Tag - Cuba

Which Caribbean island should I visit?
Singles holidays: solo travel in 2014
Making the most of your Cuba holiday
2014 Travel Bucket List – 14 Holidays to book now
Purple 10: December festivals around the globe
Cocktail Holidays
Purple 10: Ten Days in Havana Cuba
Purple Hearts: Cuba Travel Guide
Guide to the best value Caribbean holidays

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?


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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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.

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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2014 Travel Bucket List – 14 Holidays to book now

#1 Budapest The Hungarian capital is set to have a busy year amongst hipsters thanks to the release of Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel (even though it was mostly filmed in Germany!) The city’s filled with architecture, baths, boutique hotels and laid-back cafes. It’s a must-do value city break. Makes a nice addition to our 2014 travel bucket list. 


Budapest via @ Cost3l

#2 The Greek Islands We especially love Ikaria, where your holiday can make you live longer and eternal favourite Crete, where you can visit the hippie village of Matala or go family friendly in Heraklion.


Crete via @ El Mostrito

#3 Reykjavik See the Northern Lights, go to the Blue Lagoon or trek across glaciers and volcanoes. Iceland holidays will leave your jaw on the floor and your soul refreshed.

Northern Lights 1

Northern Lights via @ GuideGunnar – Arctic Norway

#4 New York The Big Apple is always a good choice and is a big seller for cheap holidays from the UK. Plan a summer of NYC shopping, cocktails and rooftop pools for an unforgettable US adventure.

New York

New York via @ Ed Yourdon

#5 Corsica The gorgeous island off the South of France is home to striking mountain ranges, clear waters and untouched beaches as well as the world’s largest chestnut forest, Castagniccia.  


Corsica via @ Massalim

#6 Brazil Book cheap holidays to Brazil right now because cities like Rio and Sao Paolo are set to see a huge influx of visitors thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Instead of watching from your armchair, make 2014 the year you go there in person.


Brazil via @ Lautsu

#7 Bordeaux, France A wine lovers paradise, Bordeaux is closeby, with decent hotels and a lovely atmosphere and a modern edge. Bordeaux is a good choice for a foodie adventure in 2014.


Image via @ Grand Parc – Bordeaux, France

#8 Havana, Cuba It’s always been said, Cuba is a place to visit before it changes! Choose it for 2014 and get in there now before it’s too late and see the 50s cars, the old-time atmosphere and the eclectic accommodations on offer.


Image via @ Flippinyank

#9 Cork, Ireland Not only is the city of Cork a hive of activity, but the surrounding countryside has some of the most spectacular scenery Ireland has to offer. Go to Clonakilty for black pudding, Inchydoney for the beach and island hop to Sherkin.


Image via @ zopdeep

#10 Gulet Cruise, Turkey Fed up with the idea of hitting the bars of Kusadasi or Bodrum? You could opt for a traditional wooden boat cruise instead on your holiday in Turkey. The boat takes you to tiny, hidden beaches, deserted bays and well away from the crowds.

Gulet Cruise

Image via @ TurkeyVision

#11 Sri Lanka Go on an elephant trek, climb 8000ft of mountains, or sunbathe on incredible white sandy beaches. Sri Lanka holidays will pack a punch in 2014.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka via @ HAS PhotoDesigns

#12 Balearic Islands With new routes from Heathrow and London City Airports in particular, the sun-drenched islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca play host to perfect 2014 summer holidays. There are stylish hotels, boutique farmhouses-turned-villas and an incredible choice of things to do to suit any budget and of course, Ibiza is always a top 2014 party holiday destination.


Ibiza via @ victoriapeckham

#13 Mexico If you really fancy Mexico, but you’ve already been to Cancun, try Puerto Vallarta. Once a spring breakers paradise, the resort is now more famous for its boutique hotels, great beaches and variety of diving spots.

Puerto vallarta

Puerta Vallarta via @ stab at sleep

#14  Cape Verde The former Portuguese colony is a beaut. It’s got Latin spirit by the bucket load thanks to its close proximity to West Africa. Go to Boa Vista for stunning beaches and loggerhead turtles for an unforgettable addition to your 2014 travel bucket list.

