Four reasons why December is best time to book next year’s holiday

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Should you book in advance or hold your breath for a last minute deal? This is the question that goes through everyone’s mind almost as soon as your most recent holiday is over. One way of dealing with post-holiday blues is to start planning the next one, but financially, is this the right move? We’re here to tell you why booking your 2017 holiday right now is the best decision you can make, especially for your wallet. If you need convincing, then check out just four reasons why you should click “book now”.

 

  1. You can get huge discounts

During the winter months, when people are pre-occupied with trying to budget for Christmas, holiday companies and travel agents will hold sales, and take huge discounts off both full holiday rates and deposits. They want to entice people into booking now rather than later, to avoid disappointment, but it’s you who will reap the rewards. While everyone else is struggling to pay for their holiday in six to eight months’ time, you can rest safe in the knowledge that yours is booked and paid for, and for a much better price.

 

  1. Get the best rooms available

As a way of cheering themselves up during the post-Christmas blues, most people will book their flights and accommodation for their next holiday in January and February. By beating them to the ‘January rush’, you’ll make sure you get the best rooms. These are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if you have your eye on a particularly lavish 5-star hotel, and you’d like one of their newly refurbished rooms, a request made now is far more likely to be accepted.

 

  1. Flight prices are much cheaper 

Another reason why booking now is such a good strategy is that you’ll save a huge amount of money on flights. If you miss out on one hotel, then there will usually be more than one in the area, but what about that flight that will get you to Majorca just in time for your best friend’s wedding? When it comes to timings, the most popular and convenient times, such as midday, sell the fastest, and so a premium will often be put on the last few seats on a flight. Right now, demand is low, so you’ll be able to get the same seats for far less money.

 

  1. If it’s popular with you, it’s popular with everyone

Whether it’s a new and exciting destination you’ve always wanted to go to, or a family holiday classic that you have to visit every year, the most popular destinations and hotels always get booked up in record time. How terrible would it be to try to book your favourite apartment, only to discover that the complex is already full to the brim? If you want to avoid disappointment, then look at booking 2017 holidays to places like the Greek Islands, Croatia, Spain and Portugal, as soon as possible.

 

Have you already booked your holiday for next year? Let us know why in the comments section below.

Posted in Travel Tips

Heading to Malta this winter? Here are the top four things to do

malta

Malta is a real melting-pot of culture; vibrant, exciting and packed with ancient temples and relics that any budding historian would love to visit. It’s no surprise that thousands of people flock here each year in search of some winter sun in their famous Blue Lagoon. If you’re thinking along the same lines, but you’re not sure where to go first, then read on to find out some of the top things to do in Malta over the festive period.

 

  1. Go sightseeing and temple exploring

You’ll receive many seasons greetings by the local people of Malta, who love to celebrate this holiday with many traditions similar to our own. A walk around your local town will be a sight to see in itself, as most squares are decked out in elaborate Christmas light displays, with intricately designed nativity scenes on every corner. Of course, you’ll still be able to visit the year-round attractions, such as the awe-inspiring ancient temples and palaces that you’ll find around Valetta, or perhaps take a stroll through history at the National Museum of Archaeology.

 

  1. Experience a Maltese Christmas and New Year

Aside from the usual festive decorations, there are many events you can go to at this time of year. If you want to immerse yourself in their culture, there’s no better way to do it than by joining the congregation at St. John’s Cathedral in Valletta. Every year they hold a candle-lit carol singing event and service, celebrating the deep religious beliefs that many people of Malta cherish at Christmas time. If you’re staying over New Year then you’ll be in for a treat, as Malta’s capital always hosts a free public celebration with live performances from singers, bands, entertainers and much more.

 

  1. Take part in the Feast of Immaculate Conception

There are few feasts and festivals that attract as much attention as the Feast of Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated every year on December 8th amongst Catholic nations. This is a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and has huge significance for the people of Malta. The main celebrations take place in the town of Cospicua, and there are processions through the streets, street music, and of course, dozens of sumptuous dishes of traditional Maltese food for you to sample.

 

  1. Indulge in foreign culture

If you’d like to stray away from the brightness of the Christmas displays, then you’ll be pleased to know that there is always a medieval town waiting for you to discover it, or baroque church just around the corner. After you’ve finished carolling, you can head for the Museum of Fine Arts, located in an 18th century palace in the heart of Valetta. Or, if you’d prefer something more modern, there’s a private gallery hosting an exhibition on ‘Fusion’ that’s only here until 22nd December.

 

Where are you staying on your holiday to Malta? We’d love to know what you have planned so please leave us a comment.

