Many of the islands now offer excellent budget getaways – thanks to an increase in affordable accommodations, food and shopping. And of course, the region’s biggest draw – those powdery white, pal tree-lined beaches – don’t have to cost a thing. We’ve compiled a guide to the Caribbean’s five most affordable destinations. Enjoy our 5 most affordable Caribbean Holidays.
Known as the Cancun of the Dominican Republic due to its huge amount of low-priced all-inclusive resorts, Punta Cana is a bargain-hunters haven. Offering everything from oceanfront views to delicious international cuisine, this tourist hotspot is one of the cheapest escapes in the Caribbean.
Cancun’s cheap price tag is just one of its many draws. As one of the most popular Caribbean destinations, from weddings and honeymoons to family getaways and holidays with friends, Cancun has steadily become one of the most recognised names in the travel world. Although a less authentic Mexican experience (the purpose-built resort was built up from nothing), you’re guaranteed a successful holiday-to-remember, at a fraction of the price of many other destinations nearby.
Powdery soft sands, shimmering turquoise water, fresh seafood in abundance, and lots of rum cocktails – Puerto Rico offers travellers the chance to experience all the Caribbean has to offer. Like most Caribbean destinations, staying inside the city itself or the surrounding area are both suitable ways to holiday on the cheap. Goods are also ridiculously cheap, but be careful not to go overboard with so much on offer!
Laid back, breathtaking scenery and with the best coffee in the world, Jamaica is a popular tourist hotspot for obvious reasons. This island appeals to all types and although it may be a little pricier than say, Puerto Rico or the Bahamas, travellers shouldn’t have too much trouble finding cheap flights and cheap, but comfortable accommodation.
According to Frommer’s, “Puerto Plata appeals to a mass-market crowd that prefers less expensive, all-inclusive resorts.” This Dominican Republic resort town is a fantastic choice for those looking for an action-packed holiday – there’s plenty for travellers to do away from the hotel, from watersports in Cabarete to spectacular sights like the Damajaqua Cascades (27 Waterfalls).
Sun soaked, dazzling seas, year round warmth, lively clubs or relaxed lounging, it’s no wonder Tenerife Spain is a perennial favourite for tourists from all the UK. Straight out of Doctor Who, the lunar landscape is inspiring; it has its own volcano, year round good weather, the black beaches are something to marvel at and it would be tricky to find a livelier year round holiday hot spot.
Ideal for groups Playa de las Americas the busiest and one of the biggest resorts in Tenerife, Playa de las Americas isn’t just for groups, but for anyone looking for fun in the sun. There are endless sandy beaches, water sports by the bucket load and all night long clubbing.
Great for families Los Cristianos On the southern coast of Tenerife you’ll find great deals and lots of fun for youngsters. The soft, sandy beaches and shallow waters make it a great place to break out the bucket and spade while family friendly days out, fishing or sightseeing make it an excellent all round choice.
Perfect for couples Play Paraiso is exactly as its name suggest – paradise like. It’s a relaxed and peaceful resort that’s perfect for spending long, lazy days soaking up the sunshine on the beach. If it’s something livelier you’re after than the nearby Costa Adeje or Playa de las Americas offers unbeatable nights out.
Hit the beach OBVIOUSLY! There’s a big variety of beaches on the island. Some are made of dramatic, black volcanic sand, some are sandy, other’s shingle and others rocky. Most have beach bars, with excellent facilities and if you’re looking to strip off you’ll find naturist beaches on Playa de la Tejita in El Medano, or Playa de las Gaviotas in Santa Cruz.
Splash out at a water park Two major water slide parks are available in Costa Adeje the Thai themed Siam Park filled with slides and fun for all the family and Aqualand which has its own dolphin show, sure to impress kids of all ages.
Feast! Tenerife Spain has some delicious gastronomic treats on offer. The fact that it’s an island means it offers some delicious fresh fish simply boiled or baked in salt. Rabbit is a popular choice, while goat and beef are also good for the carnivores amongst you. You can’t leave Tenerife without sampling some of the wrinkly potatoes, papas arrugadas, or some of the fresh locally produced cheese.
