broken wrist.”

Hopefully you won’t be unlucky enough to suffer something more serious while abroad, but here’s some advice on minimising the stress and expense.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_text_separator title=”DON’T FORGET YOUR TOOLS!” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_column_text]“If you are the leader and bringing your own bikes, you would need to bring a set of tools that will deal with every nut. Most bike nuts are Allen ones, so you need an Allen key set. You would need a cone-tightening spanner just in case cones on the bearing races come adrift and get loose.

“You need a spare tube suitable for every wheel, so if you’re bringing children I would make sure they are on adult bikes with 26″ tubes – if you have children on smaller bikes, you have to pack a tube specific to their wheel size. Then you need tyre levers because cyclists do their own repairs. A good multi-tool device will have most things you need for tightening things up.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
England Featured France Germany Italy Northern Ireland Scotland Spain USA Wales

Avoiding a Medical Emergency Abroad

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There are plenty of steps travellers can take in advance of a trip away to minimise financial costs and the inevitable stress that comes with a medical emergency abroad. We’ve listed below some incredibly simple steps to take ensuring everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip.

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See your doctor before you go

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It’s a good idea to get a medical check-up from your doctor before you go. If you’re planning on taking part in strenuous physical activities such as hiking or skiing, pay a visit to your doctor to make sure you’re in good shape for it. (And don’t forget to check with your travel insurance provider that these activities are covered under your policy.) Consider whether you need vaccinations for your destination, too. In an AA study, 23% of males aged 17-24 years old told us they needed medical attention whilst abroad compared to just 15% of women in the same age bracket. So once you pay a visit to the doctor, tell your partner/dad/brother to do the same!

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Medical care at your destination

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Learning about the quality of medical care at your destination means you’ll know what to expect should you need it. For example, in Spain there are two types of health establishments you can visit depending on the severity and type of illness – a hospital and a health centre (Centro de Salud). For serious illnesses or injuries, it’s expected that you would visit a hospital, but for instances not requiring immediate hospitalisation the Centro de Salud is your best bet. Knowing information such as this allows you to make sound judgments about what type of treatment you need.

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Know how to seek medical care

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Do you know how to call for help in a foreign country? It’s not something you even think of amongst the flurry of packing and printing out flight tickets, but it could prove to be the most vital. Click here for a map that shows local emergency telephone numbers from around the world.

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Carry health information

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator type=”normal” position=”center”][vc_column_text]You might know your blood type and that you’re allergic to peanuts, but what about other background information like medications or previous surgeries? These could be crucial to a doctor giving you emergency treatment.

And while it’s wise to carry your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) with you if you’re travelling to Europe, be aware that it won’t cover for things like an air ambulance home if someone is in serious trouble, which can cost up to €20,000.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Check your insurance

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People often think medical care isn’t included in their travel insurance policy, but a lot of the time it is and they just don’t know. Check your policy to ensure you’re getting value for money and sufficient coverage. The AA provides unlimited medical cover for Members who have an extra Travel policy, meaning there are no restrictions on the amount you can claim.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]For more information on AA Travel Insurance, please click here.

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Categories
Europe Ireland

Keeping the Kids Entertained on Long Car Trips

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]With summer right around the corner many of you are probably busy searching for and planning the perfect holiday for you and your family. While staying in Ireland may be the most convenient option, particularly if you have a young family, the thoughts of a long road trip with the kids can bring dread to any parent.

Road trips and children bring about the age-old conundrum – how can I keep the kids occupied on a long car ride? Nothing dampens the holiday spirit more than bored kids in the back seat and the “Are we there yet” phrase from the rear of the car.

In May 2012, the AA revealed that, of a sample of 4,911 parents, the most popular method of keeping the kids occupied was to bribe good behaviour with a few choice snacks. The second most popular technique was to play some good old-fashioned car games such as I-spy.

In third and fourth place came the less-traditional methods of hand held games consoles and portable DVD players, while the use of audio books or children’s music rounded out the top five.

Now that you know the more popular methods, why not try something different? Any parent knows that variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to entertaining young passengers, so an out-of-the-ordinary activity might be just what your family needs for your next car journey.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”WHITE BOARDS AND MARKERS” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_column_text]

You can pick up a small whiteboard and marker at almost any arts and crafts shop and the possibilities are endless. Whether the children are in the mood for a game of Hangman or prefer X’s and O’s, this will be sure to keep them entertained for a good while. It also doubles up as a good way of keeping score for the more traditional games such as I-spy.

