Tag - purple pick

Purple Pick: Holidays in July
Musical Holidays
Purple Pick: Best Nudist Beaches
Purple Pick: June Holidays
Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays
Purple Pick: Costa Blanca Beaches
Purple Tips: Family holidays
Purple Pick: Best value holidays Europe
Purple Pick: Ancient Castles
Purple Pick: Great American Road Trips

Purple Pick: Holidays in July

July 2013

Islands in Croatia. Why? Hvar, Brac or Rab (nudist beach paradise) are just a couple of the island gems off Croatia’s magnificent coastline. The pine tree studded islands are just a short ferry hop from Dubrovnik or Split and offer jaw-dropping beaches, cute little restaurants, a wealth of accommodation options and some brilliant beach bars. No need for a super yacht here, you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy great value holidays in July in stunningly beautiful Croatia on the Dalmatian Coast. Stay at the 3* Bluesun Hotel Borak, Brac Island.

Riviera Maya, Mexico. Why? Heading towards the end of the season, holidays in the Caribbean are at really good prices, so you should be able to bag a bargain. Riviera Maya has those tropical white sandy beaches, sparkling jewel coloured waters, coral reefs, underwater caves, Mayan temples and the most delicious enchiladas. That’s why we love Riviera Maya and why you should too. Stay at the 5* Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa.

You Should Read… Purple 10: Unmissable Summer Festivals

Crete, Greece. Why? The biggest of all the Greek Islands is the obvious choice for families, and there’s a reason for that, or should we say many. Elafonisi and Marathi beaches are well protected from the wind, are shallow and have great facilities, so you and the kids can spend all day on the sand. There are lots of historic sites to discover, while water parks and a reptile centre will impress even the most fussy child. Stay at the 4* Star Beach Village Hotel and Waterpark. The weather in Greece makes it an unforgettable addition to our list of July holiday ideas.

California, USA. Why? It’ll be the 4th of July, what better time to visit the states? We reckon taking to the highways of California for a road trip is just the ticket. Rent yourself a convertible, stock up on Beach Boys records and hit the road for guaranteed sunshine along Pacific Coast Highway. Stop at Solvang, a slice of Holland in California, take some pics by Big Sur and finish in Morro Bay by a 23 year old volcano. All that will make for a classic road trip holiday. Stay at the 5* Solage Calistoga (renowned for its spa.)

Kenya. Why? July (and August) is migration season for many animals including the majestic wildebeest. A safari holiday is a natural paradise where you can get up close and personal with wild animals through the sweeping plains, have breakfast with some giraffes, watch out for lions and get a photo taken with an elephant! Stay at the 4* Southern Palms Hotel in Diani Beach.

You Should Read… A Musical Road Trip In The Deep South

Dubai, Emirates. Why? If you want guaranteed sunshine, and we mean seriously guaranteed, Dubai is the obvious choice. Temperatures hit an average of 40 degrees in July but if there was ever a place that catered for sun worshippers, this is it. Dubai has masses of great value luxury hotels, incredible views, spas offering the best in beauty and relaxation treatments, sky diving above the Palm Jumeirah, scuba diving inside the mall, dune buggying through the desert or formula one racing at Ferrari World. What more could you ask for? Stay at the 4* Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel and Towers.

Paphos, Cyprus. Why? The beautiful beaches and pretty harbour offer the perfect location for sunbathing, swimming and people watching. The resort in July is absolutely bustling, with lots going on from bars and restaurants, classical music festivals, hiking through the countryside, visiting Aphrodite’s Rock, horse riding on the beach or simply lounging all day. Stay at 3* Mayfair Hotel Apartments in Paphos.

Ayia Napa, Cyprus. Why? If you want a completely boozey, dancey, party all night kind of holiday, then the obvious choice is the opposite side of Cyprus, where Ayia Napa still dominates the late night, early morning scene. Stay at the 5* Adamas Beach Hotel or the 3* Anesis Hotel.

For more information on holidays in July or to book a sunshine break, give Purple Travel a call on 0207 993 9228.