Carnival Every February, Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz de Tenerife holds the second biggest carnival in the world, just after Brazil’s famous Rio street party. A riot of colour, there is music, singing, dancing, parades, fancy dress and the party goes on for days.
Visit the House of Honey Learn how honey is collected at the Casa de la Miel, built to support Tenerife’s bee keeping sector. Find out how apiculture works and get to taste some of the local favourites.
Let your hair down Head for the banging resort of Playa de las Americas, the home of nightlife on the island. The whole place is just building up every day to happy hour and there you’ll find the best clubs and bars filled with pumping music, great deals on drinks and dancing on tables. Just remember, what happens in Tenerife, stays in Tenerife.
Shop ‘til you drop Take advantage of the lower taxes in Tenerife Spain and head for the capital Santa Cruz. Bargains are everywhere with plenty of department stores to splash your cash, or small boutiques filled with bargains. Take home some local turron (a type of nougat) ceramics, leather goods or a pair of espadrilles.
Try to catch the green flash At sunset and sunrise an optical illusion sometimes occurs, where a green spot is visible on the horizon, usually for only a second or two. It’s been known to happen in Tenerife and with great views out to the ocean, if you’re lucky you might just catch it.
Auditorio de TenerifeThe imposing structure of the Auditorio de Tenerife is found in the island’s capital. Designed by Santiago Calatrava the dramatic building hosts musical performances, operas and conferences, but the building itself is a sight to see too.
Teide Volcano If you’re planning on hiking, or want to cheat your way by cable car, a trip up the spectacular Teide, the highest point in Spain is a must, just be sure to apply for a permit to the get to the top. The views are well worth it and you’ll thank us when you get home!
TEA Tenerife This arts space in Santa Cruz is the Tenerife equivalent of the Tate Modern. Culture vultures can lap up contemporary and surrealist art in its permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Go rural Check out a cave house built into the mountains, go whale watching, or hiking or tickle your taste buds with some delicious local products. Teno Rural is a fun day out for all the family to discover the nature and history of the island.
Top hotels in Tenerife
Costa Adeje Gran Hotel A fantastic all inclusive option, the 5* Costa Adeje Gran Hotel is in a great location close to the shops to pick up a couple of bargains, the transfer times from the airport are about 50 minutes and the nearby beach and water park are perfect family fun.
Adonis Isla Bonita Hotel Just minutes from the beach, this 4* offers a warm and friendly holiday experience. The spacious, brightly coloured rooms are ideal for relaxing after busy days on Playa Fanabe Beach or the nearby Siam Water Park.
Columbus Aparthotel This 3* in the busy and vibrant Playa de las Americas resort is great for young people who want to be close to the bustling nightlife, water sports facilities and great beaches.
Sandos San Blas with a focus on environmental well being and sustainable tourism, the Sandos San Blas Nature Resort and Golf is a little slice of paradise. Play 18 holes, or head for the loungers to soak up the sunshine.
Laguna Park The infamous Laguna Park I and II accommodations are in a great party of Tenerife, just off the Las Americas Beach. Close to the bustling centre, with great facilities, it’s an excellent all round option for couples, families or groups.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, Hotel Kakslautten, Lapland.
What’s the gimmick? Located amidst beautiful Lapland scenery in the vicinity if Urho Kekkonen National Park, Hotel Kakslautten offers their winter guests the chance to stay overnight in a futuristic glass igloo. Based on a groundbreaking idea and years of research and development, the unique, sci-fi-like glass igloos are a marvel of modern technology.
Why stay? Where else can you admire the amazing northern lights and the white Lapland scenery, all within the comfort of zebra-striped warm bed? Built from a special thermal glass, the temperature inside the igloo is always at a normal level and its special material also prevents the glass from not getting white frosted, keeping the view clear even when the temperature outside drops to under -30°C.
