Author: Ciara Maher

My name is Ciara Maher I am a freelance blogger, marketing assistant and English teacher. I enjoy creating multimedia content and managing websites, and am passionate about travel and technology. I am also studying web development at Google thanks to a scholarship I received from Udacity. I am currently writing blogs for Ucompare.ie, Ireland's leading insurance comparison website. Having lived abroad, I understand the importance of travel insurance in particular as it has helped me in France and the USA.
Best Christmas Markets In Europe

Best Christmas Markets In Europe

Did you know that the cheapest time of the year to fly is during the first two weeks of December? If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting one of the best Christmas markets Europe has to offer, it’s time to stop dreaming and make it a reality!

In between two hectic periods for travelling, Thanksgiving and Christmas, early December is the ideal time for a cheap and festive getaway. As this is a quiet period for traveling in general, you can profit from excellent accommodation prices and less crowded tourist attractions too. 

Now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are out of the way, it is time to really get into the Christmas spirit. This comes with a whole array of joyful activities: putting up the Christmas tree, watching the Toy Show, and getting stuck into some mince pies. But what if this year you were to do something extra special in the run up to the holiday season? Make this your best holiday season ever with a trip to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

In Ireland, we are blessed to live so close to all of the world’s best Christmas markets. This means we can benefit from cheap Christmas destinations which also happen to offer the best festivities to be enjoyed. 

Here are our favourite Christmas markets to visit: 

  1.  Strasbourg, France 
Best Christmas Markets Europe
Strasbourg, France. Image Courtesy: Unknown

Strasbourg was the winner of the Best Christmas Market,Europe award in 2014 and 2015 consecutively, and it is still sure to live up to all expectations. As the oldest Christmas market in Europe, dating all the way back to 1570, Strasbourg has maintained its reputation as the capital of Christmas. This spectacular event is named Christkindelsmärik, and sees 300 stalls spread out over 12 different locations all around the city of Strasbourg. As part of the celebrations, a huge number of concerts and a live Nativity scene will also bring the city of Strasbourg to life. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy at the infamous Strasbourg markets. 

When To Go: Open from 24th November 2017 until December 30th 2017.

   2. Brussels, Belgium 

Best Christmas Markets Europe
Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium. Image Courtesy: Unknown

Each year, Brussels hosts a 5-week long event called Winter Wonders, which sees the capital of Belgium come to life for the festive period. Aside from the traditional markets, you can also enjoy the ice rink, fun fair, and a huge range of live events. Be sure to check out the incredible sound and light show which takes place at the Grand-Place each evening from 5-10pm, every hour during the week and every 30 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays.

When To Go: Open from 25th November 2017 until December 31st 2017.

3. Vienna, Austria

Best Christmas Markets Europe
Vienna,  Austria. Image Courtesy: Unknown

Vienna offers a unique Christmas holiday experience as there are several different markets and Christmas villages all over the city to be enjoyed. As part of the traditional Krippenmarkt, the city transforms famous areas such as City Hall Square, Belvedere Palace and Maria-Theresien Platz into the true Austrian Christmas experience. Vienna also hosts a New Year’s market which extends until January 1st 2018. 

When To Go: Open 17th November 2017 until December 26th 2017.

    4. Cologne, Germany 

Best Christmas Markets Europe
Cologne, Germany. Image Courtesy: Imgur

Cologne’s Christmas markets are Germany’s most famous and attract millions of visitors each year. The largest market is held in downtown Cologne, but events and attractions are spread out all over the city. There are many markets to be visited; the Cathedral market, the Old Town market, Angel’s Market in the City at Neumarkt, and a Gay and Lesbian Christmas market. For more unusual handcrafted items, the market at Stadtgarten is a must-see.

When To Go: Open from 27th November until December 23rd 2017.  

     5. Prague, Czech Republic 

Best Christmas Markets Europe
Prague, Czech Republic. Image Courtesy: Unknown

The Prague Christmas markets offer a more intimate experience in comparison to some bigger markets across Europe. The two most popular markets are those at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, which are conveniently only a 5 minute walk away from each other. Prague offers a unique medieval atmosphere and traditional Czech food to be enjoyed, such as Trdelnik, a famous hot sugar-coated pastry. 

When To Go: Open from 2nd Dec 2017 until January 6th 2018.

    6. Zagreb, Croatia 

Best Christmas Markets Europe
Zagreb, Croatia: Christmas Market. Image Courtesy: Unknown

Although Croatia may not be what first comes to mind when we usually think of Christmas markets, but Zagreb has been awarded the European Best Christmas Market for the last two years running. The event named Advent is definitely not one to miss. The city will transform its main squares into a festive and cultural experience for the whole family. As Croatia doesn’t have decades of experience like markets in France or Germany, Advent in Zagreb offers a less commercialized and more authentic experience of Christmas the Croatian way. Be sure to enjoy the famous Croatian Christmas cookies!   

When To Go: Open from 2nd December until January 7th 2018.

