Category - Travel News

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The real story on the best destinations 2014
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Purple Tips: Best Party Cities Europe 2014
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Ryanair Hand Luggage Size – finally changing!
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Twilight holidays, the weirdest thing ever?
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8 Reasons to visit Croatia this year
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Purple Pick: June Holidays
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Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays
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Purple Tips: Costa Brava Family Holidays
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Dream Job? Professional Sleeper Required
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In pictures: Why you should visit Greece in 2013

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
4. Beijing, China
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Really touristy, especially in the centre, but a fun city with hilarious museums and cool bars. The beer on its own is worth the trip! – Kate
6. Marrakech, Morocco
7. Paris, France
Paris is indeed the city of lights. Loved the museums and the Seine coast. I’m giving you the heads up for the hotels!They are all tiny and expensive in the city centre.  You have to go a bit further, if you wanna get a nice one on a descent price. Don’t hesitate cause the train is very good! – Soso
8. Hanoi, Vietnam
9. Siem Reap, Cambodia.
One of the most peaceful places I have ever been, temples here, there and everywhere, wild life and nature reclaiming it slowly, truly spectacular sights. The night life is also very good fun from low rent rock bars to high end cocktail bars. – Gary
10. Shanghai, China
11. Berlin, Germany Well a friend of mine got mugged there at 7 am in a packed train station and no one helped, so Berlin doesn’t rate too highly for me. – Kate
12. New York City, New York.
New York the best of the best hotel ever is next to the SEX museum, the one and only “The Gershwin Hotel”.  Almost on the 5th avenue, next to the train station, 5 minutes from the Flatiron District and the same distance from the Empire State Building and the hugest, the biggest Shoe Shop (named designers only) at the best prices!!!! Loved New york City for the donuts, the coffee shops and the views from the car driving all around Manhattan! You have to visit the shop of Tiffany & Co. at least for a window shopping as well the Hollister shop-at least for the experience-you feel like being in Miami!!! I tasted new things, loved this multicultural city!
Top secret tip for New York City – buy a $75 the city pass for New York (prior to arrival, purchase that online). It gives you access EVERYWHERE. If you do not have that and you want to visit all museums, take the boat tour to the Statue of Liberty or go to Broadway, you will spent more or less $185. So this pass will save you money and my secret for NYC. Do you remember where Alicia Keys was singing about the big apple and was playing the piano on the top of the steps on Times Square? Well, just underneath these steps, there is a ticket shop, with last minute bargains for Broadway.. I got ticket for the Phantom of the Opera for only $20. – Soso
13. Florence, Italy.
I went to a wedding in Florence a few summers ago and it was AMAZING. The city is gorgeous and fairly small so it’s easy to get around. The Uffizi has some magnificent art, food is fantastic (obviously) and it’s so historic. Although the queue was long, climbing to the top of the tower in Florence Cathedral is well worth it. – Kate
14. Buenos Aires, Argentina An old European style metropolis where you can go out for dinner at 2 in the morning, dine on fine steak and learn the tango. – Sean
15. Barcelona, Spain.
Amazing city, maybe the best in the Mediterranean! Great vibe, beautiful gothic quorter , even more beautiful smiley helpful people and of course the tapas and the sangria! Absolutely loved it! Some of my highlights: La Ramblas, Barcelonnetta, Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Gothic Quarter. – Elizabeth
16. St. Petersburg, Russia
17. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
18. Chicago, Illinois
19. Cape Town, South Africa
20. Bangkok, Thailand
21. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is actually crazy. We went to an outdoor bar along the Danube and there was a huge lightning storm! It was so much fun though. Really lively city with cool bars and clubs. The baths are the perfect hangover cure too. – Kate
22. Sydney, Australia
23. Lisbon, Portugal
24. Chiang Mai, Thailand
25. San Francisco, California

If you want to book cheap holidays to any of these destinations, call Purple Travel on 0207 993 9228 or visit our website for our best offers and don’t forget to visit Purple Travel on Pinterest for loads of pics of these gorgeous destinations.

Purple Tips: Best Party Cities Europe 2014

Check out our Purple Travel guide to some of the best parties cities Europe has to offer in 2014. Don’t agree? Let us know in the comments below.