Posted in malta

Top four destinations for your Christmas getaway

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As the cold, dark nights begin to set in, every city centre is crammed with people all trying to bag a bargain, and the familiar din of festive songs fills the air of every building you enter. So, why not take yourself away, spend some quality time with your family and relax in the warmer climates of exotic places? If you’re in need of a few destination ideas, here are our top four suggestions…

 

  1. Canary Islands

Canarians have dozens of traditions, just not the ones you’ll be used to, so it’s the perfect destination for culture-vultures. The first change has to be when it comes to cuisine, as you’ll have to swap your turkey and stuffing for fish, when you eat La Noche Buena on Christmas Eve. White asparagus and giant prawns in a Marie Rose sauce are popular here, with the traditional candy, turrón, to finish. Then you can take a stroll around town and photograph the many nativity scenes of Belén (Bethlehem). No matter where you’re staying, this is a hugely popular pastime, and you can finish off with a local Christmas concert.

 

  1. Malta

For the religious side of Malta, start off with a spiritual evening at St. John’s Cathedral in Valletta, where they hold their annual candle-lit carol singing service. The baroque interiors decked out in stunning floral displays and festive decorations, is a memory that is sure to stay with you. You’ll find all the restaurants and bars in Malta bouncing with festive energy too, but unlike a lot of countries, Boxing Day is not a holiday here, so most shops will be open for you to do some retail therapy before heading home. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without the yearly pantomime held at the Manoel Theatre, so head there for a throwback to your childhood.

 

  1. Morocco

Whether you want an exotic holiday with a hint of Yuletide, or you’re looking to completely escape Christmas altogether, Morocco is the enchanting city that can help. In the larger cities like Marrakech, you can visit the famous Souk markets with their local wares and delicious spices, whilst spending the afternoon touring sights like the Majorelle Gardens or Bahia Palace. Then, when you get a slight pang of mourning for Christmas, you can always pick up some traditional favourites like the buche de Nôel (Christmas cake) or have a Christmas lunch in one of the luxury hotels.

 

  1. Cyprus

There are dozens of reasons to opt for a Greek Orthodox Christmas in 2016, but the first has to be the lure of idyllic blue-flag beaches, which you’ll practically have to yourself at this time of year! Christmas here is marked with a song and a dance, as villages display ancient processions with carols, called “kalanda”, which are customs dating back to Byzantine times. You can take part in the major festival and feast here too, held in Nicosia in Eleftheria Square, where the unusual custom of young swimmers diving for a cross takes place on 5th January.

Have you decided where you’re heading this Christmas? For further inspiration visit our Christmas deals section of website for more up to date ideas and special offers departing over the festive period.

Posted in Destinations

Three great reasons to spend your Christmas on Tenerife

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Not everyone enjoys the bitter temperatures that this season brings. The novelty of snow soon fades as it turns to slush, and for a lot of people, the thought of ending another year under the bleak, grey skies of the UK is not an enjoyable one. But what’s the alternative? If you’re asking yourself this question, you’ve come to the right place! We’re here to tell you that the top winter sun destination this year is Tenerife, and here are just a few reasons why…

 

  1. Swap stress for serenity

Although Christmas is traditionally a time when you bring the family together, it can also be incredibly stressful. The need to trudge through the crowded streets in search of presents, the seemingly endless list of food you need to buy, the planning that goes into the Christmas Day dinner, and the concern you feel all day about keeping everyone happy.

 

This certainly doesn’t sound like a festive fun, but it’s all too familiar for a lot of families, so why not shake off all of that worry and head for the soothing rays of the sun instead? Stay in a luxury hotel, be pampered by the pool and you won’t have to lift a finger for Christmas dinner. All you need to remember is the pile of presents for the family.

 

  1. Get into the Christmas spirit

If you’re thinking that a Balearic Island won’t have the same Christmas impact that home does, then you’d be wrong! And what’s more, without the cold weather hampering your spirits, you’ll find it much easier to enjoy the festivities. Every street is decorated with the warm glow of Christmas lights, and whenever you leave your hotel room or apartment, you’ll be greeted to the dazzling festive displays in the heart of most towns and cities.

 

If you want nativity scenes, or belén, then you’ve definitely arrived on the right island, as each year the sculptures get bigger and better. A tradition amongst locals is to scour the cities in search of new designs, as you’ll find everything from simple shop-window displays to elaborate miniature towns with working parts outside town halls and mansions. This is a particularly good project for budding photographers.

