Finally climbing its way out of a reputation for being old fashioned, Malta is picking up the pace as a place to party, soak up the sunshine and eat great food. Of course, its relaxed atmosphere is a huge part of its charm, but, where blue rinsers once gathered, now you’re more likely to bump into ravers and all without the inflated prices of other Mediterranean destinations.
Early spring is the best time to hit the capital Valletta. The weather is one of the best bits, found tucked away between Sicily and Libya, right now it’s the perfect time to soak up the sun while shaking off the crowds. It gets very hot in summer, so it’s ideal for an early-in-the-year-break to get that golden glow. Valletta might be the smallest capital city of Europe, but it’s location on the sea, and atmosphere make it the beating heart of Malta. Find out more in our expert Valletta destination guide and make your holiday to Malta one to remember.
Blazing sunshine, a rich blend of Mediterranean style and North African Culture, holidays in Hammamet Tunisia really are where it’s at. It might only be three hours away from the UK, but it feels worlds apart. If you’re a history buff, a beach bunny or a family of four, the Hammamet area of Tunisia is the perfect place to holiday. Spend long lazy days on perfect, white sandy beaches, haggling at the markets or exploring beautiful villages.
An important note to mention is that there is plenty of talk about holidaying in Hammamet Tunisia, particularly for women, but as long as you have your common sense switched on, don’t worry too much about it. Tunisia is more like holidaying in a southern Mediterranean country. If you’re worried, read our post about travelling there or keep an eye on the Foreign Office website.
Tunisia Travel Guide, things to do in Hammamet Tunisia
Meddle at a Medina Definitely visit a medina and try to grab yourself a couple of souvenirs. There’s everything from the tacky to the bizarre and don’t be afraid to haggle, the locals certainly aren’t.
The Great Mosque a fun historical day out, there is architecture to discover and a couple of shops to get your haggling skills started. A tip: remember to bring a cover up if you want to go inside.
Like in the movies Tunisia’s been the location for plenty of Hollywood movies, so a day trip to explore the locations is a must for movie lovers. El Djem was the setting for the digitally remastered theatre in Gladiator. Matmata was the base for Tattooine in the original Star Wars, Chebika was the location for scenes from The English Patient.
For history buffs Visit Carthage. The ancient city was once the centre of a powerful empire, before being destroyed by invaders sometime in the 7th century. Now it’s worth stopping off to discover the museum and Acropolium, baths and ruins.
Another great way is to go on a Legends Tour, where a guide will help you discover thousands of years of history from Tunisia’s past. Visit the amphitheatre and walk the underground passageways where slaves were sent to do battle.
Bring the kids to CarthageLand If the place itself sounds like a handful with little ones, head for the fun park of CarthageLand, not quite an authentic experience, but the kids will love jumping and playing around there.
Hit the beach The Hammamet Sud beach is one of our favourites, but there are plenty to choose from, with paragliding, jet skiing or banana boating.
Visit (or stay in) the new town Yasmine-Hammamet A dedicated tourist resort, this is not the place to go to find a true slice of Tunisian life. It’s filled with hotels and Arabic themed restaurants but the beaches are good for a day out in the sunshine.
See the boss’s villa The area was first built up by Romanian millionaire George Sebastian, who built a house right on the beach. It was once described by Frank Lloyd Wright as the most beautiful house he knew. Well worth a visit around its 14 hectares which feature swimming pool, a solid marble bath, and mock Greek theatre.
Where to stay in Hammamet Tunisia
Hotel Marhala, Matmata, the place itself is well worth a visit, while a stay in this troglodyte cave hotel is a true one off experience.
Caribbean World Venus Beach 3* A couple of minutes from the beach and a quick taxi trip to the centre of Hammamet, the 3* Caribbean World Venus Garden is an excellent all inclusive choice for families. There are plenty of on-site sports facilities, kids entertainment and indoor and outdoor pools.
