Features // Discovery

Passport to write: the winner!
Passport to write: the winner!

After weeks of deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce that Stephanie Dyson is the winner of the Rough Guides and Journeys are made @gapyear.com writing competition and the recipient of a £2000 travel voucher. Congratulations, Stephanie!  The judges were particularly impressed by her fresh take on a well-known experience. The colourful language in her carefully paced piece bought the sunrise to life and made us…

Life on GMT: Gozo Maybe Time
Life on GMT: Gozo Maybe Time

It starts as soon as the ferry pulls away from the quay. Heading out from the bustle of the main island of Malta into the shimmering blue waters of the Gozo Channel, the Mediterranean sun warm on your skin, tensions just ebb away. Sliding past the tiny island of Comino, its solitary defensive tower giving…

Budapest: the perfect summer break
Budapest: the perfect summer break

Essentially two cities in one – Buda and Pest – Hungary’s magnificent capital is now firmly established as one of Europe’s most enticing destinations. Its dramatic setting astride the Danube is reason enough to visit, but the city packs in a multitude of things to see and do. First and foremost, no visitor to Budapest…

Bratislava: it’s high time you discovered Slovakia’s capital
Bratislava: it’s high time you discovered Slovakia’s capital

“Little Big City” proclaims the sign on the side of Bratislava’s trams. It’s certainly right about the first, Slovakia’s capital is dinky compared with its neighbours on the Danube – Vienna, the grand old dame of European capitals, ninety minutes to the west by boat, and exuberant Budapest, three hours to the southeast by train.…

Inside Europe’s most expansive cave system
Inside Europe’s most expansive cave system

Of Slovenia’s many show caves, none has quite the pulling power of Postojna, located in the heart of the country’s beguiling Karst region. And, at more than 20km long, it is Europe’s most expansive cave system. Writing about Postojna in the seventeenth century, the great Slovene polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor remarked: “in some places you…

An expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Rome
An expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Rome

You’ve booked your flight to Italy, now where to stay? Whatever kind of trip you’re planning, co-author of the Rough Guide Natasha Foges has the lowdown on the best area to stay in Rome. Best for romance: the Centro Storico The Centro Storico (historic centre) is what most people dream of for their Roman holiday: a…

Lyon: the French city that has it all
Lyon: the French city that has it all

Forget Paris. Lyon is currently where it’s at, and whilst it’s reputation as France’s culinary capital is fully justified – twenty-two Michelin stars and counting – there’s a great deal more to this colourful city than gluttony. A flourish of fabulous new accommodation, cultural sights galore, and a raft of exciting festivals will keep you…

10 reasons why you need to visit Tirana
10 reasons why you need to visit Tirana

Albania’s capital used to regularly top lists for Europe’s worst city. Decades of Stalinist rule left Tirana grey and grim, lacking in both infrastructure and services. The collapse of communism in 1992 only worsened the situation, as chaos engulfed the city and crime started to rise. All that has now changed. Today Tirana is –…

Batanes: off the radar on The Philippines’ remotest islands
Batanes: off the radar on The Philippines’ remotest islands

Kiki Deere, co-author of the Rough Guide to the Philippines, heads off the tourist trail to Batanes. This cluster of islands, located almost 150km off the northernmost tip of Luzon in the Philippines, sees just thirty or so foreign visitors a year. “Batanes? Batanes? Up there?” was the reaction of most Filipinos when I told…

Minsk: beyond the stereotypes of the Belarusian capital
Minsk: beyond the stereotypes of the Belarusian capital

‘Mini-break’ and ‘Minsk’ don’t trip off the tongue. And if you’ve never considered a visit to the Belarusian capital, you aren’t alone. Anita Isalska explores why the city makes for an interesting trip.  Firstly, there’s the popular perception of Minsk as a grey, post-Soviet megalopolis. Another disincentive is the Belarusian visa, a requirement for visitors…

Nyamirambo: Kigali’s coolest neighbourhood
Nyamirambo: Kigali’s coolest neighbourhood

Rwanda’s capital is often described as a city that sleeps, rather than one that doesn’t. Rwandans are, by nature, more reserved than Kenyans, or other Africans. Loud music isn’t tolerated after 8pm and bars tend to close early. Some may call it boring, but Kigali’s residents embrace the city’s quiet calm. Yet, the oldest part…

Baikal: exploring Siberia’s epic frozen lake
Baikal: exploring Siberia’s epic frozen lake