 

  1. There’s so much to do

Aside from the usual decorations and past times, Tenerife has a fantastic nightlife around this time of year. Depending on which town you’re staying in, each will have their own Christmas concerts by the harbour, carol singers and markets.

 

Plus, if you still want a taste of that traditional December weather, you can always head up Mount Teide, which always has a covering of snow during the winter months where you can build snowmen or go tobogganing. If you’re not in the mood to go all that way however, why not opt for the ice rink at Magma, which always proves to be a huge attraction with tourists and locals alike.

 

Why not let us know what your festive getaway plans are in the comments section?

Posted in Tenerife

Christmas on the beach: why you should head for the winter sun this season

Family during Christmas day at the beach

It might not remind you of all those childhood memories, and it might be far from traditional, but celebrating the Yuletide season beside a sandy beach instead of a blazing fire is exactly what top holiday companies are urging people to do this winter.

 

Towards the end of September, weather forecasters reported that the UK is set to have the heaviest snowfall in years, as freezing blasts of air from the Polar regions has dramatically shifted, heading straight for the UK. With temperatures set to plummet from around mid-November, it seems as though a white Christmas is just around the corner, continuing well into February.

 

While snowfall is something we always ask for at Christmas time, the novelty certainly wears off quickly, so if you’re thinking about making your escape early, you should take advantage of some of the fantastic deals travel companies are offering to give you the opportunity of skipping a harsh winter at home.

 

If you’d like to stay relatively close to the UK, one of the most popular destinations is Benidorm. As this is an area heavily populated by British people, there’s still the familiar scenes of Christmas everywhere you look, and plenty of Christmas-themed cabaret performances and festive parties every night to keep your seasonal spirits up.

 

If you’d like somewhere further afield with its own customs and traditions, how about heading for the Canary Islands instead? Tenerife in particular is perfect for families and couples alike; walk the streets taking in the many depictions of the nativity scene that the locals make every year, and for a bit of a break from the sunny weather, head up Mount Teide where there’s a dusting of snow.

 

If you’re a family looking at heading here, you’ll find no better place to stay than the Isla Bonita hotel, with four pools, two restaurants, state-of-the-art gym facilities and daytime entertainment for the kids. Only 400m from the beach, you can bag yourself an all-inclusive stay here over Christmas, including flights, from £599pp.

 

Or, if you’re a couple in need of a romantic break away, why not try the adults-only hotel of Dream Noelia Sur? This modern, luxury resort has everything you could need, including water sports facilities and two outdoor pools, one of which is perfectly situated beside a cool rooftop bar. With prices starting at £799pp for Half Board, you’re out of excuses for why not to book!

 

It could be that you’re looking to escape the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas altogether though, so how about travelling to sand dunes and souk markets of Morocco? Explore the tropical paradise that’s been built into the famous Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech, or go on a glamping experience in Souss-Massa National Park.

 

No matter where you’re thinking of heading this Christmas, A1 Travel has some incredible deals, but they won’t be around for long now that the temperatures have already begun to drop. Make sure you’re not the one missing out.

Posted in Christmas Holidays

Pricey Euros Doesn’t Mean Expensive Holidays

Holiday Money

This winter travellers will find that the pound in the their pocket is worth less once converted in to Euros. But this doesn’t mean pricier holidays, as holidaymakers off to places like Spain, Italy, Portual & Greece will find that many bars and restaurants as actually slashing prices to get the crowds. In many cases it has been found that its actually cheaper this year with a higher exchange rate then it was last.  Unfortunately this good news doesn’t extend to the dollar where the exchange rate has increased massively year on year.

So if your looking for a bit of sunshine on a budget don’t just consider the price of the holiday as a factor as food and drink can in many cases dwarf the cost of the actual holidays. If your not the type of holdiaymaker who goes for an all-inclusive holiday, consider southern Europe if you really want to stretch those holiday pound notes.

Posted in Travel News

Why Puerto del Carmen is the ideal place to stay when visiting Lanzarote

PUERTO DEL CARMEN, LANZAROTE ISLAND - JAN 17, 2015: promenade in Puerto del Carmen port on sunny day. Canary Islands are popular holiday destination due to warm climate.

Lanzarote has always been a firm favourite with people craving their two weeks in the sun, but it’s hard to know where to stay when you haven’t been before. Where can you get the most for your money? And what are the best options for families?

 

In today’s post, we’ll give you just a few reasons why Puerto del Carmen should be your first port of call for accommodation, and point you in the right direction of some of the area’s top hotels.