7. Manchester, United Kingdom

Best Christmas Markets Europe
Manchester, UK, Christmas Market. Image Courtesy: Unknown

Manchester’s Christmas markets have been growing in size each year since 1999. This year, over 300 stalls will welcome people from all over the world to visit the UK’s biggest and original Christmas market. Located in the centre of Manchester City you’ll be sure to find great accommodation located within walking distance of the markets, making this an ideal Winter weekend trip destination.

When To Go: Open from 10th November 2017 until December 20th 2017.

So… Need any more convincing?

Explore the Best Christmas Markets Europe has to offer this Christmas season 2017!

 Remember, if you are looking to travel in full security and with peace of mind this winter,visit Ucompare.ie to get cheapest travel insurance quotes.  

Get Quotes here

Do I Need Winter Sports Travel Insurance?

Do I Need Winter Sports Travel Insurance?

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder… That must surely mean that ski season is right around the corner! For all you avid skiers and snowboarders out there, Winter is an extremely expensive season for you – both with a plethora of Christmas presents to buy and your ski trip to plan. However, did you know that Winter sports travel insurance can actually be quite low-cost? By taking out an insurance policy for only a tiny percentage of your trip costs, you can save yourself a huge amount of money if you did have an unfortunate accident while skiing or snowboarding or accidentally damage or lose your equipment. 

Why do I Need Winter Sports Travel Insurance?

 Snow sports can be quite dangerous especially when it comes to even more experienced skiers and snowboarders who may venture off-piste or go for the black slopes The more risks you take, the more you are put at risk – and this can pose quite a high liability.  

 If you do have an accident while participating in snow sports, you may find yourself needing a few days or even weeks in a foreign hospital which in itself can be quite stressful, especially if you do not speak the language of the local region. You can quickly run up a huge bill for such services which may be at a much higher cost than what we are used to in Ireland.  If you have no insurance to cover you, there is no other option – you simply must pay. By having winter sports travel insurance , you are guaranteed to make big savings in terms of both cost and stress incurred. Winter sports travel insurance is an optional add-on that can be added to either a single trip or multi trip insurance policy.   

What Does Winter Sports Travel Insurance Cover?

The majority of ski insurance policies will cover all costs you are likely to incur if you injured yourself or others in an accident, are affected by robbery of equipment or piste closures 

If your ski resort is hit by an avalanche, as unfortunate as this would be, many Winter sports policies also cover lost costs in this situation. And if there is an avalanche expected to hit nearby, do not take the risk of venturing out onto the slopes as this would be extremely dangerous. 

If you cannot ski due to a lack of snow on the slopes, this will often also be covered so you can instead enjoy other activities offered near your ski resort without losing out on costs you may have already incurred such as ski equipment rentals which you cannot use. 

Winter Sports Travel Insurance

All emergency medical expenses incurred by an accident on the slopes are covered, but do not forget that you must inform your insurance company in advance if you have any medical condition. Failure to fully inform the company about your health status may lead to your policy being determined as void – so be 100% honest when taking out your insurance. 

Another important factor to consider before you go on your Winter trip is that you must follow local rules wherever you are skiing or snowboarding. Failure to do so can result in your insurance company withdrawing your cover if you do have an accident and have not respected local laws. For example, you must always wear the necessary protection such as a helmet and you will not be covered if you ski under the influence of alcohol. 

 Do’s and Dont’s

  • We all know how much fun you will have at après-ski… But do what is safest and take the ski lift back home afterwards if you are drinking! Always follow the local dos and don’ts for your pistes and follow any further advice given by your ski instructor. They know these slopes better than you and I, and so their knowledge cannot be taken for granted. 
  • Going skiing in Europe? Don’t forget your EHIC card! Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to state-provided healthcare within the EU’s 28 states and Iceland. If you do not yet have one, sign up here for free. But beware! The EHIC card will not cover many costs such as transportation, emergency mountain recovery, or many medical procedures or treatments that you may require if you are involved in a serious accident. For this reason, it is essential that you take out Winter sports cover. 

If you are going skiing or snowboarding for the first time, this will be an exciting trip! With this excitement may come some nerves or hesitation as you wonder what the experience will be like. Ensure that you enjoy your holiday to the very fullest by taking out sufficient Winter sports cover. Having a ski or snowboarding add-on to your travel insurance will allow you to enjoy your chosen activity with as little worries as possible. 

For those of you who travel several times per year and who already have an annual travel policy or are considering taking out one, opting for an annual travel insurance policy including Winter sports may be the best option. This means that you will have all the essential cover you need for sun holidays, city breaks and your ski trip. 

So whether you are going skiing or snowboarding with friends or family (for your first or fiftieth time!) make sure to get your Winter holiday insurance in advance to enjoy the slopes with complete peace of mind.

Get the best travel insurance quotes by visiting Ucompare.ie to ensure you have the best cover at the best price for your upcoming Winter sports holiday! 

Get Quotes here

Does travel insurance cover hurricanes?

