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May 22, 2013


Holidays with an Active Twist

by Julianne Mooney
Cascais, Portugal

Cascais, Portugal

People’s attitude towards holidays have changed over the years. While we were once happy to seek out a beach, lie on a lounger and sip cocktails for a week, we now want something more. A holiday, but an adventure at the same time.

The idea of being active on a holiday seems outrageous, aren’t holidays supposed to be where you do nothing and get over the exhaustion of life? Well, it seems there’s only  so much naval gazing we can do and the fact of the matter is, when you try something new or simply get out for a walk, you feel better, both physically and mentally.

I love to walk, so plonk me in the middle of a valley, preferably Tuscany or somewhere a vineyard is within reach, and I’ll be happy. I also love a day or two where I can chill out, read and swim in the sea. I also love to snorkel and cycle. So I guess a holiday where I can combine sunshine, lazy time and an activity or two is my ideal break. It seems I’m not alone and luckily there are endless opportunities out there.

This morning on Ireland AM I talked about different activity holidays and all information is listed below.

Read about other Adventure Holidays here.




The Estoril coastline was a favourite of the Kings, diplomats, European jetset and spies, during the Golden Excile in the late 1930’s. Today, Cascais is a popular destination with those looking for a sun holiday combined with activities such as cycling, surfing, golfing, horse-riding and walking. (Read about Cascais here)

Top Tips

  1. Explore the historical town of Cascais, especially the Museum of Castro Guimaraes built in the 19th century by Irish aristocrat Jorge O’Neill. Replete with an Arabic Cloister, a ceiling adorned with shamrocks and rooms stacked with antique furniture and books, it makes for an intriguing visit.
  2. There are seven golf courses in the area – Quinta da Marina and Oitavos Dunes offering a great alternative to the Algarve, as the cool breeze, synonomous with the coastline, makes summer temperatures bearable.
  3. Pick up a bike in the town and cycle the 5km coastal trail to the beautiful Guincho Beach – free of charge. Then tackle the steep incline as far as Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point in Europe, for dramatic cliff views.
  4. Do a surf or windsurf lesson on Guincho Beach where the world championships of windsurfing takes place. Rent a kayak and explore the coastline or go diving off the coast.
  5. Combine surfing with hiking and yoga at any number of places along the coast, including the lovely Karma Surf Retreat or Surf
  6. Walk the extensive gardens and woodland of the stunning Pena Palace near the historical town of Sintra.
  7. One of the best kept secrets is the magical Conventos dos Capuchos. A hidden monastery, built into the landscape dating back to the 16th century.

Getting There: Fly direct to Lisbon (Daily flights) from €60 each way with

Hotel Accommodation From €60 per room per night

Special Offers

Casa Vela Guest House  – Book two nights or longer and receive a 50% discount on your last night

Joe Walsh Tours  – From €624 per person – Includes return flights, transfers, 7 nights B&B in 5 Star hotel Quinta Da Marinha



Croatia, with over a thousand islands speckled along its coast, is certainly one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. One of the best ways to explore the coast is to jump on a boat and head out to the islands.

Top Tips

  1.  Spend a few nights in Dubrovnik, visiting the many restaurants and bars, walking the ramparts of the old city wall and jumping off the rocks into the clear Adriatic Sea.
  2. Ferries head out to the islands from Dubrovnik port. Hvar is a long, picturesque island, popular for its lively nightlife and fields of lavendar. Korčula, while quieter, is a beautiful island with a medieval town and countless coves.
  3. Island hop – it’s possible to move between the islands easily, with ferries going between the islands several times a day.
  4. Sailing holidays around the Dalmatian islands is one of the most popular activities in Croatia. There are options to go on a boat with a skipper, or alternatively you can rent your own yacht with a group of friends.
  5. A cheaper alternative to renting a boat is to kayak. Many tour operators can put together activity packages, basing you on one of the islands and arranging cycling and kayaking tours around the islands.
  6. The clear Adriatic Sea makes it ideal for snorkeling and it is possible to go diving also.

Getting There – Fly direct to Dubrovnik from €60 one way with

Hotel Accommodation from €80 per night

Special Offers – Croatia Tours 

Activity Package – From €939 per person – Includes return flights, transfers, 7 nights B&B, 2 meals a day, 7 days activities, guide.

Sailing Package – From €1200 per person – Includes return flights, 3 nights on a catamaran, 4 nights in 4 star hotel, guide, 7 days activities and all taxes and fees.

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