 

Perfect for all budgets

If your money is tight, you’ll find the ideal apartment waiting for you on the Los Pueblos complex. Located in the quaint old town of Puerto del Carmen, these charming apartments are just 500m from the town centre; for self-catering, you’ll have some of the freshest ingredients on your doorstep courtesy of the local markets, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants when you want a night off from cooking.

 

Each room has its own balcony or terrace to sit on of an evening and watch the sun go down, and the complex itself has a swimming pool, children’s pool, tennis courts, pool tables, a restaurant, a cafe and a bar – not to mention the fact that it’s a stone’s throw from Puerto Del Carmen’s golden sandy beach and harbor. Priced from just £149 per person for self-catering, it’s ideal for a budget-break in the sun.

 

Great for families

Puerto del Carmen is ideal for people who have kids in need of entertainment. The area is bursting with activities, from horse-riding, golf courses and boat trips, to water parks, Lanzarote safaris and even the chance to go on a walk underwater! Why not let the kids experience their first scuba-diving lesson, or take them on a tour of the volcanoes at Timanfaya National Park?

 

 

This area definitely has something for everyone, and for those groups who need somewhere a little bigger to stay, look no further than Beatriz Playa & Spa Hotel. With comfortable and spacious rooms from £329 per person on a half-board basis, private balconies with sea and gardens views, and spa services at your beck and call, it’s ideal for people who want to stay close to the action with their friends and family.

 

Add a little luxury

However, if you want to add a touch more extravagance to your stay, why not opt for an all-inclusive option at the grand Seaside Los Jameos Playa hotel, with rooms from £529? This has been dubbed an “oasis” by locals, and seen as it’s located on Playa de los Pocillos beach, and less than 2km from the heart of Puerto Del Carmen, you’ll get a little more peace and quiet during your stay. Surrounded by groves of palm trees, you’ll be able to eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner in the serenity of its gardens, before sitting back to watch one of their regular stage shows.

 

Are you thinking of traveling to Puerto del Carmen soon?

 

Posted in Lanzarote

A winter’s holiday to Benidorm: top three things to see and do

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If you’ve decided to head for some sun rather than brave the cold of the winter isles this year, you’ll find no better place to while away your time than in action-packed Benidorm. Whether you’re going for a pre-Christmas break, or a New Year holiday to relieve the January blues, here are just a few of the top events over the winter months.

 

  1. Fiesta Week

On the run down to Christmas you can find a whole host of activities across the city, but one not to miss is Fiesta Week. Held every November, this tradition began as a celebration to honour La Virgen del Sufrage and Jaime Apostol, the Patron Saints of Benidorm, but over the years it has evolved into a six-day fiesta with an event for everyone. From street football and flower-parades to fishing competitions in the bay, there are also many religious and spiritual processions that will give you the chance to experience traditional Spanish culture.

 

The Fiesta usually has a large musical element to it too. With street musicians, bands and even midnight concerts in the auditorium of Aigüera Park, everyone will be able to enjoy the sights and sounds of this festival to get them in the mood for Christmas.

 

  1. It’s Carnival time!

If you’re already pining for the Christmas parties and want another celebration like New Year’s Eve, then head to Benidorm during February for the famous season of Carnival! The streets will come alive with a constant flow of music and vibrantly coloured dancers, as it’s a chance for the Spanish community to celebrate and enjoy themselves before the period of Lent.

 

Your eyes will be treated to an array of spectacular floats in the annual parade, before the curious tradition of the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ takes place, to signify the arrival of Lent. Luckily, the city will have warmed up a lot more by the time Carnival arrives, so you won’t have to worry about any winter weather here.

 

  1. Perfect weather for golf 

Benidorm isn’t just for those who prefer bright lights and big cities. If you want to spend a quiet Christmas at home then book your break here for March instead, where you’ll find the temperatures and conditions perfect for those who love a round of golf. The early spring weather brings the warmth of the sun but with a breeze that should stop you from over-heating during play.

 

There are plenty of courses to choose from on the Costa Blanca, with spas and wellness centres within easy distance too if you’re looking to extend your period of rest and relaxation. Of course, if you’d like to finish off your time with a little more excitement, why not indulge in a little Spanish culture, and watch the magnificent fireworks display during the Valencian Spring Festival?

 

Benidorm has always been a hugely popular destination, so make sure you book sooner rather than later if you’re planning on heading there yourself.

Posted in Benidorm

Winter Sun: Why you should spend Christmas in Tenerife

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When people think about taking an end-of-year break, they usually envisage snowy landscapes, skiing and cold temperatures. The winter months don’t have to be filled with warm jumpers and log fires though; in fact, you can escape the cold completely by hopping over to somewhere far more exotic.