Does travel insurance cover hurricanes?

As Hurricane Ophelia passes over Ireland the first question that might be coming to every traveller’s mind is does my travel insurance cover hurricanes? You may be worried about how severe weather conditions may affect you should you or your belongings get damaged while abroad or should your travel plans become disrupted.

Ophelia left 400,000 people without power and 3 people dead. The worst of the damage was seen in the South and West Coast of the country where the worst storm in Ireland in over 50 years hit hardest. Schools closed for 2 days and public transport services were cancelled. A huge number of flights in and out of Ireland were cancelled due to Ophelia, with mainly Aer Lingus, British Airways and Ryanair flights affected.

Luckily, it is not common for us to experience such extreme weather conditions in Ireland. However when travelling to areas regularly affected by hurricanes, floods or tornados, it is vital that you plan ahead to ensure you are not left stranded if your flights have been cancelled and your trip has been disrupted.

If you are already the victim of cancelled flights due to the storm, you should be provided with accommodation and meals by your airline until they can get you on the next flight provided you have travel disruption cover. However, what if you arrive safely at your destination but a hurricane will hit and be hugely disruptive to your further travel plans? This is where travel insurance can help you.

Travel insurance cover hurricanes season & becomes extremely important. Holiday destinations like Florida are particularly notorious for their extreme weather conditions. Hurricane season occurs between June and November, the period when Irish holidaymakers are most likely to take a sun holiday to places like Florida which are at risk. This means that your trip may be in total jeopardy if you do not have sufficient travel insurance to cover cancellations due to severe weather conditions.

Key tips for travelling during hurricane season:

  • Research well in advance: See if your location is at risk and if so, how high are these risks;
  • Know how to react: Don’t panic. Instead, focus on establishing whether it is safe to proceed with your trip. Your airline and insurance provider are the most important points of contact. If you are already caught up in the hurricane, focus on contacting local emergency services;
  • Contact your travel provider: Contact your airline and see if your flight will be rescheduled or if they have any advice for travellers;
  • Keep your travel insurance policy details safe and accessible: Always carry your insurance details with you when travelling abroad. For extra safety, scan and store a copy of these details online on your cloud or email them to yourself so you can access them from anywhere in the world. Your insurance provider will also normally offer an emergency contact line which you can ring for advice, and is normally located on your policy document.

What you need to know?

Be aware that you must have taken out your travel insurance policy with additional covers before a hurricane or storm has been predicted in order to be covered. Therefore it is important to keep an eye on predicted weather conditions at your destination and to plan ahead of time. If you are travelling in Summer or Autumn, don’t risk it without being covered. As soon as you book your next holiday, please make sure you have relevant travel insurance cover straight booked at the same time.

Storms and mass flooding can occur almost anywhere in Europe. For this reason we recommend everyone to take out travel insurance even if you are staying in Europe. As we have seen over the past few days alone in Ireland, thousands have had their flights cancelled in and out of Dublin airport. Although Europe is less prone to weather extremities, they do occur from time-to-time so it’s not worth taking the risk of having no cover.

However, it is even more important to ensure you will be fully covered if your destination is the East Coast of America or the Atlantic region in general. Some of the worst hit areas in recent years include Florida, Texas, Mexico, and the Caribbean, which are all popular destinations for travellers. Moreover, even if the area hit is not your final destination, your lay-over could be affected if you are travelling on international flights through the Atlantic region.

When buying travel insurance, you need to look out for additional covers like travel disruption and natural disaster as if you these covers are not included under standard policy, you need to pay additional premium for it. Tsunamis and earthquakes have caused horrific damage in recent years in places like New Zealand, the Indian Ocean and Chile. Such natural disasters will obviously put all your travel plans at risk. As a result, natural disaster cover may be required on top of the recommended flight cancellation and extreme weather travel insurance policies. While tsunamis can technically occur anywhere in the world, we usually know in advance if a city is at risk of an earthquake due to proximity to a fault line (such as the San Andreas fault in California). So do your research on your destination location to ensure you are well informed and can select the most relevant and comprehensive travel insurance for you.

Here are some of the most common situations in which you will require travel disruption and natural disaster cover:

  • There are some hurricane warnings at your destination in past;
  • Your destination has been hit by a storm, earthquake or tsunami in past;
  • Mass flooding at your departure or arrival destination means your flights have been cancelled;
  • Extreme weather conditions mean that your cruise or trip has been completely cancelled.

Having seen how travel insurance cover hurricanes and truly is essential, what about the cost? On average, a travel insurance plan covering cancelled trips and interrupted trips due to a hurricane will cost approximately 4% of your total holiday cost. This is terrific value considering that without travel insurance, you could potentially lose out on the entire cost of your trip if it has been disrupted by a hurricane.

 If you have any trips coming up or are thinking of planning your dream holiday, get the cheapest travel insurance by comparing quotes from leading Irish Insurance companies in minutes. 

 

Get Quotes here

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