Anita Isalska explores the frozen surface of the epic Lake Baikal in Russia.  During Siberian winters, the mercury drops as low as minus 35ºC (minus 95ºF). Brightly painted houses in central Russia’s villages groan under the weight of snow. The surface of vast Lake Baikal freezes. But as I stand its shore, I see an…

14 things everyone learns on their first backpacking trip
14 things everyone learns on their first backpacking trip

Travelling is about education: learning about the world, yourself and life in general. The lessons are endless no matter where you are in the world, so if you’ve ever been backpacking, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Here are fourteen things every backpacker learns on their first jaunt around the world: 1. You need less stuff…

Boda boda tours: getting under the surface of Uganda’s capital
Boda boda tours: getting under the surface of Uganda’s capital

There’s only one way to avoid the traffic-burdened streets of Uganda’s capital, Kampala: hop on the back of a boda boda, the city’s motorcycle taxi. The motorbikes got their name from the slang term “border border”, because back in the 1960s and 70s people took motorcycle taxis as a fast, and inexpensive way to cross…

Hamburg: Germany’s second city is hotting up
Hamburg: Germany’s second city is hotting up

Most travellers thinking about a weekend break in Germany overlook Hamburg and put Berlin and Munich at the top of their wish lists. Yet within Germany, the nation’s second city proves a popular draw thanks to nightlife, shopping and museums. Stuart Forster, a regular visitor to Germany, finds out what Hamburg has to offer. Why…

6 enticing alternatives to Italy’s big sights
6 enticing alternatives to Italy’s big sights

You’ve hiked the Cinque Terre, gondola’d down Venice’s Grand Canal and got Renaissance art fatigue in Florence’s Uffizi. So what’s next? Italophile Natasha Foges picks six less-known places that offer all the charm of Italy‘s big sights. If you like Lake Como try… Lake Iseo Of the six Italian Lakes, it’s Garda and Como –…

Discover Zagreb, Croatia’s capital of cool
Discover Zagreb, Croatia’s capital of cool

The Croatian capital Zagreb has enjoyed the dubious honour of being underestimated twice over. Cold-shouldered by Croatia-bound travellers because it’s a landlocked city without a beach, it has also been ignored by city-breakers bound for Prague, Kraków or Budapest. One consequences of this relative neglect is that Zagreb is one of the few European capitals…

14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early
14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early

Looking through the Rough Guides photography archive, one kind of shot stands out again and again: pictures captured at sunrise. Sure, there’s nothing more tempting than sleeping in until noon while you’re on holiday. But if you can bring yourself to brave the odd early morning, you’ll discover a magical world as dawn breaks. From…

Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret
Chefchaouen: Morocco’s best-kept secret

Morocco’s tourist track isn’t well-beaten, it’s been thumped flat. Ask anyone who has been and the chances are they’ll have visited some combination of Marrakesh, the Sahara Desert, the Atlas Mountains and Essaouira – and they’ll probably have a small stuffed camel and a leather purse to prove it. These are all worthwhile destinations in…

7 European cities you’ve not been to but must visit
7 European cities you’ve not been to but must visit

We all know about the big European city breaks like Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam, but what about Maribor in Slovenia, Osijek in Croatia and Cadiz in Spain? If you’ve already been to all the big boys, or just want to venture off the well-beaten tourist track, it’s time to discover some seriously unsung cities. Here, we’ve picked…

A first-timer’s Guide to the Canary Islands
A first-timer’s Guide to the Canary Islands

Pre-conceptions are a funny thing. If someone told you about an archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa, an oasis that boasts superb beaches and perennial warmth, which is home to the world’s second largest Carnival, award-winning wines and Spain’s highest mountain, you’d probably want to visit. If they revealed they were…

9 tourist board campaigns that will give you itchy feet
9 tourist board campaigns that will give you itchy feet

Tourist boards around the world are constantly trying to outdo each other as they try to sell their destination to the rest of the world. Some efforts can be cheesy, but others are downright sensational. After all, no one knows the place better. Here, we’ve picked nine of the most inspiring tourism campaigns. Get your…

10 Vietnamese foods you need to try
10 Vietnamese foods you need to try

Vietnamese food is distinct and unforgettable. The cuisine relies on a balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot flavours, achieved through use of nuoc mam, a fermented fish sauce, cane sugar, the juice of kalamansi citrus fruit or tamarind and chilli peppers. Dishes use plenty of fresh herbs but tend not to be overly spicy, as chilli…

11 breathtaking Welsh views
11 breathtaking Welsh views

Picturesque Wales has long drawn holidaymakers to its unspoilt countryside, rugged mountainous terrain and long, lonely coastline. Whether you’re after a dream-like hike or scenic drive, beautiful views aren’t hard to find. Here are some of our authors’ favourites – walks, nature reserves, beaches, railway journeys and much more – taken from new Rough Guide…

