1
Which Caribbean island should I visit?
2
Off The Beaten Track: What is Glamping
3
10 unmissable summer festivals with a twist
4
Our pick: Best beaches in Europe
5
A night less ordinary: Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro
6
Going to TBEX Athens? Here’s a (sort of) local guide
7
Lesson Learned: Three days is not enough for Istanbul
8
Purple 10: Most photographed places in the world
9
Singles holidays: solo travel in 2014
10
The real story on the best destinations 2014

Which Caribbean island should I visit?

The beauty of the Caribbean islands – on top of simply beautiful surroundings and brilliant weather – is its diversity. There are at least 28 island countries in the Caribbean spread across more than 7,000 islands. But, how do you figure out which one is the perfect one for you? Why do home birds go to St Kitts and resort-hunters head for Dominican Republic? We’ve got the lowdown on the Caribbean Islands so it’s easy to answer the question: Which Caribbean Island should I visit?

caribbean_island_holidays_purple_travel

Cuba’s exotic rhythms and history give a sense of adventure to sun holidays in the Caribbean. Easily one of the most exciting islands, it is also the least changed or commercialised. Beaches are palm-lined, with white sand and sparkling water. Locals are friendly and are happy to help, rum flows freely and the island pulses to an internal rhythm like nowhere else. Great for: anyone who wants holidays with a sense of adventure.

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Off The Beaten Track: What is Glamping

Thanks to Patrick, an expert glamper who gave us the lowdown on what is glamping! Turns out it’s a cool mix of camping and glamour, no buddy boots here!

Glamping 1

Glamping … it’s a funny new word. It’s actually two words mixed together which I’ve always found quirky in itself, but what makes this one really stand out is the fact that it’s actually two concepts rolled into one as well. And those two concepts – I imagined – were entirely contradictory. I couldn’t be more wrong! And the word isn’t funny really; it’s the concept that just makes you want to smile all day long.

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10 unmissable summer festivals with a twist

Lebowski Fest, 11-12th July 2014, Louisville, Kentucky Dedicated to all things Dude, Lebowski Fest’s been running for a whopping 12 years and offers White Russians, unlimited bowling, costume contests and special guests. The Dude abides at Lebowski Fest and we couldn’t think of a better summer festival.
Jerry Duvall

 Image via @ Lebowski Fest

Full Moon Party, 13th July, 08th September 2014, Koh Phangan, Thailand If we could choose one word to describe the Full Moon Parties of Koh Phangan it would be: epic. Shirtless, shoeless tourists dance all night at the biggest beach party in the world, where you’ll find plastic buckets that hold a litre of vodka and Red Bull. Told you it was epic.

Full moon party

Full Moon Party via @ Wikicommons

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Our pick: Best beaches in Europe

It’s almost impossible to choose the best beaches in Europe, so we asked around the office to find out what some of the favourites are. We’d love to hear your opinion of our top 10 best beaches in Europe.

1. Zlatni Rat, in Bol, Croatia. The photographer’s favourite, known as Zlatni Rat or the Golden Cape or Golden Horn is a white pebble beach that creates an incredible seaside experience stretching in an almost vertical line into the sea Changing with the tide, the clothing-optional beach is one of the country’s most famous.

Zlatni Rat from Purple Travel

Image via @ Wikicommons

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A night less ordinary: Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro

We love to take a look at some of the best, weirdest and most wonderful hotels in the world. A night less ordinary is all about hotels with an extra special something, like a revolving roof, a night with giraffes or a panda themed hotel. This week, we take a look at the Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro home to the England World Cup Squad at least on a temporary basis!

The basics: As you read this, the England squad is already ensconced in the Royal Tulip Hotel on the Sao Conrado Beach in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the 2014 World Cup kicking off on June 12th. The hotel can host up to 3,000 guests in a variety of rooms. There are 418 apartments boasting private balconies, with sea or mountain views. The outdoor pool will probably be more use than the bar, as will the two tennis courts, gym and sauna.

Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro from Purple Travel 2

The WOW factor: Superstars like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney are already enjoying the luxurious rooms at the hotel which finished a multimillion pound revamp just in time for the arrival of the England squad for the World Cup. Its reported the FA has asked for a dedicated games room with three TVs so the team can watch its potential opponents in all the group games. The hotel’s manager George Durante, told the Mirror that the 64 rooms that are home to the team for the next few weeks have brand new furniture, beds, floors, balconies and air -conditioning. Sounds like the team has everything they need to win the Brazil World Cup 2014! Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro from Purple Travel 4Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro from Purple Travel 5

Details: Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro Av Aquarela do Brasil – 75, 22610010, Rio de Janeiro. See Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro reviews on TripAdvisor here. Rooms from 150.27 per day. Royal Tulip Rio de Janeiro from Purple Travel 6

Going to TBEX Athens? Here’s a (sort of) local guide

I was so happy to hear that TBEX, the travel blog exchange will be held in Athens, Greece in 2014. There’s a simple reason for this. Although I’m not from here, it’s been my home for the past three and a bit years. In that time I’ve come to feel very proud of Athens: it’s lively and vibrant, friendly and fun, parties go on all night, food is incredible and so cheap and is nothing like what you see on tv… it’s much more than that. Everyone knows about the sites like Anafiotika, The Acropolis, and Plaka. All incredible sites that I never get tired of… but I wanted to share some practical local knowledge – when you first arrive somewhere, where should you eat, drink or dance? This list is a bit nightlife heavy and I could have kept writing all day – but seriously, who would be still going on page 55? If you’ve got any other questions about local stuff to do or see during TBEX Athens, please feel free to get in touch, I’ll do my best to help out.

11390570636_1d382b8a4a_zImage via @ flickr

Sunset Views

Head for the Acropolis, but instead of turning right up to the Parthenon, turn left and watch out for a metal staircase that leads you up to the open rocks opposite. A free and lovely place to soak up a glorious sunset behind the ancient temple. Known to locals or me certainly) as the slippery rocks, it’s best to wear good shoes up there. There are also lots of bars with great views in Athens, I’ve been to many of them. If you’re in Monastiraki avoid A for Athens. The overpriced drinks and rude staff don’t help you appreciate the view too much. Instead, head for the roof of the AthenStyle hostel for decent value drinks and a panoramic terrace or the cool surrounds of a 6th floor roof bar called Sole e Luna in a hotel in Neos Kosmos, where you can find a sunset to rival the Monastiraki bars and enjoy an expertly made Mojito.

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Lesson Learned: Three days is not enough for Istanbul

It turns out March in Istanbul is the perfect time to visit. Actually, scratch that, I would say anytime is the perfect time to go. No wonder it’s been named the best destination to visit in 2014. Living in Athens, it was an easy trip for me and my friend across the Aegean for three days of exploring in the vast (trust me, it’s huge) sprawling Turkish City.

2014-03-21 16.32.00

Ok, i’ll throw my hands up and say it was kind of a surprise to realise just how huge the city is. It’s spread across both sides of the Bosphorus. Since we had such a short time, we fancied seeing the obvious ones, this was a taster really, but here’s our highlights:

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Purple 10: Most photographed places in the world

Next time you’re away on holidays and decide to whip out your camera to snap some pics of the area’s most famous attractions like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, or the Empire State Building in New York, remember you’re not alone. Sightsmap is a heatmap that charts the most photographed tourist attractions around the world. The images are collated by how ‘hot’ they are, based on the number of people sharing them via Google’s Panoramio. Here’s the top 10 of the world’s most photographed places in the world, with a few that might surprise you. Which one is your favourite?

1. Guggenheim Museum, New York

The Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum via @ Chris Eason

2. The Spanish Steps, Rome

Pictures taken in May 2010 @ Rome, IT.   Near Spanish Steps (or on it)Spanish Steps via @ Raul

3. Park Guell, Barcelona

Park Guell Barcelona from Purple Travel
4. Moulin Rouge, Paris

Moulin RougeMoulin Rouge via @ Xavi

5. Maiden’s Tower, Istanbul

Maidens Tower IstanbulMaiden’s Tower via @ Sercan Engin

6. Ponte dell’Accademia, Venice

Ponte dellAccademia VenicePonte dell’Accademia via @ HarshLight

7. Hotel de Paris, Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Hotel De ParisHotel de Paris via @ Gary Bembridge

8. Piazzale Michelangelo, Florence

Piazzale MichelangeloPiazzale Michelangelo via @ Andy Hay

9. Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina

CaminitoCaminito via @ -Fabio- 

10. St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest

St Stephens BasilicaSt Stephen’s Basilica via @ Dom Crossley

Singles holidays: solo travel in 2014

Embrace your inner adventurer with the best in sunshine getaways or busy breaks with our tips for solo travel in 2014. Here are a couple of simple ideas whether you’ve been on endless singles holidays or you’re a first-time single traveller this year… Tell us your singles holidays suggestions in the comments below.