The wow factor: Every igloo is equipped with a toilet and luxury beds and the surrounding Igloo Village is also home to snow chapel and an ice bar, both built in every winter. Every evening a hot sauna and a refreshing ice hole are waiting for you at the igloo, where you can climb into bed and marvel at the star-studded night sky. Husky safaris, snowmobile safaris, reindeer safaris and ice-fishing trips are all available, as well as guided ski treks.
Village is open every year from December/January and until the end of April.
Number 7 Use your boot to get a man. Single women in the Czech Republic throw a shoe over their shoulder while standing with their back to the front door. Not to knock someone out and nurse them back to help (haven’t we all thought of that?) but if the shoe lands pointing to the door, it is said the lucky lady will be married within a year.
Number 6 Add a spider to your tree. In the Ukraine it’s tradition to hide a spider and its web somewhere in amongst the decorations on the tree. Whoever finds it is said to be blessed with good luck for the year to come.
Christmas Spider under creative commons by @ jdhancock
Number 5 Hide your broom. In Norway it’s thought the barrier between evil spirits and ghosts is at its thinnest on Christmas Eve, so naturally enough the ladies of the house go mad hiding their brooms, while the husbands go out with their shotgun to try to warn off any overly-motivated spirits.
Number 3 get your skates on in Caracas, you’ll need them. In Venezuela’s capital city it’s tradition to rollerskate your way to early morning church services. The streets are even blocked off to allow worshippers get to their destination safely.
Rollerskates under creative commons by @ Jovanlaar
Number 2 Santa’s evil twin in Austria At Christmas all across Austria, where a demon creature comes to life to punish children. This guy is Santa’s bad half and we promise he’d scare anyone! The Krampus is let loose on the streets to frighten and beat children into better behaviour.
The number 1 has to be Catalonia’s poo log. Caga Tio, the smiley Yule log is seen throughout the region – if you’re in Barcelona you can’t miss it. A hollow log is set by the fire from Dec 8th and fed every night and covered with a little blanket to keep him warm. On Christmas Eve the log is beaten with a stick and a cheerful song orders him to poop.
Now is the time to head for a Christmas market, let me tell you, there are plenty that are just a quick plane trip from the UK, (and even a few genuine local ones.) It’s the *only* way of getting in the spirit of Christmas. Get away from the crazed Christmas shoppers and head for the spicy gingerbread, roasted chestnuts and the big man himself, Santa Claus in our top ten Christmas Markets around Europe.
Europe’s Christmas markets are all about reclaiming the magic, seeing the pixie dust in the air and soaking up the atmosphere, sparkle (and bargains.) And the best bit? (Apart from meeting Santa?) The arts and crafts. These aren’t just your regular old tourist tat, these are genuine crafts made with love and affection, that’ll look perfect on your tree, or passed on to a lucky loved one.
Get the best price on a Christmas Market break from PurpleTravel.co.uk by calling 02079939228.
Out of 2,500 markets all over Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and France, these are our favourites.
1. Nuremberg, Germany
The Nuremburg Christmas market might just be the most famous one going. Around 180 cute wooden stalls line the main square and there’s even a prize for best design. Don’t panic if you’re thinking it’s all tinsel and plastic, this is the good stuff. There are beautiful carved wooden children’s toys, handmade candles, Christmas tree decorations and bucket loads of the city’s famous gingerbread spicing up the air. The dedicated children’s market, the Kinderweihnacht is really something, with old fashioned steam trains and cookie making courses.
When? November 30 to December 24.
2. Cologne Christmas Markets, Germany
Up to two million Christmas fans pack out Cologne’s four traditional markets every December to take advantage of friendly atmosphere, yuletide tradition, great food and shopping. The centrepiece is the Am Dom market, set right in front of Germany’s most visited monument, the twin spired cathedral. A great choice for little ones too, the city’s old fashioned Alter Markt in the heart of the town is a treasure trove of puppetry, old fashioned merry-go-rounds, candy floss, and the ultimate symbol of the Christmas market: gingerbread.