Hotel Residence La Paix 2* A great choice for anyone watching their budget, the hotel is right in the centre of town and just a couple of minutes to the beach. Close to the airport and two golf courses, it’s a great choice with lots of facilities.
Iberostar Belisaire, 4* Just seconds from a private beach of Yasmine-Hammamet and with two golf courses nearby, the comfortable Iberostar Belisaire is ideal for couples or anyone looking for a relaxing holiday.
Hotel Diar Lemdina 4* Right in the heart of the resort, this is a great choice for couples looking for something extra special. The 4* Hotel Diar Lemdina has its own theme park, spa and swimming pool and is just a couple of metres from the beach.
Laico Hammamet 5* Perfect for Honeymooners, there is an onsite thalassotherapy centre to ease you into your holiday. Found on the beautiful Gulf of Hammamet, you won’t be short of romantic views, buckets of sunshine and each other.
Here’s our idea of heaven: powder soft, pure white, sandy beaches, never having to lift a finger as you’re brought cocktail after cocktail directly to your hammock. Long days of doing nothing except slapping on that bit of sun cream and watching your tan creep up on you. Palm trees swaying in the breeze and coconut milk served fresh from the tree. Hey, wake up! Sorry, we thought you might have been daydreaming like we do when we start to think of Koh Samui holidays
Beaches of Koh Samui
Primarily, people travel to Koh Samui for its legendary beaches. There are busy ones, quiet ones, water sports and relaxation, beach bars and epic parties, and beautiful people. All in a days’ work for Thai beaches really.
Laem Yai A quiet, secluded beach, perfect for couples or anyone just looking for a bit of peace and quiet.
Mae Nam A very beautiful, quiet and relaxed beach, perfect if you’re on a Christmas break on the island and really want that get-away-from-it-all kind experience.
BoPhut Otherwise known as the fisherman’s village, a great place to simply relax, and watch the world go by. But, go quickly! As this is becoming a firm favourite with tourists.
Chaweng This is the biggest and busiest beach on the island. You’ll find every type of life here from knackered looking backpackers, to luxury travellers in designer bikinis.
Lamai This is the island’s second beach, you’ll find a few more backpackers here than in other parts.
Bang Rak Home of the Big Buddha, it’s in a great location for hopping on a speedboat over to Had Rin on neighbouring island Koh Pha Ngan for the utterly legendary Full Moon Parties.
Click here to read more about family friendly beaches in Crete.
Things to do
Koh Samui with the kids Of all the Thai islands, Koh Samui is one of the most family friendly choices but there are still plenty of things to consider, pavements aren’t very pram friendly and high chairs aren’t readily available. Thai food is quite spicy, but there are generally child friendly options and childcare might not be available everywhere but locals definitely dote on children. We suggest sticking to the international style beach resorts for your own comfort and that of your little ones. There is plenty that kids will love and Bo Phut and Mae Nam are a great choice for travelling with youngsters.
A night of boxing Thai or Muay boxing is the national sport and the stadium near the Reggae Pub in Chaweng is at the centre of the action. The matches kick off (pun intended) around 9 and go on ‘til midnight. This is the real thing too, a noisy, exciting, hardcore night out.
Check out the creepy crawlies The Samui Butterfly Garden and Insect museum is a fun day out. You’ll find butterflies up to 25cms in length, while the insect museum has lots of different species and rare bugs as well as a bee house.
Sunset Snorkel Or morning snorkel or afternoon, anytime really. The diving here is wonderful, because the beaches are beautiful, the water is crystal clear and you can dive practically all year round.
Make friends with Nelly A jungle trip on an elephant’s back is a joy. The elephant is Thailand’s national animal, and Samui’s tropical rainforest centre makes it the obvious choice for exploring on this mighty animal’s back.
Party If partying is your thing, then there is possibly no better place in the whole world than Thailand. Head for Chaweng, the busiest and most party-centric beach on the island. Green Mango Square (named after the Green Mango club!) is just a couple of minutes from the beach and it’s filled with eye opening shows, featuring dancers in all stages of dress, there are booming sound systems, cocktails and hundreds of serious partying travellers. Join up with friends (or make new ones) in one of the many bars.
