Christmas is coming and along with all the cosiness there is also the dreaded Christmas shop. Give something different this year and give yourself a present at the same time. Why not head off on your travels and stock up on traditional European goods from a foreign christmas market and soak up the incredible atmosphere.
Vienna’s Christkindlmaerkt is one of the most famous, and long running in Europe and Vienna makes the perfect setting for this European Christmas Market. A lot of effort goes into the magical decorations and atmosphere and it attracts people from all over the world. Held in front of the town hall, visitors flock to Vienna to grab photos with the famous Christmas decorations, listen to the seasonal music, pick up traditional gifts and of course overindulge on sweet chestnuts. The city also offers the chance to see the glorious Schonbrunn and Imperial palaces and to stuff yourself silly with all the great cakes at the coffee houses.
Check out our Purple Travel guide to some of the best parties cities Europe has to offer in 2014. Don’t agree? Let us know in the comments below.
Berlin, Germany. It can be hard to choose from the best party cities Europe 2014, but Berlin is an easy one. A sprawling city where weekends usually start on Thursday evenings and last well into Monday morning, there’s a great selection of cheap hotels and cool bars. House music is easily the most popular and clubs like WaterGate on Falckensteinerstrase 49, Cookies on Friedrichstrase 158 and Weekend on Alexanderstrasse 5 are almost clubbing institutions in Berlin.
Ios Island in Greece. Not technically a city, but Ios easily tops the list of the best places to party in Europe. A longtime backpackers favourite, trust me, it’s worth the ferry trek for hot summer all night parties. Start out in the clean lines of Far Out Beach Bar, before knocking back €1 shots in Orange Bar (the Malteser ones are epic!) Slammers Bar Ios, lives up to its name – you put on a helmet and get whacked in the head with a hammer after a shot, and Sweet Irish Dream only kicks off at 3am. Phew!
If it is sun-soaked beers on the beach, boozing up on a city break, or shaking your booty all night long, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for with our Purple Travel top 10 Clubbing holidays 2014.
1. Ibiza When it comes to clubbing holidays, Ibiza is like a wise, old friend. It has them down to perfection. Boozing, dancing, beach parties and Ibiza clubbing holidays offer instant gratification. Head to Space, Amnesia and Manumission by night. By day, go straight from the club to Bora Bora, where you can keep your party spirit going.
2. Ayia Napa, Cyprus Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa is easily the most famous party location on the island. With soft, white sand, all night parties, booze, bikinis and the biggest name DJs, it ticks every best clubbing holiday 2014 box.
3. Sharm el Sheikh A night out in the Red Sea Resort usually includes shisha smoking, trendy lounges, cocktails and dancing all night. Basically anything can happen during clubbing holidays in Egypt. Head for Little Buddha in Naama Bay, famous for its cocktails and coolness.
4. Kavos, Corfu This one hardly needs an introduction, we’ve all seen that TV show. Kavos is possibly the most famous, craziest and hedonistic party town in Greece… maybe in the entire world, we reckon it could certainly rival Vegas in terms of debauchery. There are hundreds of bars and clubs where you can go shake your glow sticks all night long.
5. Barcelona Barcelona’s a cheap and cheerful choice for clubbing holidays 2014. There are tonnes of flights that’ll have you over in BCN and ready to party in no time. And thanks to the all-night attitude of the Spanish, there’ll be plenty of time to pub crawl, party and soak up the atmosphere. Head for the Ravel area for cool bars, hip restaurants and Barcelona’s cool kids.
6. Laganas, Zante The town on the Greek Island is practically world renowned for the antics of visitors every year. The so-called Golden Mile has a choice of bars and clubs with the likes of fire breathing bartenders, bartop dancing and an ‘anything goes’ attitude. Amnesia and Medousa are hot ticket clubs for 2014.
7. Prague, Czech Republic The gorgeous city of Prague is ideal for couples looking for clubbing ideas combined with a little culture too (!) There is a very hot underground scene with whiskey bars, cocktail lounges and all night DJs. Of course no trip to Prague is complete without knocking back a couple of pints of local ale. That’s the cure for the morning after the night before.
8. Magaluf, Majorca For cheap clubbing holidays 2014, Magaluf is a complete no brainer. There are serious dance nights, cheesey 80s bars, and Europe’s biggest club, BCM. It is home to some of the best party venues in Europe and has become an epic hen and stag do destination. If you go, get your hands on a Magaluf Club Pass. It’s one ticket for five of the hottest clubs in town.
9. Malia, Crete Think 18-30 clubs, foam parties, dancing on tables, pure indulgence. Get some sleep now, because you certainly won’t get any on a clubbing holiday in Malia 2014.