When: November 26 to December 23.
3. Dresden Christmas Market, Germany
This one goes way back, to 1434, meaning Dresden’s Christmas Market is the oldest in Germany. It’s absolutely drenched in tradition from the stalls offering textiles, hand carved toys, seasonal decorations and lots more, to the locals’ love (obsession?) with Striezel. This is the local fruitcake baked as a loaf and dusted with icing sugar. The highlight has to be the second Sunday every December, when the market holds the Stollen festival. A giant 3,000kg version of the cake is made, harking back to a 16th century tradition where the prince would cut it with a five-foot knife and hand it out to the poor. Nowadays it’s a little more civilised with the glamorous Stollenmadchen, or ‘Miss Cake’, keeping an eye on things.
When: November 30 to December 24.
4. Vienna Christmas Market, Austria
Austria practically makes an art form out of its Christmas markets. The Viennese one dates back over 700 years and is an early starter, meaning it kicks off in November. Here’s how the locals do it: they get all cosy and snug in furs, sip on some of the famous glühwein and moon shaped cookies called Vanillekipferl and wander through the squares. They’ve got lots to see on their stroll, from the spectacular advent windows, the handmade gifts and decorations everywhere you look. The festival also draws choirs from all over the world to perform in the main hall. For little ones there’s plenty to do too, with daily workshops on offer.
When? From November to Christmas
5. Brussels Christmas Market, Belgium
This is one for the foodies. Along with the gorgeous traditional atmosphere, complete with twinkling lights strung along chalet style wooden huts, you’ll find some of the best Christmas fare going. There’s mulled wine, juicy olives, and of course heaps of Belgian chocolates and special speculoos, these are gingerbread biscuits shaped like Santa. However, the piece de resistance must be the moules or snails, served steaming hot. It might not scream Christmas at you but just wait until you try it.
When? November 30 to January 6, 2013
6. Copenhagen Christmas Market, Denmark
The deliciously romantic Copenhagen Christmas market is right out of a storybook. Set in Europe’s oldest amusement park, the 19th century Tivoli Gardens, it’s filled with Christmas trees, fairy lights and fairground rides. The main lake becomes an ice rink and the smell of spiced mulled wine, known as glögg fills the air, as you visit among 60 colourful, hand painted stalls with porcelain dolls, rugs, wooden furniture and silver jewellery. There is even a ‘Pixie Ville’ where you’ll find over 130 mechanical pixies; these are famous in from Danish Christmas folk stories and a 95 year old wooden rollercoaster.
When? November 16 to December 30
7. Innsbruck Christmas Market, Austria
Austria’s Innsbruck makes the ideal choice for a little exercise in the morning and a little shopping in the afternoon. Right up in the Alps, it’s got nine ski resorts to pick from, while the snow peaks mean it’s a perfect Christmassy scene to get you in the mood. Filling the old town’s main square there are plenty of stalls to pick up some crafty Christmas treats, like traditional cribs, decorations and fabrics. Of course, it being a Christmas market, there are plenty of warming mugs of glühwein and roasted chestnuts by the bucket load.
When? November 20 to December 27
8. Prague Christmas Market, Czech Republic
The glowing, Christmassy atmosphere of Prague’s medieval Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square are the perfect backdrop for the classic yuletide market. In front of the famous Astronomical Clock tower, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling all sorts of jewellery, handicrafts, toys and decorations. While the Prague Christmas market is another foodie favourite. There are lots of local favourites like váno?ní cukroví (Christmas cookies) and váno?ní rybí polévka (Christmas fish soup) Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.
When? November 27 to January 2, 2013
9. Budapest Christmas Markets, Hungary
Budapest might just provide the setting for the ultimate treat Christmas Market break. The city is already famous for its spas and history and it really comes alive at Christmas, with around 100 stalls selling decorations and toys made by local craftsmen. There is a huge advent calendar, and delicious festive treats like rétes, a kind of strudel and kenyérlángos a sort of flatbread and of course the infamous Hungarian version of glühwein all to be found in the Vörösmarty.