15 of the most impressive castles in England
15 of the most impressive castles in England

Historic attractions abound in England. Wherever you’re based, you’ll find imposing palaces, gothic cathedrals and chocolate-box villages within easy reach, but among the most impressive examples of the country’s heritage are the slew of majestic castles. Taken from the new Rough Guide, this is our pick of the best castles in England Alnwick Castle, Northumberland…

5 of the best Greek islands
5 of the best Greek islands

Greece offers well over two hundred inhabited islands of all shapes and sizes, set like gems in the sparkling Ionian and Aegean seas – so you’re really spoilt for choice when planning a visit. Former resident and Rough Guide to Greece author Nick Edwards picks five of the best Greek islands for exploration. For archaeology:…

Brilliant boozers: 12 of the best pubs in London
Brilliant boozers: 12 of the best pubs in London

Taken from the new Pocket Rough Guide, this is our pick of the best pubs in London.  London is a very big city. In fact, it’s the largest capital in the European Union, stretching for more than thirty miles from east to west, and with a population of just over eight million. Ethnically and linguistically, it’s also…

Havana: the city where time stopped short
Havana: the city where time stopped short

Gilly Pickup discovers the enduring allure of Cuba’s bright and breezy capital, Havana, the island’s cultural heart. Havana’s effervescence is palpable. The city is reminiscent of an old picture postcard come to life – awash with faded grandeur and crumbling ice-cream coloured buildings. Bartenders mix up mojitos in time to the hip-swaying, hypnotic sounds of salsa…

10 reasons to pack your bags for Tasmania
10 reasons to pack your bags for Tasmania

Tasmania has shaken off its reputation as a sleepy backwater. Australia’s smallest state is buzzing with art, nurturing an exciting foodie scene and cutting the ribbon on new hiking trails – all against a backdrop of rich history and remarkable wildlife. Here, Anita Isalska gives ten reasons why you should give in to the island’s lure. …

10 reasons why Manchester is the UK’s new cultural hotspot
10 reasons why Manchester is the UK’s new cultural hotspot

Manchester is Britain’s new cultural capital. No, really. The city may have been built on the heavy industry of the Industrial Revolution but since the 2002 Commonwealth Games, it has re-invented itself as a world capital of the arts. Today Manchester dominates the headlines with a slew of galleries, venues and festivals. It’s home to some of…

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica
In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

Kris Griffiths takes a tour of the birthplace of reggae, following in the footsteps of Jamaica’s most famous son, Bob Marley, on what would have been his 70th birthday. Reggae music was born in the downtrodden townships of this Caribbean island. It’s a genre that has managed to captivate most of the globe with its bouncing…

14 essential Burmese experiences
14 essential Burmese experiences

Wherever your itinerary takes you, travel in Myanmar (Burma) is sure to provide a wealth of new experiences – whether you’re air-kissing at your waiter in a city teahouse or witnessing your first nat ceremony. To mark the release of our first guide to the country, co-author Jo James shares fourteen of her essential things…

Hidden New York: 5 little-known sights
Hidden New York: 5 little-known sights

We’ve just published a brand new Pocket Rough Guide to New York City, and thought we’d share a sneak preview. Want to shun the crowds? Here are five places to explore hidden New York.  No superlative, no cliché does New York City justice. It may not serve as the official capital of the US or even…

Southern Louisiana: from Baton Rouge to the bayous
Southern Louisiana: from Baton Rouge to the bayous

New Orleans might hog the limelight, but there’s no end of things to do in Louisiana. Here, Rough Guides author Charles Hodgkins takes us on a tour of the state’s beguiling south. While it’s easy to understand why New Orleans dominates most discussions of southern Louisiana, there’s much more to the lower areas of the…

6 great day trips from Rome
6 great day trips from Rome

Taken from the new Pocket Rough Guide, here’s our pick of the best day trips from Rome.  Rome is one of the world’s most enthralling cities, and you may find there’s quite enough to keep you occupied during your stay. But it can be a hot, oppressive city, and its churches, museums and ruins are…

5 reasons why Ladakh offers the best trekking in India
5 reasons why Ladakh offers the best trekking in India

Co-author of the Rough Guide to India, Nick Edwards, explains why the trekking in Ladakh is among India’s finest. Ladakh is quite unlike any other region of India, both geographically and culturally. A rugged and arid high-altitude desert, set between the mighty Karakoram and Great Himalaya ranges, its very name means “the land of high…