10. Berlin, Germany 24 hour techno clubs, old buildings transformed into dance warehouses and quirky, weird and unusual nights out are what Berlin is famous for. No wonder you can head out at 4pm on a Thursday and not get home until Monday afternoon.
Fancy shaking your booty with the best clubbing holidays 2014? Then call our disco ball-lovin’ team on 02079939228 or visit our website.
Looking for some KICKASS NEW YEARS EVE PARTY CITIES? Us too. Why not make this one the year you finally do something cool for New Years Eve instead of just talking about it. Got more ideas? Let us know in comments below.
Amsterdam Dutch folks certainly know how to party. Amsterdam plays host to large-scale dance parties, quirky costume flings and family friendly gatherings. The organised fireworks display is best seen at Leidesplein or Dam Square, but get there early to grab a spot. Otherwise head for trance spectaculars, a touch of Vegas or a raunchy New Year celebration you won’t forget. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Gelukkig Nieujwaar!’
Barcelona Head for Placa Catalunya in Barcelona to join the crowds of party goers who gather to ring in the New Year. The main traditions are to wear red undies, and eat 12 grapes. The grapes are consumed once per chime of the midnight bells, it’s harder than you might think! After that grape balancing act, the clubs fill up and the party continues well into New Years Day. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bon any!’
Prague Beautiful, especially in winter, Prague makes an ideal choice for a New Years Eve city break. Book a restaurant for a sumptuous dinner, before heading to the King Charles Bridge to watch the fireworks over the historic castle. Worth it for a few days away. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Šťastný Nový Rok’
Paris For a chic New Years Eve Paris is a good choice. Stroll around the artistic Montmarte neighbourhood and drop by the Sacré Cœur to admire the view or join the ‘official’ part at the Eiffel Tower where crowds sip on champagne as the festivities get underway. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bonne année!’
Rio de Janeiro New Years Eve in Rio is like the party to end all parties. A huge fireworks display lights up Copacabana Beach, while Brazilian samba bands get the crowds going. It’s traditional to wear white on New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, just bring something old as you’re likely to get drenched in champagne. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Feliz ano novo!’
Dublin You’ll have your pick of the parties in the Irish capital. A people’s procession of light with glowing lanterns winds its way through the streets and a huge countdown concert will take place in the city centre at College Green. Just make sure to pair your party with a legendary creamy pint of Guinness. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bhliain nua sásta’
Madeira Go for a package holiday to Madeira for an incredible New Years Eve holiday that includes the largest fireworks display in the world. Glittering over the streets of Funchal, fireworks are lit from 50 locations to offer a feast for the eyes. It’s warm too so you can get a tan before the big party night out. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Feliz Ano Novo’
New York You’ll have to fight tooth and nail to get to Times Square, but watching the famous ball drop, sipping beer from plastic cups, and a jaw dropping fireworks display give the Big Apple the edge over Vegas for a New Years Eve to remember in the US. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year!
Goa Ringing in the New Year with sand between your toes, stars twinkling overhead and a warm breeze. New Years Eve has never sounded better. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Bhagi novem voras’
Berlin the biggest New Years Eve parties in hipster heaven are at the Brandenburg Gate and Viktoriapark. Light shows, a live TV show, rowdy crowds, and fireworks at midnight. Hop on a cheap flight to Berlin now for a New Years Eve party you’ll never forget. Don’t forget to say Happy New Year: ‘Glückliches neues Jahr’.
Prague, Czech Republic – Couples Christmas Markets
Two of the most popular Christmas Markets in Prague are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Both markets are just five minutes’ walk from each other, creating a magnificent festive atmosphere around the city centre. In both markets you’ll find the usual traditional sweet treats, like Trdelník, a hot sugar coated pastry, lots of local beers, such as the famous Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar, and warm drinks including the infamous Glühwein. If you’re hungry, there’s plenty to feast on from large spit roasted hogs to tasty BBQs sausages. The Prague Christmas market includes lots of stalls selling cute handicrafts and decorations and real animals in the crib scene. Opening times: 30 November 2013 – 12 January 2014. The Prague Christmas markets are open daily, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, Huettenpalast in Berlin.
What’s the gimmick? Situated inNeukölln, Berlin, Huettenpalast is a former vacuum-cleaner factory floor, where you can spend the night in an old caravan or a wooden hut. It’s camping, but without the mud, much and yuck of pitching a tent in a field. Instead, guests sleep in a renovated caravan or cabin, inside the building, and share a living room with other guests.