 

If you’re ready for a change this year, and can see yourself opening Christmas presents by the beach, then read on to find out why Tenerife is the perfect destination for you. Don’t worry, you’ll still get all the decorations and rituals you’ve come to love, but minus the ice.

 

What you can expect

You’ll be pleased to know that the good, old-fashioned switch-on of the Christmas lights is still very much a favourite over here, and from early December, you’ll find them twinkling away in the towns of Santa Cruz, La Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz and La Laguna. This creates a wonderfully magical scene at night, and you don’t have to brave the cold to enjoy it!

 

If you have children with you, you’ll also be able to find plenty of Santa Claus figures and toys for them to enjoy. The only difference is that in Tenerife, they’re adorned in blue clothes instead of red, which is sure to make a memorable addition to your own decorations for years to come. If you’re a lover of traditional Christmas food, then you’ll have to try the number one addition to the Christmas table in Tenerife, which you can only buy during the festive season, as the supermarkets are bursting with different varieties of turron cake.

 

What is there to do?

There are just as many activities during the winter here as in summer. You might prefer to take a stroll into town and take dozens of photographs of the intricately made nativity scenes, the largest of which is the life-sized version in front of La Orotava Town Hall.

 

If you’re the adventurous type though, you’ll be able to spend an unforgettable Christmas break up Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide. If you’re missing the traditional snowy season, there should be plenty at the top for you to make snow angels to your heart’s content before making your way back down. However, you could always make the most of the clear skies up there by taking a stargazing tour, where a professional guide will walk you through the stars and constellations.

 

If you’re a music-lover, you can head to the capital on Christmas Day, as tradition dictates the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra to perform a free concert beside the port. Whatever you do, our top tip if you’re planning on heading here for Christmas is to eat early on Christmas Eve. The Spanish are very serious about Nochebuena being strictly family time, so you’ll discover most places close early.

 

So, have we convinced you why Tenerife is the perfect place for a Christmas getaway? It’s proving more and more popular every year, so many sure you book early to avoid missing out.

Posted in Christmas Holidays, Tenerife

Top three things to do in Agadir

City view of Agadir at summer, Morocco

Morocco is fast becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations, and it isn’t difficult to see why. With everything from stylish designer shops to street markets and stunning hotels to ancient ruins, there’s so much to see and do. If you’re heading to Agadir soon and you need some direction, hopefully our list of top three attractions should be enough to get you started.

 

  1. Visit the Majorelle Garden

First on the list is what can only be described as the jewel of Agadir, and a real treasure trove of botanical and archaeological wonders. You can walk around twelve acres of beautifully cultivated and manicured gardens, that seem to be more like a priceless work of art than a product of nature.

 

Originally designed by the French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, it is known as the “artist’s landscape”, but it’s also home to an archaeological museum, containing the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech. This attraction certainly provides a feast for all the senses, and is one not to be missed on your next trip out there.

 

  1. Walk through history

Steeped in tradition and history, there are many attractions surrounding Agadir that will be the perfect draw for culture-lovers. Start off by taking a day-trip north to the Saadian Tombs in Marrakech, which date back to the 16th century. The tombs of around sixty members of the Saadi Dynasty were discovered in 1917, and have been beautifully restored by the Beaux-arts service. Deeper into the structure is the famous ‘room with the twelve columns’, containing the grave of the son of the sultan’s son, Ahmad al-Mansur.

 

Afterwards, you can head to the famous ruins of the El Badi Palace. This once magnificent building was constructed out of some of the most expensive materials at the time, such as gold and onyx. The epitome of decadence and luxury, the palace took twenty-five years to build during the latter half of the 16th century, but after the fall of the Saadians, it fell into decline and is now a thriving museum.

 

  1. Take a tour on the wild side

Indulging in the different tastes and smells of new countries is just as big a part of learning about their culture as taking in the museums and architecture, so if you’re a foodie on holiday, why not start with a Moroccan Banquet experience? Sample fresh, authentic Arabian cuisine whilst live acts entertain you in your very own traditional Caidal tent. When there are exotic belly dancers, fire-eaters, snake charmers and a five-course feast on offer, how could you resist?

 

If you’d prefer to get out and about to explore though, a camel trek through the sand dunes should be right up your street. Slip away from the hustle and bustle of Agadir, and take your camel out into lush forests with your camera at the ready. You’ll witness ever-changing landscapes, climb never-ending dunes and make a new animal friend in the process.

 

When are you heading to Agadir?

Posted in Holidays