It’s almost that magic time of year! Christmas is approaching fast and with less than two weeks remaining till we cheerfully sing deck the Halls some of us are still undecided on how to spend our holidays. Or not? Well our top pick for this year’s Christmas holidays is Benidorm! Why a summer destination for Christmas we hear you ask? The reasons are many and all of them serious enough to make us want to pack our suitcases and sunscreen and get ready for a sunny happy Christmas! So for those of us who have already decided to spend our vacations on the sunny southern coasts of Spain we have collected 5 tips to help you make the most of your Christmas in Benidorm before you return to the cheerful but cold Ol’ Blighty! Read More
Here is one for the foodies amongst you today. Navigating a menu on holiday can be a nightmare sometimes, even when they are translated you don’t really know what something actually is. Purple Travel gives you the lowdown on the top 7 delicious Spanish foods to try on holiday so you don’t miss out! Have you tried any of the dishes mentioned below? Let us know your top tips for eating out in Spain.
The number one must-try food is tapas, less a food actually and more of an experience – you can’t go to Spain and not try tapas. The great thing is that you can eat it anytime and anywhere and because there is a little bit of everything on the plate there will be something for everyone to enjoy. Another awesome thing about Tapas is that in most bars in Madrid and Barcelona, you will get tapas for free – whether it be mini sandwiches, almonds, squid (really you can get anything). In other places such as the Basque Country and Andalusia you will have to pay but I’m sure it will be worth every penny.
Image via @Jessica Spengler
Find out more about the most amazing hotels around the world with Purple Travel. We take a look at a night less ordinary, whether it’s sleeping in a fox hotel, or in a silver mine, we want to give you a look at some of the weirdest but most wonderful hotels in the world. This week, a delight for that special lady in your life, let her eat cake at the Marie Antoinette Suite Paris in the Hotel 7 in Paris.
What’s the gimmick? Have a little taste of the Palace of Versailles at this incredible Marie Antoinette Suite Paris. Created with the indulgence of aristocracy at the French Court it has every luxury you can imagine and creates the perfect atmosphere for an unforgettable weekend away in the City of Lights.
Why stay? Featuring a clawfoot hot tub, canopy bed and a voluptuous lounge, it’s made for fun and games and a feeling of utter decadence.
All images via @ www.sevenhotelparis.com
The WOW factor! Really, a themed hotel in the heart of Paris, built for heavenly levels of extravagance make for a perfect dirty weekend. If you feel like spoiling someone special check out the Marie Antoinette Suite Paris at the Hotel 7.
Prices start from 367€ per night.
See what it looks like in this video:
Read more: A night less ordinary Hamster Hotel
We go around the world to find the most beautiful, weird and wonderful hotels. From panda-themed hotels to converted airplane cockpits expect the unexpected. This week, it’s the infamous capsule hotels of Japan.
Image via @ www.theaustralian.com.au
Would you ever think of staying in a capsule-shaped hotel room? If not, then no need to feel bad, we’ve heard it’s not all that pleasant, but everyone has their wants!
Although capsule hotels have become popular in Japan, they haven’t really caught on in Europe, as it’s a bit like sleeping in a sort of slight larger coffin! However, the true purpose of this weird accommodation is rarely mentioned, so most people seem to think it’s a widespread trend in Japan.
Why stay? This type of tiny room with (usually) just a bed was developed to save money and time in case commuters missed their last train home (taxi rides are crazy expensive) or for travellers seeking a cheap overnight stay.
You Should Read… A Night At The Cake Hotel
What’s included? A night’s stay usually costs around £13, while there are some others around £17. The prices will get you ship shape in as much luxury as you can find on a tiny, capsule shaped mattress and, if you’re lucky a tv over the door. The big thing about these hotels though is admission to the ofuro a spa style bath, just remember to take a shower before entering, the water is not changed too often.
Image via @ commons.wikimedia.org
Capsule Hotel via @ Clango
Capsule Hotels might not suit absolutely everyone, but if you use your imagination and see it as a space station, it could be quite an interesting experience!
There are a million and one things written about New York, but we wanted to focus on the budget side. Although NYC is the home of Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolos, it is possible to get a great city break or summer vacation on the cheap, as long as you’re a bit savvy about it. Read on and get the best in cheap and cheerful, budget and value on New York Holidays.
Free Things to do in New York City
Staten Island Ferry: One of the most popular free things in New York City, the ferry is renowned as a top tip. Escape the fare of the Statue of Liberty Ferry but keep the views on the commuter version. Find it at the east end of Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.