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Yes, disposable cameras still exist and the novelty of an old-fashioned camera without the modern zoom and filter features can be a big hit with the young ones. They’re relatively cheap too and can be found at some pharmacies and newsagents. If you’re looking to make a bigger investment, there are some instant cameras on the market that spit out small polaroid photos in a matter of seconds. Let the kids take silly photos of themselves or capture images for a holiday scrapbook.

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This game works whether you’re going on a short stay-cation or driving further afield through Europe. Before you go, print out a map of Ireland and/or Europe with the names of the counties/countries and tell the kids to keep an eye out for the borders. The person who gets them all correct at the end wins a prize!

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Other Important Tips:

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Car Seats

Did you know that according to a survey done by the AA in November, 76pc of parents have had a child escape their car seat? Before embarking on a long road trip with the family, make sure your child’s car seat is properly fitted and secured. Not sure how to go about that? Luckily we have a helpful guide with more information:[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Snack Attack

To keep the munchies at bay, an exhaustive supply of snacks is essential. Keep in mind what snacks will work well on a long journey – think boxes of raisins, bananas, apple slices and string cheese. Remember that not all your children’s favourite snacks are suitable for road trips – so stay away from the yogurts! It might be a good idea to try and keep fluids in spill-proof sippy cups or bottles as juice boxes often result in sticky spillages.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

To an even smoother road trip through Europe, it is worth investing in European Breakdown Cover. Take out cover online today and get a €15 discount or a €25 discount if you’re an AA member.

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Categories
Europe Featured France Germany Italy Portugal Spain

AA Roadwatch’s European phrasebook

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There’s nothing quite like the freedom of a driving holiday. Whether you’re taking your own car on the ferry or hiring one when you get there, driving in Europe is always an adventure. The continent has a huge variety of driving routes, from scenic mountain roads through the French Alps to coastal routes along the Italian shores, to huge Autobahns that get you from A to B in Germany.

But when you’re getting used to driving on the right and desperately trying to work out which destination your sat nav has just dramatically mispronounced, the last thing you need is a language barrier.

While visual road signs are similar right across Europe, written ones still cause confusion, particularly if you’re crossing borders. In Belgium and Switzerland, for example, a sudden change in the language of the road signs is often your only clue that you’ve passed from one region to another.

Our Roadwatch guide decodes some of the most common terms in six major European languages and gives you some phrases to help you out in case you need to ask a local for assistance. So bookmark, print or screen-shot the relevant language(s) before you hit the road, wherever it’s going to take you.

Main photo credit: BarnImages.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]Click to jump to each language!

– French
– German
– Spanish
– Dutch
– Portuguese
– Italian[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

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Road signs from France, though French is also used in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Monaco. Photo by Salva Barbera, used under CC licence.

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Motorway
Autoroute – Motorway
No parking
Défense de stationner/ Stationnement Interdit – No Parking
One way
Sens unique – One-way
No entry
Défense d’entrer / Sens interdit – No entry
Toll
Péage – Toll
Diversion
Déviation – Diversion
Give way
Cédez le passage / Cédez la priorité – Give way / Yield
Service station
Station service – Petrol Station

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USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Ma voiture est tombée en panne.

I have a flat tyre. – J’ai un pneu crevé.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Je suis tombé(e) en panne sèche.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Y a-t-il une station service près d’ici?

There has been a crash. – Il y a eu un accident de voiture.

I need a tow-truck. – J’ai besoin d’une dépanneuse.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Je suis membre de l’AA en Irlande.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – (C’est un service de dépannage.)

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – C’est une voiture de location/ C’est ma propre voiture.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Est-ce que je peux me garer ici? Ça coûte combien?

Do you speak English? – Parlez-vous anglais?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

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Road signs from Germany, though German is also used in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Tyrol in northern Italy. Photo by ChristianSchd, used under CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

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Motorway
Autobahn – Motorway
No parking
Parkverbot / Parken verboten – No Parking
One way
Einbahnstraβe – One-way
No entry
Einfahrt Verboten – No entry
Toll
Maut / Mautstelle – Toll
Diversion
Umleitung / Umweg – Diversion
Give way
Vorfahrt gewähren / Vorfahrt beachten – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Tankstelle – Petrol Station

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USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Ich habe eine Autopanne.

