Goa holidays are full of vibrant markets, stunning scenery, spectacular sunsets and beaches? Here’s our insider guide to Goa, the perfect winter detox holiday destination. So if you stuffed yourself silly at Christmas and had a bit too much to drink over the new year then read on to see how a Goa holiday could be perfect to start the year afresh.
If you are particularly affected by the winter season and feel affected by deprivation of sunlight then Goa is the perfect winter destination with temperatures ranging from 25c-35c, you’ll get on average 10 hours sun a day, giving you a vital boost of Vitamin D, helping you to feel happy and healthy. Sun exposure has also been linked to strengthening your bones and decreasing symptoms of asthma. Be careful though, you should only expose yourself to the sun slowly, and moderately.
Looking ahead for next year’s summer holiday? If you’re after something more authentic but still have a budget to stick to then Purple Travel have picked the best cheap holidays in emerging and undiscovered destinations that won’t hurt your bank balance.
With many tourists flocking to visit the souks of Marrakech or the budget-friendly holiday destination of Agadir towards the north, there lies a little secret a bit more south of this and it’s called Essaouira and really comes at no extra cost either. We can tell you that it is truly one of the most beautiful Atlantic coastal towns that is renowned for being more laid-back than its more popular neighbours. The best time to visit is in Spring and Autumn, before and after Ramadan. Film lovers will be especially pleased to hear that Essaouira has been the setting of Orson Welles’ Othello and Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. While outdoor enthusiasts will love the choice of low cost activities and water sports available. Due to a renewed interest in Morocco, chic boutiques and quirky riads have been popping up all over the place, making Essaouira the new cheap and chic place to stay. It is also close to Marrakech for those who want to combine a beach holiday and a city break. Those interested in world music will be pleased to hear that Essaouira plays host to two music festivals. The Essaouira Alizes Festival in April which showcases classic and contemporary Moroccan music and the Gnaoua & World Music Festival in June where local and international artists come together for dancing, music and culture.
Taking a cue from its North African neighbour, Tunisia has new offerings for tourists who want simple and charming experiences and friendly prices. Since Tunisia is more of a newcomer on the block than Morocco it is actually more affordable. Mahdia just south of the busy resort of Monastir, is a coastal city associated with the fishing silk weaving and olive industries. It is certainly one of Tunisia’s most picturesque cities and has many historic attractions such as the ruins of the ancient city of Punic, the Fatimid port, the first Fatimid mosque (dating back to the 10th century) and an Ottoman port (16th century). If you book a cheap holiday to Tunisia it means you have more cash to splash on activities such as diving and Mahdia surely is Tunisia’s top diving site and wreck diving in particular. Holidays in Mahdia are great for honeymooners and great for first-time visitors to Tunisia who will get a taste of this exotic country without being overwhelmed.
Yalikavak is a harbourside town with an ultra-modern marina yet has still managed to maintain a small and sleepy exterior – so far. I’ts located on the Bodrum peninsula not too far from the bigger resort of Bodrum itself. Visitors looking for cheap holidays to Turkey will be more than pleased by Yalikavak’s offerings. The small sandy beaches are perfect for spending days in the sun and so far many beaches remain uncrowded, perfect for families. For extra beauty, lay on the beach until sunset and see the sun drop behind the horizon. The market at Yalikavak draws people from all over the Bodrum peninsula, seeking out shopping bargains on retail items but also on fresh produce but to get a bargain be prepared to haggle.
Taking a spot all of its own is the country of Montenegro, this is perhaps definitely the most off the beaten track destination in our list. Budva, is the poster child of tourism here and there’s good reason why. Explore the atmospheric old town before parking yourself down on one of the 35 beaches. By night Budva transforms itself with numerous beachside bars so if you’re in for a night on the tiles then Budva is the place to be and really may not be suitable for families. Elsewhere along the Riviera and in other resorts Montenegro has remained quieter and more atmospheric. For example the Bay of Kotor is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe and Kotor itself is an ancient fortified town with UNESCO World Heritage status. Further down the coast from Budva is the Montenegrin south coast where you’ll find Ulcinj, a predominantly ethnically Albanian town with a splendid location, for exploring the south of the country.
Tourists have been visiting the Algarve for years and years but away from the busy airport, golf resorts, and really cheap package deals lies something more authentic. Olhao, a small fishing village is a perfect example of the cultural mix that can be found in Southern Portugal thanks to the maritime hisotry and Moorish occupation. Olhao is known for its square-shaped whitewashed houses with Moorish features. In the late 18th century, the town was flourishing and so local people started to build new houses in a Moorish style. Another draw of Olhao is the chance to take a watertaxi to peaceful offshore beaches such as Armona, Farol and Culatra. Away from the coast lies Monchique, a forested market town known for its production of aguardiente, a potent brandy and the perfect base to explore the Algarve’s lesser known inland beauty.
Tunisia is perfect for those who want to top up their tan during winter and enjoy a winter sun break with friends or family. There are so many reasons to visit exotic Tunisia from the souks, the history, the gorgeous coastline, Tunisia will spoil you with dramatic landscapes and endless opportunities for winter sun and all that at only 3 hours away from the UK.
