Five Ideas for an Easter Family Holiday

 

With the year seemingly speeding by, many families are starting to plan their Easter getaway in the upcoming weeks. Despite it turning to spring it can still be quite chilly and damp in the UK at this time of year, so jetting off to the Mediterranean where weather is more reliably sunny makes it a popular destination. Flowers are blooming and you might even catch a bit of a tan!

Here are five ideas for your Easter holiday getaway this year.

Greece is big on Easter – really big! In fact Easter is one of the country’s biggest festivals. This usually means that most family attractions are closed from Good Friday until the following Tuesday, but if you opt to stay in one of the larger towns or cities, like Athens, you should be able to find things to do to keep you and the children occupied over the long weekend. There’s a hot-air balloon festival in Leonidio on Easter Saturday, or a pot-throwing festival in Corfu. Many of the beaches on the islands are warm but not overcrowded at this time of year, so it can be ideal for the whole family.

View of Corfu castle. Courtesy of Flickr

View of Corfu castle. Courtesy of Flickr

 

Turkey is also a great destination for families at this time of year. You can hire a luxurious villa and chill by its pool, or try a gulet cruise. A gulet is a traditional, two-mast wooden boat and there are several companies that offer family-friendly day trips around the coast. There’s also the option of heading to the lesser-known but stunning region of Cappadoccia for an astronomy tour among the area’s fairytale mountains.

Image courtesy of Flickr

Image courtesy of Flickr

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and during Easter it shouldn’t be too crowded. Your best bet is to head towards the southern coast of the island to dip your toes in the Libyan Sea, as it’s warmer than the other areas at this time of year. The beaches can be quite rocky there, but they offer great diving and snorkelling opportunities. For lazing around with the kids, try the beaches at Amoudara and Analipsis. You can also go for day trips on ferries to the smaller islands around Crete, like Chrysi Island.

Beach in Crete

Beach in Crete

Benidorm sometimes gets a bad rap, with tales of debauched hen and stag nights, but the reality is very different and it’s actually very family-friendly. There are plenty of water parks like Aqualandia and Terra Mitica, or you could visit the underground caverns at Canelobre. There are jeep safaris and boat rides a-go-go. If that all sounds like hard work you’ll find Benidorm has lovely clean beaches, including Poniente, Pal Mas and Levante. There’s a short boat-ride from Pal Mas to the Peacock Island nature reserve if you do fancy a more active day out.

Benidorm Beach

Benidorm Beach

Portugal is also very fond of Easter, and the Algarve is home to lots of Easter festivals, fairs and processions if that’s your sort of thing. Head to Tavira on Palm Sunday to see a colourful Carmelite procession wind through the streets, or try out a “Folar Fair” in any of the area’s towns and villages. Folar cakes are moist cakes topped with – of all things – a boiled egg! Alternatively, choose any of the Algarve’s many beaches, like Praia de Rocha in Portimao, or Meia Prais in Lagos. If you like miniature railways, there’s a ride between Pedras del Rei to Praia da Ilha de Tavira in the Eastern Algarve. The choice is yours!

 

The Algarve

The Algarve

Posted in Easter Holidays, Holiday Types

Top Reasons to Visit Rhodes: Greece’s Entertainment Island

faliraki

If you still haven’t booked your summer holiday for 2014, you might want to turn your attention to our cheap deals to Rhodes – it could be your perfect opportunity to discover a popular destination that has a lot going for it.

 

Rhodes is one of the Greek islands located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It’s a brilliant destination for a summer holiday for a number of reasons, including the climate, culture and location – the flight time to the island is less than four hours from the United Kingdom, which is much quicker than jetting off to the Caribbean. Rhodes is also known as the ‘entertainment island’, meaning you wouldn’t be short of things to do on your travels.

 

So whether you are looking for a trip for you and a few mates, your family, or an escape for you and your partner, find out what you could get up to on your visit this summer….