I have a flat tyre. – Ich habe eine platten Reifen.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Ich habe kein Benzin / Diesel mehr.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Wo finde ich die nächste Tankstelle?

There has been a crash. – Ich hatte einen Unfall.

I need a tow-truck. – Ich brauche einen Abschleppwagen.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Ich bin Mitglied des AA in Irland.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – (Das ist eine Pannenhilfe.)

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Es ist eine Mietwagen / Es ist mein eigenes Auto.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Kann ich hier parken? Was kostet das?

Do you speak English? – Sprechen Sie Englisch?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”SPANISH” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”21932″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Road signs from Spain, though Spanish is also used in Andorra. Photo by Luis Garcia, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Motorway
Autopista – Motorway
 No parking1
Prohibido aparcar – No Parking
One-way
Dirección única – One-way
No entry1
Prohibido el paso / Prohibida la entrada – No entry
Toll
Peaje – Toll
Diversion
Desvío  – Diversion
Give way
Ceda el paso – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Estación de servicio – Petrol station

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Mi coche se ha averiado.

I have a flat tyre. – Tengo una rueda pinchada.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Me quedo sin gasolina (petrol)/ gasóleo (diesel)

Is there a petrol station near here? – ¿Hay una estación de servicio cerca de aquí?

There has been a crash. – Ha habido un choque.

I need a tow-truck. – Necesito una grúa.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Soy miembro/miembra de la AA en Irlanda.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – (Es un servicio de asistencia en carretera)

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Es un auto alquilado. / Es mi propio coche.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – ¿Puedo aparcar aquí? ¿Cuánto cuesta?

Do you speak English? – ¿Habla usted inglés?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”DUTCH” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”21933″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Road signs from the Netherlands though Flemish, which is used in the Flanders region of Belgium, is very similar to Dutch. Photo by Johann H. Addicks / addicks@gmx.net, used under GFDL – GNU Free Documentation License.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

 Motorway
Autoweg – Motorway
No parking
Niet parkeren / Parkeren verboden – No Parking
One way
Éénrichtingsverkeer – One-way traffic
No entry
Geen toegang / Geen ingang – No entry
Toll
Tol / Tolweg – Toll
Diversion
Omleiding – Diversion
Give way
Voorrang verlenen / Geef voorang – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Tankstation – Petrol Station

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Mijn auto is kapot.

I have a flat tyre. – Ik heb een lekke band.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Ik heb geen benzine / diesel meer.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Is er een tankstation in de buurt?

There has been a crash. – Er is een ongeluk gebeurd.

I need a tow-truck. – Ik heb een takelwagen nodig.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Ik ben lid van de AA in Ierland.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – Dat is een pechhulp.

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Dit is een huurwagen. / Dit is mijn wagen.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Kan ik hier parkeren? Wat kost dat?

Do you speak English? – Spreekt u Engels?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”PORTUGUESE” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”21934″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Road signs from Portugal. Photo by Diego Delso, used under CC BY-SA 3.07 licence.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Motorway
Autoestrada – Motorway
No parking
Proibido estacionar – No Parking
One-way
Sentido Único – One-way
No entry
Proibido entrar – No entry
Toll
Portagem – Toll
Diversion
Desvío – Diversion
Give way
Dar Prioridade – Give way / Yield
Service station
Posto de gasolina / Bomba de gasolina – Petrol Station

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – Meu carro avariou-se.

I have a flat tyre. – Tenho um pneu furado.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Eu não tenho mais gasolina/ diesel.

Is there a petrol station near here? – Onde fica um posto de gasolina?

There has been a crash. – Houve um acidente.

I need a tow-truck. – Preciso de um guincho.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Eu sou membro da AA na Irlanda.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – É um serviço de pronto socorro de carros.

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – Esse carro é alugado. / Esse é meu próprio carro.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Posso estacionar aqui?  Quanto custa?

Do you speak English? – Você fala inglês?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”ITALIAN” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_single_image image=”21935″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”full”][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

Road signs from Italy, though Italian is also used in Switzerland and San Marino. Photo by Armando Mancini, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 licence.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Motorway
Autostrada – Motorway
No parking
Divieto di Parcheggiare / Sosta Vietata – No Parking
One-way
Senso Unico – One-way
No entry
Divieto di Accesso – No entry
Toll
Pedaggio – Toll / Stazione – Toll plaza
Diversion
Deviazione – Diversion
Give way
Dare la Precedenza – Give way / Yield
Petrol station
Stazione di servizio – Petrol Station

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]

USEFUL PHRASES

 

My car has broken down. – La mia macchina è in panne.

