Features // Leisure

The great British seaside: how Margate got cool
The great British seaside: how Margate got cool

Not all that long ago Margate was a forlorn seaside town rejected by even the bucket-and-spade brigade. In a sad story echoed across England, the already struggling high street was devastated by the opening of an out-of-town shopping centre; pubs and restaurants were closing, and the future of this once thriving seaside resort looked grim.…

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

Barcelona – Spain’s second city – sets the template for urban style, hip design and sheer nonstop energy. Where others tinker at the edges, time and again Barcelona has reinvented itself. Visit for the first time or the fiftieth, Barcelona never fails to surprise. The city’s popularity means finding a hotel vacancy at any time…

9 essential tips for backpacking Thailand
9 essential tips for backpacking Thailand

Backpacking Thailand can mean staying in fun-packed hostels and idyllic beach bungalows, eating noodles so tasty and so cheap you’ll swear off all other food groups and climbing aboard everything from an overnight train to a lolloping elephant. But it also means following a well-worn route – one that has sprouted an entire industry to…

Hot tub happiness: the dos and don’ts of Icelandic spas
Hot tub happiness: the dos and don’ts of Icelandic spas

Going for a spa in Iceland can feel wonderfully alien. Against a backdrop of barren moonscapes and denuded hills, the waters are so preternaturally blue, so exaggerated and preposterously warm, that a simple dip can feel borderline indecent. Venture from the capital Reykjavik as far as Reyðarfjörður in the extreme east and you’ll also find…

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

Almost fifty years since John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted world peace from room 702 of the Hilton, Amsterdam’s hotels are more worthy of the spotlight than ever. Even for seasoned travellers, it’s fair to say that the city’s accommodation options are among the most exciting in Europe. Take your pick from handsomely converted old…

13 tips for backpacking India
13 tips for backpacking India

Whether you’re hurtling along in a rickshaw, eating fantastic curries, kicking back on the backwaters or hiking in the mountains, backpacking India will always be an adventure. You’ll need your wits about you, and preparation is key – here are our top tips to making your journey as smooth as possible. 1. Eat where the locals eat Restaurant…

10 big first-time travel questions answered
10 big first-time travel questions answered

The world is flat. Or so the thinking went, until someone actually went off to circumnavigate it. You may not make such a colossal discovery during your own global journey, but what awaits you “out there” is something only you can find: your very own adventure. Who knows, you may just find a best friend,…

A dog surfing competition took place in Australia this week
A dog surfing competition took place in Australia this week

Plato said every dog has the soul of a philosopher. While that statement is disputable, the wave-riding canines at the Noosa Festival of Surfing are proof that some dogs, at least, have the soul of a surfer. Thousands gathered at Queensland Australia’s Noosa Beach this week to watch The Dog Spectacular, the world’s only surfing event where…

20 things to do on your first round-the-world trip
20 things to do on your first round-the-world trip

Planning your first trip around the world can be daunting. There’s an awful lot to discover out there, from retina-burning white beaches tapering off into gin-clear waters to mountain ranges hiding echo-bending canyons and fascinating wildlife. To celebrate publication of the new edition of the Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World, packed with tips and…

30 things to do on your first trip to Europe
30 things to do on your first trip to Europe

Europe offers more architecture, wine, music, fashion, theatre and gastronomy per square kilometre than any other continent. It boasts over seven hundred million people, in excess of 450 World Heritage Sites and more renowned paintings than you can point your camera at. Which means heading off the main routes will still land you waist-deep in…

Delving into the Daiquiri: Havana’s favourite drink
Delving into the Daiquiri: Havana’s favourite drink

Cuba’s cocktails chart the country’s ambivalent relationship with its neighbour to the north, America. This is most obviously demonstrated by the Cuba Libre – a blend of Cuban rum and Coca-Cola with lime – but it’s the Daiquiri that most associates with the capital, Havana. In the year when American visitors are finally allowed to…

Video: top 5 things to do in Kerala
Video: top 5 things to do in Kerala

We sent Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills to the southernmost tip of the Indian Subcontinent to research Kerala for the upcoming Rough Guide to India. From tea estates in lush green hills to sultry palm-fringed backwaters, plus a host of deserted beaches, she dove beneath the surface and immersed herself in the region’s natural wonders, lavish festivals and heavenly South Indian…

The top gifts for travellers
The top gifts for travellers

Know someone who loves to travel? Perhaps you’re after something special for the loved one in your life. Whether it’s a birthday, the festive season or you’re just feeling generous, here’s our pick of the top gifts for travellers. GoPro HERO4 Silver GoPros are quickly becoming an essential in many traveller’s backpacks and this model is no different.…

Our expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon
Our expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Lisbon

Heading to the Portuguese capital this year? Whether you want rich history or shops galore, these are the best areas to stay in Lisbon according to our expert. Best for the historic centre: Baixa and Chiado Lisbon’s Baixa, or ‘downtown’, is an appealing oblong of handsome buildings flanked by the squares of Rossio, Figueira and the…

Discover your silly side: 11 of the world’s best slides
Discover your silly side: 11 of the world’s best slides

Travelling is time we take to relax, to let go and to have fun. Sometimes, this means finding your inner child and just being a bit silly – and there’s no better way to do that than on some of the world’s best slides. If you’re in need of some time out and want to find…