Take a walk in Central Park. It’s not just your average patch of grass is it? There are usually free events, statues to visit and sites like Strawberry Fields that are well worth an afternoon’s wandering.
The Trinity Church on Wall Street has regular lunchtime concerts to perk up any afternoon. Usually held on Thursdays around 1pm, it’s worth getting in early for string quartets, sopranos and more.
Look to the skies: High Line is a gorgeous park built on a former freight rail line. It’s a great place to go and get away from it all for an hour or two. You’ll find opening hours and access information here.
Kayak I love you. There is free kayaking from a couple of different places in Queens such as the Downtown Boathouse. See Manhattan from another angle, down in a kayak!
Sing along at a Broadway Show. Ok, don’t *actually* sing along, your fellow ticket holders might not actually like it, but a night at a show is practically obligatory in the Big Apple. Head for the ticket booth in Times Square for tickets up to 60% off. Cinderella, Matilda, Kinky Boots and Aladdin are just some of the upcoming shows in 2013.
Go to a baseball game. Not strictly free, but if you can wrangle some tickets, a trip to NYC isn’t complete without this all American experience, and where better than watching the New York Mets in Flushing or the Yankees in the Bronx. Just remember not to mix these two up, or feel the wrath of fans! Grab a hot dog, wrap up well and root, root, root for the home team like a true American.
Get in on the act. TV and film play a big part in the cultural identity of New York, so why not be a part of it at a studio taping. Shows like the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Show with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live always have a studio to fill up, but these will definitely need to be booked in advance.
Free tour in a brewery Do we need to say more than that? The Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours at weekends between 1 and 4pm.
Walking is free! Big Apple Greeters are locals who offer free tours of their neighbourhoods, these friendly folks will show you the ins and outs of the city, in a way you might never discover otherwise. Other free tours include a 90 minute runaround of the Grand Central Terminal led by an architectural historian, someone who certainly knows their stuff! At Times Square, there’s an Expose Free Walking Tour every Friday from 12.
What to see for free (or cheap) in New York City
Check out Chelsea The galleries of Chelsea are famous (infamous?) and are mostly free. If you time you’re visit right you might even make it for the cheese and wine openings each Thursday. It’s where the beautiful people hang out, so you’ll fit right in.
Museums to savour There are so many museums with free entry in the city, we can’t name them all, but these are some favourites: (you can find more on free and sometimes free museums in NYC here) The Museum of Fashion Institute of Technology, Socrates Sculpture Park, Tuesday only: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Fridays between 4 and 8pm Moma, the Museum of Modern Art and for kids after 3pm, pay what you will at New York Aquarium or free Fridays between 2 and 5pm at the New York Hall of Science.
Image via @ hom26
Eat… a lot for free (or cheap) in New York City
New York is hardly short of places to eat, but it’s the cheap street food and burger joints that really impress us. New York Street Food will help you find the best in food trucks from hot dogs to ramen to cupcakes and ice cream on the go.
For the best in burgers, well it’s hard to decide but mini burgers at Pop Burger, 58-60 9th Avenue or pop to an outdoor seat at Shake Shack on the corner of Madison Square Park, near Madison Avenue and East 23rd Street, for a tasty treat. The Burger Joint in the fancy Meridien Hotel is a bit pricier, but the queues around the corner really say it all.
For totally free deliciousness, head for Brooklyn where some smart marketing folks came up with free food for every beer purchased. The farmers markets that dot the city are a good choice too for healthy and tasty snacks and decent prices. You can find out where to catch one here.
Where to stay for free (or cheap) in New York City
Stay on budget, stay for cheap Although there are plenty of options for cheap hotels and hostels in the city, you do have to be careful that it’s not some dodgy place that’ll have you awake all night worrying.
A couple of good options include the Harlem Flophouse, an atmospheric choice, with shared bathrooms and themed rooms at 242 West 123rd Street, the 3* Milford NYC in Times Square. It’s in a great location close to everything and with nice touches like iPod docking in each room. Trendy and central, the 3*Yotel, also in Times Square is modern and funky, with flat screen TVs in every room and a moving bed. The 2* Gershwin Hotel is cheap and cheerful in midtown, in the Flatiron district and within 10 minutes walk of the Empire State. Simple rooms make it a good value choice. On the other end of the scale, you’ll get extreme luxury at the historic Waldorf Astoria, but it’ll cost you!
If we missed any top tips on cheap or free things to do in New York City, let us know in the comments below!