Musical Holidays

Music-lovers, this one’s for you. Combining travel and music makes for one perfect holiday in our eyes; check out some of these incredible musical holidays, famous for their firm musical roots:

musical haunts

Images via @ Luiz Fernando Reis and Canucklibrarian

Nicknamed ‘Music City USA’, Nashville is the epicentre of country and western. Visitors to the Deep South can attend a live recording of Grand Ole Opry (a country music and variety show) at Ryman Auditorium, one of Nashville’s most significant music venues, or head to the Hall of Fame, an educational museum, dedicated to country music’s extensive history.

New Orleans
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, which kind of makes it the birthplace of music itself. Visit in spring, around the end of April to early May, for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, (aka the Jazz Fest), which is one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world and also features a variety of other music types that were influenced by jazz, including indigenous Louisiana music, such as Zydeco. However, you don’t need to visit in spring to enjoy great jazz in New Orleans – from street musicians and funeral bands to all of those huge bars off of Bourbon Street; music is a central part of life in The Big Easy.

Feeling blue? Head to Memphis. Home to Elvis, the blues and Aretha franklin, Memphis and rock ‘n’ roll are synonymous. Beale Street is the most famous and most musical street in Memphis, and it is where you will find most of the live music venues. You should also stop by Sun Studio, the site where Elvis recorded his very first song (‘That’s Alright Mama’) in 1954.

Jamaica conjures up images of beaches, rum and of course, reggae. Bob Marley was born in Jamaica’s Nile Mile and fans can visit the Museum of Bob Marley in Kingston for a walk through the reggae king’s life. In the ‘40s, Errol Flynn, the Hollywood bad boy, declared Jamaica ‘more beautiful than any woman I have ever known’ and today it’s no different. Palm-fringed beaches, coconut cocktails, the uplifting sounds of reggae and crystal blue seas make Jamaica a paradise that’s not just for reggae-lovers.

Although punk primarily has its roots in the political and economic, London’s angry, rebellious, opinionated (and unemployed) late ‘70s youth surely deserve some of the title. London is not only where punk music began, but also where punk fashion emerged, and from one shop in particular – SEX – the Camden store owned by Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood. This in turn bred the Sex Pistols, pioneers of the punk movement. Their fans included an outrageous bunch of young punks known as the Bromley Contingent, who formed a large portion of the London Punk scene, including The Clash, The Slits, Siouxsie Sioux, Generation X and X-Ray Spex. And thus, punk was born. Today, you can still see the dregs of the movement, sitting on a bridge at Camden lock, spitting at any passer-by who so much as glances at them, let alone takes their picture.

Everyone loves Motown, it’s hard not to. And in that same breath, it’s hard not to love Detroit. Home to both the highly successful music label and the music that it produced, Detroit exported a large majority of the gospel-inspired R&B singers and groups that populated the radio waves in the 1960s, cutting their records on the Motown label. The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, and Stevie Wonder forever link Detroit to this very popular musical style. Check out the Motown Museum if you’re ever in town.

Purple Pick: Best Nudist Beaches

In the buff

Here at Purple Travel we’re nothing if not helpful. Whether it’s finding you the best possible price for your holiday, tips on how to pack your bag, or what to wear on the beach this summer, we’re here to help.

Ladies – are you sick of that unsightly bikini tan? Have you got more lines on your body than Mother Teresa? Guys – does it look like you’ve still got your shorts on even when you’ve already taken them off? Is your behind akin to an Alaskan landscape?

Fret not. We’ve got you covered, or uncovered as the case may be.

Whether you just want to avoid unsightly marks, feel like getting down with your primal self or are a fully-fledged naturalist, the best nudist beaches can be a sandy haven for both your inner and outer self. With this list of our top naturalist beaches, you’ll be in the know as well as in the buff. And if you’re a little shyer, or perhaps travelling with your children – consider this a list of places to stay well away from…

Let’s begin our best nudist beaches with an old favourite:

Since the 1990s Spain’s Vera Playa has developed into an important naturism centre. It’s in the lovely region of Andalusia which mixes ancient cities with amazing beaches and deserts with ski resorts! So you should certainly be able to find a spot, to bare all. The infamous dunes of Maspalomas Beach in Gran Canaria provide plenty of coverage for stripping off and designated sections to get used to the new found freedom.

Next up is the Czech Republic; we hear there are over 50 recognized nudist beaches in the country, so you’ll have plenty of chances to get your kit off.

