Tag - purple hearts

Lesson Learned: Three days is not enough for Istanbul
Purple Hearts: the best beaches in the Algarve
Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Tenerife
Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Lanzarote
Purple Hearts: Lisbon Destination Guide
Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City
Purple Hearts: Florence Things To Do
Purple Hearts: What to do in Paphos
Purple Hearts:Florida Keys Holidays
Purple Hearts Malaga Holidays

Lesson Learned: Three days is not enough for Istanbul

It turns out March in Istanbul is the perfect time to visit. Actually, scratch that, I would say anytime is the perfect time to go. No wonder it’s been named the best destination to visit in 2014. Living in Athens, it was an easy trip for me and my friend across the Aegean for three days of exploring in the vast (trust me, it’s huge) sprawling Turkish City.

2014-03-21 16.32.00

Ok, i’ll throw my hands up and say it was kind of a surprise to realise just how huge the city is. It’s spread across both sides of the Bosphorus. Since we had such a short time, we fancied seeing the obvious ones, this was a taster really, but here’s our highlights:

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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 Hearts: the best beaches in Tenerife


Image via @ Canary Islands on Flickr

El Bollullo is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island by locals and visitors alike, however it’s a little tricky to get there. It’s a short walk, but down a couple of steps so you need take a little extra care en route. And, while it’s not as organised as some of the others on the island, what it lacks in facilities it makes up for in beauty. There are 400m of gorgeous volcanic sand, the water is crystal clear and there’s a distinct air of quiet all around. Get there on the 376 bus from Puerto de la Cruz.

Playa de las Vistas in Los Cristianos might be one of the busiest on the island, but it is certainly one of the best kept. Sandwiched between Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas its huge sweep of sand has room for families, mates and couples and although it’s often busy, it never feels too crowded. The sheltered waters, excellent facilities and natural beauty make this a top choice for great beaches in Tenerife.

Read more: Best beaches in Gran Canaria

Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz You couldn’t holiday in the Canaries without visiting one of its famous black sandy beaches. Head straight for Playa Jardin, one of the best beaches in Tenerife with its dramatic dark sands. A favourite with locals and visitors alike, this isn’t just for beach lovers; exotic gardens filled with plants and a playgrounds back onto the beach, while there are plenty of facilities like restaurants and bars and even a nearby family theme park.

Playa del Duque in Costa Adeje was once a black sandy beach, but it was transformed in the 90s when a truckload (or two) of white sand was taken from the sea bed and put on top. Today, it’s aged very well and is a really pretty and relaxed family friendly choice. The area nearby has a couple of 5* hotels, so you’ll find a more upmarket vibe here, reflected in the shops and restaurants too.

You should read… Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Lanzarote

La Caleta close to Playa de las Americas is a good choice if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the main resort. Turn off the coast road and you’ll find a track, at the end of it, there’s a little paradise of soft golden sand, a handful of restaurants and perfectly crystal clear water. This one is definitely a winner.

La Arena Beach in the small resort of Puerto Santiago stands out for all the right reasons. This Blue Flag beach, bathed in sunshine, is a little on the quiet side, so you’ll find lots of space to retreat by the water’s edge. There are a handful of friendly local restaurants and shops and it is close to lots of hotels, so it makes a great family friendly choice and one of the best beaches in Tenerife.

Purple Hearts: the best beaches in Lanzarote

Lanzarote beaches are the top choice for families who want to enjoy year round sunshine, exotic volcanic scenery and some of the best beaches in the Canaries. With average water temperatures of 19.5°C, you’d be crazy to miss out on the wonderful beaches of Lanzarote. Here are some of our choices for best beaches in Lanzarote… don’t forget to share yours!

Papagayo Actually more like a group of beaches clubbed together, Papagayo is a local favourite as well as being one of the best beaches in Lanzarote. It’s sheltered from the wind so you can sunbathe; build a couple of sandcastles, laze around, and maybe even hop on a banana boat for the afternoon. Just remember, a couple of beaches in this area have a clothes optional approach. Stay at the 4* Iberostar Papygayo right on the Playa de las Coloradas Beach, a top choice for families who want to spend days on the beach with great facilities nearby.