Why stay? For that summer feeling of camping all year round – even in winter – and a little bit of retro-happiness. Whether you crave numerous amenities, interesting design or just a cheap bed to crash on, Huettenpalast will deliver.
The Wow Factor: The sunny campsite contains a center dining area where little baggies of croissants, apples, and drinks are hung on a painted tree for breakfast each morning. Just outside the warehouse’s glass doors is a garden patio where guests can lounge on the hammock, and mingle with other ‘campers’. This cosy, original, eco-friendly and most importantly, cheap hotel, is the perfect base to wander around a district once called “little Istanbul” and now spotted by the New York Times as “one of the most creative places” in Berlin.
From the Greek Islands ancient art to the imposing Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, we take a look at the 10 best holidays for art lovers to impress and delight.
Florence, Italy Home to the famous Uffizi Gallery, you can feel art flowing through the veins of Florence. Dating from the 16th century the museum houses the world’s most magnificent collection of Italian Art. Of course a stop in this stunning city wouldn’t be complete without visiting Michelangelo’s famous statue of David.
Paris, France One of the best known museums in the world and home to masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, the Louvre is a jaw dropper. But it’s not the only top class museum in the French Capital. The Musee d’Orsay is home to works by Degas, Renoir and Rodin while the Pompidou Centre houses classics by Picasso and Magritte.
Bilbao, Spain You might recognise Bilbao from the imposing Guggenheim museum. An architectural wonder, its 32,500 food undulating walls and curves was designed by Frank Gehry. It is home to some of the most famous avant garde art in the world.
Greek Islands A Greek Island art holiday is a wonderful way of getting lost in the culture, the beautiful landscape and the rich heritage. It makes a really relaxing getaway, perfect for relaxed painting excursions, eating like your life depends on it and creating wonderful memories.
New York City The colours, the vibrant atmosphere, that whole feeling you get when you arrive in the Big Apple is different to anything before. It’s like a city built for art. There’s 5000 years of paintings, sculptures and exhibitions at The Met, (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) MoMA and the Guggenheim plus dozens if not hundreds of fashion, design and science museums to inspire you.
Favara, Sicily This is a small town in the Italian island that’s been transformed from quaint to contemporary. Thanks to an initiative by the Farm Cultural Park it’s seen an explosion in visitors from all over the world. Walls have been used as huge canvasses, sculptures and paintings dot the streets in a town where unemployment is rife.
St Petersberg, Russia Museums in Russia have benefitted for centuries from the royal family’s love of art. You’ll find works from the big guns like Leonardo, Poussin and Picasso and everything in between. Not only famous for its art, it is home to a wealth of historical and cultural artefacts and is home to a buzzing contemporary art scene.
Vatican City The architecture and Renaissance masterpieces of Vatican City have been inspiring people for generations. Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Raphael’s frescoes are probably the most well known in the collection of renowned art you’ll find in the tiny city. And, of course beyond the walls, you’ll find Rome stretching out below you, another art treasure trove.
Barcelona, Spain The awe inspiring Sagrada Familia will surely make your jaw drop. The hugely detailed church has been under construction since 1882, with building work set to continue until 2026. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, it’s just one of his stamps that you’ll notice throughout the city. Park Guell, with its bright, mosaic sculptures will impress even the pickiest youngster; while a stroll through the streets of late night BCN will provide houses such as Casa Mila or Casa Batllo that look like they belong in museums instead of the street.
Berlin, Germany One of the hippest places to get your art on, over the past 20 years, Berlin has grown to become one of the biggest names in contemporary art, exhibitions and architecture. Try the Berlinische Galerie, or the Sammlung Boros Collection (if you can get in there!) It’s also home to art throughout the ages. Museumsinsel, or Museum Island is the biggest complex in Europe and is home to five separate institutions.
In this weekly series, we scour the world in search of the most weird and wonderful hotels. From cave hotels to converted prisons, capsule pods to underwater guestrooms, you can expect only the unexpected. This week, check out the Propeller Island City Lodge hotel in Berlin. You won’t believe your eyes, we couldn’t!
What’s the gimmick? There’s really no other place that Propeller Island City Lodge could exist than in Berlin, Germany. Probably one of the weirdest hotels to ever to grace any list of unusual hotels (or the world for that matter), Propeller Island is primarily a piece of art; all rooms and objects were designed by the German artist, Lars Stroschen, who built the hotel on the premise of “living in a work of art.” Each of the 30 rooms offers an absolutely unique and personal ambiance, with all furnishings inside them having been custom-made by the artist. The rooms vary from the tame to the extreme, creating the sense that you have entered an alternate reality or stumbled onto a film set.