Berlin, Germany. It can be hard to choose from the best party cities Europe 2014, but Berlin is an easy one. A sprawling city where weekends usually start on Thursday evenings and last well into Monday morning, there’s a great selection of cheap hotels and cool bars. House music is easily the most popular and clubs like WaterGate on Falckensteinerstrase 49, Cookies on Friedrichstrase 158 and Weekend on Alexanderstrasse 5 are almost clubbing institutions in Berlin.

Ios Island in Greece. Not technically a city, but Ios easily tops the list of the best places to party in Europe. A longtime backpackers favourite, trust me, it’s worth the ferry trek for hot summer all night parties. Start out in the clean lines of Far Out Beach Bar, before knocking back €1 shots in Orange Bar (the Malteser ones are epic!) Slammers Bar Ios, lives up to its name – you put on a helmet and get whacked in the head with a hammer after a shot, and Sweet Irish Dream only kicks off at 3am. Phew!

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Ryanair Hand Luggage Size – finally changing!

On the back of a complete overhaul of Ryanair’s website, the low cost Arline is introducing changes to its baggage and check in policies, in a bid to attract more customers.

Ryanair from purple travel

Ryanair image via @ Paolo Margari

The no-frills airline announce on 28th November it was to allow passengers to bring a second small carry-on bag for free. It’ll also see the Ryanair boarding card fee reduced from €70/£70 to €15/£15 for customers who are already checked in online. This will presumably come into play if a customer has already printed out their check in card and mislaid it.

It’s part of CEO Micheal O’Leary’s plan for a whole series of customer service improvements across the Ryanair network.  It comes in addition to a grace period of 24 hours to correct minor booking mistakes and a selection of new quieter flights, (pre 8am and post 9pm.) There’ll be no more fighting over seats either, as fully allocated booking will be introduced on 1st February.

Maybe the most important part of the changes is Ryanair hand luggage size. In addition to a single 10kg cabin bag, te introduction of a second small bag, from this Sunday (Dec 1) means there’ll be less trying to wear all your clothes at once like Joey From Friends – or these girls… YouTube Preview Image However don’t think you’ll be grabbing another big case, the dimensions of the second bag must be 35cm x 20cm x 20cm.

Ryanair’s head of communications Robin Kiely said: “We are actively listening and responding to our customers so that they can continue to expect low fares and on-time flights, but can now enjoy a second small carry-on bag and reduced boarding card reissue fees for those who have checked-in online, along with easier website access, 24 hour grace periods and quiet flights, with further improvements set to be rolled out over the coming months.”

Twilight holidays, the weirdest thing ever?

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If you’re a twihard, like us, then here are some holidays you might want to to think about. From the rolling hills of Ireland to the breathtaking landscapes
of Italy, we’ve got the top trips for Twilight holidays.

Olympic Coven, Forks, Washington, USA

Home to the Cullens, Edward, with added Bella, Carlisle and Esme and (of course!) the newest edition, Renesmee, Forks has become a haven for Twilight fans. Of course, starting off with a Twilight tour is a must. A trip to Seattle nearby is a great family friendly choice; you can even visit the famous Space Needle, while Forks’ national park shows off the setting that inspired Stephanie Meyer.

Volturi Coven, Tuscany, Italy

Romance is alive and well in Tuscany of course, even if you don’t see much niceness from the Volturi themselves. Volterra is the home of the vampire royalty who’ve lived there for over 3000 years, enforcing their strict code of conduct. It might be home to a fictional vampire elite, but don’t let that put you off. It’s one of the most popular places in Europe to get married (think summer evenings, eating outdoors, fireworks and olive groves,) while the show stopping scenery and long, lazy days surrounded by sunshine and pasta make for a totally laidback holiday.

Egyptian Coven, somewhere in Egypt

Robert Pattinson

Egypt might reveal vampires pretty quickly – with all that sunshine, you couldn’t help but sparkle. For non-vamps, the historic homeland of one of Twilight’s oldest clans is an unbelievably beautiful experience. From snorkelling the clear waters of the Red Sea, to discovering the ancient historic sights of the King and Queens valleys.

Denali Coven, Alaska, USA

The Denalis are the Cullens’ closest friends and the only other known ‘vegetarian’ clan. Found in the wilds of Alaska, the Denalis must be making the most of the 67 days of night found in the northern American state. The untouched landscape and a trip to the (aptly named) Denali National Park, mean you can get close to nature and hike to your heart’s content.

