Purple 10: Europe’s cheapest cities… as tracked by the European Backpacker Index
It’s official, the list of Europes cheapest cities has just been announced. These 10 cities definitely won’t break the bank, and a combo of cheap flights, transport, hotels and things to see and do, mean the likes of Bucharest, Krakow and Zagreb should feature for your next city break.
Discover a traditional Greek Island where life is simpler, discover Alonnisos with bloggerRebecca Hall.
Located in the North Sporades, Alonnisos takes eight hours from Athens: three hours by coach to the port at Agios Konstantinos, then five hours by ferry via Skiathos and Skopelos. But as soon as I stepped off the ferry and took in my surroundings, I knew it was worth it.
“Ela!” an elderly lady waved to me from the portside. She was here to collect and drive me up the mountain to her accommodation. “Me lene Artemis.” Artemis ran a small guesthouse, just outside of the main harbour town of Patitiri. After unpacking my things I flopped onto the bed, rolled onto my side, noting I had a gorgeous view of the harbour and sea right from my window.
I must have dozed off. A high pitch screeching (several, actually) greeted my ears. They were the cicadas, complaining in the afternoon heat—by rubbing their legs together, it creates that noise you often hear in the summer in Greece…it cools them down.
A wander back down to the town led me past island jewellery shops; old ladies in black chatting on the steps, stopping to smile as I passed. The bougainvillea wended its way around a white archway…the blues of the door, white and purples looked striking against the equally blue sky. I’m in Greece I remember thinking. Eating fresh octopus in the taverna, I looked down at the beach—people still swimming at 7:30pm. I made plans for the rest of my stay.
During my say, I went on a boat trip around the Marine Park that surrounds Alonisos—home to the quiet and seldom seen Monk Seals. No, I didn’t spot any, but was lucky enough to spot dolphins, go to various hidden coves, the Blue Cave—swim from the boat and eat in the gorgeous harbour town of Steni Vala.
The Chora (pronounced ‘hora’) is the old village of Alonissos, located in the hills. Much of the village was destroyed in the 1965 earthquake, prompting the locals to abandon their houses and move to Patitiri. What’s left is an architectural mix of old properties and beautifully restored holiday homes. Sitting in the Square sipping coffee, views out to the coast on both sides of me, I kicked back and listened to live Greek music, watched the kids running around at 10pm (no need for bedtime rules here) and allowed the atmosphere to embrace me.
Bio: Bex is an unconventional British lass with a degree in International Relations. She’s the wrong side of 35 and only just the right side of 40 and when she’s not off gallivanting around the high seas and writing about it, she’s based in the unconventional country of Greece ( a country that suits her nature very well! ). She’s travelled to, lived and taught English in various places around the globe. She describes herself as a jack of all trades: she’s worked at LHR airport—dealing with high profile passengers, organised people’s lives through her role as P.A. to various individuals and returned to full time education in her early 30’s. All experiences have helped to shape who she is today. Follow Bex on her site, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
An absolutely unique town, Sentenil de las Bodegas is built on top of, within and underneath might rock structures, creating multi-level streets, and tiny winding alleyways. the 3,000 inhabitants of Setenil de las Bodegas in Cadiz, Spain seem to enjoy living in a gorge cut out of a mountain.
Even if you think it’s a bit weird, there’s no arguing with history, the town has had residents for thousands of years, from when they first started to carve their homes out of the sides of the mountain. Most are built under the cliff or into the hillside, creating spacious homes that always stay at the right temperature.
This one’s for all the guys and girls who want something a little bit more off-the-beaten track than your average beach. Hen parties and stag parties these days tend to be over the top but some grooms and brides just want to have a relaxing getaway to keep calm and carry on ahead of their big day. If you think sunbathing in California or Hawaii is too obvious or if you, can’t stand tourists, why not take the road less travelled? There are plenty of secret and unexpected beaches around the world, hidden gems reserved strictly for locals or connoisseurs.
Blijburg aan Zee, the beach in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is the proud owner of 165 canals, but, did you know it also has an achingly hip beach set on an artificial island in the middle of the city lake? Blijburg aan Zee is the place to be during the summer, with DJs playing day and night, regular art events and lots of beach activities like campfires and sandcastle building competitions making it the real deal. Perfect for a lively hen or stag do that’s pretty close to home.
This funky destination is located in Queens, New York and it’s the only official surfing destination in the Big Apple. It’s a great find if you’re looking for that bohemian beach destination in New York, making it a great addition to the city’s assets. It’s the newest hipster destination, but don’t let that put you off, it has great food and plenty of atmosphere. This is for the cosmopolitan hens who want the best of city break with a bit of beach thrown in.
Spain is a pretty obvious choice for travellers. But, there’s a reason tourists queue to visit Barcelona, Madrid and the Balearic Islands. If you’re in love with the Spanish way of life, but feel tired just thinking of tourists crowding your every move, try Cadaqués. This Catalonian town was an artist resort and inspired brilliant minds, especially surrealist painter Salvador Dali. You can even visit his house or learn more about him at a really good museum dedicated to his genius in Port Lligat, a neighbouring town. Perfect for a stag or hen with an artistic streak.
