Holidays in Greece are always welcome if you are up for some sunshine, food, culture and good times overall. Its great weather and long history along with a wide variety of yearly occasions make cultural holidays in Greece a great opportunity to visit and learn more about its customs and intriguing heritage.
The world-renowned island of Santorini is a stunning holiday destination for all. Enjoy a bit of romance gazing at its famous sunset or stroll through its narrow streets adorned with bougainvilleas and whitewashed houses perched on its cliffs. The sights around the island will definitely blow your mind and the following activities encompass most of what holidays in Santorini are about.
Crete is one of the most spectacular islands in the world to visit and even though it’s a Greek island the Cretans have a spirit that’s entirely their own. Here we whittle down the choices of things to do in Crete so you can make the most of Crete holidays.
1. Visit the Palace of Knossos in…Knossos
Image via @Ania Mendrek
Knossos was the capital of Minoan Crete and was inhabited for several thousands of years. The palace is connected with such mythology as the Labyrinth with the Minotaur. Knossos is easily reached by bus from Heraklion.
You might just think there’s only beaches and bars to visit on Zante holidays but there’s a lot more to do and see here than first meets the eye. Let us know in the comments below your favourite things to do in Zante.
1. Head to Agios Nikolaos and take a boat to see the Blue Caves at Cape Skinari – they are natural arches that have been carved out by erosion and are famous for the colour of the water hence the name Blue Caves.
Image via @Robert Wallace
I was so happy to hear that TBEX, the travel blog exchange will be held in Athens, Greece in 2014. There’s a simple reason for this. Although I’m not from here, it’s been my home for the past three and a bit years. In that time I’ve come to feel very proud of Athens: it’s lively and vibrant, friendly and fun, parties go on all night, food is incredible and so cheap and is nothing like what you see on tv… it’s much more than that. Everyone knows about the sites like Anafiotika, The Acropolis, and Plaka. All incredible sites that I never get tired of… but I wanted to share some practical local knowledge – when you first arrive somewhere, where should you eat, drink or dance? This list is a bit nightlife heavy and I could have kept writing all day – but seriously, who would be still going on page 55? If you’ve got any other questions about local stuff to do or see during TBEX Athens, please feel free to get in touch, I’ll do my best to help out.
Image via @ flickr
Head for the Acropolis, but instead of turning right up to the Parthenon, turn left and watch out for a metal staircase that leads you up to the open rocks opposite. A free and lovely place to soak up a glorious sunset behind the ancient temple. Known to locals or me certainly) as the slippery rocks, it’s best to wear good shoes up there. There are also lots of bars with great views in Athens, I’ve been to many of them. If you’re in Monastiraki avoid A for Athens. The overpriced drinks and rude staff don’t help you appreciate the view too much. Instead, head for the roof of the AthenStyle hostel for decent value drinks and a panoramic terrace or the cool surrounds of a 6th floor roof bar called Sole e Luna in a hotel in Neos Kosmos, where you can find a sunset to rival the Monastiraki bars and enjoy an expertly made Mojito.
Corfu people are happy and easy to get along with. They are also full of artistic activities such as music, theatre, painting etc. Corfiots love beach life so here are some picks of Corfu beaches and their bars so you can enjoy holidays in Corfu to the max!
Glyfada’s incredible beach is easily the most popular on the island. It’s well organized with plenty of loungers, umbrellas and showers. A great choice for families, the water is shallow and crystal clear, while the lifeguards on duty offer some peace of mind for parents with young children. The Aloha Beach Bar is full of life and is home to great parties in the evening. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for young people who are starting their night with a cocktail.
Close by is the resort of Aghios Gordios, another well organized stretch of sand for people who want to try out some water sports or take some pictures. The long, sandy beach has plenty of loungers and parasols and the AloBar is worth the visit alone! Gorgeous view and really laidback, enjoying a cocktail here at sunset is the moment you know you’re on holidays.
Image via @ ReneS
1. National Finals Rodeo
Where: Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, USA
When: First week of December
People might say that Las Vegas is a festival itself, as it’s a place where the lights never go out. However, if you opt for a December trip to Las Vegas, you’ ll have the chance to personally experience the 10-day National Finals Rodeo, a.k.a. Rodeo Superbowl. The festival involves, the top 15 rodeo cowboys who compete each other, claiming prizes up to $5.5 million!
Image via @ globeseeker
2. Quema del Diablo (Burning the Devil)
Where: Guatemala City and Antigua, Guatemala
When: December 7th
According to local tradition the Devil lurks in house corners, under every bed and in the garbage bins. Therefore, on 7th December of every year the locals clean their houses and streets, setting the garbage on fire at 6 o’clock in the evening. Usually, on top of the burning pile they also throw a figure of the Devil. Certainly an unusual addition to our list of December festivals.