Cape Verde

Cape Verde via @ Wikicommons

Visit www.purpletravel.co.uk for more on cheap holidays 2014 from the UK or call our travel team on 02079929228 now.

Purple 10: December festivals around the globe


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.


Image via @ Box of Badgers

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Cocktail Holidays

Why not book cocktail holidays for you and your other half, your bunch of girlfriends or a stag or hen party. From Cuba to Paris, in spirit (!) of cocktail holidays, Purple Travel discovers some of the world’ most famous cocktails and where they came from…

cocktail pics

The Mojito, Cuba

Traditionally made using white rum, sugar, lime, carbonated water and mint muddled together, the Mojito is generally believed to be the world’s first cocktail. Thought to have been drunk as early as the 16th century by pirates and sailors, its origins can be traced back to 16th century Cuba, where the drink was called the “El Draque”, in honour of explorer and sailor, Sir Francis Drake.

The legend goes that the drink was first created as a way of disguising the taste of tafia/aguardiente – a primitive form of rum. The modern name for the drink comes from a Cuban sauce called mojo, made from garlic, olive oil and citrus juice; the drink became known as a cocktail with “a little mojo” or, in Spanish, a “Mojito.”

The Singapore Sling, Singapore

The Singapore Sling was first concocted in – you guessed it – Singapore, made from a mixture of gin, cherry brandy and Benedictine, in equal parts, with a dash of bitters and Cointreau, finished off with pineapple, lime juice and grenadine. While the exact year it was created is not clear, most agree that the cocktail was first produced by a Hainanese-Chinese bartender named Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon at the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar sometime between 1910 and 1915.

Today, the drink is served on all Singapore Airlines flights. You may have also seen it mentioned in many films and books, including Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in which Raoul Duke talks about drinking “Singapore Slings with mescal on the side.” You can also order an original Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar, where icons like Rudyard Kipling and others would once sip this famous, fruity cocktail.

The Sidecar, Paris

This classic cocktail that dates back around 100 years is a mix of equal parts brandy or Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice. The Sidecar is believed to have been first created in Paris sometime during WWI. Harry’s Bar in Paris is the “little bistro” credited as the birthplace of this sweet, yet tangy cocktail, named after the motorcycle sidecar that supposedly carried an American captain to the bar one evening. The captain asked a French bartender for a pre-dinner cocktail that would help ease the chill he had caught outside. The bartender knew brandy would be the best liqueur to take off the chill, but he also refused to serve the traditional after dinner drink alone as a pre-dinner cocktail. The result was the bartender mixed the brandy with Cointreau and added fresh lemon juice to make an appropriate pre-dinner cocktail so the Sidecar was born.

The Pisco Sour, Peru or possibly Chile

The Pisco Sour is made from Pisco (a regional brandy from South America), lemon juice, bitters and egg whites. Many debate whether the origin of this drink is Peruvian or Chilean: In Peru, the creation of the Pisco Sour is attributed to American expatriate Victor “Gringo” Morris at the Morris Bar in Lima; in Chile, it is attributed to the English steward of a sailing ship, which was stopped at the then Peruvian and now Chilean port city of Iquique in 1872.

Whatever the origins of this famous drink, the Pisco Sour has become an iconic cocktail in both countries. In fact, there are even two National Pisco Sour Days (Peru’s in the first Saturday of February and Chile’s is celebrated May 15th) to celebrate this famous cocktail!

White Russian, California

Named for the vodka used in the recipe, rather than the origin, White Russians combine equal parts of cream, vodka and Kahula. In 1961, the Diner’s Club Drink Book, gave a recipe for a “Black Russian” without cream, implying that the same cocktail with cream would therefore be named a White Russian. Today White Russians have inspired a drinking game, in which party-goers try to keep up with The Dude from The Big Lebowski (whose favourtie drink was a White Russian) in their consumption of the cocktail while watching the film itself.

The Manhattan, New York

Known as both “King of Cocktails” and the “Drinking Man’s Cocktail,” The Manhattan is a very potent mix of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, garnished most often with a maraschino cherry.