Full moon party Another option for those with partying in mind is to head for Bang Rak and hop on a speedboat for one of those Full Moon parties. There are bucket parties, dancing beaches and lots of health and safety issues to take note of. On big nights, like New Years, it draws up to 30,000 revellers. It tends to kick off with the bucket party. Each one is filled with some spirits and a handful of straws. That will give you a bit of an idea of what’s in store…
Na Muang Waterfall the spectacular pair of cascades are found a little inland from Nathon Bay and nicknamed the ‘Purple Waterfalls’ (so of course we’d love them!) They are named after the purple shade of their rock faces, if you go there, we want a picture!!
Mummy Monk In Lamai Beach, you’ll find the Mummified Monk, who died in the 70s in a seated position. Ever since his body’s been on display and even after 30 years shows little sign of deterioration.
Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks (pictured above) Ahem, these are a little on the risqué side, but obviously that’s what people are into, as these cheeky rock formations are one of the biggest attractions on the island. Just ask a local about the legend of the rocks that resemble male and female bits.
Where to stay
LuxuryMelati Beach Resort and Spa, Bophut: On a secluded beach, you’ll find this luxurious 5* resort, with outdoor baths, private pools and all sorts of food and drinks option. It has its own spa and the seafood and BBQ at the on-site restaurant are to die for.
FamiliesCocopalm Beach Resort: In Mae Nam Beach the Cocopalm is a far from the crowds of Chaweng, but still has plenty to keep kids busy. They’ll love the colourful surroundings and the quiet beach is ideal for building sandcastles.
CouplesDara Samui Beach Resort and Spa Villa: Think canopy draped beds, with luxurious traditional surroundings and a modern twist, that’s what you’ll get at this romantic 4*. This little slice of paradise is the place to go for a couples’ pamper session with excellent service and great facilities so you can do as much or as little as you like.
PartyingBeach Republic, Lamai: This is where the beautiful people go to party on Koh Samui. A really unique hotel, the Beach Republic is well equipped with entertaining people and prides itself on its ‘sexy, sophisticated and cosmopolitan’ atmosphere.
Click here to find more hotels in Thailand from Purple Travel.
Warm, shallow waters, baby soft sand and easy access comprise the ingredients of the perfect family friendly beach. Crete has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches on its shores, many of which are quiet, wave-sheltered, sandy and close to hotels and restaurants, making them ideal spots for the little ones.
While travelling with children can be stressful, being ‘in the know’ can make holiday life so much easier. Have a look through our ten best family friendly beaches in Crete, a must-have guide for a stress-free holiday:
Here’s our pick of the best family beaches in Crete…
Golden Beach (Chrissi Akti) is actually two beaches separated by a small hill. The beaches are named so for their soft, golden sand, which glows when the sun hits its surface. Situated in Chania, West Crete, the beaches boast clear, shallow waters that are perfect for children and one even has a small play area so they never get bored – giving you the chance to relax and soak up some Cretan sunshine. Golden Beach can get quite busy during July and August however, particularly at weekends, so make sure you arrive at the beach early to ensure you get a good spot and an umbrella.
Kalyves Beach Kalives (Kalyves) is a beautiful, picturesque village not far from Chania on the west side of Crete. The main beach of the village boasts wonderful clear waters, a central location that’s close to all the amenities you need and clean, golden sand that sweeps around the bay, backed by shady trees and excellent quality eateries. A great beach for families with young children.
Almyrida Beach Almirida (Almyrida) is a friendly fishing village that has become a lovely tourist resort. This small sandy beach has beautiful shallow water that’s perfect for kids. It is well-equipped with all the amenities a family would require for a day at the beach, including umbrellas, beds and nearby shops and restaurants. Again not too far from Chania, the beach benefits from being protected from the Meltema – the northern summer winds.