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.
Image under Creative Commons by @ Dave_B_
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.
When? November 27 to December 23
Tired of stuffing turkeys and wearing novelty knitted jumpers on Christmas day? What if you could be lying under a palm tree or smoking a cigar in Havana instead? Make this Christmas unique with our list of the best alternative Christmas holiday ideas:
Laidback Christmas in Cuba
Head to the Caribbean island of Cuba for a Christmas in the sun. Here, you can sip rum cocktails on the beach, salsa dance your way into the early hours of the morning or even hire a 1950s Cadillac and spend your Christmas touring the main sites of Havana, Varadero and Jardines del Rey.
Foodie Christmas in Grenada
Spend a Caribbean in Grenada, enjoying the special food and drink that the island’s locals concentrate on at this time on year. Think black fruit cake (baked and soaked from October, with port wine and local Clarke’s Court white rum), ham, rice and green pigeon peas, macaroni pie, baked stuff turkey; and locally made sorrel, ginger beer and the Clarke’s Court white, dark, or red rum.
Christmas Underwater in Sharm El Sheikh
Spend Christmas underwater with a diving trip to Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Lying at the tip of the south Sinai Peninsula, the Ras Mohammed National Park offers some of the best diving in the world and is within easy reach of Sharm El Sheikh.
A Yoga Christmas in Goa
Instead of spending Christmas drinks and New Year incredibly hungover, why not instead opt for a rejuvenating yoga fortnight on Palolem Beach in Goa? The Bhakti Kutir retreat offers daily meditation and yoga classes as well as nutrition lectures, boat trips and visits to local markets. On Christmas Day, they hold a trip to a nearby fort, an evening barbecue and sunset yoga practice.
A Sunny Christmas in Grand Cayman
If you’re in search of sunny days and balmy nights around Christmas, head to the Cayman Islands. Forget wrapping up warm and spend Christmas in a bikini on one of the Islands’ famous beaches.
A Snowy Christmas in Val D’Isere
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Val D’Isere’s high altitude makes it a definite bet for a white Christmas in the snow. Why not stay in Le Fornet, a pretty little village on the edge of the resort. Close to a cable car, you have almost instant access to the slopes, while the resort centre is only a short (free) bus ride away.
Paris – je t’aime. You are the ultimate city break, a haven of girlish fantasy, a macaroon paradise, a swish, sassy, chic enclave of all things hip and fabulous. Dive in our posh girls guide to Paris.
ONE NIGHT IN PARIS
This new hotel, part of the Elegancia group, was designed by Paris it-boy Ora-Ito and inspired by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Rather than typical hotel rooms, Hotel O comprises 29 cabins, in a space vessel style, cutting guests off from the hectic Parisian streets and and Etienne-Marcel shopping meccas at its doorstep. Each room has a unique colour scheme, built with four materials: wood, cork, felt and Corian, to create a harmonious blend of clean lines and smooth curves. The breakfast room doubles as a bar, serving a short range of cocktails using quality, often organic spirits.
HUNGRY FOR PARIS
The history of Parisian tea salons is lovingly linked to the history of the Ladurée family. In 1862, Louis Ernest Ladurée opened his first a bakery at 16 rue Royale in Paris. The decoration of the pastry shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter and poster artist, who sought inspiration from the painting techniques used for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Garnier Opera. Now with salons all over Paris and beyond, Laduree have become famous for their macrons – small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, in various colours and flavours. No posh girl could complete their trip to Paris without having a macaron or two at the original tea salon on rue Royale. Decorated in original wood paneling, with a cascade of angels and gourmet fairies on the ceilings, this unique café is a symbol of the French art of living.
Gallic gastronomic grandeur meets old school glamour at Hotel Meurice in the heart of Paris. It has the skeleton of all typical Parisian fine eateries – mosaic floor, crystal chandeliers, heavy damask curtains – but has recently had a super-modern overhaul by designer Phillipe Starck. Chef Yannick Alléno bagged a third Michelin star in 2007, due to his brilliantly inventive cooking, which is based on a deep knowledge of classical Escoffier vintage culinary technique. Flex your posh girl muscles with a course of In addition to crispy green ravioli with a fricassee of snails and wild garlic.
It would almost be a crime to stay in Paris and not take a visit to staple French fashion house, Chanel. The masters of timeless luxury, their window displays at the rue Cambon location are particularly beautiful.
