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20 Things to do on Crete holidays
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Making the most of your Cuba holiday
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Holidays in Corfu! Beaches and Bars of Corfu
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Foodie Corner: The Best Christmas Food
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Purple 10: December festivals around the globe
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10 Kickass New Years Eve Party Cities
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Purple 10 December Holiday Ideas
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Purple Hearts: the best beaches in the Algarve
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Purple Tips: Make April Holidays Amazing
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Purple Hearts: Lisbon Destination Guide

20 Things to do on Crete holidays

Crete is one of the most spectacular islands in the world to visit and even though it’s a Greek island the Cretans have a spirit that’s entirely their own.  Here we whittle down the choices of things to do in Crete so you can make the most of Crete holidays.

1. Visit the Palace of Knossos in…Knossos

knossos-holidays in CreteImage via @Ania Mendrek

Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete and was inhabited for several thousands of years. The palace is connected with such mythology as the Labyrinth with the Minotaur. Knossos is easily reached by bus from Heraklion.

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Making the most of your Cuba holiday

A trip to Cuba offers a holiday like no other. The largest of the Caribbean islands, Cuba beckons to visitors with promises of sun, sea, sand and salsa. Throw in a rich history, unique culture and exotic scenery, and Cuba stands apart as a “must see” vacation destination — particularly for those who immerse themselves in the laid back and distinctly Cuban spirit that characterises this extraordinary place.

Doesn’t just looking at this view make you feel more relaxed?

Embrace History
Stepping into the capital city of Havana offers an intriguing contrast of the old and the new. Take in sites ranging from an abundance of 1950s-era American cars to colourful Spanish Colonial architecture which has gracefully withstood the test of time. Whether window shopping along the Calle Obispo or touring the breathtaking Castillo de la Punta, be ready for some serious photo ops. And don’t forget to stop by a cigar factory to see Cuba’s most famous export being rolled, and perhaps even buy a box while you’re there.

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Holidays in Corfu! Beaches and Bars of Corfu

Corfu people are happy and easy to get along with. They are also full of artistic activities such as music, theatre, painting etc. Corfiots love beach life so here are some picks of Corfu beaches and their bars so you can enjoy holidays in Corfu to the max!

Glyfada’s incredible beach is easily the most popular on the island. It’s well organized with plenty of loungers, umbrellas and showers. A great choice for families, the water is shallow and crystal clear, while the lifeguards on duty offer some peace of mind for parents with young children. The Aloha Beach Bar is full of life and is home to great parties in the evening. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for young people who are starting their night with a cocktail.

Close by is the resort of Aghios Gordios, another well organized stretch of sand for people who want to try out some water sports or take some pictures. The long, sandy beach has plenty of loungers and parasols and the AloBar is worth the visit alone! Gorgeous view and really laidback, enjoying a cocktail here at sunset is the moment you know you’re on holidays.

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Foodie Corner: The Best Christmas Food

Christmas time around the world is celebrated according to local traditions and every family has their own little quirks. For many though, what makes it really special is the Christmas Food! When families take their seats for Christmas dinner, they feast their eyes on a variety of mouthwatering favourites. In our house it includes Spiced beef! Every house is different though, so we’ve taken a look at some Christmas food favourites from all over the world… Share yours in comments below!

germany

1. Germany – Roast goose with red cabbage. Simple, but carefully arranged (as always!) the Christmas table in Germany combines the meat with vegetables and of course potatoes, a Germans’ favourite!

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Purple 10: December festivals around the globe

rodeo

Image via @ ReneS

1. National Finals Rodeo

Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, USA
When: First week of December
People might say that Las Vegas is a festival itself, as it’s a place where the lights never go out. However, if you opt for a December trip to Las Vegas, you’ ll have the chance  to personally experience the 10-day National Finals Rodeo, a.k.a. Rodeo Superbowl. The festival involves, the top 15 rodeo cowboys who compete each other, claiming prizes up to $5.5 million!

burning the devil

Image via @ globeseeker

2. Quema del Diablo (Burning the Devil)

Where: Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala
When: December 7th
According to local tradition the Devil lurks in house corners, under every bed and in the garbage bins. Therefore, on 7th December of every year the locals clean their houses and streets, setting the garbage on fire at 6 o’clock in the evening. Usually, on top of the burning pile they also throw a figure of the Devil. Certainly an unusual addition to our list of December festivals.

dervish

Image via @ Box of Badgers

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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’.

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

 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.

Purple Hearts: the best beaches in the Algarve

Praia da Rocha Maybe the most famous beach resort in the Algarve, or in the whole of the country, Praia da Rocha’s Blue Flag status, golden sands and excellent facilities (loungers, umbrellas and water sports) make it a top choice throughout the summer. It’s found close to the bustling and lively resort of Portimao and is one of the best beaches in the Algarve.

Praia da rocha from PurpleTravel.co.uk

Image via @ CesarGP

Praia da Marinha regularly featured in Portugal’s tourism advertisements, Praia da Marinha offers absolutely stunning natural beauty, with huge rocks dotted throughout the crystal clear waters. Near Lagoa, it’s also a hot choice for snorkelling enthusiasts too.

Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha via @ MiguelVieira

Read more: The best Beaches in Gran Canaria

Praia do Homem Nu If you feeling like baring all, head for this nudist beach a short ferry ride from Tavira. This is one of two official nudist beaches in the Algarve and has excellent facilities and gorgeous views.

Praia do Homem Nu

Praia do Homem Nu via @ jrg261

Praia do Ancao Close to the excellent Vale do Lobo resort, Praia do Ancao is somewhat of a hidden gem. Tucked away behind a mass of dunes, the wide, sandy beach is sheltered from the elements and the crowds. This Blue Flag beach also has excellent facilities with loungers, umbrellas and restaurants and toilets.

Vale do Lobo

Praia do Ancao via @ Wikicommons

Praia de Barreta on a practically deserted island, the untouched sands of Praia de Barreta make it a perfect choice for total relaxation. This Blue Flag beach is away from the crowds and is accessible by boat. There are basic facilities, with loungers, umbrellas and a couple of snack bars.

Ilha Deserta

Ilha Deserta via @ Thilo Hilberer

Read more: Purple Hearts Lisbon

Praia do Carvoeiro Another Blue Flag favourite near Lagoa, this one has extensive facilities, such as loungers, umbrellas and lots of restaurants or snack bars. However, it still manages to retain a quiet atmosphere and the caves nearby are well worth a visit.

Praia do Carvoeiro

Praia do Carvoeiro via @ ReservadeCoches.com

Praia do Beliche Sagres’ best kept secret, this beach is a taste of the real beauty of the Algarve. Huge cliffs serve as a backdrop offering protection to the waters too. There are a lot of steps down to this secluded beach, so bear this in mind. It’s not really developed, so grab a picnic to take with you, or head for one of the restaurants on the neighbouring road. 

Praia do Beliche

Praia do Beliche via @ 07janeka

Purple Tips: Make April Holidays Amazing

We’ve put together our list of the best April holidays to help you find the ultimate city break, some slightly off-season sunshine or where the kids will have the most fun on a midterm break holiday, and remember, this year Easter Sunday falls on April 20th, so book early to avoid missing out. If you have any other April Holidays ideas we would love to hear about them in the comments below. Enjoy!

April Holidays from Purple Travel

Sunshine in springtime The Aegean coast of Turkey is usually pretty reliable for weather in April. Try Bodrum, or Kusadasi for days lazing in the gentle sunshine and sightseeing. Plus since it’s early in the season, it won’t be too crowded and there are plenty of cheap deals. Average temperatures: 17°

No rain in Spain The beautiful coastline of Costa de la Luz in Spain, is a top choice for a little early sunbathing, while the always reliable Canary Islands usually hit the early 20s and offer 10 hours of sunshine per day. If you want really hot in April head for Marrakech, one of the liveliest and most fun cities in Morocco, where temperatures usually hit around 26° in April.

Cities of Culture Umea in Sweden and Riga in Latvia are the chosen European capitals of culture for 2014. Umea in Sweden describes itself as a ‘window of Europe’, with a programme dedicated to co-creation, so expect a range of art, culture and music projects throughout the city.  While the Latvian capital will host events like a human chain symbolically transferring books from the old city library to the Palace of Light and the Latvian National Operas performances of the Ring Cycle.

Cherry Blossom ceiling The Japanese city of Tokyo will be in the middle of its cherry blossom season so get moving for unforgettable April holidays. The whole city is filled with blooms which are celebrated with hanami, or parties in the park, which honour the flowers. April temperatures in Tokyo can rise to about 20°.

A night less ordinary Book a night in the Lego Hotel in Legoland California. On April 5th the hotel will celebrate its first birthday so there’ll be plenty of brick themed fun! As well as that it’s the perfect time to head for a holiday in sunny California, USA and make the most of a night hotel that is a serious treat for your inner geek. Average temperatures are around 17°.

Nothing but Sunshine For 2014 April sunshine holidays, we like Mexico. Ok, so the Caribbean is always reliable, but you can’t go wrong with an average of 27° everyday. In the area of Riviera Maya, you can take your pick of resorts with white sandy beaches, all inclusive hotels and brilliant sunshine. Or visit somegreat local scenery like the famous cenotes or the mysterious Mayan stronghold of Chichen Itza. What more could you ask for?

Hit the festival circuit April is more or less the start of music festival season – but as Easter falls in April this year, there are many cultural and traditional festivals that are well worth consider for April holidays. In Greece in April the weather is already mild and sunny and as Easter is one of the biggest dates in the calendar it’s the perfect time to visit. Crete is reliable for temperatures around 20°. Or you could try to visit a village – where whole families will work to hand-roast a whole lamb or kid-goat over an open fire. On the island off Chios a fireworks fight happens between rival churches, while Patmos is filled with devotees.

Go beyond the usual Sri Lanka is topping many of the must-see places to go in 2014 probably thanks to British Airways’ launch of regular flights between Gatwick and Colombo. The island country is, well, exquisite. The perfect white beaches, the stunning natural scenery, the thrilling atmosphere. All the ingredients you need for an amazing April getaway. The average temperature in Sri Lanka in April is around 25°.

