As a travel company, we pride ourselves on finding the best possible deals, at the best price. We want you to have an unforgettable holiday in the sun, (or the snow!) enjoy the beaches and maybe indulge in a few cheeky cocktails. The best bit is when we get nice words from some of our wonderful, happy customers. Here is just a sample, and you can read some more in our testimonials section here.
Purple Hearts… Croatia Travel Guide the Croat d’Azur, if you will
The Dalmatian Riviera stretches along the Croatian coastline between Split and Dubrovnik, intersected by a small outcrop of Bosnia with some notable bad architecture and not much else. Boasting more islands than any other Mediterranean country except Greece, Croatia is not only naturally beautiful, but also extremely private, having all in all, around 125,000 inhabitants scattered across 48 islands – some 670 remain deserted. This, combined with some of the best sailing in the world, endless beaches, hidden coves, dramatic withstanding Roman ruins and a cuisine that packs a punch to their Italian neighbours, Croatia is a brightening star in the Mediterranean. Yet, ironically, most of Dalmatia is comprised of a throwback to simpler, non-commercialized roots and its chic beaches are just the tip of the iceberg for what the Riviera has to offer. With this Dalmatian Riviera travel guide, you can find out that little bit more about why so many people are in love with this beautiful holiday destination. Discover more in our Croatia Travel Guide.
Image via @ Sean MacEntee
Croatian cuisine is certainly one its big attractions. Renowned for a superb selection of fish and seafood, as well as a distinctive Italian influence – rizot is risotto, prsut is prosciutto, for example – it’s not just the scenery that beckons tourists back each year. The secret is in its simple preparation and easy digestibility, with essential ingredients including sheep´s cheese, salty sardines, roasted lamb, beef cooked in tomato sauce (salsa), and sautéed greens with potatoes.
Drink: Do not forget the wine, Croatia’s most famous export. Known for its special taste of the south, a taste that has been perfected over centuries, the secret recipes for winemaking are passed down from generation to generation in middle Dalmatia, produced in the families´ wine cellars. A wine connoisseur’s dream destination.
You should read… Purple Hearts Dubrovnik
Places to go:
Brač’s grey, mountainous centre provides a rugged, unfinished contrast to the alluring abundance of greenery, red-tiled roofs and clear blue water of the Adriatic Sea. Although first known for its quarries, which provided the stone for the White House, the island of Brač is now most celebrated for its beaches. Zlatni Rat (the Golden Cape) is hyped as the best beach in Dalmatia, perhaps because, aside from a few bearded gelato sellers, it remains almost completely uncommercialised. The nearby wind-surfing haven, harbour town of Bol, however, is a tourist hub. Skrip, home to the Brač Museum, is well worth a visit, as is the community winery, Poljoprivredna Zadruga, which produces some of the best wines on the island.
Over on the mainland lies Split, home to the 416,000 square-foot Roman Emperor Diocletian’s villa, circa 305 AD. About 3,000 people live in the 220 buildings within the old palace walls, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Summer is the best time to visit, when a month-long festival of performing arts fills theatres, squares, and galleries all over the town. Marrying the past with the present, the local children play alongside monuments like the Cathedral of Sveti Duje (Saint Domnius) and the Baptistery of St. John (Jupiter’s Temple).
The epicentre of Dalmatia’s ‘fabulous’ scene. Here you will find huge yachts cruising by, complete with bikini-clad women sunbathing topside, shortly followed by pods of playful dolphins. You’ll sip on a Chai latte or some other new-fangled mocha-choca-ino, stirring the blueberries into your morning soya granola with the rest of the seaside glitterati.
Just a short ferry ride away from Brač, Vis is the antithesis to Hvar’s hipster scene. But with a rich history, stretching back to Greek and Roman times, Vis is brimming with natural beauty, including over 500 varieties of flourishing herbs thrive, which make exploring the island very much a sensual experience.
The eponymous town within the island of Korčula is its biggest selling point. Expect a hopelessly quaint town that reflects a distinctly Venetian charm.
Activities: Diving is available all over the Riviera, allowing visitors to explore 1,000 years of maritime history, reflected in the sunken ships found in waters off Vis. There’s even a B-17 bomber that went down in 1944. Windsurfing and sailing are also a must. Or why not explore the hilltop ‘ghost town’ of Humac on Hvar with its spectacular views of the Adriatic, then hike down to the Grapceva Spilja Ice Cave. The Festival of Sword Dance, which runs throughout July and August, is Korčula’s recreation of a battle between two 16th-century armies, featuring soldiers dressed in flowing red and black uniforms, who each duel with genuine metal sabres in a tightly-choreographed frenzy, all to the accompaniment of a big brass band. Vanka Regule is a game in which participants free-dive, windsurf, long-distance kayak and jump bikes into the sea. It takes place in July in Sutivan on Brač.