I have a flat tyre. – Ho una gomma a terra.

I’ve run out of petrol / diesel. – Sono senza benzina / diesel.

Is there a petrol station near here? – C’è una stazione di servizio qui vicino?

There has been a crash. – C’è stato un incidente.

I need a tow-truck. – Necessito di un carro attrezzi.

I am an AA Ireland member. – Sono un membro dell’AA in Irlanda.

(It’s a breakdown recovery service) – È un servizio di soccorso stradale.

It’s a rental car / It’s my own car. – È un auto a noleggio. / È la mia auto.

Can I park here? How much does it cost? – Posso parcheggiare qui? Quanto costa?

Do you speak English? – Parla inglese?[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text el_class=”Hiring and Driving a Car in Europe”]More advice from AA Ireland:

Hiring and Driving a Car in Europe

Top Tips if you’re Hiring a Car in Europe

Driving in Germany – top tips and advice[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Categories
Featured

10 Steps to a Stress-Free Holiday

Travelling overseas for a holiday can be a stressful and uncomfortable time for many people. While the ultimate destination may prove to be worth it, the panic and to-do-list can grow rapidly before you even leave for your holiday. However it doesn’t have to be that way and to help ensure you get the break you deserve, we’ve compiled a list of our 10 tips to help you get through the journey to your destination as simply and smoothly as possible:

Make copies – Copies of your passport and other documents such as travel and health insurance are always good to have in case of emergencies.

Bring a portable charger – depending on your destination, plug sockets could be few and far between. A portable charger will ensure you’re not left stranded without battery – just make sure you’ve charged it fully before travelling.

Contact your bank – make sure you let your bank know that you’re heading away. The last thing you want is your bank freezing your account when you try to use your card abroad due to suspicion of fraudulent activity on your account.

Move around – depending on the length of your flight and whether it’s direct or not, we recommend going for quick walk every couple of hours. Doing this ensures regular blood flow, which will help prevent the possibility of developing blood clots.

Bring adapters – check what type of adapter is required and bring at least one if not two with you (they seem to have a way of disappearing!!) to make sure you can actually use the electronics you bring with you.

Invest in earplugs and an eye mask – trying to sleep on a long haul flight, a noisy city or a busy hotel or hostel can be quite difficult. An eye mask will help block out any harsh lights, while ear plugs are great for blocking out noise which will both help you have the most peaceful flight possible.

Hydrate – A lack of humidity in the air when flying means that it’s much easier to become de-hydrated. Drink water little and often during your flight and avoid anti-diuretic drinks such as tea, coffee and alcohol which will all add to your de-hydration.

Comfortable clothing – Aeroplanes aren’t comfortable for passengers at the best of times so make sure you wear comfortable, roomy clothes. Don’t forget layers – planes can get very cold and airline blankets are usually quite thin.

Snacks – Aeroplane food can leave a lot to be desired and depending on the airline carrier can be costly too. Bringing a few healthy snacks with you on board will help save you money and help you to avoid feeling sluggish when getting off the plane. However, check with your airline beforehand as not all places allow you to bring snacks through security so you may have to purchase them after you’ve gone through security.

Take out insurance – Remember to ensure you have travel and home insurance before you set off on your travels; travel insurance will cover you if anything happens while you’re on your trip; while home insurance protects you from any thefts or accidents that may occur on your property while you’re away.

After you’ve done all this there’s only one step left, enjoying your holiday!

Categories
Featured

Do you need a European Health Insurance Card or travel insurance for European breaks?

Sometimes a vacation is what’s needed to escape the daily routine, and with the Easter midterm break on the horizon it’s the perfect opportunity to gather the family for that much-needed sojourn. But in between making sure you’ve packed the kids’ essentials (passport, togs, iPad – check!) it’s easy to forget things like taking out proper travel insurance or to just neglect it all together. In fact, research from the AA reveals that almost 20% of holidaymakers don’t bother with it because they carry the free European Health Insurance Card (previously known as an E111 card).*

Do I need an EHIC or travel insurance?