Leucate Plage in France, situated on the Mediterranean coast, just north of Perpignan is a superb bare beach of fine golden sand and warm waters. Three naturist resorts share the coastline, but the beach is open to all so there’s plenty of space for both first-time skinny-dippers and veteran nudists alike.

Greece: there are plenty of options in Greece, if you fancy whipping off your gear. Super Paradise Beach on the frankly, glorious island of Mykonos has nude friendly policy and in some parts “nudism is actually obligatory.” Another good one is on Skiathos, near Koukounaries on the south-west coast, where you’ll find Banana Beach – the collective name for three sandy coves, worshipped by naturalist bathers. And before you get any ideas, the name refers to the fact the beaches are yellow and curved…

Croatia’s Vrsar is home to Koversada, which is one of the largest nudist resorts in Europe! According to Wikipedia it can take up to 18,500 guests per day. Better bare (!) that in mind when booking…

Looking towards more tropical climates, daring to bare in the Caribbean has never been more inviting. Seven Mile Beach in Negril Jamaica, is a very nude friendly resort, although the beach itself is public property, so topless is ok, but if you’re losing your bottoms you’ll have to pay extra. The Hedonism resort, also in Negril is as the name suggest open to not only nudist sunbathers, but plenty more besides.

Heading down Mexico Way, you’ll find the Hidden Beach Resort, an ‘au naturel club’ which claims to be the only All Inclusive Nudist Resort in the Mexico Caribbean. A top choice for the best nudist beaches in the world… at least we think so.

The Sunshine State of Florida, welcomes nudity with open arms…well almost. Haulover Beach is an official tax supported public nude beach, with excellent facilities and you don’t need to worry about getting hassled in a state of undress.

Good luck!

One word of caution: While it’s true ‘topfree’ is popular in most resorts, it’s not for everyone. Be sure to check with the local authority to be sure!

Purple Pick: June Holidays

Majorca from above

Image via @ Tom Tolkien

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image via @ Oscarparadela.com

Purple Pick: Crete Family Holidays


Family beaches

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

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

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

You should read… The best family friendly beaches in Crete

Time travel

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

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

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

You should read… What to eat in Crete

Days Out

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

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

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

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

Water Parks

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

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

Image via @ gterez

Purple Pick: Costa Blanca Beaches

With three times the number of EU Blue Flags (highly sought after ratings that show the beaches are clean and safe) than any of the other Costas, the Costa Blanca, or white coast as it translates to in English, boasts 170 miles of unforgettable sandy beach. Sit back, and enjoy our guide to the best Costa Blanca beaches.

A Sunbather's Guide_1 A Sunbather's Guide_2 - Copy

There are an enormous variety of coastal resorts to choose from – Javea, Calpe, Benidorm, Valencia and the capital, Alicante, to name but a few – and it’s important to notice that every year many of their beaches receive the prestigious European blue flag, setting the standard for the entire area. However, if you’re a real sunbathing expert, then now is the time to listen up. We’ve narrowed down the endless list of beautiful beaches to the best of the best.

El Carabassí (near santa Pola)
First is El Carabassí, a vast virgin beach of pale, golden sand, bordered by wetlands, salt pans and enormous dunes. Mostly attended by multi-generational Spanish families (equipped with a mind-boggling array of chairs, tables, loungers and windshields) the beach is thankfully quieter towards its southern end – an officially designated nudist zone. The beach slopes very gently, so the water is shallow for quite a way from the shore, deeming it extremely safe for children. However for those choosing to venture a little further out, rewards are waiting in abundance. Here you will find excellent conditions for windsurfing, snorkelling and swimming and some glorious reefs. A quick tip – the beach is lined with shacks serving locally-caught fish, paellas, snacks, ice-cream and ice-cold beers, but it’s preferable to make like the Spanish and take a picnic of wine and fresh fruits.

Poniente Beach (Benidorm)
Poniente Beach, just west of Levante, is a mammoth golden curl of excellent fine sand. Slightly less crowded than Levante, but with plenty of facilities close at hand, Poniente boasts a more relaxed and laid back feel – and a bit more space. Cafes, bars and shops make up the promenade and there’s a wide choice of hotel and apartment accommodation in the surrounding area if you’re looking to extend your stay.