Amazon Coven, Brazil

The ultimate in honeymoon destinations, Rio is where Edward and Bella kicked off their first holiday after their wedding and the stars Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart were the star attraction when they filmed there. The secretive Amazon coven, stays out of the way of humans, but you probably don’t need to worry about that. There’s a whole country worth of sights, sounds and smells to soak up in this Latin American gem.

Dublin, Ireland

Ireland Ireland’s capital city Dublin is a great introduction to the home of the Irish Coven with the vampires Maggie and Siobhan. It’s got that legendary nightlife, which is always helpful for vampires who are used to not sleeping. Head to the coast, either West or South, for the hip towns of Galway or Cork and indulge in some of the finest ‘craic’ this side of the Atlantic.

8 Reasons to visit Croatia this year

Daenerys

Game of Thrones If you’re still reeling from the Red Wedding, then how about a visit to King’s Landing itself to take your mind off it. Croatia’s beautiful capital Dubrovnik is the location for lots of shooting of GoT, and its three hour tour includes the scene of Stannis Baratheon’s Battle of the Blackwater and tales of the Starks, Lannisters and Daenerys Targaryen as they battle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. The new season of Game of Thrones is just one of the reasons to visit Croatia this year.

There is a feast of local culture scattered around Croatia, from the traditional embroidery of Dubrovnik, the street markets of Zagreb, the folk music of Istria or the ‘klapa’ singers of Split. It is sometimes said, people visit Croatia for the weather but stay for the culture. There is also a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Euprhasian Basilica in Porec, the historic city of Trogir and the Plitvice Lakes.

You Should Read… OMG! World’s Best Beaches

The perfect city break? Dubrovnik might just fit that template. A spotlessly clean, small and friendly city, the whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an upcoming favourite among European elite. The city walls make for breathtaking views and are an easy walk especially if you make it in the morning before it’s too hot. There are summer festivals throughout August, a wealth of history and museums, there are beaches and even some cliff jumping if you’re feeling up for it at Cafe Buza (ask for directions!)

Croatia

Image via @ emmequadro61

Discover a festival Croatia’s en route to being the edgy festival sister of Hungary, Spain or Portugal, offering plenty of home grown talent and big names this year. It’s more to do with cheap booze, chilled-out crowds, top DJs and beach or boat parties. Discover a Fresh Island on Pag in July, or celebrate the Unknown in Rovinj in September. Croatia holidays are perfect for combining sunshine and festivals in 2013.

Beach party like a boss Holidays in Croatia are synonymous with beach parties. One of the wildest, hottest and hippest beach clubs in Croatia, Carpe Diem in Hvar has restaurants, loads of pools, a creperie, long couches for relaxing on, and wooden umbrellas for a bit of extra luxury. It is worth spending a day and a night soaking up the atmosphere and partying until late.

Get naked It’s well known Croatia is one of the most nude friendly destinations in the world. Paradise Beach on the small island of Rab was established way back in 1934 and is a leading naturist beach. On top of that there are over 30 resorts for naturists throughout the 1,000 islands that make up the country.

Indulge in Heartbreak in Zagreb Heartbreak Museum Mend a broken heart, or at least know you’re not alone in your heartbreak, with a visit to Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships. Home to keepsakes from failed love affairs that have been donated to the cause, it’s less teddy bears and love letters, and more vials of cried tears, a glass horse and…an axe. There’s even a small cafe where you get pull yourself together after the emotional rollercoaster. Ćirilometodska 2, 10 000 Zagreb

You Should Read… Purple 10 really weird museums

Eat, drink and be merry Croatia’s a foodie haven, with a mix of traditional cuisine with added Hungarian, Italian and Austrian influences. On the coast you’ll find the freshest of fish, risottos and seafood pastas, combined with olives and salads. Further inland, you’ll find stews, and lamb roasted on the spit. There’s freshly brewed strong coffee available in most cafes, while a rakijas (a kind of local grappa) finishes off a night perfectly.

For more reasons to visit Croatia this year, you should read… Purple Hearts Dubrovnik City Guide

Purple Pick: June Holidays

Purple Pick: June Holidays

Majorca from above

Image via @ Tom Tolkien

Balmy in the Balearics Ideal for cheap family holidays, Majorca, one of the most famous of the Balearic Islands has a whopping 42 Blue Flag beaches, with calm, crystal clear waters, fantastic weather and lots of water parks that’ll keep children of all ages busy. June holidays in Majorca are also a good choice because it’s little before the summer crowds arrive, but you can still expect about eight hours of sunshine and highs of 27 degrees.