Regarded as one of the best cocktails ever created, the Manhattan was supposedly first invented at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the early 1870s. Legend has it that the drink was invented for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s mother) in honour of presidential candidate, Samuel J. Tilden. The success of the banquet prompted many people to request the drink by referring to the name of the club where it originated, calling it “the Manhattan cocktail.”

The Mai Tai, California

The tropical Mai Tai is made of a mixture of white and gold rum, pineapple juice, orange and/or lime juice and is of American origin despite its Polynesian name. First created by Victor Buergon, better known as “Trader Vic”, it was called Mai Tai as it was invented in the Polynesian-style restaurant in Oakland, California that bore his name.

Buergon created the first Mai Tai in honour of some friends who were visiting from Tahiti in 1944. As he served the new cocktail to his friends, they cried out, “Maitai roa!” (meaning “very good”), and the cocktail was born.

Tom Collins, New York

While many people assume the drink was named after a real person, there is much debate whether Tom Collins ever actually existed and whether he should be credited to this cocktail of gin, lemon and lime juice and soda water. One popular account involves a hoax that took over New York City in 1874.

A friend would tell you that he had just overheard someone named Tom Collins at a bar nearby saying terrible things about you. You would then race to that bar to confront him, only to be told that Tom Collins had just left for a bar a little further away. When you get there, the mysterious Collins would have decamped yet again for another joint across town. You would then chase him all over the city while your friends are in stictches laughing at you. According to Wall Street Journal columnist and cocktail historian Eric Felten, “It doesn’t take much to imagine how Tom Collins came to be a drink. How many times does someone have to barge into a saloon demanding a Tom Collins before the bartender takes the opportunity to offer him a cocktail so-named?”

Bloody Mary, California

Like the mixture itself, the history behind the Bloody Mary is a bit cloudy. One legend says that the original Bloody Mary, which was made using equal parts tomato juice and vodka and used as a hangover cure, was invented by comedian, songwriter and film producer George Jessel. Jessel claimed he created the drink one morning in Palm Beach during the 50s, as a way to recover from a night spent on the booze. He went as far as to appear in Smirnoff vodka ads declaring, “I, George Jessel invented the Bloody Mary.”

However, Eric Felten writes, “Given Jessel’s knack for self-promotion, many doubted his claim.” Many skeptics favoured a legend involving the head bartender at the St. Regis Hotel in New York named Fernand “Peter” Petriot. Petriot was supposedly serving up Blood Marys under the alias of “Red Snappers” at the hotel’s King Cole Bar from the ‘40s. In reality, the Bloody Mary popular today is in fact a combination of the two men’s creations; Petriot admitted that “George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over.” While credit for the original drink goes to Jessel, Petriot wasthe one who added salt, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce to the concoction, creating the modern Bloody Mary.

 The Martini, California

The first Martini was poured sometime between 1862 and 1871 and was called a Martinez, a name to honour the town of Martinez, California, where it was supposedly first dreamed up by bartender Julio Richelieu, proprietor of the eponymous Julio Richelieu Saloon. Today, Martini has become more of a class of drinks than one drink in particular – with variations like Appletinis, Vodka martinis and others becoming popular over the years.

Although the origins of the first Martinez date back to the 1860s, the modern Martini first rose in popularity starting in 1900s during the prohibition period. The Martini then became the drink of choice (or no choice as the case was at the time!) in speakeasies across the country due to the quick accessibility of gin. The modern Vodka Martini, which James Bond enjoys shaken, not stirred, was not created until much later.

Purple 10: Ten Days in Havana Cuba

When you think about Cuba what comes to mind? It’s probably the rhythmic lilts of Caribbean music that flows throughout the island, or the sugar-white sandy beaches that are a perfect escape from the rate race. Maybe it’s the 1950s cars that are so popular on Pinterest these days or the long, lazy days taking in the colonial architecture. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear there is all that and lots and lots more. Read our top 10 things to do in Havana Cuba.