The second entry in our 4-part series on the best beaches of the Canary Islands focuses on the beautiful island of Lanzarote and its beaches.
Papagayo beach via @ SparksEmma
The Papagayo Beaches are easily some of the most beautiful natural Lanzarote beaches in the archipelago. Composed of a series of six beaches, of which Playa Mujeres is the largest and the busiest (about 90 meters long). The other coves in the area are Playa de las Coloradas, Playa de las Ahogaderas and Playa de la Cera, located west of Punta del Papagayo, and Playa Caleta de Congrio and Playa de Puerto Muelas, located on the east side.
The Papagayo beaches are very popular with surfers and snorkellers, as well as families with children. The beaches are also favoured by naturists, with some areas being reserved for them, in order not to disrupt the families sharing the area. Although these beaches are stunningly beautiful and relatively easy to reach, they do not provide very many facilities, so make sure you come prepared.
Puerto Del Carmen is Lanzarote’s largest holiday resort on the south coast of the island. The five mile (or so) promenade connects the resort’s three main beaches with a huge variety of restaurants, shops, and bars. The most famous are the yellow sand beaches of Playa Grande (also known as Playa Blanca like the southern tourist resort, just to confuse you) and Playa de los Pocillos, both are around half a mile long. Further along is Playa de Matagorda, a smaller beach with fewer attractions, as the noise from the nearby airport keeps the crowds away.
Puerto del Carmen’s beaches are man-made, and are therefore easily accessible and family-friendly. They offer a wide range of water sports, leisure facilities, and amenities needed for a fantastic and carefree day on the beach!
El Jablillo & Las Chucharas
Located in the resort of Costa Teguise, these beaches are extremely family-friendly. The El Jablillo beach is connected to the resort’s promenade and has white sand and plenty of facilities to keep you comfortable and entertained. The larger of the two beaches is the Las Chucharas beach, stretching 600 meters in length. Both beaches are easily accessible from the resort’s boardwalk and offer calm, clear waters and lots of facilities.
Playa Blanca & Dorada
The Playa Dorada Beach is located in the eastern resort of Playa Blanca. The Dorada Beach is an artificial beach stretching 300 meters with white sands and clear water. The beach is home to many facilities as well, with shops and restaurants available within walking distance. The Playa Blanca Beach is a narrow, but natural, beach with white sands and plenty of facilities for the entire family, and especially for those looking to dive these famous waters. Both beaches have a boardwalk and are great settings for a relaxing beach day.
Read more… Best beaches Fuerteventura
It may seem a little early to start thinking about Christmas plans, but if, like us, you’d prefer to leave town for the holidays, then you’ll need to book now to get the best prices. If you’re staring at this post with a blank expression, you’re probably a first-timer, but for many of our customers, Christmas is just not complete without a passport, a suitcase and a warm, relaxing sunbed that’s as far away from home as Timbuktu.
A Christmas abroad brings with it a variety of factors – whether good, bad or just plain ugly. Local customs such as the 13 Santa Clauses of Iceland, a black St Nick in Holland and the masked musicians of the Caribbean can be a pleasant cultural awakening, while unexpected seasonal closings and minimal flight availability can be an irritating addition to the holiday – bear in mind, if that twenty-strong family of obese Americans are all competing for the last seats on a flight to sweet potato pie at Big Momma’s House, you’re probably going to lose out.
Yet the real challenge it seems, comes in deciding where exactly is the best place to celebrate this supposedly joyous, but often stressful time of year. Fares skyrocket, offending recession-strapped budgets and deciding between a white Christmas and a golden one can be a pretty tough call.
Rather than worrying your little, paper-hat clad head, why not just book a trip to one of these five destinations that we think are perfect for the Christmas season? Read More
Anyone who’s travelled with little ones knows it can be a little stressful. We were very impressed when we saw the latest initiative by our friends at Gatwick Airport.
In a worlds first, the team at Gatwick has partnered with Soundcloud to offer a selection of audio books to entertain, intrigue and delight children (of any age!) It means young travellers going through the airport can listen to their favourite stories like Three Little Pigs, The Ugly Duckling and (my personal favourite) Sleeping Beauty. The plan is to launch more before the summer’s out.
We love it because; it’s a really lovely way of taking a few minutes to relax with your mini-me before hopping on your flight. As well as that we think traditional stories never go out of fashion and we love the way forward thinking Gatwick and Soundcloud are mixing old and new to make your journey better.