History – For family days out, there is so much history to see, why not head to Carthage or the amphitheater at El Djem.
Local markets – There are many local markets in Tunisia also known as souks. You can try out your bargaining skills by haggling with local vendors and take back some great spices and other souvenirs.
Beaches – There are miles upon miles of breathtaking coastline in Tunisia
Spa therapy – Tunisia is a little gem for spa treatments, so why not treat yourself on holiday and at the fraction of the cost that you would get it at home.
Desert Safari – How many times in your life can you say you’ve been on a desert safari…the landscapes in the desert are so surreal you might have to pinch yourself.
Golf – There are great golf courses, especially at Port El Kantoui with a PGA approved, 36 hole course.
Djerba – One of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, Djerba offers the perfect mix of beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and a great atmosphere the minute you arrive.
Sousse – Does Sousse look a little familiar? It’s been used as a movie location for years. Think Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Discover for yourself the fine sandy beaches that back onto olive groves. Cool down from the warm sunshine with a dip in the crystal clear water or pick up a bargain in the vibrant souks. Don’t forget to haggle, it’s expected!
Port el kantoui – Perfect for a golfing getaway, Port El Kantaoui offers a PGA approved 36 hole course, that should keep you busy for a few days. When you’re not working on getting a hole in one, why not stroll along the dazzling harbour, admire the luxury yachts, or pick up a couple of bargains in the vibrant markets.
Hammamet – A popular destination for a cheap holiday, Hammamet sun holidays offer plenty for families, couples or solo travel. Relax on the beautiful beaches of Tunisia or try out a new sport in the shape of diving or water skiing. If that sounds like too much of a challenge, you could try some gentle celeb spotting; politicians, musicians and actors have been known to holiday in Hammamet.
Mahdia – When you arrive in Mahdia the first thing you’ll notice is the beautiful expanse of beach and you’ll know you’ve arrived on holiday! There’s been plenty of investment over the last few years, building a fantastic resort with lots of activities for all ages. Whether you’re looking to relax in luxury in the sunshine or you want to take the hassle out of a holiday with an all inclusive Mahdia has all kinds of boarding options.
Tunisia is a great choice for an adventurous family or friends, what do you think? Have you ever been to Tunisia or have you been wanting to go? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re planning a holiday this year and prefer to relax in a child-free environment then you’ll enjoy this Purple Travel guide to the best adult only hotels in Tenerife and throughout the Canary Islands. Designed and built with over 18s in mind, these adult on hotels Tenerife and throughout the Canaries focus on beautiful surroundings, choice of dining options, range of luxury facilities and excellent service and attention to detail. Enjoy the Purple 10 adult only hotels Tenerife & Canary Islands – and remember! For more information or to book any adult only hotels Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote or Gran Canaria, talk to the expert team at Purple Travel on 0207 993 9228.
This one’s for anyone who wants to combine the thrill of visiting a city with lazing on the beach. Urban beaches are the perfect place to catch a tan without having to go to an island resort and are still in close proximity to restaurants, nightclubs and other attractions. Check out some of the top urban beaches across the globe and dive into a holiday that offers the best of both worlds!
Rio offers some of the world’s best urban beaches, all of which are surrounded by breathtaking scenery and urban pleasures. Ipanema is without a doubt the best of the lot, but Copacabana and Leblon are also stunning. These beaches are the place to be and are filled with visitor’s tanning, swimming in the Atlantic or enjoying cocktails and local cuisine from one of the many beach side bars and restaurants.
Venice beach, Los Angeles
Possibly the coolest beach in the world, Venice beach is also one of the most beautiful. This bohemian beach is packed with gorgeous bronzed bodies and you’ll find rolling green lawns, art galleries, surf shops, restaurants and more on the Ocean Front Walk. Rollerblade, take to the waves, chill at a bar or hang out on the beach and indulge in some people watching.
Taylet, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is Israel’s second most populous city and home to a sandy Mediterranean coastline that’s filled with beach cafes and hotels. Taylet has become a hot and happening destination for anyone who wants to spend the day in the sun and party the night away. Its close proximity to the seafront Port Promenade, where the best nightclubs and live music venues are found, makes it popular with visitors and locals.
Tamariz beach in Estoril is a hidden gem that’s fast becoming a tourist favourite. Laze between the locals and watch the activity at Europe’s largest casino, or soak up the old world glamour of a castle belonging to Monaco royalty, both of which are located beachside. The numerous bars and restaurants are perfect for sundowners and in summer months the beach turns into a nightclub with visiting international DJs and other live acts. Tamariz is the perfect urban party beach with the charm of a small coastal town.
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.
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!
A beach in the Bahamas dedicated solely to pigs sounds like something from a Pixar movie, doesn’t it? But behold! It’s real. This is Bacon Beach, or Big Major Cay if you want to be serious about it. These pictures slipped across our desk and made us squeal just like little piggies! How did we never hear about this before?