Image via @ Box of Badgers
Image via @ IdleFormat
We’re nothing if not helpful here at Purple Travel, so make the most of your Greek holiday with our favourite facts about Crete.
#1 It’s said to be the birthplace of the supreme god Zeus. Legend has it; Zeus’ mother Rhea hid the newborn baby in a cave so he wouldn’t be killed by his father Cronus.
#2 It can be walked in 50 days. Well, if you follow the route of Belgian hiker Ivan Van Driesche. He decided to walk around the island as a fundraiser for stray animals and he did it in exactly 50 days.
#3 Crete has thousands of miles of beaches, making it an unparalleled choice for sun worshippers. There are lots of options for surfing or sunbathing, naturist beaches or scuba diving.
#4 A study in 1980 by Ancel Keys revealed that Crete is the healthiest country in the world and philosopher Hippocrates said the air of Crete has healing properties; this is a legend that continues today.
#5 It was Crete where Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, was from. Kept in prison by King Minos, he escaped with wings made from feathers and wax, but, unfortunately for him, he flew too close to the burning rays of the sun, his wings melted and he drowned in the sea.
#6 Many people in Crete own guns, but don’t worry it’s mostly for celebration reasons, especially at weddings.
#7 Crete is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, with remnants found that date back to 7 million BC.
For more information or to book cheap holidays in Crete talk to the experts at Purple Travel now.
Discover a traditional Greek Island where life is simpler, discover Alonnisos with blogger Rebecca 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.
Extend your summer or get in early for half term. The kids are back to school and a new (school) year is starting. Why not have something to look forward to, like an autumn tan, a spring in your step and a good injection of vitamin D in some of our favourite half term holiday picks. We take a look at where is hot during half term and what makes a great choice for children of all ages. If you fancy water slide parks, history lessons or just plain, old sandcastles and paddling in the sea, find out where to go with our best value destinations for half term holidays.
Where to spend your half term holidays
1. The Canaries – With an abundance of beaches, scuba diving, family bike rides and fantastic weather, cheap half term holidays in the Canaries are an obvious choice. Why not spend long, lazy days working on a winter tan on a black sandy beach in Tenerife, hike up the side of a volcano in Gran Canaria, or take a glass bottomed boat tour in Playa del Ingles? There is something to suit every type of family in the Canaries. Stay at Barcelo Lanzarote in Costa Teguise which offers adult and children’s swimming pools, playgrounds, kids club, giant monopoly and water slides as well as a spa for mum and dad.
2. Algarve – The Southern area of Portugal is still warm in October and there is plenty for children of all ages to keep busy with. Albufeira is a good family friendly hub, with plenty of child friendly restaurants, a sandy golden beach and nearby water parks. Stay at the Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira, where you’ll find a great welcome, great rooms and great value.
3. Crete – The southern Aegean is ideal in October. Prices have dropped, but temperatures are still high and Crete is a perennial choice for family friendly holidays. Stay at the Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites, right on a sandy beach, with lots of loungers, umbrellas and children’s activities available.
4. Marrakech – is an exciting, exotic holiday choice all year, but especially good around October. It’s still warm and at only three hours flying time, it’s not too far to get somewhere very exotic. Children and adults can enjoy hiking in the Atlas Mountains, visiting the colourful souks or exploring the Kasbahs. Stay at the Aqua Fun Club – All Inclusive. This 5* accommodation has extensive spa facilities as well as water slides, adult and children only pools, a rafting river and children’s aqua tower.
5. Rome – If you want to get some learning in during the half term break, why not choose a city break in Rome. The weather should still be ok, in the early 20s and you and your children can enjoy seeing the Colosseum and some gladiators up close, head for the Time Elevator Roma (a high tech history lesson made with some very special effects) spark imaginations at the Explora children’s museum and munch on pasta and pizza. Stay at the RSH Spanish Steps Apartments, centrally located near the Trevi Fountain and with plenty of space for all the family after long days exploring the city.
6. Florida – has over 1,000 miles of sandy beaches, is the home of theme parks and has some of the best shopping in the world. Then of course there is Disney World to think of. Meet Mickey Mouse, see the fireworks and parades and generally have the time of your life and a half term holiday you’ll never forget. Stay at the Disney Area Superior Homes for a home away from home experience in Orlando and all the amenities you want within easy reach of the World Disney World Resort.
Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel.