Features // Heritage & ruins

How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds
How to see Angkor Wat without the crowds

The sky is lightening. Squint and you can just about make out a change in the colour of it, a shift from inky-black to blue-black. As the sun rises further it changes more, until it pales enough behind the stonework that you can begin to make out a hulk on the horizon. You breathe in…

10 of the world’s creepiest abandoned amusement parks
10 of the world’s creepiest abandoned amusement parks

There’s something tragically beautiful about an empty, rusting roller coaster, condemned to spend the rest of its life as a useless hunk of metal. You can almost hear the joyous screams of the children who once rode its tracks. Abandoned amusement parks have piqued travellers’ interest all over the world – so from Malaysia to the…

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 –…

The one Magna Carta exhibition you need to see this year
The one Magna Carta exhibition you need to see this year

This feature is brought to you by the Magna Carta – indirectly, at least. 2015 marks 800 years since the signing of the first Magna Carta (Great Charter) in Runnymede, England. While it was retracted and reinstated by various monarchs a number of times in the following years, the document has become an international icon of…

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…

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…

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…

8 off-the-beaten-track experiences in The Gambia
8 off-the-beaten-track experiences in The Gambia

Think of The Gambia and sun, sea and sand package holidays might spring to mind, but visitors are starting to explore beyond the beaches. Lynn Houghton tells us eight of the best ways to get off the beaten track. The tiny West African country of The Gambia is dissected by its namesake, the River Gambia.…

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.…

Video: things not to miss in Egypt
Video: things not to miss in Egypt

The oldest tourist destination on Earth, Egypt has a multitude of things to see and do. There are ancient pyramids, crumbling temples and vast deserts to explore – on foot or by camel – not forgetting the great river Nile. Find the top things not to miss in Egypt for your next trip. Explore the…

9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015
9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015

With a whole host of new attractions opening this year, from world-record-beating skyscrapers to whacky amusement parks, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. To help you decide where to visit, we’ve picked the top 9 new tourist attractions around the world.  Shanghai Tower, China A better symbol of China’s continuing march forward would be harder to…

Cairo through the ages
Cairo through the ages

As visitors slowly return to Egypt after years of political instability and unrest, Keith Drew traces the history of Cairo, the largest city in the Arab world.  Midan Tahrir was strangely peaceful. A handful of tourists milled around waiting for the Egyptian Museum to open its doors for the day. Taxis, trucks and donkey carts…

The Mayan ruins less travelled: El Salvador’s forgotten history
The Mayan ruins less travelled: El Salvador’s forgotten history

El Salvador’s Mayan ruins can’t be compared with the great Mayan centres in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, but they have their own powerful charm – and on most days you’ll have the sites completely to yourself. Stephen Keeling went to explore El Salvador’s rich but oft ignored Mayan heritage. Joya de Cerén Around 1400 years…

Memories of the Berlin Wall 25 years on
Memories of the Berlin Wall 25 years on

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Rough Guides writer John Malathronas remembers his experience crossing Checkpoint Charlie. It was in August 1989 when I presented myself to Checkpoint Charlie – a bit scared, very curious, but mostly excited – and crossed to what was then East Berlin. Life in West Berlin, an…

A street art tour of Shoreditch, London
A street art tour of Shoreditch, London

Street art has exploded in popularity over the last few years, relying on a strong aesthetic impact to make you think, or at least raise a smile. Andy Turner takes a look at the Shoreditch scene and learns to distinguish a Banksy from a Borondo A curious thing happens when you walk south across Bishopsgate,…

Video: 18 things not to miss in Cyprus
Video: 18 things not to miss in Cyprus

From ancient ruins to beautiful beaches, Cyprus has a multitude of incredible things to see and do. Whether you’re after a challenging hike, fancy some wildlife spotting or want to go diving, this sun-kissed country will deliver. Here are our top things not to miss in Cyprus:  Explore more of the world with the Rough…

5 magical getaways fit for an Airbnb king
5 magical getaways fit for an Airbnb king

Airbnb continues to excite travellers in their quest for the perfect accommodation. With scores of rentals across the globe, kipping on someone’s sofa or crashing in the spare room is no longer the only option available to weary travellers. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live like a Lord or Lady, you…

Ten unforgettable things to do in Namibia
Ten unforgettable things to do in Namibia

From a deserted town to enormous sand dunes and sunset cocktails above the city, here are ten unforgettable things to see and do in Namibia. Hike Fish River Canyon Second only in size to America’s Grand Canyon, Namibia’s Fish River Canyon is one of Africa’s unsung wonders. Starting just south of Seeheim, it winds 161km…

The other Inca trail, Peru
The other Inca trail, Peru

Escaping the hundreds of climbers on their way to Machu Picchu, Alex Robinson discovers the “other Inca Trail” in Peru – an equally impressive but near-empty climb.  I woke with a start in the night. The dogs were barking in the camp. I heard the clatter of tin cans, the crash of plates and then…

