We have a habit in Ireland of only looking south or east when we consider holiday destinations. It’s partly because we associate such destinations in Mediterranean Europe with guaranteed sunshine. It’s also partly due to conditioning and assumptions — false assumptions as it turns out.
We assume that it is only southern European destinations such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and, to a lesser extent France, that hold the monopoly on good weather and whilst those respective countries do, indeed, enjoy unrivaled sunshine records in comparison to their northern European neighbours, they are by no means, the only game in town. What Irish people appear to forget (or don’t know) is that the weather we tend to enjoy in Ireland is due not only to our latitude but also the fact that we are the first landfall in western Europe and that countries with a similar latitude as ours (or even ones located further north) do not necessarily suffer from the same meteorological idiosyncrasies as the Emerald Isle!
The technical description of Ireland’s climate is that it is temperate oceanic, whereas many of the countries located in Northern Europe enjoy climates that are described as temperate continental and, as such, enjoys typically warmer summers than Ireland, despite their more northerly locations. They experience greater extremes in temperature shifts between the seasons so that summers — although short by southern European standards — are invariably warm and sunny.
It’s one of the many reasons why countries that are generally considered to be northern European such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland produce such good wines. They also enjoy superb infrastructure, great food, amazing history, architecture and culture and where many of the natives are also likely to speak English as a second language — some of them embarrassingly better than we do!
With the obvious exception of Switzerland which tends to be eye-wateringly expensive because of the strength of the exchange rate between the Swizz Franc and the Euro, the rest of northern tends to be reasonably affordable for Irish travelers although somewhat pricier than most southern European countries, if you exclude Italy. The further East and North you go, the further the spending power of your Euro goes too and many former members of the Eastern Bloc represent particularly good value for money such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, whilst countries like Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria can stretch your budget even further.
Most of these countries are now served by direct flights from Ireland — either with Ryanair or their respective national carriers so getting there has never been easier (or more affordable) to do! So, when considering where to go to next, don’t just look south out of force of habit or tradition, mix things up a bit and choose something different from the menu. You most certainly won’t be disappointed!