Smell true Paris at the Belle du Jour
The Belle du Jour is devoted solely to antique perfume and perfume bottles. It is the kind of shop you’ll probably find only in Paris, and is not to be missed.
Become a vamp at Cadolle Couture
This well-known lingerie store offers personalised fittings to the posh Parisian woman. In fact, the founder of this store invented the brassiere!
Get your best bib and tucker at Plume Plume
Once a patisserie, this charming boutique is filled with exquisite treasures that are made for the posh girl. Think raspberry-coloured hats, fur clutches and bejewelled necklaces.
Release your inner magpie at Bijoux Burma
It’s true that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but in Paris, costume diamonds are the posh girl’s. Bijoux Burma offers the best of both worlds, presenting a variety of colourful precious gems in bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings and broaches, as well as costume jewellery that is arguably even more spectacular.
THE TASTE OF PARIS
Drink tea with a difference at W Lounge
A place to don your new purchases and dance to Paris’ hottest DJs spin, while sipping one of W Lounge’s signature cocktails. This innovative cocktail menu, crafted by W Hotels Worldwide Director of Cocktail Culture, Joseph Boroski, contains only the most fabulous drinks in Paris. Managed by one of the city’s top bar experts, Aurélie Panhelleux, the W Lounge even offers Do It Yourself Cocktail Sessions on a Tuesday and a unique twist on teatime with their exclusive Cockteals tea-infused drinks.
Sip champagne at The Ritz
With a hardcore following of young and trendy Parisians, The Ritz Bar Terrasse, weather permitting, is the place to be in Paris. With a collection of chic and comfortable outdoor lounge chairs, which overlook the interior courtyard of this legendary hotel, when you’ve made this kind of mark on the world of luxury, there’s really no other option, but to have your own champagne label. Enter the Ritz Brut and Ritz Brut Rose. Perfect for spending a Parisian evening nibbling on fresh strawberries, and drinking bubbles with a loved one, if you don’t want to go for their delicious own brand, you can of course indulge in some Cristal (995 Euro), Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque (500 Euro) and Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé (600 Euro) by the bottle.
Relax at Raffles
Another astonishing interior under the belt of Philippe Starck, this hotel is a decadent, art-filled rebellion of colour, pattern and texture. Stark’s own interpretation of 1930s Paris. Then came the spa: an ethereal, snow-white world of plush lounging spaces, the longest swimming pool in any Paris hotel and fabulous treatments by Clarins. Try the Balance of Power face treatment by My Blend (€295 for 105 minutes), which uses a combination of eight creams and seven boosters, chosen by the therapist from a possible 400.
Get done at Doux Me
The Doux Me beauty room at Hôtel Costes offers personalised facials, body treatments and massages, using only organic products and vegetable-based oils that will leave your posh-girl skin feeling, soft, smooth and revitalised. Created for women, by women, this is ever Sloane Ranger’s dream pampering sesh.
If you enjoyed our post girls guide to Paris, you should read A Goth’s Guide to Gothenburg.
Not to be confused with the stunning Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas, (which is also amazing) this is the one in Egypt, perched right on the banks of the Nile offering the ultimate in history, holidays and sunshine. Either on its own, a stop off on a Nile Cruise or on your way to one of the stunning Red Sea Resorts like Sharm el Sheikh, Luxor is a city just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy Egypt this year with our Luxor travel guide.
Luxor’s been named the ‘world’s greatest open air museum’ with its stunning complexes of temples, tombs and history. Perched right on the banks of the infamous Nile River, its Indiana Jones appearance feels completely exotic and its show stopping antiquities are well worth the visit.
The city is more or less divided in two. On the West Bank sits major ruins including the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens, that’s where you’ll find the likes of the tombs of Tutankhamun and Nefertiti, still standing vibrant against the blue sky after a 3000 whopping years. The town proper sits on the East Bank, home to the Luxor and Karnak Temples as well as tonnes of Hotels, restaurants, and nightlife.
It’s not just the history that draws people in, but the extensive city, that is absolutely made for exploring. It’s a group of districts that come together to create a bustling environment of nightlife, accommodation, eateries and sightseeing. It’s ideal for families who want to share the discovery of ancient times, couples who are looking for romance or anyone looking to simply soak up the sunshine.
Read more: Purple Hearts Sharm el Sheikh
What to see in Luxor
Valley of the Kings archaeologists are *still* finding new tombs in this vast complex. The Valley of the Kings is where you’ll find the extraordinary tombs of the boy king Tutankhamun and Ramses the Great.
Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple The aim of this is to bring the ancient city of Thebes to life through the magic of sound and lights. It’s also said to be one of the largest religious sites in the world. Everything is lit up and it’s a great way of viewing the historic monuments in a different way way, plus the reflection of the temple on the Sacred Lake makes a great finale.
Memnon Colossis these are two huge figures depicting the famous god Amenhotep III and featured in front of his temple.
Museum of Mummification This is a small museum but is devoted entirely to the mummification process. So, if that’s something you’re into, this is the place to go.
Read more: top 10 facts about the pyramids of Egypt
What to do in Luxor
Go to the Egyptian Museum Kids will absolutely love this and mum and dad will get some preparation for years worth of school projects here. Luxor is where the ancient capital of Egypt Thebes once stood and the museum is home to the great finds from the (cursed?) tomb of Tutankhamun and the Royal mummies of the pharaohs Ahmose I and Ramesses I. There’s even a double statue of the crocodile god Sobek. If that doesn’t impress the kids, nothing will.
Afternoon tea Agatha Christie style at the Winter Palace Hotel Agatha Christie stayed here while she was working hard on her famous Poirot detective story Death on the Nile. So what better place to indulge in a little tradition, than in her footsteps with tea and sandwiches? There are macaroons, fruit scones, assorted cakes and custard along with proper brewed tea. It really is a home away from home.
Horse drawn carriage These cost about £1 and kids will love it. A great way to rumble around the city, stop and get your picture taken or just take in the breathtaking sights.
Felucca rides These are traditional Egyptian sailboats that float up the bustling banks of the Nile. It’s a great way to see the cities that dot the shore. Just one thing to remember, it’s best to haggle over a price, it’s totally expected.
For something extra special (honeymoon anyone?) a hot air balloon trip is a stunning way to enjoy the beauty and history of Luxor. Flights usually start before dawn and last about 40 minutes, so you can totally indulge in the beautiful surroundings of this ancient city.
Buy stuff The old Luxor market is great for an afternoon out. Here it’s all about the ritual, find a seller you like, sit down, have a cup of tea and put your bartering hat on. It might seem a little intimidating at first, but haggling over the price of even the smallest item is all part of the experience. There are spices, scarves, and sheesha (water pipes) to be had here.
Read more: Opera in El Gouna
Where to stay in Luxor
For a honeymoon Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island this 5 star is proper luxury, set on its own private island and surrounded by lush gardens. There are ten restaurants on site andevery possibility amenity you could imagine.
For a little luxury Iberotel Luxor, The 4 star Iberotel Luxor is home to a heated floating pool on the Nile and overlooks the Theben Hills for a great holiday, with spacious rooms and a relaxed atmosphere.
For all the family Gaddis Hotel Luxor The 3 star Gaddis offers hotel and apartment accommodation and is in a peaceful neighbourhood as well as within walking distance of the main sites.
For something a bit different Bob Marley House Hotel Bob Marley might not be synonymous with Luxor, but this relaxed hotel has a certain charm. This budget friendly hotel is within walking distance of lots of amenities and even offers horse riding lessons.
Read more: Top 10 holidays for history buffs
What and where to eat in Luxor
Luxor is a paradise for vegetarians. Restaurants usually offer whatever they have in season, so you get beautiful extra fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. Mezze dishes are a big deal in Luxor, these are small dishes that give you a taster of Egyptian style food. It’s usually traditional pieces of pita, with baba ganoush or taboule. You can of course get meat in the form of simple kebabs in plenty of the street shops and if you’re really missing home there are plenty of chain restaurants downtown to pick up a Big Mac.
Jamboree Restaurants on Market Street, inside the souk. This one is child friendly, with lots of choices and is great value.
Sofra has a great terrace where you can enjoy delicious, traditional Egyptian food.
El Kebabgy Reasonably priced, decent quality food, offering pasta, kebabs or mousaka. Snobs in the East Bank. Worth it for the name alone really, Snobs servers Western style food at great prices.
The Lantern, Al Roda Sharifa Street, good quality English style and Egyptian food at good value prices.
Read some our customer reviews of Luxor.
Andorra is intriguing. And I mean this for more reasons than one; not only are its snowy, white peaks sandwiched in a geopolitical anomaly between France and Spain, but its capital town, Andorra la Vella, has become such an enormous hub of consumerism that there are now more than 2000 shops in its vicinity – that’s more than one per every 40 inhabitants.