Finding solace at the medieval New Inn in Suffolk
Finding solace at the medieval New Inn in Suffolk

Tim Chester joins a group of friends for a restorative mini-break at the historic New Inn in Peasenhall in the heart of Suffolk.  It’s easy to fall into a reverie at the New Inn. Between the crackling log fire, the huge sofas and the sedative aftereffect of an immense feast at the late medieval hall’s…

Video: 24 things you shouldn’t miss in Wales
Video: 24 things you shouldn’t miss in Wales

Once voted one of the world’s most beautiful countries by Rough Guides readers, Wales has something for everyone. From the mountains to the stunning coastline, here are our top things not to miss in Wales. Explore more of the world in video with the Rough Guides YouTube channel >

An introduction to Nepal: 9 things to do in Kathmandu
An introduction to Nepal: 9 things to do in Kathmandu

Nepal’s energetic capital is the entry point for most travellers who come to this mountainous and culture rich country. Foreigners tend to apply a “get in and get out” policy to the sometimes overwhelmingly chaotic city, sunk in the basin of the Kathmandu Valley. There are, however, plenty of remarkable sights in the metropolis to…

Video: 17 things you shouldn’t miss in Iceland
Video: 17 things you shouldn’t miss in Iceland

One of the world’s most beguiling countries, Iceland offers endless vistas of volcanic landscapes, black beaches, snow-topped mountains and one of the coolest cities in Europe. Here, we’ve compiled 17 things not to miss. Explore more of the world in video with the Rough Guides YouTube channel >

Through the looking glass: find the real Alice in Wonderland
Through the looking glass: find the real Alice in Wonderland

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. That means Mad Hatters and Cheshire Cats will be everywhere from London to Manchester this spring. But Alice’s story finds its heartland in the villages of Cheshire, where the author was born, and in a seaside resort in…

Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?
Quiz: can you identify the country from its outline?

Are you a cartographic clever-clogs or due a geography refresher course? We’ve compiled the outlines of ten different countries – large and small – without any rivers, seas, mountains or cities to help you. Can you deduce the country from its shape alone? Take the quiz to find out…

Quiz: which famous explorer are you?
Quiz: which famous explorer are you?

Do you love to take to the open road with nothing but a backpack and your best walking shoes? Or perhaps you’re more of an extreme-adventurer, seeking steep mountain slopes to climb and harsh climates to traverse? Hundreds of great explorers have travelled the world in pursuit of new lands and new discoveries, or to inspire others…

Northern Thailand: the railroad less travelled
Northern Thailand: the railroad less travelled

Tourists are visiting Thailand in increasing numbers, but some communities remain stuck in a time long passed. In pursuit of the “old Thailand”, Alex Robinson shuns the tour buses and takes local’s route, the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We’re waiting on the road, huddled together with locals who’ve risen in the pre-dawn dark.…

Why Reykjavík makes the perfect weekend break
Why Reykjavík makes the perfect weekend break

Iceland might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re planning a weekend away. The obvious cities like Paris, Berlin or Budapest would probably occur to you well before Reykjavík becomes an option. But after a four-night jaunt across some of Iceland’s impressive landscapes, including the Golden Circle and Reykjanes Peninsula, Lottie…

12 tips for backpacking through Europe
12 tips for backpacking through Europe

Taken from the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, these are our top 12 tips for backpacking through Europe. Europe has it all: sprawling cities and quaint villages; boulevards, promenades and railways; mountains, beaches and lakes. Some places will be exactly how you imagined: Venice is everything it’s cracked up to be; springtime in…

Video: 13 things not to miss in Cambodia
Video: 13 things not to miss in Cambodia

It’s not just temples and tuk tuks, Cambodia has so much to offer travellers. From the delicious cuisine to floating villages, here are the top things not to miss on your trip to Cambodia. For more inspirational travel videos, subscribe to the Rough Guides Youtube channel >

10 reasons to visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria
10 reasons to visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Billed as the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe, Bulgaria’s second city of Plovdiv is also one of the continent’s brightest upcoming stars. As well as offering archeological treasures by the barrow-load, it is one of the most culturally vibrant places in southeastern Europe, with enough cultural festivals, arty neighbourhoods and cool bars to keep…

24 hours in Madrid
24 hours in Madrid

On a weekend jaunt to Spain’s capital, Madrid, Rough Guides editors Andy Turner, Olivia Rawes, Greg Dickinson and Lottie Gross set themselves the challenge of staying up for 24 hours to discover what the city has to offer day and night. Here’s how they got on… 9am: a cycle tour of the city With just…

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