Source: Librestock.com
Source: Librestock.com

The EHIC allows you access to healthcare services when travelling to other European Union (EU) and EEA (European Economic Area) countries. There you can avail of the same level of state-provided free or subsidised medical treatment that local citizens would expect within that country. Once you’re living in Ireland or intend to live here for a year you can apply for the EHIC from the HSE.

While the EHIC is well worth having, bear in mind that healthcare systems vary from country to country and are quite likely to be different to the system here in Ireland. The EHIC doesn’t provide for private medical treatment abroad, or other costs such as sea or mountain rescue, an emergency flight home, or indeed accommodation if an accident or illness means you have to delay your journey home. Some countries may even charge EHIC cardholders for ambulance services, local doctor visits, prescriptions or specialist medical costs. Costs can vary and you may be required to make a contribution towards your treatment. Holidaymakers should also remember that there are some areas within the EEA where the EHIC is invalid, such as parts of the Republic of Cyprus.**

A holiday saviour

Source: Librestock.com
Source: Librestock.com

A travel insurance policy will cover all of these costs. The most common claim type we receive is for medical emergencies, but it’s important to remember that insurance covers you for a lot more. The second most common claim type is for holiday abandonment with travellers having to cancel their getaways due to unforeseen circumstances. Beyond that, your policy will also help meet the costs of lost or stolen belongings. Those jetting off should bear in mind that some policies won’t cover the cost of treatment at a state hospital if the EHIC should have been used and was not.

And while you might be tempted to go for the cheapest policy on offer, the AA warn against taking out cover based on price. “The cheapest policies often have high excesses, meaning you could be paying anything between €50 and €350 before an insurer will process your claim. Make sure your policy covers everything you need it to,” advises Conor.

The AA offers great value and benefits online with Annual Travel Insurance.  Get a quote now here.

_______________________________________________________________________________

*Research carried out by Populus among 23,085 AA members aged 18+, 7–15 May 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

**Neither your EHIC nor S1 form (a certificate of entitlement) is valid in the parts of the Republic of Cyprus where the government of the republic does not exercise effective control (the northern part of Cyprus). http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/countryguide/Pages/healthcareinCyprus.aspx

Categories
Europe Featured Italy

Travelling to Rome – the AA Roadwatch guide

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Compiled by Chris Jones and Jennifer McCormack.

Main photo of St Peter’s Square by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][vc_column_text]For centuries, Rome has been known as the Eternal City, so called because ancient Romans believed that no matter what happened in the world, and how many empires rose and fell, Rome would go on forever. So far, they’ve been proven right.

Today, the city retains its allure through a heady mixture of ancient ruins, stunning architecture, world-class art, and the simple pleasures that the Italians like to think they do best – namely coffee, ice cream and watching the world go by from a pavement café.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”HOW TO GET THERE” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There isn’t a huge range of options for flying from Ireland to Rome, so unless you fancy a connecting flight your first port of call will be Dublin airport.

Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to the main Leonardo Da Vinci airport by the coast, while Ryanair uses the smaller Ciampino to the south-east of the city. You may be surprised to know that it’s the closer of the two to the city centre, although the transport links aren’t quite as good.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][image_with_text title_tag=”h3″ image=”21861″ title=”Leonardo Da Vinci aka Fiumicino Airport”]

Aerial view of Fiumicino, Italy by Julo is licensed under CC-BY-SA.

[/image_with_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]Express train

From Da Vinci, the Leonardo Express departs for the city centre every 15 minutes between 7am and 9pm – every 30 minutes at other times. The journey takes half an hour and tickets cost €14 one-way – be sure to buy one before you get to the platform as it’s more expensive to buy there, and don’t forget to stamp it before boarding the train.

Commuter train

The Regional FL1 trains serve other stations in Rome, so if you aren’t staying in the city centre it may be worth using them instead. They’re cheaper (€8 one-way) and they depart every 15 minutes on weekdays, or every half-hour at weekends. The train station is within the airport – just follow the signs.

Buses

Da Vinci is served by a number of buses, which each take you to the city centre in around 45-60 minutes. Most depart from the bus hub outside Terminal 3, to your right as you leave Arrivals. You can pay on the bus – much more convenient than booking online, which ties you to a specific departure time.

Taxis

There is a taxi rank outside each terminal. It’s not unknown for tourists to be conned by rogue drivers, so make sure your taxi is white with a TAXI sign on the roof and a clearly displayed licence number. The city authorities have capped the fare at €48 from Da Vinci to the centre of Rome. Confirm this with the driver before you get in, and call +39 (0) 60606 if you have any problems.

