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Top 3 Post-Covid getaways to banish the lockdown blues

James Molloy recommends three delightful destinations to add to your travel plans, once the pandemic is over and holidays are on the horizon again
A clear sky and inviting blue water in Favignana, Coast of Sicily. Photo by James Molloy

With the doom and gloom of the current Covid-19 pandemic, holidays have effectively been cancelled for the foreseeable future. However, when it eventually comes to an end, here are three superb places that should be on your travel bucket list.

1 ACHILL ISLAND, IRELAND

Keel Beach, Achill Island. Photo by James Molloy

To start things off, Achill Island is a close to home destination and is Ireland’s largest island, situated off the west coast of Mayo. It’s a hub for tourists the world over. Famous for its unspoiled scenery, pristine beaches and rich culture, Achill has something for everyone.

Achill is home to five blue flag beaches, the most well known of which being Keem Bay, which can be found nestled away at the western tip of the island. The clear blue waters of the bay are home to a vast array of fish, basking sharks and dolphins making it the perfect place to go snorkelling in the summer months.

Keem Bay, Achill Island. Photo by James Molloy

If hiking is more your speed, then you’re in luck. Towering over the Keem Bay are the Croaghaun cliffs, the third highest sea cliffs in Europe. The imposing mountain of Slievemore can be found to the north east of the Island, and is another favourite spot amongst hikers and history buffs alike due to its deserted village situated on its slopes with a megalithic tomb from the Neolithic period alongside of it .

Surfing is another immensely popular pastime for locals and tourists, and the best place to do it is Keel beach in the village of Keel. There are many surf schools which offer both surf lessons and surfboard rentals. This beach stretches three kilometres, so it is perfect for a leisurely stroll if surfing isn’t for you.

The island is also dotted with many cafes, pubs and restaurants serving up hearty dinners, local fresh seafood and perfect pints beside rustic turf-burning open fires. Achill Island contains the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation.

Standout memory: Spending the day on Keem Beach relaxing, then spending the night in the Valley House sipping creamy pints of Guinness beside the fire while listening to live music.

2 BUDAPEST, HUNGARY

Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest. Photo by James Molloy

Budapest is a city of two halves. Separated by the river Danube are the districts of Buda and Pest. There’s a saying in the city: “If you’re looking up, you’re in Pest and if you’re looking down, you’re in Buda.” Budapest is the perfect city escape on a budget.

Buda is recognised as the historical old town, full of palaces, castles, and quaint streets. It’s the perfect place to get lost strolling through the streets as you take everything in. The Fisherman’s Bastion is the perfect viewpoint, giving you the perfect view of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and Pest. This view is exceptional in the dark of night as the parliament building across the water is lit-up.

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Budapest. Photo by James Molloy

For those who want to experience the wilder half of the city, Pest is the place for you. You will be exposed to one of the most vibrant and full-on nightlifes Europe has to offer. It is full to the brim with a wide variety of watering holes from the high-end to the eccentric rune bars which the city is famed for, all serving some locally brewed beer and strong cocktails. There are a multitude of companies offering pub crawls, which can be a fun way to see the city and its bars while also possibly making new friends along the way.

Budapest is also home to many thermal baths, the best known of which is the Szechenyi Baths. These baths are the perfect place to go and chill and recuperate after a hectic night on the town, with saunas, massage parlours and outdoor pools. The baths often host parties which are a must when in this wonderful city. Budapest is a brilliant city break because of its rich history and fantastic options for nightlife.

Standout memory: Experiencing the unique ruin bar Szimpla Kert, a disused hospital turned local market by day and eccentric bar by night really embodies the Budapest vibe with a mixture of new and old.

3 FAVIGNANA, COAST OF SICILY

Monte Santa Caterina, Favignana. Photo by James Molloy

Last but not least is a place the majority of people outside Italy may never have heard of — the island of Favignana, found off the west coast of Sicily. This undiscovered gem is the perfect place for someone to escape reality, be it for a few days or a few weeks.

Favignana’s immaculate beaches and lagoons are the perfect place to unwind and de-stress whilst sunbathing or swimming in the clear unspoiled waters. There are a few to choose from, with Cala Rossa and Bue Marino being the most popular.

The east of the island is mainly flat, whilst the west of the island is home to a chain of hills, of which Monte Santa Caterina is the highest. There are two main ways of getting around the island, for those who want to take their time and embrace the sights the island has to offer, bicycles are readily available. But, for those who want a faster mode of transport, scooters are the way to go, costing around €20 per day.

Favignana has a rich history as it has seen the likes of the Phoenicians, Arabs and even the Normans passing through at some stage. The marks they left behind can be seen in the small town of Favignana and around the island. Another historic site on the island is the old tuna factory which can be toured for around €6 per person.

Favignana is easily accessible from Trapani by ferry with multiple daily departures costing around €20 return.

Standout memory: Zipping around on a scooter, exploring the island and taking in the breathtaking scenery Favignana has to offer.

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