Rethymno Town Beach Endless Rethymno Town Beach stretches more than 20 kilometres along the sandy shore near Rethymnon, on the north coast of central Crete. The beach offers myriad amenities, including water sports facilities and plenty of great beach bars and tavernas, making it an excellent family friendly beach.
Agia Galini Beach Agia Galini is a popular and picturesque fishing village on the south coast of Crete (almost 60 kilometres south of Rethymnon). Its beach is luxuriously long, boasting crystal clear waters and powdery, white sand that’s perfect for the little ones to build sandcastles with. Everything for the tourist is available here with a wide range of water sports on offer and some tempting tavernas within reach.
Agia Pelagia Beach Agia Pelagia resort lies 16 kilometres west from Heraklion and its main beach is long, golden and sandy. The water there is almost always calm and clear, being well protected from the Meltemi (northern summer winds). In fact, the entire beach is well-organised and offers plenty of amenities – probably why it is renowned as one of the best beaches on the North Coast.
Stalis BeachStalis (Stalida) is around 30 kilometres east from Heraklion Town, boasting a beach of soft sands and gem-like, turquoise waters. It is perfect for families with children as the beach is extremely clean and the waters shallow, however, the sea can become choppy on windier days.
Almyros Beach Situated in east Crete, just a few kilometres outside Agios Nikolaos, Almyros is a beautiful, long sandy stretch of well-protected beach. Set within a cosmopolitan and picturesque town, there are heaps of family comforts in the surrounding area. The water is also very shallow and calm, making it well-suited to families with children.
Aghios Panteleimonas Silver Beach (Agios Panteleimonas) is located in Istron, Kalo Horio on Mirabella Bay. Also named Church Beach, it is easily accessible with soft sand and just a few pebbles and has a small, sweet church on the right-hand side of the beach. Shallow waters make it great for children, while its quiet, isolated atmosphere make the perfect spot for parents to relax. A favourite with the locals, this beach is very well-equipped.
Makrigialos Beach Makri, meaning long in Greek, and gialos, meaning shore, gives you an idea of the look of this beautiful beach, situated on the south coast of the Lassithi region. The white, sandy is well protected from winds and the clear and clean shallow waters are ideal for families with small children. All facilities for swimming and sunbathing are available on this well-organised strip of sand, including umbrellas, sun beds and water sports.
We’ve been going mad for Pinterest lately. It’s a pretty cool site that allows you to create boards of your favourite things. While developing all our beautiful destination boards (check out Cuba and Morocco, our faves) we’ve been getting completely distracted with bikinis, shorts and shads and it got us thinking: what will we be wearing on the beach?
Now, full disclaimer here, we’re no experts but we’ve been doing a lot of reading about what to wear this summer and along with a few old reliables like the handy maxi dress, a cute cardi and some flip flops, we’ve come up with a few extras that will make you want to strut down the beach like the true fashionista you are!
Neon: A neon bikini will definitely get you noticed on the beach. Not for the faint hearted, eye wateringly bright pink, yellow or green are super hot for this summer. However, if you’re a bit scared of this new extra bright, bright, how about a neon manicure for a little pop of colour?
High waisted shorts: We weren’t really convinced by these until we saw some great pictures and realised what a good look it is!
Keep it sporty: Mixing up your workout wear with your beach wear for a change of style. It’s simple because you already have all the ingredients… and Marc Jacobs is doing it!
Crop on: It may not suit everyone to show off your middle in a tiny crop top, but we say if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Crop tops are huge and the best bit is, if you’re not quite brave enough to show everything, layering is another top trend!
Go for the clash: Mixing florals with leopard print or chunky bracelets with sequins for evenings mean you’ll be bang on trend this summer.
Gladiator sandals: An old reliable. We don’t think these bad boys will ever go out of fashion. Any of these would do us nicely!
What about the guys? We haven’t forgotten, we know everyone wants to look good on their hols, so dudes can take some inspiration from the 90s! If you were fashionable once, you can be again.
Now all we need is a cheap holiday deal to parade around in our new fashions!