Archive - 2013

Off the beaten track: Lencois Maranhenses, a desert filled with lakes
10 Kickass New Years Eve Party Cities
Strange Brews: #ttot
The Best Europe Christmas Markets
Best Urban Beaches in the World
Purple 10 December Holiday Ideas
Joining the Mile High Club – legitimately
In pictures: Europes cheapest cities
Purple Tips: Alonnisos, a secret Greek Island
Off the beaten track: Setenil de las Bodegas – A town within the rocks

Off the beaten track: Lencois Maranhenses, a desert filled with lakes

The Lencois Maranhenses National Park is in northeastern Brazil. The thing that makes it special is that, although it’s 1500 square kilometres of desert, the white sands are broken up by small lakes.

Lencois Maranhenses 1

Lencois Maranhenses (The bedsheets of Maranhão) is considered to be absolutely unique among any other deserts on the planet, due to its high level of rainfall, which is 300 times higher than the rainfalls in Sahara desert. The strange thing is, that the rain water is stored between the huge dunes, keeping lakes of crystal clear waters that attract tourists from all over the world every year. It’s hard to get anymore off the beaten track than here!

Lencois Maranhenses 2

All images via @  and Diogo R. Moraes

10 Kickass New Years Eve Party Cities

Looking for some KICKASS NEW YEARS EVE PARTY CITIES? Us too. Why not make this one the year you finally do something cool for New Years Eve instead of just talking about it. Got more ideas? Let us know in comments below.

New Years Eve from Purple Travel

Image via @ NigelHowe

  1. Amsterdam Dutch folks certainly know how to party. Amsterdam plays host to large-scale dance parties, quirky costume flings and family friendly gatherings. The organised fireworks display is best seen at Leidesplein or Dam Square, but get there early to grab a spot. Otherwise head for trance spectaculars, a touch of Vegas or a raunchy New Year celebration you won’t forget. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Gelukkig Nieujwaar!’
  2. Barcelona Head for Placa Catalunya in Barcelona to join the crowds of party goers who gather to ring in the New Year. The main traditions are to wear red undies, and eat 12 grapes. The grapes are consumed once per chime of the midnight bells, it’s harder than you might think! After that grape balancing act, the clubs fill up and the party continues well into New Years Day. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bon any!’
  3. Prague Beautiful, especially in winter, Prague makes an ideal choice for a New Years Eve city break. Book a restaurant for a sumptuous dinner, before heading to the King Charles Bridge to watch the fireworks over the historic castle. Worth it for a few days away. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Šťastný Nový Rok’
  4. Paris For a chic New Years Eve Paris is a good choice. Stroll around the artistic Montmarte neighbourhood and drop by the Sacré Cœur to admire the view or join the ‘official’ part at the Eiffel Tower where crowds sip on champagne as the festivities get underway. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bonne année!’
  5. Rio de Janeiro New Years Eve in Rio is like the party to end all parties. A huge fireworks display lights up Copacabana Beach, while Brazilian samba bands get the crowds going. It’s traditional to wear white on New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, just bring something old as you’re likely to get drenched in champagne. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Feliz ano novo!’
  6. Dublin You’ll have your pick of the parties in the Irish capital. A people’s procession of light with glowing lanterns winds its way through the streets and a huge countdown concert will take place in the city centre at College Green. Just make sure to pair your party with a legendary creamy pint of Guinness. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bhliain nua sásta’
  7. Madeira Go for a package holiday to Madeira for an incredible New Years Eve holiday that includes the largest fireworks display in the world. Glittering over the streets of Funchal, fireworks are lit from 50 locations to offer a feast for the eyes. It’s warm too so you can get a tan before the big party night out. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Feliz Ano Novo’
  8. New York You’ll have to fight tooth and nail to get to Times Square, but watching the famous ball drop, sipping beer from plastic cups, and a jaw dropping fireworks display give the Big Apple the edge over Vegas for a New Years Eve to remember in the US. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year!
  9. Goa Ringing in the New Year with sand between your toes, stars twinkling overhead and a warm breeze. New Years Eve has never sounded better. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bhagi novem voras’
  10. Berlin the biggest New Years Eve parties in hipster heaven are at the Brandenburg Gate and Viktoriapark. Light shows, a live TV show, rowdy crowds, and fireworks at midnight. Hop on a cheap flight to Berlin now for a New Years Eve party you’ll never forget. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Glückliches neues Jahr’.

Strange Brews: #ttot

The Best Europe Christmas Markets

 Grab some glühwein, wrap up well and check out the best Europe Christmas Markets from Purple Travel.Prague Christmas Market from Purple Travel

Image via @ Dave_b

Prague, Czech Republic – Couples Christmas Markets
Two of the most popular Christmas Markets in Prague are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Both markets are just five minutes’ walk from each other, creating a magnificent festive atmosphere around the city centre. In both markets you’ll find the usual traditional sweet treats, like Trdelník, a hot sugar coated pastry, lots of local beers, such as the famous Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar, and warm drinks including the infamous Glühwein. If you’re hungry, there’s plenty to feast on from large spit roasted hogs to tasty BBQs sausages. The Prague Christmas market includes lots of stalls selling cute handicrafts and decorations and real animals in the crib scene.
Opening times: 30 November 2013 – 12 January 2014. The Prague Christmas markets are open daily, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

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Best Urban Beaches in the World

This one’s for anyone who wants to combine the thrill of visiting a city with lazing on the beach. Urban beaches are the perfect place to catch a tan without having to go to an island resort and are still in close proximity to restaurants, nightclubs and other attractions. Check out some of the top urban beaches across the globe and dive into a holiday that offers the best of both worlds!