Papagayo via @ Teosaurio

Caleta de Famara You won’t have to fight too much for space on this laidback stretch of sand. A handy choice if you’ve got a car, there are just a handful of restaurants lining the beach, a young atmosphere and great views. A good choice for couples who want to escape the crowds. Stay at the 4* Be Live Grand Playa in Costa Teguise to take advantage of both areas.


Famara via @ Lanzate

Read more: Best beaches Gran Canaria

La Graciosa Not strictly on Lanzarote, but seriously, you must visit this year; before everyone gets the same idea. Its soft golden sands can only be reached by a quick ferry from the north of the island. This is one to visit if you’re after a little peace and quiet, just remember, winds tend to be a bit stronger in the northern parts of the island, so it’s not so suitable for children. Stay at a charming self catering apartment in the town of Orzola.


Graciosa via @ Dario Garavini

Las Cucharas The main beach for the bustling and vibrant Costa Teguise area is a haven for water sports fanatics (known for its windsurfing) while kids have plenty of space for mucking about. Stay at the 3* El Trebol Apartments, a handy choice if you are looking for self catering holidays in Lanzarote this year.


Cucharas via @ sun sea & sand

Playa del Reducto in Arrecife is a Blue Flag delight, in a fantastic location with excellent facilities. Why not stroll the length of the seafront, or simply hop straight into the surf and cool off from the hot Canarian sun? It’s got plenty of facilities, loungers and beach bars, so you won’t be left wanting. A little further west you’ll find the more secluded Playa del Cable beach. It’s two for the price of one in Arrecife. Stay at the Arrecife Grand Hotel & Spa, a 5* hotel with panoramic views, tasty restaurant and is the island’s tallest building.

El Reducto

Reducto via @ Lanzate

Playa Grande in Puerto del Carmen is well organised and packed with facilities like showers, life guards and loungers. There is a wealth of water sports on offer, while the Centro strip is ideal for youngsters who want to party hard after sunset. Stay at the cheap and cheerful Arena Dorada Apartments, only a few minutes from the beach, shopping and nightlife.

Puerto del Carmen

Puerto del Carmen via @ Terry Wha

Remember! You can find out more about cheap holidays in Lanzarote by visiting Purple Travelor calling us directly on 0207 993 9228.

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 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


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.


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.


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.

Purple Hearts: Free things to do in New York City

There are a million and one things written about New York, but we wanted to focus on the budget side. Although NYC is the home of Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos, it is possible to get a great city break or summer vacation on the cheap, as long as you’re a bit savvy about it. Read on and get the best in cheap and cheerful, budget and value on New York Holidays.

Times Square

Image via @ hom26

Free Things to do in New York City

Staten Island Ferry: One of the most popular free things in New York City, the ferry is renowned as a top tip. Escape the fare of the Statue of Liberty Ferry but keep the views on the commuter version. Find it at the east end of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

Take a walk in Central Park. It’s not just your average patch of grass is it? There are usually free events, statues to visit and sites like Strawberry Fields that are well worth an afternoon’s wandering.

The Trinity Church on Wall Street has regular lunchtime concerts to perk up any afternoon. Usually held on Thursdays around 1pm, it’s worth getting in early for string quartets, sopranos and more.

High line park

Look to the skies: High Line is a gorgeous park built on a former freight rail line. It’s a great place to go and get away from it all for an hour or two. You’ll find opening hours and access information here.

Kayak I love you. There is free kayaking from a couple of different places in Queens such as the Downtown Boathouse. See Manhattan from another angle, down in a kayak!

Sing along at a Broadway Show. Ok, don’t *actually* sing along, your fellow ticket holders might not actually like it, but a night at a show is practically obligatory in the Big Apple. Head for the ticket booth in Times Square for tickets up to 60% off. Cinderella, Matilda, Kinky Boots and Aladdin are just some of the upcoming shows in 2013.