Get Glamping glamour and camping are probably not words you expect to go together but that’s all set to change thanks to the gentle roughing it experience in Portugal. We don’t mean old tents with leaky roofs, this Glamping lark is state of the art, lounging balconies, luxury tubs and breakfast in a four poster bed. The average temperatures for the Algarve in April is 17°.

Stag and Hen If the tough job of organising a stag do or hen party in April has fallen to you, never fear for Purple Travel is here! Our dedicated team has been finding out the best and busiest destinations at any time of year for you and your hens or stags to have as messy a night out as you want. We like Benidorm (well, any time of year!) and Albufeira in Portugal. Just remember, what happens on tour stays on tour.

Book your April holidays now with the experts at Purple Travel.

Purple Hearts: Lisbon Destination Guide

Planning your next city break, but looking for something a little more unique? Lisbon is just a couple of hours away from the UK and is all about relaxing over a coffee, dancing all night, soaking up the vibrant atmosphere and eating delicious food and maybe, just maybe indulging in a few bargains. Here’s our Lisbon Destination Guide.

Lisbon

 Lisbon image via @ ChrisYunker

Lisbon’s built up on seven hills, so it’s good to get your bearings first. Head up to the Castelo de Sao Jorge, or Saint George Castle to take in the spectacular sights. The extraordinary views over the whole city and the river Tagus offers an impressive introduction to Portugal. If you fancy staying on the move, then the Lavra Funicular is a relaxed route to the beautiful Torel Gardens.  Over 120 years old, it’s a bit of a city treasure and is a wonderful and romantic afternoon jaunt.

If you’re taking the kids with you, don’t miss out on the Oceanario de Lisboa, the city’s aquarium or have a go at some experiments in the Pavilhao do Conchecimento, or science museum. There’s also Lisbon Zoo with over 2,000 animals as well as live shows.  We reckon you’ll find something to impress kids of all ages in the city.

Portugal has a long history of art and culture and Lisbon has no shortage of fantastic museums and galleries. Contemporary pieces can be seen in the Chiado museum and Modern Art Center. The city’s churches are packed with history and can easily be seen on foot. Sao Roque and Carmo Church are two choices. The Tile Museum and Decorative Arts Museum are popular picks – and more interesting than you might think. Remember, these are just a handful of the wonderful museums Lisbon is famous for.

The Bairro Alto neighbourhood is made for Saturday strolling in the sunshine. If you’ve arrived on a Friday and checked in, head for the great atmosphere and traditional architecture to get a feel for the city. Its winding streets, lead to open terraces where you can sip on a coffee and soak up the sunshine. As a former red light district though, despite renovation, it might not have good vibes for everyone. The lower neighbourhood of Baixa is lovely for strolling around too. The beating heart of the city, it is a haven for foodies who can choose their own fresh lobster straight from the tank, or walk hand in hand in glorious sunshine.

Bars like Visita Virtual on Rua D Pedro V reflect Lisbon’s laidback atmosphere while cocktail friendly Bairrazza Bairro Alto offers some of the best Caiprinhas in town (so we are told!) If you want something quite different for a night out, head for art and culture space Arte & Manha, a hip (dangerously so!) bar/gallery/venue and restaurant. There you’ll find everything from Fado, jazz, samba and Latin nights, offering a place to lounge until 4am most nights. If you’re after gigs in Lisbon, visit Ask Me Lisboa for the latest updates on listings.

For something completely different, you could always visit the sexiest toilet on earth! In Terrerio do Paco via the very lovely PortugalConfidential blog.

Lisbon 2Lisbon by @desdetasmania

Relax

The ultimate in city breaks, of course our Lisbon Destination Guide wouldn’t be complete without checking out some cool and trendy hotels. We like the 4* Turim Alameda, or the more budget friendly 2* Duas Nacoes Hotel. Both offer excellent service and great locations. For the ultimate in luxury you could always head for the 5* Epic Sana Lisboa in upscale neighbourhood Amoreiras. Epic by name, epic by nature! Finally the 3* America Diamonds, has a top notch top floor restaurant offering great views and a modern design at decent prices.

Eat

We love the laidback cool of Lisbon, whether you’re enjoying the best in delicious desserts or sipping on a freshly brewed coffee, it’s a city of wild contrasts not least in its food choices. Check out the Goan cuisine which is super hot and spicy at Restaurante Nau do Restelo, or grab some tapas in the gorgeous Adega Victor Horta. There’s always Largo Resutarant in Baixa offering a sophisticated experience or super trendy at Manifesto in Santos. For more on how to eat like a local in Lisbon, check our foodie guide here.

Coffee

If you’re a caffeine addict, you’d be best to learn the word bica, which means coffee in Lisbon (thanks to a slogan when coffee first arrived in the city). But this is not your ordinary coffee, smoother than its Italian brother; it’s roasted in a lighter way too and can be thoroughly enjoyed accompanied by a little sweet pastel de nata, a famous Portuguese pastry. Cafe Nicola and Cafe Martinho de Arcada, both downtown are both great choices while, you could soak up the great outdoors with a bica at Quiosque Galveias on Rua do Palacio.

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