  1. Music and movement: Whether it’s salsa or jazz, rumba or reggaeton, you won’t go too far in the bustling capital of Cuba without hearing some amazing street music. Music is a religion in this city and a holiday here will quickly turn you into a convert. Grab a drink and relax to the stunning sounds of the tres guitar or head for some of the noisy jazz clubs to experience a night out like a local.
  2. Havana Street food: It’s well worth grabbing some pesos to get your hands on some delicious street food. Tuck into some deliciously fresh egg tortillas, or paper cones filled with fried banana chips or pork skin. Ok, it’s not good for your cholesterol but is so tasty, one or two can’t hurt, right?
  3. Old Havana: A hectic and crazy experience for some, Old Havana is where to go for a true Cuban experience. A tour in an old time Cadillac is a great way to round off a day. Usually available for an hour or too, it can be pricey by Cuban standards.
  4. Che shaped history: It’s well worth taking a step back in time and visiting the Mausoleo Che Guevara. The Santa Clara memorial houses a dedicated museum to the legendary revolutionary’s life and work and an eternal flame that was lit by Fidel Castro in Guevara’s memory.
  5. Writing tour: Havana’s been a Mecca for writers since… well, since they realised what a cool place it is. Check out Ambos Mundos, Ernest Hemingway’s old stomping ground. He lived at the hotel for seven years in the 30s, and wrote part of For Whom the Bell Tolls in one of the rooms which is preserved in pristine condition.
  6. The Tropicana: Really, you can’t head for Cuba without sticking your head in the gloriously tacky, world renowned, cabaret club. Set in six acres, the Tropicana’s history of mob involvement and showgirls (or flesh goddesses as they are known) is a jingle of colours, a riot of music and one helluva night out.
  7. Perfect beaches: While Varadero is the top beach jaunt, with lots of all inclusive options, don’t knock the beaches close to Havana until you’ve tried them. Playa Jibacoa is a little village about an hour from Havana. Renting a car is probably the best way to get to this idyllic, sundrenched paradise beach. Otherwise the gorgeous Santa Maria beach is a typical picture perfect tropical wonderland.
  8. Dance the night away: Cuba is certainly famous for its dancing. Think of those strong rhythms working your feet into a frenzy. There’s pretty much no bar or venue where dancing is frowned on, so bring your comfy flats and a bit of rhythm and get into the swing of it with the locals.
  9. Nights on the Malecón: You’re on holidays but you want to hang with the locals? Head for the Malecón, the seafront promenade that’s perfect for people watching. Just watch out for the ladies of the night, or their friends who like to befriend foreigners.
  10. Mojitos on the Malecón: Ok, you’ve found the famous locals hangout point, how about a mojito nearby. A trip to Cuba wouldn’t be right without sampling at least on. In fact, you’ll probably never settle for one at home after an expertly made version, with precisely the right amount of ice and rum. A trip to the historic Havana Club Rum Museum is top of our list, it is great post or pre your cocktails.

Purple Hearts: Cuba Travel Guide

Upon arriving at Cuba, Christopher Columbus remarked that it was “the most beautiful country human eyes have ever seen.” Yet for tourists, the country is a land of continuous confusion; its economy is struggling at best, yet its cultural history is rich and diverse; its landscape is filled with relic and dust, but its architecture is indisputably magnificent; it is considered dangerous and even saddening, yet at the same time, utterly compelling, like the moment when you pass by a car crash and cannot help but slow down to take a closer look. You may even say that these mysteries and parallels are what make Cuba an attractive destination choice. They map out its troubled history like wrinkles on an aged face – a product of years of genocide, slavery, invasion, counter-invasion and revolution – adding both a character and a melancholic beauty.

The words ‘Cuba’ and ‘politics’ have gone hand in hand for more than half a century now, headed by Fidel Castro and his communist regime. However, unlike the grey, barren dystopia of archetypal communist countries, Cuba is an exuberant, romantic milieu, where art, music, literature and creativity are the dish of the day. The Cubans themselves are a nation of artists; from doers to dreamers, sceptics to sages, poets to philosophers. To put things into perspective, here is a review from one of our customers:

“We visited (Cuba) some 18 years ago, and the most attractive and memorable aspect was the pride our guides had in their country and the things they were showing us. A simple doctor’s surgery was described as cutting edge, a somewhat decrepit university as the equivalent of Oxford, and so on. That aspect was enchanting, as they obviously had so little yet treasured what they had.”