When? November 18 to December 30
10. Barcelona Christmas Market, Spain
Although maybe not your first choice, Barcelona has a great Christmas tradition and its market dates way back to 1786. There are over 300 stalls selling all sorts of Catalan gifts, decorations and handicrafts, while the 30 miles of ligths that are piled in Fira de Santa Llucia are sure to impress the biggest Scrooge.
Not content with being home to the world’s tallest man made building, the world’s largest man made island, The Palm Jumeirah and the longest metro system Dubai has launched its plan for the world’s biggest shopping mall.
The vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum announced the plans with this tweet:
Today, we launched new city in dubai, it will host world’s largest mall accommodating 80m shoppers a year& a park that will receive 35m
Dubai has plenty of practice with malls – The current Dubai Mall is the biggest in the world., with 1200 shops.
Plans for the new build are due to start immediately, and will be called Mall of the World. The new development will be loosely divided into four themes, family, retail, art galleries and an area for entrepreneurship. An open space will also feature that will be 30 percent bigger than London’s Hyde Park. As part of the project 100 new hotels as well as theme park in association with Universal Studios will cover a staggering 455 acres.
Mount Everest is defined by its thrills, heights and sublime experiences, but what about its rubbish? Matt Dickinson, author of the Mortal Chaos series and Mount Everest summit reacher, remarked in an interview with The Telgraph, “When you get up to the very top of Mount Everest there is a remarkable amount of rubbish that has been left behind – old rope, discarded oxygen cylinders, broken tents, beer cans and bottles.”
However, thanks to a team of fifteen artists, who worked for a month with some 1.5 tonnes of climber’s cast-offs collected,(nearly 4,000 people have climbed the 29,035-feet mountain), Everest’s waste has become 75 sculptures.
Although climbers need to deposit around £2,500 with the government before they climb (refunded only after they provide proof of having brought their rubbish down from the mountain), activists say effective monitoring is somewhat difficult. The rubbish used in the exhibition was collected by Sherpa climbers in 2011 and earlier this year, and then subsequently carried down by trains of long-haired yaks, commemorated in one of the pieces. View the sculptures in the slides below:
From the best in codfish to the ultimate veggie buffet, we’ve got the low-down on the best places to eat food in Lisbon. Visit some of the best restaurants in beautiful Lisbon with Purple Travel.
Portugal’s capital Lisbon isn’t simply scenic surroundings, romantic atmosphere and livin’ it up, it’s also a foodies’ paradise. It’s where you can savour mouth -watering delicacies like fresh codfish or perfectly cooked meat.
It’s related to Mediterranean cuisine, but the traditional Portuguese gastronomy is influenced by lots of spices, a habit left over from the colonial age, when Prince Henry the Navigator ordered his ships to bring back as many exotic fruit and vegetables as possible from the New World. However you might be more familiar with the famous piri-piri flavour that permeates Portuguese dishes, as well as black pepper, cinnamon and saffron.
So, if Lisbon is planned to be your next city break, here are some top foodie picks from your friends at PurpleTravel to fascinate your palate.
Cozido a Portuguesa Even if the original recipe was once considered the rich man’s stew, people around the countryside soon discovered cheaper methods. When it comes to a stew with veggies and as many types of meat as possible, the sky and the cook’s imagination are the only limits.
Solar Dos Nunes found at Rua dos Lusiadas, 68-70, Lisbon 1350-868, has some great traditional, earthy, rural flavours and offers meaty stews, and delicious seafood, like ameijoas alentejano (clams cooked in a wine, chilli, coriander and garlic sauce with pork).
Trempe on Rua Coelho da Rocha 11/13, Estrela is a delicious restaurant with a flavour from Portugal’s biggest region, Alentejo. A rustic style eaterie, it has plenty of tasty treats like Dog fish soup and fried pork with clams.