IpanemaIpanema via @ legodiniz

Ipanema, Rio de Janero

Rio offers some of the world’s best urban beaches, all of which are surrounded by breathtaking scenery and urban pleasures. Ipanema is without a doubt the best of the lot, but Copacabana and Leblon are also stunning. These beaches are the place to be and are filled with visitor’s tanning, swimming in the Atlantic or enjoying cocktails and local cuisine from one of the many beach side bars and restaurants.

Venice beach, Los Angeles

Possibly the coolest beach in the world, Venice beach is also one of the most beautiful. This bohemian beach is packed with gorgeous bronzed bodies and you’ll find rolling green lawns, art galleries, surf shops, restaurants and more on the Ocean Front Walk. Rollerblade, take to the waves, chill at a bar or hang out on the beach and indulge in some people watching.

Taylet, Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is Israel’s second most populous city and home to a sandy Mediterranean coastline that’s filled with beach cafes and hotels. Taylet has become a hot and happening destination for anyone who wants to spend the day in the sun and party the night away. Its close proximity to the seafront Port Promenade, where the best nightclubs and live music venues are found, makes it popular with visitors and locals.

Estorial via wikicommons

Image of Estoril via @ Wikicommons

Tamariz, Lisbon

Tamariz beach in Estoril is a hidden gem that’s fast becoming a tourist favourite. Laze between the locals and watch the activity at Europe’s largest casino, or soak up the old world glamour of a castle belonging to Monaco royalty, both of which are located beachside. The numerous bars and restaurants are perfect for sundowners and in summer months the beach turns into a nightclub with visiting international DJs and other live acts. Tamariz is the perfect urban party beach with the charm of a small coastal town.

Purple 10 December Holiday Ideas

Where is hot in December? We’ve compiled our list of the best holidays in December so you can soak up the sun and start the new year with the best tan.
Jumeirah Beach, Dubai 26C Exotic, hot and amazing shopping. Dubai is the perfect December holiday choice. Bring the kids, go for high tea in the Burj Khalifa and try not to laugh too much at anyone who’s stuck at home. Jumeirah Beach

 Image via @ bryangeek

Funchal, Madeira 18C One of Europe’s best kept secrets, Madeira is a lush, green island with great beaches and friendly people. December holidays in Madeira are especially good thanks to its excellent New Years Eve Party.

Madeira Flower festival from Purple Travel

Image via @ valtergouveia

Cancun, Mexico 28C Beaches, beaches, beaches and more beaches. Mexico and the entire Caribbean is truly beautiful anytime of year, but there’s nothing quite as nice as sunning yourself on a brilliant white beach and thinking of the snow back home. Book a cheap December holiday in Mexico now with Purple Travel.

Mexico from Purple Travel

Image via @ jhetzel

Red Sea Resort, Egypt 22C Take your pick of golden beaches, excellent hotels, diving amongst tropical reefs or history come to life on a December holiday to Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada or Marsa Alam.

Red sea resort from Purple Travel

Image via @ dkeats

Costa Adeje, Tenerife 22C Reliable all yar round for great weather, Tenerife and its black beach , buckets of water sports and traditional fishing villages make the Canary Islands a permanent December holiday ideas favourite.

gorgeous sunset from purple travel

 Image via @ ahisgett

Montego Bay, Jamaica 26C The most indulgent resort on the island, Montego Bay is filled with upmarket, luxury hotels most of which are right on the beach. There are golf courses, water sports, day trips, buckets of sunshine and that special Jamaica rhythm. An especially good choice if you fancy breaking out and going wild like at no holds barred Hedonism resort.

pool party montego bay

Image via @ sercasey

Rauris, Austria 6c If you like your holidays more traditional, why not grab a great value ski holiday in Austria this December. With a great choice of slopes, schools to help out any beginners and excellent apres-ski Rauris is a top notch December holiday experience.

RaurisImage via @ Sabine

Anjuna, Goa 27C Once a playground for hippies in the 60s, Anjuna in Goa is now more likely to be populated with young couples who want a relaxed, romantic getaway on golden sands and with great food. December in Goa is usually warm, so although it’s a long trip, it’s worth it.

Anjuna from purple travel

Image via @ Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

Barcelona, Spain 10C Cheap and tasty tapas, cool bars and trips to the Nou Camp or racking up museum tickets at the Picasso Exhibition or the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s cheap flights and hotel make it a great December holiday idea. Just remember to wrap up well, it can get a bit chilly. 