Top ten things to do in Estonia
Top ten things to do in Estonia

From the cultured capital of Tallinn to the winter-playground that is Otepää, here are ten of our favourite things to do in Estonia.  Admire the beauty of Alatskivi Castle Originally dating back to the sixteenth century, Alatskivi Castle was rebuilt between 1876 and 1885 by Baron von Nolcken who was inspired by the royal residence…

On the road in Panjshir, Afghanistan
On the road in Panjshir, Afghanistan

While working for an NGO in Kabul, British expat Marc Perry went to explore the precipitous Panjishir valley in northeastern Afghanistan. It had been my dream to visit Panjshir ever since I’d arrived in Afghanistan. Historically a geographic safe haven slicing through the Hindu Kush from Afghanistan to Tajikistan, this craggy, high-altitude valley is the…

22 beautiful pictures of Ireland
22 beautiful pictures of Ireland

 From beach to mountain to fen, every corner of Ireland has something beautiful to discover. In celebration of this stunning country, here are 22 stunning pictures of Ireland: Killarney, County Kerry  Beara Peninsula, Cork  Roundstone Harbour, County Galway  Dog’s Bay, County Galway  Dunguaire Castle, County Galway  Kinsale Harbour, Cork  Glendalough, County Wicklow  Dublin  Pine Island, Connemara…

Delving into Kelvedon Hatch: a secret nuclear bunker
Delving into Kelvedon Hatch: a secret nuclear bunker

From 1947 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, secret bunkers sprung up across Europe in an effort to protect capitalist and communist states from potential nuclear attacks. Adam Bennett explores a secret metropolitan bunker in the Essex village of Kelvedon Hatch. During the Cold War, the prospect of a nuclear attack was…

Searching for the magic on Skellig Michael, Ireland
Searching for the magic on Skellig Michael, Ireland

Lottie Gross discovers why the ancient monastery on Skellig Michael, eight miles off the coast of Kerry, has been captivating travellers for years. On Saturday I met a sailor, Ireland’s first surfer, a spear-fishing medalist and a ballroom dancing champion – and that was just one man. Joe Roddy was a small, unassuming gentleman around…

An historic hideaway in the city of Bath
An historic hideaway in the city of Bath

Lottie Gross takes a step back in time and finds the perfect historical retreat in the city of Bath. The year is 1723. My name is George Wade MP and I’ve just returned from London after a stressful week in the House of Commons. It’s late on a Saturday morning and I’m nursing a cup…

Medieval glamping at Warwick Castle
Medieval glamping at Warwick Castle

Sword fighting, scaremongering and sensational surroundings: Lottie Gross finds out why Warwick Castle isn’t just fun for the kids. As expected, upon arrival we discovered we were one of only two couples without children in the entire campsite. Fortunately, our medieval Warwick tent – complete with double bed, two singles, plush duvets and mattresses fit…

Going underground at the wieliczka salt mine, Poland
Going underground at the wieliczka salt mine, Poland

In the depths of southern Poland Helen Ochyra goes underground to try out the claustrophobic work of miners in the Wieliczka salt mine. “Room for one more” I am told as I am gently nudged into an already packed out lift. The doors are pulled across behind me with much scraping of metal and we…

Nine quirky places to stay with the Landmark Trust
Nine quirky places to stay with the Landmark Trust

The Landmark Trust have been restoring buildings for almost fifty years and now have nearly 200 buildings in England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands, France and Italy. Here are some of our favourite unusual places to stay by the Landmark Trust: Clavell Tower, Wareham, England Rescued from the edge of a crumbling cliff along the…

Visiting Vlad the Impaler, Romania
Visiting Vlad the Impaler, Romania

The whereabouts of Dracula’s grave is a contentious issue; two monasteries in Romania are fighting for the title of the resting place of Vlad the Impaler – but which one has the strongest argument? John Malathronas goes to Snagov monastery to find out. “You need four people for an impalement,” says my guide, Gabriel, in taciturn…

Vienna remembers the Great War
Vienna remembers the Great War

If there is one European city that seems particularly focused on the World War I centenary then it is the Austrian capital Vienna, where a host of war-themed exhibitions will be opening over the course of the year. Such attention may come as something as a surprise when one considers that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was…

Ten central & Eastern European sites to mark the WWI Centenary
Ten central & Eastern European sites to mark the WWI Centenary

Most of us know that World War I started with the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. For the English-speaking world, however, the subsequent history of the conflict largely focuses on the Western Front, Gallipoli and other theatres where British, Commonwealth and American forces saw action. It is often forgotten…

In photos: 4000-year-old forest discovered in Ireland
In photos: 4000-year-old forest discovered in Ireland

The first few months of 2014 brought gale-force winds and record amounts of rain to Ireland and much of the UK. Homes were flooded and many lived without electricity for months. These recent storms reached the southwestern Atlantic coast of Ireland and have shifted sands, moved boulders and changed the face of the coastline. It…