Alternatively, you could try Uber – but, as ever, watch out for fare surging.

Car hire

You can hire a car from Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo and several other local firms. The car hire area is accessible via a pedestrian tunnel – follow the signs from Arrivals.

Don’t forget, if you’re an AA customer, you get to up to 10% off and add an additional driver for free with Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental, our AA Rewards partner. To get a quote or book click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Ciampino Airport

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]There is no direct rail service from Ciampino to the city centre, so unless you want to catch a bus to the nearest railway station, which just adds an extra leg to your journey, it’s best to take a direct bus or taxi.

Buses

As with Da Vinci, a range of buses will take you to the city centre. They all leave from stops opposite International Departures. Fares are between €4-6 and the journey should take around 35-45 minutes.

Taxis

The taxi rank is right outside the terminal building. Again, follow the advice above to make sure you get an official taxi, and confirm the maximum fare with the driver. In this case, it’s €30 to the city centre. Uber may well be cheaper so it’s worth a try if you use it.

Car hire

You can hire a car from Avis, Alamo, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and several other local firms. The offices are a short distance away from the terminal, but a complimentary shuttle service is available.

Don’t forget, if you’re an AA customer, you get to up to 10% off and add an additional driver for free with Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental, our AA Rewards partner. To get a quote or book click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”GETTING AROUND” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Rome is a sprawling city, but the historic centre is relatively compact and so you can explore much of it on foot – and so you should, with all of those pavement cafés and gelaterie to try out!

That said, you will be well served by the city’s extensive public transport system for those longer distances, with buses, trams, a metro, and a suburban train system available to use.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][image_with_text image=”21883″]Photo ‘local railway Rome Laziali – Giardinetti’ by Reinhard Dietrich – public domain.

Metro

The two main lines are A (orange) and B (blue), and they cross at Termini, the main train station. Trains run between 5.30am and 11.30pm (to 1.30am on Fridays and Saturdays).[/image_with_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]Buses

Buses generally run from 5:30am until midnight, with a limited service overnight. There is also an extensive network of night buses that runs between 1am and 5am.

Taxis

You can hail a taxi on the street or from a rank, which are plentiful around the city. As always, make sure the taxi is official (white with a TAXI sign on the roof and a clearly visible licence number) and that the meter is on. Don’t agree on a set fare unless you are travelling to or from the airport, when the fare is capped (see the airport section above).

If you phone for a taxi rather than picking one up, be aware that the meter starts running from wherever the driver receives your job – not when you get in to the car. You can book a taxi by phoning the Comune di Roma’s automated taxi line on +39 (0) 60609 or calling a company direct. The website www.060608.it has a list – click on the Transports tab, then Getting Around, then By Taxi.

Tickets

Public transport tickets are valid on all of the bus, tram and metro lines except for routes to Da Vinci airport. They are as follows:

BIT (single journey, valid for 100 minutes) €1.50

Roma 24h (valid for 24 hours) €7

Roma 48h (valid for 48 hours) €12.50

Roma 72h (valid for 72 hours) €18

CIS (weekly ticket) €24

Abbonamento mensile (a monthly pass – a single user €35; multiple users €53)

Children under 10 travel free.

You can buy tickets at tabacchi, news-stands and from vending machines at main bus stops and metro stations. Just make sure you stamp your ticket on the bus, or before you get onto your tram or train, using the validation machines available.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”THINGS TO DO” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

There are so many different things to see and do in Rome that the difficulty will be deciding what not to do – it just depends on how long you’re planning on staying for. Here are some of our favourite attractions that we recommend seeing while in the Eternal City:

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_text image=”21850″ title=”TREVI FOUNTAIN”]Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

One of the most beautiful and most iconic monuments in Rome, and it’s free of charge. We recommend going before 10am as it’s much quieter and you’ll get a much better view of the fountain. Don’t forget to follow the tradition of throwing a coin over your shoulder and into the fountain. The legend goes that doing so guarantees that you will one day return to Rome.

Location: Piazza di Trevi, Rome

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Barberini stop (seven minute walk)
Bus: Line 40 Express, 53, 62, 63, 80, 83, 85 (Via del Tritone stop)
Tram: Line 8

Opening times: 24/7[/image_with_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_text image=”21851″ title=”THE COLOSSEUM, ROMAN FORUM & PALATINE HILL”]Photo by David Iliff. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built and one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions. It sits to the east of The Roman Forum, which was the political centre of ancient Rome. Palatine Hill is also directly beside the Roman Forum, and was home to many Roman emperors, including Augustus.