The Cubans have shaped their country into the captivating, impenetrable, paradoxical nation it is. However with tourism on the rise, and therefore a huge injection of capitalism pumping through Cuba’s socialist veins, now is the time to travel to this unique country, before its beauty fades into an increasingly globalized world. And if you need some inspiration? We’ve created this Cuba travel guide to ensure your holiday is the best it can be:

Cuba is inhabited mainly by people of African and Spanish origin, which is reflected in the cuisine. Food in Cuba is therefore unlike the rest of the Caribbean, relying heavily on onions and garlic for its flavourings, rather than spices. To find delicious food, head to the casas, rather than the restaurants, which can be somewhat hit and miss and where service is generally quite poor. The real adventure however, is eating at peso places (the national money), which serve the cheapest and most interesting food around. A meal for three people with beers will only cost around $4. Just look for a line of Cubans and jump in it – there’s sure to be something delicious at the end.

Places to go
Cuba’s sultry capital is one of the finest examples of a Spanish Colonial city in the Americas. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Havana was once one of world’s most beautiful areas, but as the city deteriorates and tourism influxes, the city is in a state of change; now, behind the crumbling colonial façades, are hidden boutique hotels, cocktail bars and fine dining eateries.  Head for Old Havana to explore the original churches and reconstructed mansions, or to Malecon road for a lively meeting place. or try one of these fantastic new restaurants for a slice of modern Havanan culture:

Atelier: ForCaribbean and European dishes; Good
for groups and well-priced.
Café Laurent: Spanish cuisine with other European influences; the speciality is seafood.
Doña Eutimia: Traditional Cuban food; one of the specialities is the classic ropa vieja (pulled beef in a tomato sauce). About £15 for two.
San Cristóbal: Cuban and international cuisine; pork in mustard sauce is a speciality.

Thepeaceful region of Guardalavaca is home to some of Cuba’s most idyllic, powdery beaches. Crystal clear waters, filled with an abundance of marine life, make it a popular destination for snorkelers and divers, while swimming with dolphins is a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Traditionally famous for its sugar production, if you venture away from the beach, you can drive through roads lined with fields of sugar cane plantations. Although its main industry is now tourism, Guardelavaca has retained an authentic Cuban feel and you never feel too overcrowded.

Varadero is Cuba’s largest beach resort, set on a 12-mile long peninsula of stunning white sandy beaches and clear Caribbean water. Despite being a beach resort, the area is still not as commercialised as many other Caribbean locations. After it was first visited in 1870, Varadero rapidly grew into an exclusive resort for the Havana elite, visited by many celebrities, including Al Capone.
This tourism boom, which has never wavered since, has meant that Varadero is a long way from being the ‘real Cuba’, but for a great beach holiday, this is surely one of the best in the entire Caribbean.

Cayo Coyo
Cayo Coco Cuba is occupied by one of the world’s largest coral reefs – second only to the Great Barrier. Like Varadero, Cayo Coyo is a magnificent beach resort, boasting fifteen miles of virgin beaches and azure seas, perfect for indulging in a spot of Cuban deep sea fishing. If you prefer to stay on dry land, the dramatic mountainous backdrop offers some fantastic hiking or horse riding opportunities, rewarded by spectacular views. If you travel by car through the linking causeway, you can make a stop off at Parador la Silla, about half way across, which is home to hundreds of bright pink flamingos. Hotel-wise, we recommend Playa Coco, a modern, spacious hotel set right on the beach or Tryp Cayo Coco, designed like a traditional Caribbean village. For something even more luxurious, Melia Cayo Coco hotel has everything you could ever want – perfect for honeymoons or romantic couples break.