Playa de El Saler (Valencia)
El Saler is a 30-minute bus trip from the centre of Valencia, but well worth the journey. It is a blue flag beach with amazing quality sand and the cleanest of water. Unfortunately this also makes it one of the busiest beaches during the summer months, but it is picturesque nonetheless.

Read more: Best beaches in the Algarve

Cala Pope Tango (Javea)
A wonderfully unique cove, this rustic beach is comprised of both sand and small pebbles, which are great for exploring. Although fairly unspoilt, you can still enjoy a spot of diving and the cove has safety flags and buoys to advise on swimming conditions. There are also ample facilities nearby, including some great restaurants and a bar for when all that swimming works up an appetite.

Cala Grandella (Javea)
No list of beaches in the Costa Blanca would be complete without some mention of the horseshoe-shaped, Blue Flag awarded cove of Grandella. Small at just 160m, but full of character, the beautiful cove consists of shingle, pebbles and rocks, complemented by clear waters that are perfect for swimming. The beach has ample facilities to enrich your day: a lifeguard is present at all times with safety flags to indicating swimming conditions; canoeing is available; sunbeds and parasols are up for hire; diving and snorkelling are also popular; shower and toilet facilities are present and a great bar and restaurant overlook the bay. Expect calm, sapphire water, flanked by a dense forest of emerald Aleppo pine trees. Perfection.

Les Rotes (Denia)
Just south of the centre of Denia, Les Rotes is five little bays, each set against the backdrop of the Montgó nature reserve. Marineta Cassiana at the beginning is a sandy beach, whilst the following beaches of El Trampoli, Punta Negra, Arenetes and La Cala are a string of rocky coves with clear turquoise waters. The main sandy beach near the harbour attracts mostly families with small children, but if you’re looking to avoid the tourist heave and hive, or don’t like getting sand in your sandwiches, then the rocky coves are a stunning alternative, La Cala, a nudist beach, offers fabulous conditions for snorkelling and scuba diving with plenty of fish and plant life to discover.

Purple Tips: Family holidays

Grab a bucket and spade, the kids and head for these family holidays in the sunshine. Here are some top picks for family friendly getaways. From 32 Cute Little Girl in Pink Dances photos set (uncropped) k

Image via @ MikeBaird

Fun, fun, fun at Disneyland USA Surely a no brainer, Disneyland is the chance to treat your kids (and yourself) to an unforgettable adventure. The Radisson WorldGate Hotel in Kissimmee is just a mile from Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios. You can even watch the theme park’s fireworks show from your room and hit the shops for some much needed retail therapy. It’s really the cherry on top of any family holidays you might be after.

Hit the beach in the Balearics Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza, take your pick: The handy family run Hotel Almudaini in Palma de Mallorca, is just a few minutes’ walk from Passeig Maritimo and almost every amenity in town – the port, palace and market. For Menorca head for the family friendly resort of Cala’n Forcat, with its beaches, bouncy castles and aqua parks. Remember, Ibiza is not just for serious partying, there’s a softer, gentler side, with cosy villas away from the clubbing centres, but lively enough for mum and dad to enjoy too. Try Santa Eulalia, or Es Cana for great family holidays in the sunshine.

Ski adventure in Borovets Bulgaria is a fab choice for families with children, with a snow park especially for youngsters and wide runs in amongst green pine forests. There is a high standard of English speaking schools, and it’s a good choice for beginners, improvers or advanced skiers. Depending on where you stay there is free nursery or ski school as well as a great selection of cosy restaurants or day trips to the capital Sofia. The Hotel Rila has gorgeous views, mountain biking and hiking trips organised by qualified guides along with a great location right at the bottom of the ski runs.

Tropical getaway Dreams Tulum Resort and Spa, Riviera Maya, Mexico the ideal in all inclusive, the Dreams in Tulum has excellent rooms, some with ocean or garden views and a private terrace. The onsite Explorer’s Club offers a Mayan themed world of fun for children aged between three and 12. Daily activities include climbing walls, splash fountains and outdoor movie screenings. For more adventurous kids, there’s a camping adventure every week.

Cruise in Turkey A great choice for one parent families, you join a party atmosphere on a cruise past tiny fishing villages, practically deserted beaches and tonnes of kayaking, swimming or diving. In the evenings, parents can gather on deck and relax over a glass of local brew, while the kids are entertained with movies.