Go to a baseball game. Not strictly free, but if you can wrangle some tickets, a trip to NYC isn’t complete without this all American experience, and where better than watching the New York Mets in Flushing or the Yankees in the Bronx. Just remember not to mix these two up, or feel the wrath of fans! Grab a hot dog, wrap up well and root, root, root for the home team like a true American.

Get in on the act. TV and film play a big part in the cultural identity of New York, so why not be a part of it at a studio taping. Shows like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live always have a studio to fill up, but these will definitely need to be booked in advance.

Free tour in a brewery Do we need to say more than that? The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours at weekends between 1 and 4pm.

Walking is free! Big Apple Greeters are locals who offer free tours of their neighbourhoods, these friendly folks will show you the ins and outs of the city, in a way you might never discover otherwise. Other free tours include a 90 minute runaround of the Grand Central Terminal led by an architectural historian, someone who certainly knows their stuff! At Times Square, there’s an Expose Free Walking Tour every Friday from 12.

What to see for free (or cheap) in New York City

Check out Chelsea The galleries of Chelsea are famous (infamous?) and are mostly free. If you time you’re visit right you might even make it for the cheese and wine openings each Thursday. It’s where the beautiful people hang out, so you’ll fit right in.

Museums to savour There are so many museums with free entry in the city, we can’t name them all, but these are some favourites: (you can find more on free and sometimes free museums in NYC hereThe Museum of Fashion Institute of Technology, Socrates Sculpture Park, Tuesday only: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Fridays between 4 and 8pm Moma, the Museum of Modern Art and for kids after 3pm, pay what you will at New York Aquarium or free Fridays between 2 and 5pm at the New York Hall of Science.

BUrgerImage via @ hom26

Eat… a lot for free (or cheap) in New York City

New York is hardly short of places to eat, but it’s the cheap street food and burger joints that really impress us. New York Street Food will help you find the best in food trucks from hot dogs to ramen to cupcakes and ice cream on the go.

For the best in burgers, well it’s hard to decide but mini burgers at Pop Burger, 58-60 9th Avenue or pop to an outdoor seat at Shake Shack on the corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street, for a tasty treat. The Burger Joint in the fancy Meridien Hotel is a bit pricier, but the queues around the corner really say it all.

For totally free deliciousness, head for Brooklyn where some smart marketing folks came up with free food for every beer purchased. The farmers markets that dot the city are a good choice too for healthy and tasty snacks and decent prices. You can find out where to catch one here.

Where to stay for free (or cheap) in New York City

Stay on budget, stay for cheap Although there are plenty of options for cheap hotels and hostels in the city, you do have to be careful that it’s not some dodgy place that’ll have you awake all night worrying.

A couple of good options include the Harlem Flophouse, an atmospheric choice, with shared bathrooms and themed rooms at 242 West 123rd Street, the 3* Milford NYC in Times Square. It’s in a great location close to everything and with nice touches like iPod docking in each room. Trendy and central, the 3*Yotel, also in Times Square is modern and funky, with flat screen TVs in every room and a moving bed. The 2* Gershwin Hotel is cheap and cheerful in midtown, in the Flatiron district and within 10 minutes walk of the Empire State. Simple rooms make it a good value choice. On the other end of the scale, you’ll get extreme luxury at the historic Waldorf Astoria, but it’ll cost you!

If we missed any top tips on cheap or free things to do in New York City, let us know in the comments below!

Purple Hearts: Florence Things To Do

It might not be as famous as Italy’s other cities like historic Rome or Pisa with its leaning tower, but we think it’s fair to say Florence is a cultural, artistic and romantic capital all its own. Find out more in our guide to Florence things to do:

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The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is a small city filled with architectural marvels, cultural delights, breathtaking masterpieces, stylish Florentines and an atmosphere you could dip a spoon into. The birthplace of the powerful Medici family, Florence became a haven for aristocrats, architects and artists. A who’s who reads something like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto and possibly the greatest of them all Leonardo Da Vinci. That’s quite a lot of name dropping and we’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg.

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Purple Hearts: What to do in Paphos

From picture perfect bays, buzzing nightlife and buckets of sunshine, you couldn’t really ask for a more ideal holiday than on the gorgeous island of Cyprus. Of course, there is the infamous all night partying and up-to-no-goodness of Ayia Napa, the heart-racing history of Limassol, or the perfect blissfulness of Protaras. There are some excellent cheap holidays in Cyprus 2014 if you book early and choose the right hotels. Visit our website for more on cheap holidays in Cyprus, but for now, enjoy our guide on what to do in Paphos. 

Paphos (and the whole island) is lucky in that it has great weather, almost the whole year round; the winters are mild and good for topping up that tan with a quick break in January, while the summer absolutely sizzles and is made for days running around the beach, dipping your toes in the warm waters, and indulging in some holiday fun. Legend has it that the Goddess of Love herself, Aphrodite was born from the waves of the island’s beaches and there are many sites dedicated to her. Image via @ Son of Groucho

Aphrodites Rock

What to do in Paphos

First up, we’ve got to mention the beaches, they are gorgeous. Latchi, Pachyammos, or Pharos Lighthouse Beach are all within reach for a day or two soaking up the sunshine, splashing about and grazing over a long lunch at a waterside taverna. A little drive from the town you can find Aphrodite’s Rock (where the lady herself is to have appeared.) A relaxed spot, there’s a pebble beach that you can cool down in, and legend has it, if you swim around the rock three times, you’ll be granted eternal youth. Image of Aphrodite’s Rock by @ Verity Cridland.

Apart from sun, sea and sand the history of the island is plain to see. There is plenty to discover in and around Paphos. It has an Acropolis, (like the one in Athens) Paphos Fort, the Tomb of the Kings or the simply magical Temple of Aphrodite, which dates back to the time of the Myceneans around the 12th century BC. Scattered throughout the area you might even stumble across the remains of theatres, fortresses, tombs and palaces. Image via @ Glen Bowman.

Ancient ruins

For adventurers, or just for anyone look for a bit of activity on Paphos holidaysdon’t miss the Troodos Mountains. There are unspoilt villages scattered throughout, tiny churches and excellent walking or hiking trails. And the views up there? Well, we think it’s hard for words to simply describe it; you have to see if for yourself.

Just a short drive from Paphos centre, you’ll find the Lara Beach Turtle Conservation Station. A serene stretch of sand, where, if you’re lucky you can find leatherback or green turtles scurrying across the sand, and a lovely secluded beach with plenty of greenery. Remember, September is the best time for viewing.

Family fun is plentiful in Paphos from the water sports on offer to the beaches. Paphos Zoo, family cycling adventures, an ostrich farm, amusement filled Luna Parks and (our favourite) the Paphos Aphrodite Waterpark are all close by and ensure there’s a lot to keep kids of all ages busy. George’s Fun Bus is a good day out, with “guaranteed fun.” The tour takes in historic ruins, the Adonis Waterfall and Sea Caves. All in a day’s work really!

There are couple of wineries in the area if you’re looking for traditional Cypriot hospitality, a great lunch and, naturally, lashings of wine. The Kolios Winery, Sterna Winery or Tsangarides are all worth visiting. A fountain of knowledge, the owners provide tasting and educational visitors and offer you the chance to imbibe some delicious wine without feeling too guilty.

Paphos at night

Partying in Paphos

Although not *quite* as wild as Ayia Napa, Paphos has its own alternative clubbing atmosphere. In the last few years, some great bars, cafes, pubs and clubs have sprung up. The Hollywood Music Bar on Bar Street (!) Aces Cocktail Bar on Ayias Anastasias, the themed Flintstones Bar on Dionisiou 2 Kato and the legendary Harry O’s are all worth checking out. For late night partying, Escape Beach Club, Rainbow Club (this one only opens around 2am) and the dance Robin Hood Club all make for awesome nights out. Image of Paphos at night by @ Son of Groucho.