Tourists in Southern Asia have been known to ignore this beautiful island and choose more popular destinations like Phuket or Koh Samui. Phu Quoc is the largest island in the Gulf of Thailand and it boasts pristine beaches, fascinating reefs and hard–to-forget authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Get it while it’s still fresh and untouched by popular tour guide books. This is a long-haul stag or hen destination that you’ll never forget.
Capo Sant’Andrea, the island within an island in Elba
The Mediterranean island is where Napoleon famously was famously exiled. Fishing villages, ancient castles and green hills are just a few sightseeing gems for you and your friends in Capo Sant’Andrea. If you’re looking for serious beaches and serious partying, then this little island has exactly what you need.
No matter if you’re looking for a city escape or a secret beach on a dream island for your hen or stag party, there are more choices than you’d think. New York, Amsterdam Copenhagen, and Barcelona are just a few cities where local beaches are a perfect destination for an all-boys/all-girls vacation, while splendid islands and fishing towns in Vietnam, Spain, Estonia or Tasmania will give you the perfect holiday without transporting you to Touristville.
Amber Kingsley is a travel writer and has contributed to several travel sites and blogs. She loves spending time at the beach with her puppy Charlie and is always looking for the hidden gems of a city on her travels. She would loves finding out about more secret spots through her readers!
Every week, we keep an eye out for the most weird and wonderful hotels on earth. From caves to igloo styled hotels, expect the unexpected and a night less ordinary. This week, the Majestic Minima Hotel in Adelaide, South Australia.
What’s the gimmick? Art buffs, visiting Adelaide in South Australia can now enjoy a unique artistic experience in a hotel, whose rooms have been turned into true paintings. Opened in 2008, the Majestic Minima Hotel has won a place among the city’s most alternative and special accommodation. The Majestic Minima Hotel made an avant-garde renovation, turning its rooms into exceptional works of art.
Why stay? Guests can spend a night in an art room, which they will choose from the hotel’s online gallery. Options are ample and extremely interesting, as room themes vary, from romantic patterns to colourful designs.
The WOW Factor? Many South Australian artists were called to visually represent their take on the theme of ‘creativity and creation’ in each one of the 46 rooms. The walls and ceiling in every room have been adorned with reliefs or wall paintings similar to the art of graffiti.
Stays at this one of a kind hotel start from £65 per night.
Forget about a years of saving, get these top tips for cheap luxury holidays from Purple Travel.
1. Book your tickets as soon as possible. That way, you can benefit from online offers and early bird discounts.
2. If you can’t book that early, go for last minute when companies are trying to get rid of the last few seats on a flight, or last few rooms in a hotel.
3. Be flexible in terms of date and time of your departure. It’s cheap to fly on a Tuesday, than at the weekend.
4.Off season bookings are also a cost effective solution. You can head to all Mediterranean destinations in September where the weather and sea are still as warm as in the middle of July. Plus, you’ll get cheap accommodation and most probably have the beaches for yourselves…not bad at all!
5. Consider reducing the length of your trip. Instead of dreaming a 10-day stay in a luxury hotel, why not opt for a five day stay, which might be a more realistic plan for your pocket.
6. Book your flight with a low cost airline, to save more money for a better standard hotel. After all, when you’re swimming in the pool of your 5-star hotel, the flight will be a faded memory.
7. Do not reject all-inclusive options that will save you big money from daily expenses such as food and drink.
8. The closer, the cheaper. Choose nearby destinations that require low cost travelling.
9. Read the reviews and comments of other travellers about the accommodation and airline you’re about to book and avoid unpleasant surprises.
10. DO visit our cheap holidays website Purple Travel for the best deal to wherever you wish. Your dream holiday is just a click away.
For anyone who loves snowboarding, skiing, and all things off piste, as well as knocking back the Schnapps, putting on ridiculous costumes and dancing on all night, then we want to let you in a little secret: it’s called Snowboming 2014 and it’s happening in Mayrhofen, Austria 7-12 April 2014.
The huge snow sport/music hybrid has just announced its latest headliners who’ll be taking to the snowy stages. The 25 million record selling Prodigy will head the Forest Stage for an awesome adrenaline fuelled night. Joining the party is The Chemical Brothers (DJ set), Chase & Status are bringing their dubstep infused beats, Rudimental will hit the slopes and Groove Armada round out the line up that also includes Four Tet, Daphni and Anthony Naples.
If you still can’t get your head around the idea, let us fill you in: Snowbombing is a festival that focuses on the random. All day the slopes are filled with skiers and boarders of all abilities improving their skills or relaxing at the spa of a 5* hotel.
After night falls, the best musicians and DJs fill unique stages across the mountains, including an igloo on top of the world and an enchanted forest! Snowbombing is heading into its 15th year, so you know it’s doing something right, especially when it gets reviews like: “The Greatest Show on Snow.”
For more info on tickets check out Snowbombing.com. All images courtesy of Snowbombing 2014.