Grecian Getaway Obviously, the Greek Islands are firm favourites for cheap holidays in June, but don’t knock the charming Halkidiki coastline. Made of three ‘fingers’ jutting out of the mainland in the north, these offer something a little different. The beaches are nothing short of spectacular and you’ll find really great value holidays, especially for last minute bookings.

You should read… the six most terrifying rollercoaster rides in the world

City breakers June is a great time to take advantage of a quick city break somewhere in Europe. Barcelona has some great bars, a city beach and tonnes of hotels and apartments for a short break or a longer getaway. If you’re looking for a great summer festival, then Sonar at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona is the cutting edge choice. We like the idea of a boozy weekend in BCN so if you’re looking for the best bars in Barcelona, you should definitely include La Leo, on Calle Sant Charles 32, the tango themed Tinta Roja, Carrer de la Creu Molers 17 and the jazzy 23 Robadors in the Raval area.

Cuba calling The Caribbean is always a good choice, thanks to its year round great weather and brilliant value. Cuba is a top choice in June, where you can combine a bit of cultural discovery in the capital Havana, with the chilled and idyllic beaches of Varadero. Perfect for a honeymoon or a couple’s getaway.

You should read… Purple 10: get noticed on the beach

Trying out Turkey Antalya in Turkey is part city, part beach offering the best of both worlds. In June it won’t be hugely busy, but should still be warming up nicely so you can spend long, lazy days on the fabulous beaches, and nights out in the nearby clubs or eating out. There’s even the SunSplash Festival between 2-9 and featuring the likes of Gilles Petersen, Mad Professor and Jamie Lidell and a big emphasis on yoga, healthy living and foods. Find out more at their site here.

Clubbing in Cyprus Cyprus is excellent value for June holidays. If you want to party, the clubbing haven of Ayia Napa is a no-brainer. The nightlife is epic, there are countless bars, clubs and restaurants to suit every kind of music lover. We like the Castle Club, Club Ice and Club Sin. The beaches are made for long days of nursing a sore head, while if you’re feeling up to it, there is a top selection of water sports too like wind surfing, diving and surfing.

Image via @ Oscarparadela.com

Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays

Chania

Family beaches

Marathi Beach is ideal for Crete family holidays with small children. It’s very protected, the water is calm and even in August when the famous Meltemi winds are high, this stays more sheltered than most. Grab your bucket and spade and head for the beach!

Elafonisi is a bit of a trek, but the water is clear and perfect and it’s great for swimming. About two hours from Chania, it’s well worth the day trip and the kids will love it.

Stalis Beach is very clean and just a short drive from Heraklion. Boasting the softest of sands and very clean waters. Just watch out if the wind picks up as the water can get a bit choppy.

You should read.. The best family friendly beaches in Crete

Time travel

The old town in Chania makes for a great afternoon of exploring. It’s a little touristy, but we’re willing to bet kids will enjoy watching the boats come in at the harbour, stopping for ice cream in a cafe and wandering the winding streets.

Knossos Palace is a huge site where kids can learn about life dating as far back as 1900 BC. The best option is to get a tour guide to show you around and enthral you and your kids with the legends of ancient Minoan society.

Food in Crete is a way of life. Cretans take their food very seriously. So why not head out for an evening enjoying local favourites like dakos, dolmades or bougatsa for breakfast.

You should read… What to eat in Crete

Days Out

There are thousands of caves dotted throughout the island; Head for Dikteon Cave, on the Lassithi Plateau in the east of Crete, where legend has it Zeus was born. It’s open every day, so if you get fed up of the beach, it’s an obvious choice.

The Museum of Sea Life in Rethymno is located in a former abbey and has a huge display of all kinds of fish, fossils and shells, offering a good afternoon out.

Hike a gorge definitely one for more active or older children, Crete is actually home to several spectacular gorges. There are routes right along the coast and although some of them can be tough, it’s well worth it for the views out to see. Head for the Samaria Gorge, one of Europe’s longest at 18km.

The Aquaworld Aquarium and Reptile Rescue Centre in Hersonissos is the perfect way to discover the underwater world. Learn about the marine life of Crete with hundreds of fish and reptiles, get your picture taken with an unusual reptile and get up close and personal with a shark.