Where to stay in Paphos

A little luxury never goes astray on holidays, so the 5* Hotel Almyra is a top choice. It is five minutes from the harbour, has free Wi-fi and the choice of four freshwater pools, or a dip in the spa. The 4* Capital Coast Resort and Spa is a top Family choice offering bright family rooms, lots of in-house activities and plenty of fun on the nearby beach. For romance or honeymooners take advantage of the Annabelle Hotel. This 5* overlooks the port and has its own tropical landscaped gardens, swim through caves, and marble features. You name it, they’ve got it. For great value we like the 3* Kissos Hotel on Verenikis Street. It’s in the heart of action in Paphos, slap, bang, between two resorts and amongst beautiful gardens. And it is right next door to a great beach, perfect for completely relaxing.


Closely related to Greek and with influences from Turkey, Italy and the Middle East, there’s certainly something to suit everyone from the fresh food, handy snack souvlaki and delicious fresh fish in Paphos. The Letymbou Taverna is a little bit out of town, but we think well worth the trek. The prices are right and the food is hard to beat.  If you prefer pub grub the Rugby Arms does great breakfasts, snacks or snacks. For fancy, Ficardo Restaurant on Poseidonos Avenue is top class, with fresh fish, kleftico or moussaka just a sample of what’s on offer.

For cheap Paphos holidays in Cyprus this year visit the Purple Travel website or give us a call on 0207 993 9228.

Purple Hearts:Florida Keys Holidays

With its luscious jungles, dazzling seas, and exotic mangroves, the string of islands that make up the Florida Keys is this year’s hottest destination. Attracted by its stunning coral reefs and the bountiful coloured fish that make them their home, thousands of tourists return to as the charming communities of Key West and Key Largo every year. Choosing which islands to get to while you’re there is difficult when you’re not in the know, so we’ve put together a travel guide to help you along the journey. Welcome to Florida Keys Holidays.

Florida Keys

Flickr/Emilio Labrador/Creative Commons

Where to go in Florida Keys

Bahia Honda Key | Tropical Bahia Honda Key centres mainly around its eponymous state park, known for its pristine beaches, wonderful snorkelling opportunities and perfect sunsets. Take a picnic with you to the beach and spend a relaxing day, dipping into the sea and enjoying the balmy breezes that caress its shores. This remote island is an excellent place to see shorebirds and other wildlife, with a nature centre dedicated to the island’s plants and animals.

Big Pine Key | Big Pine Key is a refuge to rare and endangered animals. Its authentic back country atmosphere and National Key Deer Refuge, make it a beautiful place to holiday. Big Pine is also the jumping off point for numerous snorkelling and diving charters to Looe Key reef, the perfect remedy if you feel like taking an offshore adventure.

Conch Key | This stretch of Florida Keys is dominated by the fishing community, and home to both rustic fishing villages and boating elite. Conch Key itself is a tiny fishing village, but you can quickly hop across to Duck Key, if you’re looking for a more upscale community.

Duck Key | Small, secluded, yet central to Miami and Key West, 

Duck Key is known for its beautiful sunsets. Also home to Hawks Cay, one of the region’s most popular marina resorts, Duck Key is the ideal destination for those looking for a relaxing getaway.

Grassy Key Legend has it that this remote little key was not named after its abundant vegetation as the name would suggests, but after an early settler who went by the name of Grassy. However, this doesn’t take away from its greenery – the Key is fileld with shrubs and native trees.

Islamorada | Isla Morada is Spanish for Island Home, named so by the early settlers who immediately found this island to be cosy and homely. This well-known fishing village is the perfect place for snorkelling, sunbathing and swimming.

Key Largo | Key Largo is the first of the Upper Keys that can be reached by car, and at 30 miles long, it’s also the largest island in the chain.

Key West | Close to Miami,  and just 90 miles from Havana, this end-of-the-line community is like nowhere else on earth. This is the land of eternal holiday, where no one has a care in the world and all you have to think about is what you want for lunch or which cocktail you’ll choose.

Florida from Space

 Flickr/gsfc/Creative Commons

Little Torch Key | Little Torch Key and its neighbour islands, Ramrod Key and Summerland Key, are good jumping-off points for divers headed for Looe Key Reef. The islands also serve as a refuge for those who want to make.

Long Key | Long Key is the ideal destination for those looking to avoid the masses and enjoy some ecological history.