But how does it work?
Fancy a last minute get away, or planning your holiday for ages? Beaches, beaches and more beaches are the first things that cross our mind when we’re thinking of heading away. With that in mind here’s a handy guide to the beaches of one of our most popular holiday hot spots: the Canary Islands. This is the first in our four part guide, and we thought we’d start with the most visited island, Tenerife. Perfect in summer, but equally as good in winter thanks to its great weather, Tenerife has some of the best beaches ever, you literally won’t be able to tear yourself away. Find out more in the Purple Travel guide to the Best Tenerife Beaches.
Tenerife beaches via @ Chop1n
Playa De Las Teresitas
This gorgeous beach was redeveloped with sand taken from the Spanish Sahara! The golden sand and clear waters stretch for about a mile along the coast. Plenty of facilities are available here (parking, sun beds, showers, toilets, etc), while the large crowds dwindle in the winter months. This beach is near the village of San Andres, about north of Santa Cruz.
Come on, don’t tell us you’ve never heard about Playa de las Americas? It’s the busiest resort in Tenerife is also home to some of the most fantastic organized beaches on the island.
There are actually plenty beaches in this area, all just steps away from one another. Thy’re all idyllic miles of golden sands and gem coloured waters. The jewel in this group is the Playa De Las Vistas beach, which was re developed with sand from the sea bed and is one of the best beaches on the island. All the beaches in this area have sun beds for hire and water sports available, along with a huge selection of shops, bars, and restaurants nearby. If it’s R&R you’re after, you’ve been warned, you won’t be too far from the crowd here.
Nearby to Playa De Las Americas, Los Cristianos has its own beach that’s a bit smaller than the Playa De Las Vistas beach. It’s very organised with sun beds and water sports, with Los Cristianos town as the backdrop. If you want to shake it up a bit while you’re there, Playa De Las Americas is only a stone’s throw away.
One of the more unspoilt beaches on the islands, near to Puerto De La Cruz, El Bollullo, also known as La Orotava is a sunbathers dream. The stunning black sand (yes, you read that right!) and turquoise waters are much less crowded than their southern counterparts.
The beach has a limited amount of amenities but has plenty of waves to make for some amazing water sports. A perfect rest from all the, er… resting is a stroll through the nearby Banana Plantation.
Playa De La Troya
Located on the south coast of Tenerife, in Costa Adeje, is the marvelous Playa De La Troya. Its central location, fantastic facilities and off-the-beaten-track feeling mean it’s a great alternative to the very busy Playa de las Americas beaches. Bring the whole family and a bucket and spade for maximum fun in the sun.
If you enjoyed our guide to the best Tenerife Beaches, you should read… Best beaches Fuerteventura
An extra bank holidays in the year? Are there any sweeter words? We don’t think so. With that in mind, we’ve been figuring out how to make the most of our time off. We’ve done the maths and have figured out, that taking five days off, means we get ten days holidays. Please correct us if we’re wrong!
What better way to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee than toasting her health from some sunny climes! If you haven’t booked yet, don’t worry, there is still time, that’s why we’re here! Whisk the kids away for half term, or simply have a relaxing break with your other half in a few days of hot, hot sunshine.
First up, we think you should head for the sunshine of Cyprus. Spring has well and truly sprung and the crystal clear waters of the Aegean are just the thing for a little pick-me-up. The long, sandy beaches are a site for sore eyes, while the dose of vitamin D means you’ll come home totally relaxed and glowing.
If you fancy something a little more exotic, the gorgeous Turkish resort of Kusadasi will be right up your street. One of those legendary Turkish baths is a great place to start, while the nearby beaches, or pool bars are perfect for a cocktail at sunset.
Start out with an exhilarating, adventure filled and educational underwater tour, by hopping into a submarine and diving over 20 yards under the sea. It’s an unforgettable experience among the colourful, sub aquatic world.
If you prefer staying on dry land, a desert safari is an utterly thrilling ride. Your guide will take you into Bedouin territory, exploring the fascinating lifestyle and (for the romantic at heart) will bring you for a picnic under the stars after the most beautiful sunset.
Fancy getting away from it all? We’re daydreaming about soaking up the sunshine on the deck of a wooden ship gently bobbing along in the Aegean? Maybe you prefer to lounge by the pool with a good book, before tearing up the dance floor every night? Or perhaps you’d like a quiet little beach break with the kids, where there is plenty of room for their bucket and spade. Whatever you’re looking for, we think Turkey is a top tip.
Turkey’s right on the crossroads where East meets West. It’s bordered by a whopping eight countries and three seas, so you can imagine the choice on offer.