Cheap singles holidays from Purple Travel

 Image via @ nosha 

Friendship House-Parties This is a cool idea for chilled-out singles travel. Hotels are booked for 30-60 years old singles who want beach holidays in Turkey, Greece or as far afield as Cambodia.

Beach Getaways Grab a cocktail, sit back and relax on the beach for a sunshine getaway in the Canaries or the Costa del Sol, just because you’re travelling alone doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same beach holiday as everyone else.

See the Northern Lights Yeah, I’m fed up too with seeing half of my Facebook friends showing off their perfect northern Lights pics, so, why not discover the stark beauty of the land inside the Arctic Circle and the incredible blues and greens. Hop on a huskie sled, get close to mother earth and relax in great company.

Solo Island Hopping Greece is an obvious choice, with tonnes of islands to cherry pick from. It’s an easy one to do on your own, you will inevitably bump into other solo travellers discovering the islands, there are decent room rates across the board and you can find as much or as little action as you’re looking for. Talk to our expert Greece team now about cheap singles holidays.

Cultural City Breaks why not join a group of other like-minded folks to discover the incredible art and culture of Europe’s capital cities. Discover Rome and the Vatican, its art, history and food. Hop from Budapest to Vienna for a mix of cool bars and high concept opera.

Caribbean Escape solo travel is moving quickly with companies offering more and more adventurousness on holidays. We love the idea of learning about rum and salsa on the atmospheric streets of Havana in Cuba, or partying at the colourful festivals of Trinidad and Tobago.

Hit the Road Walking tours and ‘doing the Camino’ are becoming increasingly popular, in fact walking the Camino alone is one of the busiest searches that we’ve discovered. There are new options for walking tours as far away as India, or you can check out our Camino guide here, written by someone who has travelled it several times.

The real story on the best destinations 2014

It’s official, Trip Advisor the world renowned travel site has awarded a host of awards for best destinations 2014. The annual Traveller’s Choice Awards includes the vast city of Istanbul in Turkey which tops the poll, with Rome, London and Beijing following close behind. Each city or place earned its review through the reviews and opinions of visitors the site. “If you’re looking for trip inspiration, look no further than the Travelers’ Choice Destinations,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “Our global travelers are the tastemakers for uncovering the best places to visit around the world.” The awards in its 6th year picks out 500 of the absolute best places to visit in the world.

Best destination collage Square 640But what are these places really like? I’ve asked some of the Purple Travel family to share their thoughts on the top destinations 2014. Some they loved and some… well, you’ll see for yourself. We’d love to hear what you think, good or bad about the official list!

1. Istanbul, Turkey Fantastic city full of sights and culture. The people are so friendly and eager to help. This place has it all. – Gary
I think the best of the best way to taste the Turkish food, and experience the Turkish mentality, is to eat this giant hot dog with fish and cabbage at the Bosphorus coast on the Asian part of Istanbul. There are cooks on floating boats, preparing the grilled fish, that are then placed on these huge bagel and stuffed that with cabbage, fried potatoes and mustard. You cannot imagine! Also don’t miss the old guy outside the Blue Mosque who sells bagels and gives you for free La vache qui rit portion! – Soso
2. Rome, Italy What can someone say about Rome, about the Italians, their food and their language? I think my best moments in Rome were when we were walking around from the Piazza di Spagna, to the Colosseum, and the Fontana di Trevi. Suggested hotels-the newly built Caravel hotel (just two stops by bus from Piazza di Spagna) with nice big rooms and a lovely receptionist and Hotel Trevi, with its traditional style in the very centre of the city!!! loved them both, love Rome! – Soso
3. London, England Massive dump, ok for day trips but get out before it chews you up. – Gary

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