 Barcelona via @ Aigle_dore

Banjul, Gambia 31C Get the sunshine, with no jetlag, Banjul is one of our winter holiday bestsellers. The tiny African country is packed with beaches made of soft sand, with perfect transparent water and plenty of cheap hotels.

Acacia Tree at Sunrise

Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel. Connect with her on Google + now.

Joining the Mile High Club – legitimately

Mile High Club from purple travelWhile you might wonder about the ethics or even legal status of joining the Mile High Club, it’s no secret that it’s a bucket list entry for lots of people. Seeing a niche business opportunity a US based airline has created a special package for couples who want to do just that.

Flamingo Air, based in Ohio, USA, is offering private flights especially for couples who want to get on board with love in the air. The hour long flight in a Piper Cherokee 6 plane has its own private love nest, and as mentioned on the site, a very discreet pilot (!) Offering champagne and chocolates, the flights of fancy will set you back $425, but promise to give you a flight you won’t forget.

So, ditch the tricky trips to the toilets and take it easy at 20,000 feet in the comfort of your own personal (temporary) bedroom. Just remember, these flights take two people at a time, so no extra funny business!

You should read… the sexiest holidays on earth

In pictures: Europes cheapest cities

Purple 10: Europe’s cheapest cities… as tracked by the European Backpacker Index

It’s official,  the list of Europes cheapest cities has just been announced. These 10 cities definitely won’t break the bank, and a combo of cheap flights, transport, hotels and things to see and do, mean the likes of Bucharest, Krakow and Zagreb should feature for your next city break.


Image via @ Florin_Stanciu

1. Bucharest, Romania


Image via @ Jorge in Brazil

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Purple Tips: Alonnisos, a secret Greek Island

Discover a traditional Greek Island where life is simpler, discover Alonnisos with blogger Rebecca Hall.


Located in the North Sporades, Alonnisos takes eight hours from Athens: three hours by coach to the port at Agios Konstantinos, then five hours by ferry via Skiathos and Skopelos. But as soon as I stepped off the ferry and took in my surroundings, I knew it was worth it.

“Ela!” an elderly lady waved to me from the portside. She was here to collect and drive me up the mountain to her accommodation. “Me lene Artemis.” Artemis ran a small guesthouse, just outside of the main harbour town of Patitiri. After unpacking my things I flopped onto the bed, rolled onto my side, noting I had a gorgeous view of the harbour and sea right from my window.


I must have dozed off. A high pitch screeching (several, actually) greeted my ears. They were the cicadas, complaining in the afternoon heat—by rubbing their legs together, it creates that noise you often hear in the summer in Greece…it cools them down.

A wander back down to the town led me past island jewellery shops; old ladies in black chatting on the steps, stopping to smile as I passed. The bougainvillea wended its way around a white archway…the blues of the door, white and purples looked striking against the equally blue sky. I’m in Greece I remember thinking. Eating fresh octopus in the taverna, I looked down at the beach—people still swimming at 7:30pm. I made plans for the rest of my stay.

Boat trip

Patitiri cove
During my say, I went on a boat trip around the Marine Park that surrounds Alonisos—home to the quiet and seldom seen Monk Seals. No, I didn’t spot any, but was lucky enough to spot dolphins, go to various hidden coves, the Blue Cave—swim from the boat and eat in the gorgeous harbour town of Steni Vala.


Houses abandoned in the Chora after the 1965 earthquake
The Chora (pronounced ‘hora’) is the old village of Alonissos, located in the hills. Much of the village was destroyed in the 1965 earthquake, prompting the locals to abandon their houses and move to Patitiri. What’s left is an architectural mix of old properties and beautifully restored holiday homes. Sitting in the Square sipping coffee, views out to the coast on both sides of me, I kicked back and listened to live Greek music, watched the kids running around at 10pm (no need for bedtime rules here) and allowed the atmosphere to embrace me.

Bio: Bex is an unconventional British lass with a degree in International Relations. She’s the wrong side of 35 and only just the right side of 40 and when she’s not off gallivanting around the high seas and writing about it, she’s based in the unconventional country of Greece ( a country that suits her nature very well! ). She’s travelled to, lived and taught English in various places around the globe. She describes herself as a jack of all trades: she’s worked at LHR airport—dealing with high profile passengers, organised people’s lives through her role as P.A. to various individuals and returned to full time education in her early 30’s. All experiences have helped to shape who she is today. Follow Bex on her site, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Off the beaten track: Setenil de las Bodegas – A town within the rocks

An absolutely unique town, Sentenil de las Bodegas is built on top of, within and underneath might rock structures, creating multi-level streets, and tiny winding alleyways. the 3,000 inhabitants of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz, Spain seem to enjoy living in a gorge cut out of a mountain.

setenil delas botegas

Even if you think it’s a bit weird, there’s no arguing with history, the town has had residents for thousands of years, from when they first started to carve their homes out of the sides of the mountain. Most are built under the cliff or into the hillside, creating spacious homes that always stay at the right temperature.


All images via @ Klinne

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