A ticket here guarantees you entry to all three venues over a two-day period. The ticket prices vary, with free entry to under-18s, €7.50 for EU citizens between 18 and 25 years old and all EU teachers, and €12 for adults. The Colosseum is free for everyone on the first Sunday of every month.

Audio and guided tours are available.

Location: Piazza del Colosseo, Rome.

Getting there:

Metro: Line B – Colosseo stop
Bus: Line 75, 81, 673, 175, 204
Tram: Line 3

Opening times:

Last Sunday in October until February 15 – 8:30am to 4:30pm
February 16 to March 158:30am to 5pm
March 16 to the last Saturday of March – 8:30am to 5:30pm
Last Sunday in March until August 31 – 8:30am to 7:15pm
September 1-30 – 8:30am to 7pm
October 1 to the last Saturday in October – 8:30am to 6:30pm

Last entry is one hour before closing time. The Colosseum is closed on May 1 and Christmas Day.

For even more information, check out our dedicated post on the Colosseum here.[/image_with_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_text image=”21852″ title=”THE PANTHEON”]Photo by Keith Yahl. License: CC-BY-SA 4.0

The Pantheon is the best preserved monument of Ancient Rome. It was originally built as a pagan temple to the Gods of Rome, but was given to the Catholic Church in 609 AD. There is no entrance fee to The Pantheon unless you want to do a guided tour; in which case there is a fee per person.

Location: Piazza della Rotonda, Rome.

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Barberini stop (15 minute walk)
Bus: Line 40, 60, 64 (get off at Piazza Argentina and walk from there)
Tram: Line 8

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday: 8:30am – 7:30pm (last admission 7:15pm)
Sunday: 9am – 6pm (last admission 6:45pm)
Public holidays: 9pm – 1pm (last admission 12:45pm).

The Pantheon closes on the following dates:

New Year’s Day
May 1
Christmas Day

Visits are not allowed during Masses (Holidays: 10.30am; Saturday: 5pm).[/image_with_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_text image=”21849″ title=”ST. PETER’S SQUARE AND BASILICA”]Photo by Fred Hsu. Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches ever built. The Basilica is home to the Vatican Grottoes, where the tombs of Popes including John Paul II are located. Entrance to the main Basilica is free. It’s also possible to visit the dome designed by Michelangelo (8am to 4:45pm every day from October to March, 8am to 5:45pm from April to September), but there is an entry charge. Note that you must be dressed appropriately (shoulders covered and not too much leg showing), otherwise you will be denied access.

If you want to see the Pope, he usually appears on Sundays at 12 noon, when he comes to the window to pray and bless the crowd in St Peter’s Square. No ticket is required. Otherwise, you can also attend the general audience address held in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday’s, although advance tickets are required for this.

Location: Piazza San Pietro, Rome

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Ottaviano stop (10 minute walk)
Bus: 23, 34, 40 & 62
Tram: 19

Opening times:

Monday – Sunday: From 7am to 6pm (until 7pm during winter), except on Wednesdays (if there is the papal audience, the Basilica remains closed until 12 noon).[/image_with_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][image_with_text image=”21848″ title=”SISTINE CHAPEL”]Photo by BriYYZ under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence.

Part of the Vatican Museums, its status as one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world is thanks to the spectacular ceiling fresco painted by Michelangelo. Admission charges: full price €16, concessions €8 (children aged 6-18).

Audio and guided tours are available.

Location: Viale del Vaticano

Getting there:

Metro: Line A – Ottaviano stop (10 minute walk)
Bus: 23, 34, 40 & 62
Tram: 19

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday: 9am – 6pm (last entry 4pm)
Every last Sunday of the month: 9am – 2pm (last entry 12:30pm)[/image_with_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Honourable mentions:

  • Centro Storico
  • Spanish Steps
  • Piazza Navona
  • Villa Borghese

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_text_separator title=”FEELING INSPIRED?” title_align=”separator_align_center” border=”no” background_color=”#ffcc00″ title_color=”#000000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px” image_repeat=”no-repeat”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Here are some more great travel guides from AA Roadwatch:

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