Ten things to do in Madrid for free
Ten things to do in Madrid for free

Sophisticated, globally minded and perfect for late-night parties – Madrid can be an expensive place to enjoy. So if you want to see the sights on a budget, timing is crucial. Many of the city’s best museums, galleries and historic buildings are free to visit but only for a few hours at a time, so…

Visiting the imperial mausoleums of Hué
Visiting the imperial mausoleums of Hué

The broad, peaceful outer courtyard sweeps you past an honorary guard of immaculate stone mandarins towards the first of a series of elegantly roofed gateways, through whose triple doorways you get a perfectly framed view of Emperor Minh Mang’s mausoleum complex. Archways look wistful in peeling ochre paint; slatted lacquer-red shutters offer tantalizing angles on…

Sauntering through the ruins of Ani, Turkey
Sauntering through the ruins of Ani, Turkey

The ruins of Ani are a traveller’s dream – picture-perfect scenery, whacking great dollops of history, and almost nobody around to see it. While Turkey as a whole has been enjoying ever more popularity as a tourist destination, the number heading to its eastern reaches remains thrillingly low, lending an air of mystery to its…

The hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines
The hanging coffins of Sagada, Philippines

Members of the Igorot tribe of Mountain Province in northern Philippines have long practised the tradition of burying their dead in hanging coffins, nailed to the sides of cliff faces high above the ground. Comfortably predating the arrival of the Spanish, the procedure can probably be traced back more than two millennia. To this day,…

17 amazing pictures of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru
17 amazing pictures of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru

Stretching from the warm tropical shores of the Caribbean to the wild and windswept archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, South America has a dizzying treasure trove of landscapes that have long seduced independent travellers seeking an unforgettable experience. Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts has been captivated by the continent since he discovered photography during his student years; here is a selection of…

Things not to miss in Jordan
Things not to miss in Jordan

Despite its natural beauty and vast array of historical sites, Jordan welcomes only a fraction of the visitors to the Middle East. When many think of Jordan, they picture camels and deserts – which admittedly make up 85 percent of its land mass – but this is also a country of mountains, beaches, castles and churches, with a welcoming…

Visit the house of the spirits, South Africa
Visit the house of the spirits, South Africa

It’s art, myth and archeology, it’s visually stunning and you can reach back through the millennia and immerse yourself in its marks and contours. South Africa’s rock art represents one of the world’s oldest and most continuous artistic and religious traditions. Found on rock faces all over the country, these ancient paintings are a window into a historic culture…

Visiting the Bribrí, Costa Rica
Visiting the Bribrí, Costa Rica

Indigenous communities in Costa Rica are relatively unknown and often overlooked, so visiting them makes for a truly fascinating and authentic experience. In the remote Bribrí village of Yorkín, men and women are equal and sustain themselves through farming, fishing and hunting. Rough Guides writer, Anna Kaminski, met the woman behind the collective. Our motorised…

Heart of stone: losing yourself in deepest Iberia
Heart of stone: losing yourself in deepest Iberia

The Beira Baixa is a land of burning plains and granite visions, isolated in one of the most remote corners of Western Europe, where the Spanish border blurs under a broiling sun. Here, if you search hard enough, you’ll find at least two of the most startling medieval villages in Europe: Monsanto – Mon Sanctus…

A first-timer’s guide to Chile
A first-timer’s guide to Chile

Stretching north to south for 4270km and only 64km wide at its narrowest point, this land of ice and fire, periodically shaken by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, is one of the most geographically diverse on earth. Most travellers fly into the capital of Santiago, roughly in the middle of the country, and head either towards…

Exploring Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Exploring Cockatoo Island, Sydney

Sitting in the middle of Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island is a World Heritage listed location with a wealth of history to uncover. In search of some truths about the island’s dark past as the Australian answer to Alcatraz, Sara Chare follows the Cockatoo Island Convict Trail. Australia itself was once considered to be one big…

Travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan
Travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan

While the Chinese stretch of the Silk Road is world famous, the central Asian section is far less travelled but has no less to see. Kiki Deere describes travelling the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, from post-Soviet Tashkent, through the beautiful blue-tiled city of Samarkand, to unspoilt Bukhara. I peered out of the window of our…

A hallucinogenic ayahuasca experience in Peru
A hallucinogenic ayahuasca experience in Peru

Embarking on a very personal and spiritual journey, Rough Guides writer Anna Kaminski shares her ayahuasca experience, after ingesting the hallucinogenic vines of the Amazon Basin. The ancient Volkswagen Beetle climbs the hairpin bends high into the mountains, the lights of Cusco spread out in the valley beneath us.  On a particularly steep bend, it gives…

The Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
The Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco

On the drive up through the Imlil Valley into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, you have a sense that you’re going somewhere special. The road passes rose-coloured adobe villages and fields terraced with ancient irrigation channels that nourish apple, cherry and walnut orchards. Mules trot along the road carrying children, women return from the…

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