Caldeiradais another traditional dish. It is basically a stew, with lots of fresh fish and vegetables thrown in. The secret is a little white wine and – of course – the spices. Piri-piri, black pepper, ginger, garlic, all combine to create a mouth watering flavour.
Tavares Restaurant at Rua da Misericordia, 37, Encarnacao, Lisbon 1200-270 is an excellent choice. It is said to be Lisbon’s oldest restaurant which opened back in 1784. Here your palate will be thrilled by the genuine Portuguese cuisine in grandeur style.
Veggie If all that meat sounds a little much, don’t worry, there are plenty of veggie options in Lisbon too.
Try Paladar Zen, Avenida Barbosa du Bocage 107 C, Avenidas. This is an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet, not something that you usually hear about. For €12 you can eat whatever you want from the first class cookery on offer here.
Pasteis de Nata deliciously soft, sweet, custard tarts are a cult in Lisbon. And one place is the undisputed master of making them.
Go to Antiga Confeitaria de Belem, Rua de Belem 84-92, for the ultimate in pastries. Here you’ll find heavenly, sugary treats made from eggs and cream sugar. The recipe is 170 years old and absolutely top secret, only three chefs learn it at a time. The result is a perfectly cooked taste of Lisbon.
Wine Bars in Lisbon
Whether red, white or “green”, wine is the traditional Portuguese drink. Introduced to the area by ancient civilizations, such as the Carthaginians and the Greeks, some might say that today’s Portuguese wine is the result of a centuries-old tradition. As a matter of fact, Portugal has been a major wine exporter since the Roman Empire!
So, once in Lisbon wine-lovers should take our advice and head for one of the following.
Binhoteca Rua das Padarias 16, 2710, Sintra is where you will find over 150 wines on offer. It is a great place to go wine tasting with a little help from some experts.
Bairru’s Bodega, Rua da Barroca, no. 2, Bairro Alto, this is a place where locals go to enjoy a drink or two, it’s a really relaxed cafe with great Portuguese music and friendly staff.
Miradouro’s Wine Bar Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, 1250. This might have the best view in the whole city, overlooking the Carmo convent, Castle, Cathedral and neighbourhoods of Alfama and Graca. By day, it’s calm and relaxed, at night the top bar opens with lively music, while the Wine Bar is a calmer, romantic affair.
Did you know? January is actually one of the best months to book a holiday. Not only is the weather particularly miserable in the UK, but January is also the month in which you can find the best deals throughout the travel industry. While other people are tightening their belts, those who have saved some of their Christmas cash flow can enjoy the year’s best holiday bargains. Let Purple Travel aid your decision with out round-up of 10 best January holidays
For a little bit of sunshine…
1) Tenerife – near-guaranteed sunshine that’s just 4 hours away from the UK.
2) Southern Tunisia – avoid Tunis (which can be chilly at this time) and head to southern Tunisia for a mid-haul getaway that’ll leave you bronzed and refreshed.
3) Mexico – from boutique hotels to haciendas, there are some gorgeous places to stay in Mexico’s Caribbean coast. And with perfect January temperatures, there’s plenty of leeway for exploring ancient sites such as Chichen Itza.
4) Gambia – a charming, low-cost destination with an improved hotel scene.
5) Cape Verde – great value for money and easily accessible, Cape Verde islands are sure to win you over with their diversity and natural beauty.
Or for a cool wintery break…
6) Northern Lights – discover one of the earth’s natural wonders and our top choice for 2013 travel. Read our guide to the best Northern Lights trips here.
7) Sweden – With its winter wonderland scenes, plenty of things to do and see and even an ice hotel, Sweden is an ideal destination for January travel.
8) New York– while the sales are on, head to the world’s best shopping destination to pick up a bargain, grab a bagel or two and enjoy the last of the Christmas buzz.
9) Bulgaria – named the cheapest ski destination, Bulgaria is a great choice for those looking for good value without comprising on the slopes.
10) Italy – stylish skiing doesn’t get much better than in Italy. In January, you may find excellent deals on holidays to Italy’s luxury resorts.