Along with that comes the best skiing in the Pyrenees, loaded with resorts that have invested over €50 million in the last five years, adding in mountain cafés and restaurants, chairlifts and gondolas, car parks and even snow-making machines. More than solely a winter destination, when the snow melts, Andorra offers plenty to see and do. Enjoy our Andorra travel guide!
When to go to Andorra
Andorra is an all-year round destination, with skiing in winter and hiking, nature trails and canyoning the rest of the year. It has a typical mountain climate; warm in summer with temperatures dropping in the evening and sunny, but cool winter days.
In summer, visit the town of Canillo, one of the highest in Andorra. Here, travellers can go ice-skating at Palau de Gel, potter around pretty mountain villages, go fishing in the Valira d’Orient river, wallow in its thermal waters or hike along Andorra’s many well-marked trails.
For skiers visiting in the winter months, Andorra offers vertical drops of up to 1000m and runs of several kilometres over open slopes and groomed pistes. Beginners and experts are both well catered for and lift costs are low when compared with the Alps.
Grandvalira is located in the north-east of Andorra, in the parishes of Encamp and Canillo. It is the largest skiable area in Southern Europe, with 205 km of slopes. Why not stay in the Grandvalira Igloo Hotel, a 2,300m high igloo that offers with a Snowcat trip, welcome cocktail, dinner, tea, water, a night-time outing (snowshoes), jacuzzi, downhill ski run or by chairlift and breakfast.
Vallnord is located in in the parishes of La Massana and Ordino and is home to three main skiing sectors: Pal, Arinsal and Arcalís. There are ample things to do throughout the week and over the weekend; think mushing, skimobiles, sleighs, skibikes, speedriding, panoramic flights, heliskiing, under-ice diving, outings and night-time fondues.
Soldeu El Tarter
Soldeu El Tarter is a lively and friendly village. The ski resort has become very popular with British skiers due to its relaxed ambiance and great après-ski activities.
Naturlandia is located in the forest of La Rabassa in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria. This snow park offers sensational winter activities for all the family, along with exceptional panoramic views, a children’s park, an ice rink and a village of Nordic dogs. There’s also the Tobotronc (see below).
Things to do in Andorra
Aside from skiing, Andorra offers some incredible activity options. Take these for example:
There are plenty of summer activities to be had in Ordino and its surroundings, particularly if you enjoy hiking and nature trails. Walks can range from easy strolls to demanding day hikes in the higher, more remote reaches of the principality.
Tobotronc at Naturlandia
One of the main attractions at Naturlandia is the Tobotronc, the world’s longest Alpine coaster, spanning 5.3 km. The Tobotronc offers a journey through the beautiful alpine forest, seated in a comfortable two-seater sleigh you control at all times.
Mushing (not to be confused with moshing) is the ideal activity for all the family. Enjoy being carried by these dog-sledges or learn how to drive them yourself. This activity helps you discover how huskies behave, the commands to give so that they obey you and, at the same time, to enjoy gliding through the spectacular Pal landscape on the sleighs.
Located in the heart of the fertile valleys of Andorra, Andorra la Vella is a well known shopping destination because of the great prices (no taxes). You can find pretty much anything you like here, with guests often buying items such as cigarettes and perfumes in bulk. However, reducing the city to a simple shopping trip would be a mistake as it is rich in unspoiled nature and remarkable historic sites. While it’s worth it to travel to Andorra for extended shopping experiences, it is also nice to randomly wander its narrow streets and discover the historical heritage they contain.
Cheap options for accommodation in Andorra are tricky to find and relatively low on charm. To add insult to injury, prices get even steeper during the July and August months, and then again between December and March. One solution is to camp; Andorra offers plenty of well-located sites, while walkers can stay for free at one of Andorra’s many mountain refuges (refugis). However, if you do have a little bit of extra cash to spend on your holiday, Andorra has some outstanding hotels. Aside from the incredible Grandvalira Igloo Hotel, our favourite is the Magic Pas Hotel in Pas de las Casa, which sits directly on top of the slopes.
Andorra food & drink
Food in Andorra is mainly of Catalan origin, with a heavy emphasis on meat and cheese. Dishes such as Carn a la brasa (beef, lamb or pork grilled over an open fire) and truita (fresh river trout) are firm favourites in the region, while typical Andorran dishes are trinxat, a cabbage, potato and bacon cake and escudella, a chicken, sausage and meatball stew. Vegetarians should stock up on the pa amb tomàquet (bread with olive oil, garlic and tomato) as veggie dishes are somewhat hard to find in Andorra.