Family luxury Cyprus The Almyra Hotel in Paphos is the perfect laidback getaway that’s is both stylish and child friendly. Children of all ages are at the heart of this hotel, with excellent childcare available. This includes supervised clubs, indoor and outdoor play areas, interconnecting rooms and children’s menus and a Baby Go Lightly service, so you can order all sorts of baby necessities before you arrive, e.g. nappies, car seats etc. For older children and teenagers, there is a dedicated ‘urban graffiti’ designed area with video games and big screens.

Dude Ranch, in the USA A holiday with a difference, this is the chance to test your cowboy skills. Set on a huge ranch, you and your family will be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and glorious sunsets. The Elk Mountain Ranch is known as the “White Water Capital of Colorado” and there is plenty of opportunity to go rafting along with hayrides, biking and erm, square dancing.  A great choice for children, each day has a theme such as cowboy or Indian, there are dedicated camp counsellors and even a water slide park nearby, meaning every base is covered.

Classic sunshine Depending on who you talk to, there are a couple of thousand islands in Greece, so there is plenty to choose from.  To top it off, it’s one of the best places for a bargain break; there is a big push to get visitors in this year, so prices have dropped and there is room for haggling. Try the resort of Amoudara in Crete, with a three mile long stretch of sand and tonnes of tavernas to lunch in. For days out try the Labyrinth of Knossos or the AquaWorld Aquarium and stay at the Castro Hotel, just a couple of minutes from a private beach, with its own pool and plenty of restaurants nearby.

Purple Pick: Best value holidays Europe

Make your budget stretch that extra mile with our price busting, sunshine bolt holes that are the best value this year. You can give us a call to book any of these cheap holidays now on 0207 993 9228.


images by D0ominik

For families: Sunshine in Crete

There’s never been a better time to take advantage of great prices on holidays to Greece. Pretty much all of the islands are paradise like and its largest, Crete is ideal for families with children of all ages. Head for Chania, where you’ll find long stretches of beach where the kids can make sandcastles or the older ones can try out their water sports skills. Greeks tend to dote on children and evenings out in the Old Town are fun and very family friendly, with tavernas to dine in and plenty of entertainment options on offer.

Where to stay in Chania: The Althea Village is just a stone’s throw from Agioi Apostoloi, it’s got four pools and plenty of games and playground facilities on site. Throw in the friendly staff and this is the best family choice in Chania.


image by einaz80

For foodies: Northern Croatia

Croatia is a great, budget friendly alternative to Greece or Spain. There are plenty of budget hotels and the Istrian Riviera in particular is especially nice as it is on the verge of becoming one of the top foodie hotspots in Europe. It’s a bit friendlier on the pocket and just as stunning as the capital Dubrovnik. The whole area is known for its hugely diverse culinary choices, with fresh fish (of course!) Italian influenced pastas, truffles accompanying many dishes, and open air markets that are in almost every town.

Where to stay in Porec: Island Hotel Fortuna. This is an unusual and beautiful hotel close to lots of local restaurants and offering magnificent views as you dine. You can even sail to the centre to dine at the many local restaurants every evening.

6817566403_8403554913_zimage by MickyFlick

For couples: Road trip in Catalonia

Road trips are some of the best way of seeing new countries, and with short flight times to Spain it is well worth it. The proud Catalan people live for the important things in life, like sunshine, beaches nature and tapas. And of course Barcelona is an ultimate city for couples with boutique hotels, Park Guell and the many Gaudi inspired architectural wonders, more tapas bars than you can shake a stick at and even a city beach. It being a city, a little bit of scouting means you can find the cheapest of the cheap. We love the idea of a day trip from a cute hotel hidden away in the natural lush surroundings.

Where to stay: in Catalonia we like the Santa Susana Hotel just a hop, skip and a jump from bustling Barcelona. The Susana is a nice secluded haunt, where you can spend days relaxing, or head for the nightlife of the city.


image by maxshaman

For partying: Superclubs in Magaluf

Into clubbing? Want to bar hop night after night after night? Magaluf is an oldie but a goodie. Boasting one of the biggest clubs in Europe, BCM’s already seen Tulisa passing through this year, so you can imagine who’ll be headlining next summer. It’s a great choice for the last hurrah for Stag or Hen parties too with endless beer crawls, nightclubs, cocktails and fun. Oh did we mention the sun, sea and sand too?