For pure relaxation, first stop should definitely include a Turkish bath, speaking from experience; this is a pretty blissful thing to do. An attendant basically scrubs you from head to toe with a kind of cloth, a bit like an icing bag, followed by a serious massage! If you’re not a fan of massages stay away and head for the many spas or yoga retreats on offer.
If it’s partying you’re after, well, there is no better place than Gumbet. There are a heap of open air clubs and some even have 24 hour bars so there’s no excuse! Stay up all night, make friends and watch the sunrise outside some of the best beach clubs in the world. Ps. if you check out Gumbet, definitely take advantage of a boat trip to the Greek island of Kos, it’s like two holidays in one!
If you fancy something a little different, a walking holiday in Cappadocia might be right up your street. This strange rock landscape looks a bit like the moon. There are even underground cities and caves to explore. It’ll make your eyes pop!
For foodies, try out the spicy kebabs and famous coffee in the beautiful surrounds of Bodrum or give the meze dishes a go. With a choice of up to 15 at a time, you will definitely find something you will like. Or how about sampling the sights and sounds and grabbing a bargain on a short break in Istanbul.
For history buffs, start out with the ancient wonder of Ephesus. Its ancient Temple of Artemis dates back to 550 BC and was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Mount Nemrut offers you the chance to see head statues dedicated to the ancient Gods.
So we think there’s something there to suit almost anyone. If you’ve got any other suggestions for things to do in Turkey, we’d love to hear them. Stay tuned for another country focus coming soon.
Family holidays are always tricky. You’ve got so many variables to think about. How to keep the kids happy and where to find good beaches that are safe and not too crowded. You want fun and relaxed places to eat and kids clubs are always handy. Good public transport links are a must and of course you don’t want to be spending an arm and a leg on your holiday.
Then, you might like some choices to keep mum and dad busy; perhaps Grandma and Grandpa are tagging along too? You want to enjoy your holiday as well!
We reckon Spain should be a top choice for a family holiday. With great prices, facilities and of course that elusive sunshine, why would you consider anywhere else?
Malaga on the Costa del Sol has plenty to entertain children of all ages! The Malaga Open top tour bus is a nice way to get your bearings. A trip to the city beach of Caleta is a must. Little ones will love playing in the surf and there are plenty of loungers, umbrellas and facilities to help you out. If you tire of the beach, the interactive science museum will keep you in the shade and entertain for hours. The buggy friendly promenades are a great option for an evening stroll and the range of tapas bars and restaurants mean there’s a choice for even the fussiest eaters.
Lanzarote’s Puerto Del Carmen is amazing value for a fantastic summer break with the kids this year. There are plenty of options for all inclusive or self catering getaways that include kids clubs to keep them busy. The beach is a must, with nearly a mile of golden, soft sand, clean clear waters and a full range of facilities. Just a few miles away in Puerto Calero, kids will love Submarine Safaris. Designed especially for children to enjoy underwater exploration, it’s an incredible journey into Lanzarote’s clear, magical waters.
Costa Brava’s Lloret de Mar is perfect for a simple sunshine break of sandcastles, swimming and a bit of exploring. It’s got plenty of family friendly beaches so you could almost chose a different one every day. Lloret Turisme offers a miniclub, with organised beach games with a beach library for the grownups! The many children’s playgrounds offer a lovely break from the sand. There are even a couple of adventure parks including Gnomopark with bowling, mini karts, games and a gnome farm! If that’s not enough, it’s close to Barcelona if you feel like a little city adventure on your sunshine break. Discover the aquarium, or Park Guell which kids always enjoy.
Majorca has been a trusted family friendly resort for many years; it’s easy to see why so many people return again and again. We like Alcudia Beach or Cala Bona where you have great accommodation options with plenty of family friendly extras. The weather is almost perfect; the long sandy beaches are safe for little ones to get busy making sandcastles. Most hotels and apartments feature child friendly pools and kids clubs to keep them busy from morning ‘til bedtime.
Tenerife’s Costa Adeje is one of our top choices. It’s got a lively atmosphere, with lots of day trips on the menu. Check out the whale watching cruises or boat day trips. If you’ve got older children or teens, they will love trying out diving or surfing. A mini train runs through the resort to pick you up and drop you off when you need to, perfect if mum and dad are tired after a long day in the sun.
La Pineda on the Costa Dorada is really the best of both worlds. With an Aquapolis water park, Dolphinarium and the PortAventura theme park, as well as beautiful Salou just around the corner, there are more fun options than you can shake a stick at! Sun, sea and sand are the orders of the day, in this blessed out cheap holiday hotspot.