Why stay? Ok, so this isn’t the most luxurious or even comfortable of hotels. Most of the rooms are on the small side, some share bathroom facilities, some are just plain scary, but really, how often do you have a chance to stay in a barn-themed room that includes a big pile of potato sacks packed with foam rubber? ‘Nuff said.
The Wow Factor: There’s really too many things to choose from here. There’s the Lion’s Den Room, which features two sleeping cages on stilts in the centre of the room and bathtub on an indoor balcony. The macabre Gruft Room contains two coffins instead of beds, built above a deep, dark labyrinth. Others include a jail cell room, “Grandma’s Room” with a hidden sink and toilet and décor from decades past, a Chicken Curry room, a room that’s all about nudity, an upside-down room and even one with a flying bed. And of course, the hotel’s own private gallery and themed eatery are no less bizarre. It’s all wow, it really is.
It takes a special kind of tourist, one with a keen eye, a patient disposition and a thorough approach to research (not to mention an iPhone…), to visit a city and discover the gems that even its locals have no idea about. Anyone can stumble out of the tube at Knightsbridge and find themselves in Harrods and even my grandmother wouldn’t be too hard-pressed to locate one of the better boutiques on the Champs Elysees, but the real challenge, the one that may ultimately reward months of MI6-style investigations with a pair of one-off Chanel sandals, requires a far keener tourist.
Before you read on, be warned. This blog post is not for the faint-hearted, the sun-seeker or the “let’s just have a MacDonalds”-er, this is for the shopper – the real shopper. While the list may be subject to add-ons or removals and is far from a comprehensive European shopping guide, I believe it contains some of the best-kept secrets of my own European travel experiences. Consider it a work in progress and feel free to reveal your own hidden treasure coves. Enjoy…
As Scandinavia is fast becoming the centre of cool, it is no surprise that first on the list is the Acne Archive store in Copenhagen. Archive is an Acne outlet store, selling a collection of classics by the offbeat Swedish foursome, as well as some recycled pieces from catwalks and samples. With 50% off all year round and new stock coming every week, it’s actually cheaper for Acne-lovers to fly over to Denmark for their new season wardrobes than it is to purchase the collections full price in their own country.
Following the philosophy, ‘one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure’, Bohbo, a contemporary second-hand store in Athens, is an Aladdin’s cave of pristine Chanel, rare Marc Jacobs and well-selected vintage pieces. New items arrive daily, mostly donated from the wealthy, well-heeled women of the nearby Kolonaki neighbourhood, so the choice is continually diverse and fresh, with something on offer for everybody. Expect to find a wide range of unusual pieces alongside fashion classics such as Balenciaga motorcycle handbags and unworn Louboutins. On a recent excavation, I picked up a pair of cork-heeled Chanel Mary-Janes for just €120.
A renowned spot for stylists seeking retro designer looks, Bang Bang Clothing Exchange offers a dream mix of impeccably kept ‘I want you’ labels, excellent quality vintage and rare pieces from local designers. A little like New York’s Buffalo Exchange, Bang Bang also allows you to take your own unwanted clothing (as long as it reaches the standard of their stock) and exchange it for others within their store. However, unlike Buffalo, Bang Bang is extremely selective in its stock, meaning only the most pristine and fabulous clothing will be accepted.
With so many interesting and unique stores flooding through Berlin at present, it’s impossible to choose just one. However, Darklands, situated in the arty area around Heidestrasse, north of Berlin’s main station, has really thrown itself to the forefront. Currently offering an impressive selection of avant-garde menswear, the shop is nomadic, moving every 15 months or so to a new location in a new area in order to shake off those shoppers whose noses are perpetually stuck into the air (buyers, stylists, anyone who works at Net-a-Porter – this means you). For this reason, the interior of their third instalment (Darklands 3.0) is the antithesis of a high-fashion world; expect life-sized dolls hanging from the ceiling, unsurprisingly dark clobber embellishing the walls, including coveted designer brands such as Damir Doma and Christian Poell and exposed lighting fixtures, all housed within what used to be non-descript, rough warehouse.
Stepping into Milan’s Cavalli e Nastri is like walking into some wealthy, old lady’s very well-organized designer closet. The petite shop, situated close to Moschino and Armani houses some of the most pristine vintage finery you’ll ever be so lucky to lay eyes upon. Pieces can date back to the late 1800s, but equally may include a 1950s organza prom dress or a pristine beaded flapper, hanging neatly beside a quality ’70s Pucci print. There is row upon row of glass drawers containing colourful stone brooches, earrings, and costume jewellery and a serious handbag collection (think Hermès, Dior, Chanel) in the rear room.