 

Party all night in Faliraki

If you fall into the group of ‘18-30 singles’, you might want to make your way to Faliraki for a couple of weeks of hedonistic excitement. This is because Faliraki is home to two strips full of bars and clubs for your enjoyment. You will find foam parties, boat parties and many other ways to let off steam; at the end of your stay you will be gutted to leave behind the daily routine of heading to bed at sunrise…

 

Make a splash in Rhodes

Close to Faliraki is one of the largest water parks in Europe, so this could be the perfect place for you to visit if you have kids with you. This year the Faliraki Water Park opens on the 5th May, meaning it is even accessible to those who prefer to take their holidays slightly earlier. There are rides for all ages as well as a wave pool, so it really is possible to keep everyone entertained – just remember the suntan lotion!

 

Sunbathe in Kiotari

Speaking of which, you will need this if you visit the resort of Kiotari – a relatively new addition to the holiday scene. It is worth getting to know though as there is a four kilometre Blue Flag beach to make the most of. Couples and families can claim an area of sand for themselves, whilst younger thrillseekers can get their adrenaline pumping with a spot of parasailing over the bay.

 

Try something new in Ialyssos

There is also something of a sporty vibe to be found in the resort of Ialyssos should you wish to explore it further. Mountain biking and horse riding are some of the most popular activities to enjoy here, so it could be the ideal time for you to try something new. Of course, you can still use the sea to cool down though, with scuba diving and snorkelling also on offer in this resort. Those looking to stay in shape in between all of the holiday extravagance will appreciate the fitness club which offers aerobics classes and other facilities.

Posted in Destinations, Rhodes

2017’s Most Expensive Cities to Live

Special thanks to Hansen & Company for this infographic

Posted in A1 News, Destinations

Reasons to Enjoy Tenerife in the Spring

If you are looking for some spring sunshine Tenerife is a great option, here’s why.

The weather

The island of Tenerife benefits from being a few degrees further south than mainland Spain. Most of the year the temperatures on Tenerife are warmer than the rest of Spain. In the spring, it is 3 or 4 degrees warmer than the Spanish Costas, so the weather is usually good on Tenerife during the spring months.

It is not quite warm enough to go swimming until May when water temperatures reach 20c although some hardy souls do dip their toes in the water. If you like swimming enough, and want to brave the water, you can especially if you own or rent a wet suit. You just need to be careful to check that the conditions are safe for swimming that day. During the early part of the spring, the water can be rough at times. However, that is good for surfers who enjoy the higher swell.

No crowds

Tenerife in March is quiet but most of the tourist attractions are open. This means that you can enjoy them without the crowds or sitting in traffic. Some attractions are not open as late as they are in the summer because it gets dark earlier.

The ambience of the island is defiantly different in the spring. Somehow, it feels more Spanish. The ratio of locals to tourists is higher, so if you want to experience some Spanish culture and see Tenerife in its natural light the spring is a good time to go there.

Great fiestas

Santa Cruz en Carnaval

Many of Tenerife’s best fiestas take place in the spring. Two good examples are the Romania de San Marcos and Fiestas de la Cruz, which are both big religious fiestas.

If you like traditional fiestas booking during Easter week is a great idea. Naturally, because of the school holidays, the island is busier, but if you are on the island during Easter, you can experience Semana Santa. There is a whole week of religious processions mixed up with carnival, fireworks and other spectaculars. It really is an experience not to be missed.

Throughout the spring, there are many other smaller fiestas to enjoy too. Two popular non-religious fiestas that take place in the spring are the Carnival in Los Gigantes and the Carnival in Los Cristianos (Arona). These themed events are always popular, lively and great fun.

Food

Churros de Pescado, Tenerife

On Tenerife, food is important year round, but in the spring, you will get to try more local specialities because the first crops are being harvested. The carnivals and fiestas mean that there are plenty of tapas routes to enjoy. A tapas route allows you to travel around local bars and restaurants enjoying a drink and a tapas at a reduced price in each one. It is a great way to experience food that is more Spanish. Many restaurants also offer special dishes during carnivals or fiestas in particular over the Semana Santa period.

Tenerife is great at any time of the year, but spring is definitely a lovely time of the year to visit the island. You get the chance to enjoy the beautiful beaches, top class hotels and fantastic food at a slower pace, which ensure that you arrive home relaxed and with good memories. Best of all, while your neighbours teeth are chattering you will be bathed in sunshine.

 

Posted in Destinations, Tenerife

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

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 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

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

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

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