Water Parks

Aqua Plus in Hersonissos has tonnes of water rides to suit all ages. Just check out the names they’ve given the rides, how could anyone resist giving the Acquaslalom, Black Holes, Kamikaze Hydrotube or Crazy River a go?

WaterCity in Heraklion is the largest water park on the island. Offering 36 different slides, pools and amusements, as well as a couple of bars and restaurants, you can spend all day long here and not get tired.

Image via @ gterez

Purple Tips: Costa Brava Family Holidays

Purple Tips: Costa Brava Family Holidays

For anyone looking for a great, cheap family holiday on the Mediterranean’s wonderful coastlines coastlines, beautiful coves and transparent waters, the Costa Brava family holidays are the ones to consider. There are plenty of resorts, ranging from easy on your pocket to the lap of luxury, many specialising in family friendly fun. Of course, that’s in addition to the charming local towns and villages, stunning natural scenery and golden sandy beaches with shallow waters, little rock pools to explore and great facilities.

At the beach

Image via @ KevinKrejci

Beaches

Tamriu is quite a sheltered beach so it’s a great place to relax with your children. A handful of tasty local restaurants offer good value children’ts menus, while it’s only a couple of minutes drive from Begur or Palafrugell.

The beach of Playa de Pals near L’Estartit is an excellent family friendly choice. A huge stretch of sand, there is lots of room for fun and games, and great child friendly eateries and shops. Just be aware that it can get a little rough when the wind picks up.

Water Sports

You’ll find any number of water sports schools and shops right along the coast. If you are travelling with teenagers, maybe they’ll be interest in snorkelling, scuba diving or sea kayaking. For something a little more group orientated, a glass bottom boat trip doesn’t exactly count as a water sport, but is still a nice afternoon out and a lovely way to spend Costa Brava Family holidays.

Theme Parks

The AquaDiver park in Platja d’Aro has wave pools, rapids and lots of rides and pools dedicated to children. The pancake house, picnic spots and relaxed pine forest surroundings means mum and dad will enjoy it too.

Aqua Brava is home to Europe’s biggest wave pool, as well as impressive water rides like the Kamikaze, the Black Hole or the Anaconda, a huge river rafting adventure. For smaller children, the Kid’s Lagoon and Island is a good choice, while a restaurant and pizzeria will keep energy levels up.

We’re not sure where this idea originated from, but Gnomo Park in Lloret de Mar is a fun day out, especially for babies, thanks to a specially adapted area. For older children there’s bowling, trampolining, and quad bikes and as the name suggests a dedicated Gnome Farm.

You Should Read… Purple Tips: The Best in Family Fun on the Costa del Sol.

On land

The Cap de Creus National Park is a great choice for hiking and exploring, there are hidden coves and lovely flora and fauna to discover. There is horse riding a plenty, paintballing, geocaching, mountain biking and quad biking found throughout the region if your kids are into lots of activities. The Tren Turistic is also a good choice for children, the old fashioned ‘train’ has been giving tours right along the coast from Roses for years and is a nice way of soaking up the scenery.

Resorts

Where to stay, Lloret de Mar for its lovely seaside scenery and great transport connections. It’s also a good place for walking thanks to the woods that surround the town. Tossa de Mar, a fortified old town, is ideal for sun, sea and sand with a little bit extra in the form of great restaurants offering children’s menus and a couple of bars and clubs for older teens. Estartit might be one of the most popular family resorts in the area and has been accommodating British tourists for years. There is a huge range of hotels, apartments and restaurants to suit every budget.

Enjoy 2014 Costa Brava Family holidays with Purple Travel!

Dream Job? Professional Sleeper Required

A job title that starts with “professional sleeper” isn’t one you see everyday. A hotel in the heart of Helsinki, Finland’s capital, is looking for someone to test out the comfort and sleep quality of its 35 rooms.

Sleeping Cat

 

Image via @ Moyan Brenn

The Hotel Finn wants someone to promote the hotel which has undergone a huge renovation project. Hotel manager Tio Tikka told the AP the want ‘a dynamic person to write a quality blog” about a charming stay at the “best spot of summer Helsinki.” If you’re about to rush out with your CV, you better know you need to be fluent in English and Finnish, with a bit of Russian thrown in.

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