Where to stay: In Magaluf go for the Fiesta Jungla Aparthotel. You’ll find the super clubs on your doorstep and the pools and beach to recover on the morning after the night before.

Click here for our best prices to Magaluf.


image by sommertho

For complete relaxation: R&R in Malta

Malta is a tiny gem of an island in the heart of the Mediterranean, close to the boot of Italy, Sicily. The country is actually an archipelago made up of three islands, so it really has something for everyone. But, if you’re looking for a so-laidback-it’s-horizontal atmosphere at very budget friendly prices then you’ll find it here. The best bit? We think it has to be that Maltese summers are practically guaranteed hot, with loads of sunshine and no rain! On top of that, there’s a fine range of cheap hotels so it easily places on our best value holidays Europe list.

Where to stay: We love the Hotel Bella Vista in Qawra in a great location right on the seafront. You can take it easy at the bar, with a cocktail in hand just listening to the sound of the waves, or head for one of the tasty local eateries before retiring to your comfortable, spacious room.

Click here for our best prices to Malta.

Purple Pick: Ancient Castles

Functioning as both a connection to the past and an exhibition of architectural beauty, these mighty and somewhat unrealistic constructions are now ironically considered some of the most peaceful buildings around. From huge, solid strongholds to oriental fortresses and highly decorative palaces, here is our pick of the world’s most incredible ancient castles.

prague castleimage by mindriot

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle is one of the largest and oldest castles in the world – its surface is around 570 metres long and 130 metres wide. Most fascinating about the castle is its design; representing literally every architectural style of the last millennium, from Gothic to Romanesque and Baroque features, the castle’s first buildings emerged as early as in the ninth century.

The Potala Palace, Tibet

Situated upon Marpo Ri hill, above the Lhasa valley in Tibet, the Potala Palace is the greatest monumental structure in the country. Built by Emperor Songtsen Gampo in 637, the original structure stood until the seventeenth century, when it was incorporated into the foundations of the larger buildings, which still stand today. The present palace, known as Potrang Karpo, or the White Palace, was completed in 1648, during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was then added, requiring some 7000 workers and 1500 artists and craftsman for its completion.

Mont St. Michel, France

Le Mont St Michel is located on a small, rocky quasi-island on the Normandy coast, near Brittany. Only one narrow causeway links the island to the coastline, adding to the overall impression of this other-wordly castle. Unlike other castles in France, which were built for defence or to house royals, Mont St Michel began life as a monastery. Italian architect, William de Volpiano, designed the Romanesque church of the abbey in the 11th century, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Countless underground crypts and chapels were built below the structure to compensate for its weight. Today, it attracts over four million visitors a year and has been featured in several movies, cartoons, and even videogames.

Predjamski Castle, Slovenia

Do not be deceived by this castle’s small stature in comparison to other’s around the world – Predjamski is integrated into the second largest cave system in Slovenia and probably the only castle in the world incorporated into the landscape in such a way. It is also the only cave in the world with a double-track railway, meaning tourists can view the inner tunnels, galleries and halls of this unique architectural work.Although its name literally translates as ‘Castle in Front of the Cave’, the castle was actually built in stages, beginning in the twelfth century, with the middle added in renaissance, and the right wing built around 1570.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle from Purple Travel

Neuschwanstein Castle via @ Wikicommons

Built for Louis II of Bavaria, often referred to as Mad King Ludwig, Neuschwanstein is a royal palace, located in the Bavarian Alps of Germany. The castle is a quintessential work of nineteenth century romanticism and a fantastical imitation of a medieval castle, complete with towers, spires and turrets – it’s no wonder that Sleeping Beauty’s cast in Disneyland was modelled on it. The castle was also extremely revolutionary at the time, equipped with all kinds of technical conveniences, including running water on all floors, automatic flushing toilets on every floor and a heating system for the entire building.

Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto Castle, locally named Matsumotojo, is one of the most complete and beautiful in all of Japan and its origins go back to the Sengoku period (1500s). The castle is an example of ‘hirajiro’, in that it was built on a plain rather than on a hill.