Founded in 1514, Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to an extensive colonial history. Expect to see locals riding on horseback down cobbled streets, past rows of houses painted in pastel pinks, yellows and blues. The renovated elegant mansions of the past are now enchanting museums, whilst original church windows are like works of art.

Santa Clara
Santa Clara is the home of the monument, museum and mausoleum of revolutionary, Ché Guevara, whose body was only returned from Bolivia in 1997, some 30 years after his capture and execution.

Things to do

Jardin Botanico Nacianol, Havana
A well-kept collection of tropical plants that includes poinsettias the size of Christmas trees, hibiscus, bromeliads, coleus and bougainvillea. Open daily.

Museo De La Revolucion, Havana

Refugio 1, between Avenida de las Misiones and Zulueta, Habana Vieja, Havana. To learn a bit about the country’s history, visit the housed in a huge, ornate, dome-topped building which was once the presidential palace. The spirit of the greatest revolutionary of them all, Che Guevara, lives on in posters, statues and murals such as the one on Plaza de la Revolucion.

Partaga Cigar Factory, Havana
Industria 520, Habana Vieja, Havana. A national treasure that hides behind the Capitolio in Havana’s main square, Partagas – formerly the second largest cigar factory in Cuba – is worth a visit.

Muse Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana
Opened in its current location in 1954, the National Museum of Fine Arts 50,000 strong collection of artworks has been divided into two separate buildings: the Cuban art collection (Arte Cubano), and the international collection (Arte Universal). The international collection is a passable survey of world art but the main draw is the building itself.

Call Purple Travel on 0207 993 9228 to find out more about holidays in Cuba.

Guide to the best value Caribbean holidays

Summer is still months away and it seems the list of short-haul destinations for winter sun are getting slim. If you still want to get away on a moderate budget, the Caribbean is the best alternative. We’ve narrowed down the most worth-while places to enjoy the best value Caribbean holidays. Light on the wallet but heavy on fun!best value Caribbean holidays from Purple Travel

Dominican Republic – Punta Cana

The fantastic climate, coupled with excellent standard all-inclusive resorts, long sandy beaches, and moderate prices makes the Dominican Republic the destination of choice for a Caribbean holiday. The resort of Punta Cana is on the South-East side of the Island and is home to Bavaro – a stunning stretch of white sand beach leading into turquoise waters. If you’re looking at Dominican as an option, paying a slight premium to stay on this stunning shore as opposed to Puerto Plata is well worth it.

 Cuba – Varadero

This beautiful island is not only the birthplace of the refreshing Mojito – it is the place to be if you’re looking to experience an incredible culture coupled with stunning beaches. Because of the vast size of the island, it is difficult to get to Havana’s gorgeous architecture if you’re staying anywhere other than Varadero. If you don’t want to compromise between a beach getaway of a lifetime and an unforgettable cultural experience, then Varadero is definitely the place for you. The abundance of reasonably-priced all inclusive resorts in this area are sure to delight you.

Jamaica – Negril

Jamaica is the place for lush landscapes, long sandy beaches, and fantastic nightlife. If you want it all, Jamaica is the definite must-see. Negril is the most popular tourist resort in the area. Located on the West Coast, here you will find all the famous Jamaican all-inclusive hotels lined along the 7-mile sandy beach. The abundance of shops, restaurants and bars in Negril are sure to keep every day as action-packed or as lazy as you want.

Mexico – Cancun

Cancun is a favourite destination for the entire family. Couples will love the luxurious all-inclusive hotels in the area, fantastic Mexican cuisine, and the stunning stretches of sandy beach. For the party animals, Cancun has a reputation for some of the liveliest nightlife in the Caribbean, which makes it a favourite spot for North Americans during their school holidays. Your little ones will be entertained by all the organized activities on the beach and the wide array of facilities for children at the hotels. Excursions are also widely available – a favourite being the Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, which are well worth the trip.

These destinations rank top for budget and value, but many other Caribbean islands are worth seeing if you can afford the premium price. St. Lucia and Barbados are top choices, as well as St. Maarten, Aruba, the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos just to name a few. For more information on the best value Caribbean holidays visit our website or give us a ring on 0207 993 9228.

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