- Lifestyle & Sports
- 08 Sep 17
Whether it’s saving on air fares or choosing a cheap and cheerful destination, Peter McGoran brings you the top ways of seeing the globe on a student budget.
St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada
Bear with us for second here… When it comes to Canada, we can’t recommend anywhere more highly than the small city St. John’s, the surprisingly brilliant location for ambitious students looking to explore Canada and face a challenge. As it happens, round trip flights to the North-Eastern province start from as little as €300 with Westjet Airlines.
Incredibly friendly natives have helped make St. John’s one of the most inviting locations to travel to, while the vast, Into The Wild-style landscapes and jaw-dropping waterfalls throughout the province have meant that people have been transfixed by Newfoundland’s natural, awe-inspiring beauty for generations.
While the Canadian culture in general is sometimes made to seem dull when compared to its southern neighbour, this is a country with a very rich heritage and it doesn’t have a problem with showing it. Newfoundland has a folk heritage based on the Irish, English and Scottish customs that were brought to its shores centuries ago, giving it a real and lasting connection with the Celtic tradition.
St. John’s is also the perfect base to set up and catch internal flights to anywhere else in Canada. Set your sights on Toronto, Montreal and Quebec to broaden your cultural exploration of this hugely varied country.
With a mixture of budget airlines all trying to undercut each other when it comes to flights from Ireland to America, it’s probably the right time to think about planning your summer trip to the States. Norwegian Airlines have currently set the bar at its lowest with their €99 flights from Dublin to Boston, but we’re sure that won’t be the end of it.
Notoriously considered as a haven for American-Irish (sometimes to the eye-rolls of the real Irish), Boston is not only the perfect place for potential J1 visa students to find work for the summer, but its status as the largest city in the north-east of America also makes it a great starting-off point for a trip across the States. Boston’s vibrancy comes from its rich history, thriving nightlife and diverse neighbourhoods. Indeed it is noted as a leading city for culture, art and intellectualism.
If you’re looking for a destination closer to home and aren’t keen on spending your uni reading week doing much, you know, reading, Aer Lingus are now offering flights to Bilbao all year round. With fares being drastically cheaper in the fallow months after summer, Bilbao is one of the newest budget locations for travellers.
And it’s a stunningly beautiful place too. With the Guggenheim Museum as a great international symbol, Bilbao is the gateway to the Basque province. The city has an incredible urban landscape and is noted for its beautiful coastlines, respected footballing tradition, celebrated cuisine, and distinctive language and community.
In addition, many Irish universities, both north and south, have close ties with the University of Bilbao, making it a prime spot for people thinking of doing the Erasmus programme. Word has it their GAA team is also one of the best on the Iberian Peninsula…
Despite flights from Cork to Reykjavik ceasing to operate, the message coming from Dublin and Belfast airports is that Iceland is still very much open for tourism, courtesy of Icelandic budget airline, WOW.
The world’s northern-most capital city and one of the cleanest, greenest and safest cities in the world, Reykjavik is a smart, buzzing, easily-navigable place. Constantly alive with art exhibitions, city-wide fairs, markets and events, as well as having some remarkable architecture and a vibrant music scene (this is the home of Bjork, Sigur Ros and Of Mice And Men after all), Reykjavik has proved to be a hugely attractive tourist destination without really needing to try.
The city itself can also act as a jumping off point to explore the rest of the wondrous Icelandic terrain. The island’s interior is a mixture of otherworldly mountaineous regions and lava fields, which have become famed as the shooting location for the ‘North of the Wall’ scenes in Game Of Thrones. This country’s breathtaking landscapes have to be seen to be believed.
For those who don’t want to pay through the nose trying to get a flight to Berlin, or for those who just want to see a different, less chaotic side of Germany, Ryanair are offering cheap flights to Baden Baden, a city located in the south-west of the country, surrounded by the gorgeous Black Forest and Rhine Plains.
A magnificently preserved town with world famous thermal baths and a scenic wooded valley, Baden Baden is the ideal destination for a chilled out getaway. A place to shed the stress of exam season and indulge in pampering treatments in the local spas, or stroll through the landscaped gardens that line the Oos River, the city shows a side of Germany you can’t really get in the capital. And for those who have the time, Baden Baden is also located near the neighbouring cities of Stuttgart and, slightly further on, Munich, so you can truly get the best of both worlds by travelling there.
Hugely cheaper than Lisbon to fly to thanks to Ryanair and rated, in general, as one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, Porto is a fascinating city and well-respected tourism spot. It boasts an extensive maritime history, exciting attractions, and some of the best wine you’re likely to get anywhere in Europe (it is of course named after, and famed for, its signature tipple of port).
But whatever you do, don’t let the city’s medieval architecture and gold-leafed cathedrals put you off; behind its quaint, picturesque façade lies a rabbit hole of exploration. This is a city brimming with vibrant nightlife and quirky bars. For those who also insist that they must visit the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, it’s only a short train journey away. You can do all the travelling you need while starting in Porto.
KNOW YOUR BUDGET AIRLINES
While many students are unlikely to see the plush interior of a first-class lounge, Irish airports nonetheless have some excellent, no-frills budget airlines to get you from A to B.
The main one to keep an eye on is the seriously cheap Icelandic service, WOW Airlines. Renowned for having some of the most inexpensive transatlantic flights on the market, WOW operates out of Reykjavik, and even kindly offers customers the option of staying in the country for several days before continuing with their flight. WOW announced back in August that they were adding flights from Ireland to four new US cities for as little as €130. It’s well worth checking them out on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, fellow Nordic company Norwegian Airlines have been getting money-savers excited with their proposed Cork to New York flight. The company already has transatlantic flights from Dublin, and have been dropping their prices left, right and centre over the last few months. J1-ers, take note!
You’ll also want to keep abreast of FlyBe’s schedule for your mid-term holidays. They boast cheap flights from Dublin to the student haven of Amsterdam round the clock, as well as dozens of deals to notable holiday destinations throughout the year.
And, of course, no list of budget airlines would be complete without mentioning Ryanair. The definition of no-frills, students will know exactly what they’re getting with the service. And let’s face it, they do boast some fantastic deals.