Marathon | Marathon is a busy town – or at least busy when compared to other communities in the Keys. However, the island also lacks a certain charm when compared to its counterparts…

You Should Read… Top 10 Theme Parks in the USA

Hemingway house

Hemingway Balcony/Mattwunderle/Creative Commons

Main attractions of Florida Keys

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum 

A guided tour of Ernest Hemingway’s home is filled with amusing anecdotes of the writer’s life. Built in 1801, Hemmingway lived in the house between 1931 and 1942, writing about 70% of his life’s work, including classics like For Whom the Bell Tolls in its roomsYou can even see some of his belongings including some books, with photographs along the way to help you visualise his day-to-day life.

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens

See the works of ornithologist John James Audubon in this three-story house, which was built in the 1840s for Captain John Geiger. Today, it commemorates Audubon’s 1832 stop in Key West while he was travelling through Florida to study birds. The self-guided tour of the house and gardens and the art gallery of lithographs of the artist’s famed portraits, is one you’ll never forget.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Construction of Fort Zachary Taylor began in 1845, but was halted during the Civil War. Finally completed in 1866, the fort was also used in the Spanish-American War. Guests can either take a 30-minute guided walking tour of the redbrick fort, a National Historic Landmark, at 12pm  and 2pm, or self-tour anytime between 8am and 5pm.

Purple Hearts Malaga Holidays

Malaga in sunshine from PurpleTravel_2Malaga in sunshine via @ gotardo 

Drenched in sunshine, there’s a reason it’s called the Costa del Sol. Did you know there are at least 300 days of sunshine every year on the Costa and it gets up to a balmy 27 degrees in the summertime. Its regional capital Malaga is no different and is the right mix of nightlife, beaches, shopping and total relaxation.

If the weather isn’t enough to convince you how about the price? It’s cheap as chips on Malaga holidays 2014, especially if you know the right places to go. And that’s before we start on the native Malaguenos. The friendliest people on earth? Only one way of finding out.

Beaches in Malaga


Malagueta via @ Ari Helminen

The obvious first choice is Playa de la Malagueta, the blue flag town beach. A busy beach, with good facilities and easy to get to. Get to the Playa Las Acacias early as it’s a popular choice. Great for kids with its sheltered sandy coves and it’s huge so there’s plenty of room for everyone. Beside the El Candad marina you’ll find the Playa Palo with a good atmosphere and lots of facilities and bars. Further on from the city there are great beaches to discover like the Santa Amalia in Fuengirola, El Padron in Estepona and Casablanca in Marbella. So really it’s up to you!

What to do in Malaga

Malaga Bullring from PurpleTravel

Along with Seville and Madrid, Malaga is at the heart of bullfighting in Spain. Although clearly the sport is not for everyone, the bullring at Plaza La Malagueta draws throngs throughout the throngs of locals during the season (April to September.) Malaga Bullring via @ mer de glace 

Malaga is the birthplace of the legendary painter Pablo Picasso and the Picasso Museum houses a selection of his works, with a detailed audio tour added to it. The café and shop are worth browsing in too. There’s also a Museum of Dollhouses in Malaga, a cute collection that’ll impress any little princess. Learn all about the history of the area at the Museo de Artest Populaires or treat yourself at (our personal favourite) the Wine Museum of Malaga. Retreat from the hectic streets by visiting the Renaissance city Cathedral or take a walk in La Concepcion –  Jardin Botanico (the Botanic Gardens.)

Day trips from Malaga

Night view of the Alhambra

The imposing Alhambra Palace in nearby Granada is one of Spain’s most important attractions. It’s part cathedral, part castle and part palace and has inspired poetry, music and even mathematics. You’ll definitely need to get tickets in advance to make sure you get in. Night view of the Alhambra via @ Teosaurio

Mijas and Nerja are two delightful little villages very close to the city. They have small lookout points, offering beautiful views of the Costa. Furthermore there are plenty of smaller resorts to discover nearby. Travelling west from Malaga City, you’ll find Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella. Going East you’ll get to Rincon de la Victora or Torre del Mar. Most of these are just a few minutes on easy connections by train and are well worth going to for an evening out eating or exploring.