Hunyad Castle, Romania

Although today located in what is known as Hunedoara, Romania, the Hunyad Castle was originally part of Transylvania, and is believed to be the place where Vlad III of Wallachia (aka Dracula) was held prisoner for seven years after he was overthrown in 1462. The castle is the most impressive relic of the Hunyadi dynasty, built in a Gothic style, with Baroque and Renaissance elements. Understandably intimidating, considering its history, the castle’s appearance is equally eerie; a large and imposing building makes up the castle, complete with tall, coloured roofs and myriad towers, windows and balconies, each decorated with stone carvings.

Pena Nationa, Portugal

The oldest palace inspired by European Romanticism, Pena National Palace in Portugal is perched on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra. First built in the fifteenth century as a palace, the building was later reconstructed and donated to the church as a monastery. The style of the palace is a diverse combination of the original and subsequent architectural styles, including Romantic, Bavarian, and Moorish.

Purple Pick: Great American Road Trips

The Deep South in the USA is known for its hospitality, big personalities and as the birthplace of Elvis, the most famous jazz clubs that side of the Atlantic and food that is out of this world. Join us as we go one of the Great American Road Trips through the Deep South.

Start in Atlanta, Georgia an energetic city that’s home to world class southern hospitality. Rent a car, hop in and get some travellin’ tunes to get you on your way. Visit the High Museum of Art, or hike the Infamous Appalachian Trail to kick-start your adventure. As you pass through you’ll probably recognise bits of it from movies like Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes and, erm, Deliverance.

In Tennessee, you’ll find Graceland, where Elvis spent the last years of his life. It’s an intriguing and moving place to visit. Fans make the journey from all over the world to pay their respects to the man known as ‘The King’. Sun Studios is like taking a step back in time and blues, gospel, country and rock ‘n’ roll fill the air.

You couldn’t go on a Deep South road trip and not visit Sweet Home Alabama. If there’s time, dip across the border and head for FAME or Muscle Shoals sound studios. These hosted some of the best acts in the world like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Otis Redding. If you go even further, just outside Birmingham a stop by the Talladega Superspeedway will leave your head reeling, in a good way. A stop in Scottsboro at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where airline lost luggage is unpacked and sold could give you a couple of bargains or something totally weird, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. Don’t forget to order grits for breakfast and ice tea with lunch to fit in, in Alabama.

A stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and discovering the Grand Ole Opry makes Nashville a great addition to the trip. There is excellent live music in bars throughout the city ‘til late and Biscuits at Loveless Cafe are something an institution. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis will have you tapping your foot in no time and the city is known for some of the best BBQ, with hundreds of places for a pitcher of beer and some broiled ribs or pulled shoulder pork.

Mississippi’s Highway 61 is called the cradle of the Blues. At the crossroads between 61 and 49 you’ll find the spot where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for phenomenal guitar playing skills. Clarksdale is home to the Delta Blues Museum and the Ground Zero Blues Club juke joint is within touching distance. The Shack Up Inn is a real taste of southern hospitality.

Head for Jackson and eat at the infamous Two Sisters Kitchen, a buffet style in a traditional 1903 home. The all-you-can-eat price includes okra, cheese grits and skinless fried chicken. After a refuelling like that, the great outdoors might beckon; there are hiking trails, horse riding and activities in the gorgeous countryside around or you could visit your first ever rodeo at the Dixie National Livestock Show.

Continue your road trip to Louisiana to tickle your taste buds with a bowl of gumbo (everywhere has a difference recipe) or alligator sauce picante in Thibodaux. Then on to Lafayette, one of the best known music towns in the States, filled with Creole dancehalls, Cajun rhythms and zydeco music.

Finish up in New Orleans the legendary city of jazz on the Louisiana Delta. There are dozens of clubs to discover in the Big Easy, there are no closing times, so you can stay all night. And with jazz and blues, Latin, R&B, gospel, rock, cajun and everything in between you could stay for months without discovering it all. Go in February or March when you’ll find Mardi Gras, in April there’s jazz and international festivals, while in October there is the Angola Prison Rodeo and Art Festival.

Images used under Creative Commons via @ Garyjwoord @ Rob Westbrook @ IanLoic and via Pinterest.

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