Bulgaria holidays boast a wonderful mix of holiday fun, from beautiful beaches, extensive history and sense of adventure, find a cheap holiday on the shores of the Black Sea this year from Purple Travel. Here’s our top pick of resorts for summer Bulgaria holidays.
Sozopol: With heavy Greek influence and right on the Black Sea, Sozopol is a traditional Bulgaria holiday option. The town is right on a beautiful lagoon and makes an especially great choice for families who want to wander the tiny cobbled streets, take in the unchanged fishing methods and enjoy clean, safe beaches.
Nessebar: Set on a peninsula right out in the Black Sea, Nessebar is a resort of two halves! There is the historic ancient part of town with its picturesque churches and old-world charm, and there is a newer part with beautiful beaches and plenty of hotels offering great value accommodation. There’s plenty on offer for watersports enthusiasts, while swimming, diving or fishing are some of the top day time activities. By night Nessebar comes to life with bars, clubs and pubs where you can party until dawn.
Sunny Beach: If you want a singles holiday, you’re going with a gang of mates or your part of a couple who loves a good laugh, then the cheap resort of Sunny Beach is the best option for a summer getaway. There’s a great value selection of 4 or 5 star hotels, tonnes of decent bars and clubs and lots of other stuff on offer too: from the beach, to the summer festivals and fashion shows.
Golden Sands: One of the biggest and best resorts in Europe, Golden Sands as its name suggests has it all. With plenty of beach space, loads of family activities and great bars, clubs and casinos, families, groups and couples will love it.
Albena: Right on a nature reserve, Albena is a little more luxurious than some of the other resorts in Bulgaria. There’s a beautiful selection of charming seafront hotels, top notch restaurants and plenty for kids who want to splash about in the water. The town itself is made for evening strolls, discovering little narrow streets or the amazing Botanic Gardens in neighbouring Balchik.
Tradition is an integral part of life for the Cretans in particular – even their dialect is considered the oldest in Greece, frequently becoming a study for university research. Most Greek dances and music first appeared in Crete, the island where it is said that the mother of the Gods, Rhea, taught them to the Curetes (Cretan tribe). The most famous Cretan dance was the pyrrhic,while the violi, the lyra and the laouto remain the characteristic musical instruments. Customs of Crete are a serious business and you better get to know a few before you travel. Here’s our handy cut-out-and-keep customs of Crete guide. Just go easy on the raki on a fab Crete holiday from Purple Travel.
Here are some of our favourite Cretan traditions and customs:
This alcoholic beverage is a real part of Cretan culture. And take it from us, after a few shots of this fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy, you won’t be standing upright. Tsikoudia is sometimes served cold from a bottle kept in a freezer. Tsikoudia is commonly offered as an after dinner digestif, and in most taverns in Crete it is offered complimentary after the meal. It’s flavored using lemon rind, rosemary or honey.
Mantinades (derived from the Venetian mantinada, meaning ‘morning song’) are Cretan rhyming couplets, typically used in music to accompany dance. They usually have either love or satire as their topics. The production of mantinades in today’s Crete continues at much the same pace as it did in the 15th century, especially in the villages. Cretans combine tradition with modern technological developments in the mantinades, often with a great deal of humour, as you can see from the following mantinada:
“In the sheepcote I set up a modem to use, For to sell on the Net the milk from my ewes.”
Most Greeks take their names from a religious saint (Nikolaos, Ioannis, Dimitrios etc). They then celebrate their name on that saint’s given day of the year, much as you may do a birthday. On the “name day” of someone, his friends and family visit him without invitation and offer their wishes and presents. In Greece, name days are more important than birthdays.
The Cretan Dagger
The Cretan dagger’s symbolic value survived even until recently. Its great metaphysical value in protecting humans against the fiendish powers of the invisible world and “ill-fated moments” was deeply rooted in Cretan culture. One example of this was in marriage. When a man and woman were married, it was custom in Crete that the groom offer his new wife a small silver dagger – the argyrobounialaki (yeah, try and pronounce that one). This small dagger was then worn by the Cretan girl on her waist, tucked inside a silk sash; the dagger indicated to other men that the girl was married and that she belonged to one man. It also served as a reminder to the girl that she was devoted to her husband and that the price she would pay for any infidelity would be her own life. Sounds pretty misogynistic, right? Yes, however, in addition to its symbolic significance, the dagger also had practical value, because the young Cretan woman would be able to defend herself and her dignity when in danger.
Daggers, always black-hilted, (as black-hilted daggers were thought to be feared by demons) played a leading part in the practice of magic. Tiny black-hilted daggers were used in making talismans for young children and for protecting epileptics from the bad influence of the moon and the possessed from the pernicious influence of demons. When a child died, the mother would hang small black-hilted daggers around her other children’s necks as talismans, so that the Grim Reaper would not take them too.
The Evil Eye
Many Cretans, especially in villages, believe that someone can catch the ‘evil eye’, or “matiasma”, from someone else’s jealous compliment or envy. This person would feel bad physically and psychologically.To avoid the matiasma, a little blue marble glass with an eye painted on it must be worn. Blue is believed to be the colour that wards off the evil eye but it is also believed that people with blue eyes are givers of the matiasma.