Family fun on Malaga Holidays 2014


Visit the town of Juzcar. In 2011 all the residents got together and painted every building a lovely sky blue, in honour of the Smurfs movie. Juzcar image via @ manuelfloresv

Worth a look if you’ve got the time. The Aventura Amazonia in Marbella is an action packed activity park with 83 challenges and 20 zip lines. Enough to keep little ones busy for hours. Selwo Adeventure in Estepona has over 2,000 animals from across the world and also offers some activities, like zip wires. Aqualand in Torremolinos is the biggest waterpark on the Costa, big enough to spend the whole day and just minutes from downtown, it’s a top choice.

Shopping in Malaga

Sales in Malaga run on and on and on, even in the classiest shops in the centre of town. Start with the fancy designer shops around Calle Marques de Larios. The marble boulevard just screams big bucks. Well worth an afternoon out is the Mercado Central de Atarazanas for a riot of colour, the freshest in fruit and vegetables and yummy cheese (and a great tapas bar in the corner.) It’s ideal for stocking up if you’re self catering.

In the heart of the city you’ll find the Smile Bank, a cute shop selling all sorts of funny souvenirs, cute t-shirts and personalised gifts. If you need a hat, fedora, sombrero or panama (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Go to Ricardo del Cid Fernandes on Calle Caldereria, an old school favourite.

Green fees in and around Malaga

Golf courses abound in Malaga from approximately €17 at the Casares Costa Golf designed by Juan Carlos Martinez to €65 at the La Cala Resort and plenty in between.

Nightlife in Malaga

There are some great bars, music venues and of course, clubs in Malaga and the surrounding areas offering everything from a quiet drink in a cosy snug to dancing on the table all night long. The ZZ Pub is a favourite with locals and has lots of live bands. Mane in nearby Benalmadena is open late, has free entrance at the weekend and you can expect pumping dance music all night. The Velvet Club on Calle Juan de Padilla 22 has great music and prides itself on its midweek parties, but note they close at 3am. If karaoke is more your thing, head for Dixie’s on Salvador Allende 9. A small, friendly establishment, run by locals, it is a great place to get your night started.

Hen and Stags in Malaga

Lads enjoying a stag party
Malaga’s also an up and coming hen and stag party destination. With a tonne of clubs, cheap bars and booze and loads of activities like, a fiesta meal (with stripper) for the ladies or very special nights out for the lads, with added dancing for the groom to be, you and your gang can have as much fun as you want.

You Should Read… The Perfect Stag and Hen Parties

Cheap eating in Malaga

Fancy Octopus lunch in Malaga SpainMalaga is a delicious taste of Spain and one of the most surprising things? The prices. One visitor who has just returned from a short trip to the city was delighted to find: “abundant coffee and wine at €1.50 so you can savour a stop frequently.”

Malaga has delicious Spanish cuisine and great international choices too.  Start with a trip to Tapeo de Cervantes, C/Carcer 8, for reasonably priced, excellent quality food. Arguably the best bargain tapas place on the Costa del Sol! For something special, the Restaurante Amador at Calle Bandaneira 6 is a quality establishment offering beautiful, fresh Spanish food along with delightful views. For seafood Marisqueria el Kaoba is a mid priced must. Finish your evening with a stop at Malaga’s top sweet shop, Cafe Lepanto at Calle Marques de Larios 7.

Octopus Lunch in Malaga via @ Ewan-M

Where to stay in Malaga

The Barcelo Malaga is just a few minutes from the city centre and right on the handy AVE high speed rail line, so it’s a great choice for couples who want to soak up the sunshine and relax. The Hotel Las Vegas is right on the waterfront at La Malagueta beach and all rooms have a full or partial sea view. The Malaga Centro is in a great location as its name suggests and just a couple of minutes to the beach. Hotel Domus, just five minutes from Pedregalejo Beach and with simple rooms, this is good value choice, but is a little further from the city centre (4km.)

For more cheap Malaga holidays give Purple Travel a call on 0207 993 9228.

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