It’s almost impossible to choose the best beaches in Europe, so we asked around the office to find out what some of the favourites are. We’d love to hear your opinion of our top 10 best beaches in Europe.
1. Zlatni Rat, in Bol, Croatia. The photographer’s favourite, known as Zlatni Rat or the Golden Cape or Golden Horn is a white pebble beach that creates an incredible seaside experience stretching in an almost vertical line into the sea Changing with the tide, the clothing-optional beach is one of the country’s most famous.
Have you ever planned a family holiday trip by throwing a dart at a map of the world? That method might well be the only way many of us would ever hit upon The Gambia as our next family holiday spot. This tiny nation, one of the smallest in Africa, nevertheless offers some marvelous facilities for tourists along the stretch of beach that sits along the Atlantic. If you and your family enjoy the unusual and if they seek exoticism — here it is!
A Unique Culture
Of course the “real Gambia” includes far more than what you can see from your hotel window. Feeling the need for a bit of help from knowledgeable locals? Then you’re in luck, you can find freelance tour guides through the Gambia Official Tourist Guides Scheme. This organization connects tourists staying in area hotels with guides who can help them get more out of their stay. The guides are happy to show tourists the sights and explain the culture.
The winter doldrums have arrived, but don’t let freezing temperatures, icy footpaths and seemingly eternal dark days get the best of you this year. Instead plan Lanzarote holidays, the most easterly of Spain’s beautiful and exotic Canary Islands. This literal hotspot offers a unique way to escape winter’s icy clutches while making memories to get you through any blustery blizzard yet to come.
A Volcanic Paradise
Nicknamed the “Island of Eternal Spring,” Lanzarote is heralded for its spectacular year-round weather, scenic beaches and famous “lunar” landscapes thanks to more than 350 volcanic craters and one active volcano. A whopping 41 per cent of the island has been declared Protected Natural Areas, including the magnificent Timanfaya National Park.
Skip the trip to the moon and enjoy Lanzarote’s lunar landscape instead.
Lanzarote’s major tourist destinations include Costa Teguise, Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca. Each of these offers a dynamic spot for tourists to relax and recharge. Students enjoy discounts on transportation and entrance tickets; combined with easy access from a number of different points, reasonable prices and a variety of accommodations, Lanzarote is an ideal destination for international students in search of exploration.
If visiting a real Jurassic Park is high on your bucket list, then listen up? Ok we wouldn’t exactly call Palmersaurus a real Jurassic Park, but it’s the next best thing.
Image via @ PalmercoolumResort
Newly opened, the Australian dinosaur theme park is home to 160 life size robot prehistoric delights, ranging from 22 metres long, to 10 metres tall. There are velociraptors, T-rexs and lots of other ancient carnivores come to life.
The dino theme park is the work of a billionaire mining boss, who’s recently been elected an MP. Clive Palmer is also responsible for an exact replica of the Titanic, aimed at tourists from China. The park rubs shoulders with a luxury golf resort and spa next door, so it really is a culture clash!
We’re nothing if not helpful here at Purple Travel, so make the most of your Greek holiday with our favourite facts about Crete.
#1 It’s said to be the birthplace of the supreme god Zeus. Legend has it; Zeus’ mother Rhea hid the newborn baby in a cave so he wouldn’t be killed by his father Cronus.
#2 It can be walked in 50 days. Well, if you follow the route of Belgian hiker Ivan Van Driesche. He decided to walk around the island as a fundraiser for stray animals and he did it in exactly 50 days.
#3 Crete has thousands of miles of beaches, making it an unparalleled choice for sun worshippers. There are lots of options for surfing or sunbathing, naturist beaches or scuba diving.
#4 A study in 1980 by Ancel Keys revealed that Crete is the healthiest country in the world and philosopher Hippocrates said the air of Crete has healing properties; this is a legend that continues today.
#5 It was Crete where Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, was from. Kept in prison by King Minos, he escaped with wings made from feathers and wax, but, unfortunately for him, he flew too close to the burning rays of the sun, his wings melted and he drowned in the sea.
#6 Many people in Crete own guns, but don’t worry it’s mostly for celebration reasons, especially at weddings.
#7 Crete is one of the oldest settlements in Europe, with remnants found that date back to 7 million BC.
Purple 10 hotel water slides. Looking to impress the kids, while relaxing in a luxury hotel? Look no further than this selection of hotel waterslides – the hotel part for you, the waterslide for the kids!
Being the first Hard Rock hotel in Bali, Kuta beach, this property has been decorated in a 50’ style. Note, that the hotel features the biggest swimming pool all over Bali, 22 suites and a wide selection of waterslides to keep youngsters busy!
Arm yourself with courage in case you wish to try a high-speed drive in the infamous “Poseidon’s Tower” waterslide, diving 9 floors down ending up in an underwater aquarium-tube with sharks and stingrays.
Extend your summer or get in early for half term. The kids are back to school and a new (school) year is starting. Why not have something to look forward to, like an autumn tan, a spring in your step and a good injection of vitamin D in some of our favourite half term holiday picks. We take a look at where is hot during half term and what makes a great choice for children of all ages. If you fancy water slide parks, history lessons or just plain, old sandcastles and paddling in the sea, find out where to go with our best value destinations for half term holidays.
Where to spend your half term holidays
1. The Canaries – With an abundance of beaches, scuba diving, family bike rides and fantastic weather, cheap half term holidays in the Canaries are an obvious choice. Why not spend long, lazy days working on a winter tan on a black sandy beach in Tenerife, hike up the side of a volcano in Gran Canaria, or take a glass bottomed boat tour in Playa del Ingles? There is something to suit every type of family in the Canaries. Stay at Barcelo Lanzarote in Costa Teguise which offers adult and children’s swimming pools, playgrounds, kids club, giant monopoly and water slides as well as a spa for mum and dad.
2. Algarve – The Southern area of Portugal is still warm in October and there is plenty for children of all ages to keep busy with. Albufeira is a good family friendly hub, with plenty of child friendly restaurants, a sandy golden beach and nearby water parks. Stay at the Monica Isabel Beach Club in Albufeira, where you’ll find a great welcome, great rooms and great value.
3. Crete – The southern Aegean is ideal in October. Prices have dropped, but temperatures are still high and Crete is a perennial choice for family friendly holidays. Stay at the Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites, right on a sandy beach, with lots of loungers, umbrellas and children’s activities available.
4. Marrakech – is an exciting, exotic holiday choice all year, but especially good around October. It’s still warm and at only three hours flying time, it’s not too far to get somewhere very exotic. Children and adults can enjoy hiking in the Atlas Mountains, visiting the colourful souks or exploring the Kasbahs. Stay at the Aqua Fun Club – All Inclusive. This 5* accommodation has extensive spa facilities as well as water slides, adult and children only pools, a rafting river and children’s aqua tower.
5. Rome – If you want to get some learning in during the half term break, why not choose a city break in Rome. The weather should still be ok, in the early 20s and you and your children can enjoy seeing the Colosseum and some gladiators up close, head for the Time Elevator Roma (a high tech history lesson made with some very special effects) spark imaginations at the Explora children’s museum and munch on pasta and pizza. Stay at the RSH Spanish Steps Apartments, centrally located near the Trevi Fountain and with plenty of space for all the family after long days exploring the city.
6. Florida – has over 1,000 miles of sandy beaches, is the home of theme parks and has some of the best shopping in the world. Then of course there is Disney World to think of. Meet Mickey Mouse, see the fireworks and parades and generally have the time of your life and a half term holiday you’ll never forget. Stay at the Disney Area Superior Homes for a home away from home experience in Orlando and all the amenities you want within easy reach of the World Disney World Resort.
Tell us your choices for the best half term holidays and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Kate Power is community manager for Purple Travel.
Looking to impress the kids and keep mum and dad happy? Then check out our Purple tips for six of the best family holidays in Spain. For great family holidays in Spain, you’ll need sunshine, child-friendly accommodation and restaurants and a tonne of things to see and do, not to mention a top notch beach. Here are some of our tips for family friendly fun in the sun for holidays in Spain in 2014.
1. Malaga on the Costa del Sol is one of our top choices. With Nerja Caves to explore, Aqualand Torremolinos or the botanic gardens and cable cars at Tivoli world, as well as great value accommodation and kid friendly restaurants by the bagful, it’s a good choice for a late summer break.
2. If you fancy all year sunshine Lanzarote and specifically Puerto Del Carmen is the place to go. The beaches are to die for and it makes a great base for exploring the island. Lanzarote has plenty of fun activities for kids of all ages including Costa Teguise Aqua Park, go karting in San Bartolome or the Rancho Texas Theme Park.
3. Lloret de Mar in the Costa Brava is a great place to mix city break with sun, sea and sand, in other words the ideal mix of things for kids and mum and dad. Close to Barcelona it’s ideal for a day out at the Museum of Ideas and Inventions, the CosmoCaixa, or simply a walk down the Ramblas, while the beaches are just a stone’s throw away.
4. Alcudia Beach in Majorca is perfect for a relaxed few days on the beach. You’ll find a relaxed pace of life here, so it’s good for a peaceful getaway. There’s lots of space for relaxing on the beach, enjoying long, leisurely meals in child-friendly restaurants and there are a lot of historical sites and the S’Albufera Natural Park.
5. Costa Adeje in Tenerife is a firm family favourite. For little ones there are water parks, clean and shallow beaches and for older ones there are surfing or diving lessons and organised day trips. The whole family will enjoy whale watching trips, while the selection of hotels suits every budget and every kind of holidaymaker.
6. Portinatx in Ibiza is not about partying all night. Away from the noise and clubs you’ll find a haven of facilities for you and your family. From quiet sandy coves, relaxed local restaurants and kids clubs at plenty of hotels offering entertainment and games programmes, it’s a good choice for kids up to 12 years old.
Are there any resorts we missed? We’ve love to get some readers tips on family holidays in Spain.
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.
Taking the kids to Disney? Make sure your trip-of-a-lifetime goes as smoothly as possible with our top best Disney tips for getting around with little ones in some of the best theme parks in the world.
Don’t try to do everything: You want Disney to be the best experience for everyone and it won’t be if you’re suffering from exhaustion! Slow down and take in all the fun and don’t be afraid to head back to your hotel pool for a chill out.
Age check: Be sure to check out the age and height requirements before you go, you don’t want to get someone all excited about a ride they won’t be able to get on.
Fail to plan, plan to fail: Disney makes it easy to plan your trip, including a daily planner to guide you through the best selection of amusements and shows to suit you and your little ones.
Go at the right time: Remember that the height of summer means crowds, heat, mosquitoes, maybe even different opening hours, so keep this in mind when you’re booking those tickets!
Don’t forget your supplies: Some tasty snacks and especially a couple of bottles of water make those long queues a lot more bearable.
Book in advance: There’s a tonne of great eating options and even a free advance reservation system. Use it! Just remember, this won’t actually mean they’ll hold your table, but you’ll be seated and ready to eat quickly.
Label your child! This may sound a little strange, but it’s a big place and it’s easy for kids to wander off. If you’ve got a few running around, instead of growing an extra pair of eyes, using an ID bracelet with your name and contact details could save on nightmares.
Whistle while you work: Our top tip is of course; to remember you are there for a good time, not a long time! So, go and enjoy yourself, make the most of a wonderful holiday experience.