Why now’s the time to visit Nottingham, England
Why now’s the time to visit Nottingham, England

It may not feature on top of everyone’s British city bucket list, but it’s time to see this East Midlands city in a new light. Nottingham boasts a slew of new attractions for 2016, a recently expanded tram network and a burgeoning independent arts scene. Plus, in the year when the stalwart British fashion designer…

Emilia-Romagna: Tuscany without the crowds
Emilia-Romagna: Tuscany without the crowds

Blame Frances Mayes. Ever since she penned Under the Tuscan Sun twenty years ago the region has seen an unstoppable influx of English and American tourists descend on the area, which has left neighbouring regions, with just as much to offer, decidedly in the shade. Emilia-Romagna, home to an officially designated ‘Food Valley’, the majority…

The best theme parks in America
The best theme parks in America

The USA is practically bursting with amusement parks, from the sprawling and city-sized to the off-beat and unexpectedly endearing. Cotton candy and corn dogs, kiddie rides and coasters – here are the best theme parks in America. Six Flags Magic Mountain, California Magic Mountain boasts the world record for most roller coasters in a single amusement park, clocking…

Finding love in the UK’s least romantic city: 7 reasons to visit Hull
Finding love in the UK’s least romantic city: 7 reasons to visit Hull

This year we listed Hull as one of the top ten cities to visit in 2016 – an accolade that had many people surprised. Here, Lottie Gross explains why it made the list. It’s safe to say, most people’s preconceptions of Hull aren’t brilliant. In the past it has been named Britain’s worst city and the least…

Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide
Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide

Few regions of the world have been as idealized and mythologized as California – and yet it seldom fails to live up to the hype. The glamour, surf beaches and near-endless sun of the Southern California coast are rightly celebrated, with Los Angeles, the second-most populous city in the US (after New York), at their…

Croatia: 10 tips for first-time travellers
Croatia: 10 tips for first-time travellers

Croatia is one of Europe’s rising tourist stars. This remarkable Adriatic country of 1244 islands, bear and wild boar inhabited forests and world-class vineyards is so much more than just a beach destination. To make sure you hit the ground running in this complex and diverse nation, follow our top ten Croatia travel tips. 1.…

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?
Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie over a thousand kilometres apart. Southern Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly Saigon, was the US base during the Vietnam War and since the country’s unification has transformed into a thoroughly modern, thriving metropolis. The somewhat less modern…

15 things to do on the Las Vegas Strip
15 things to do on the Las Vegas Strip

A dazzling oasis where forty million people a year let their hair down, Las Vegas has made a fine art of indulging its visitors’ every appetite. From its ever-changing architecture to cascading chocolate fountains, adrenaline-pumping zip lines and jaw-dropping stage shows, everything is built to thrill. The Strip is where the real action is, a…

10 new tourist attractions to visit in 2016
10 new tourist attractions to visit in 2016

Want to travel somewhere new this year? There’s plenty to discover in 2016. Take a look at these new attractions opening around the globe for inspiration for your next trip. 1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hollywood, USA On April 7 2016, Universal Studios Hollywood will mark the much-anticipated opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.…

Andhra Pradesh: India’s unknown backwaters destination
Andhra Pradesh: India’s unknown backwaters destination

In search of somewhere a little more adventurous and lot less travelled than the famous backwaters of Kerala? Head to the Godavari Delta on the eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh, where you’ll find a rich area for exploration says Nick Edwards, co-author of The Rough Guide to India. The mighty Godavari, second only in length to the Ganges,…

10 great reasons to visit Northern Ireland
10 great reasons to visit Northern Ireland

It has often had to play second fiddle to its southern neighbour, but Northern Ireland offers a diversity of attractions that frequently confounds first-time visitors. Rejuvenated and irrepressible, Belfast now rivals any of the UK’s capital cities, but in addition, the country manifests superb natural heritage – including one of the world’s great coastal road…

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand
Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim beneath cascading waterfalls. Running through Thailand’s rainforests and temples and looping around its islands and beaches is the so-called “banana pancake trail”, a well-worn, tried and tested backpacker route that has…

Travel like Harry Potter: to Scotland by train
Travel like Harry Potter: to Scotland by train

Even in a country as scenic as Scotland, you might not expect to combine travelling by train with classic views of the Scottish Highlands; the tracks are down in the glens, after all, tracing the lower contours of the steep-sided scenery. But on the West Highland line, there’s a lot to take in. The scenery along this route is both epic…

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

A country in the throes of massive change, Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009. With more tourists…

Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop
Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop

Bobby’s mullet blows in the wind as he pilots his dinky motorcycle down Copenhagen‘s cobbled backstreets. Wobbling past kebab shops and contemporary design stores on his way to work, he looks like a living relic from a bygone era: the 1980s. A turtleneck peeks out from beneath his blue denim jacket, which perfectly matches the…

On location: follow in the footsteps of Macbeth in Skye, Scotland
On location: follow in the footsteps of Macbeth in Skye, Scotland

See a picture of Skye, suspect computer enhancement. That’s just how it works until you get there. Then you cross the bridge, and slowly it dawns on you – Skye really does look like another world. The grass really is that emerald green (that’ll be the rain), the mountains really are that sheer, the water…

9 of the best road trips in Europe
9 of the best road trips in Europe

From the sunny shores of Portugal to the darkest dungeons of Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, the following itineraries can be easily combined, shortened, or altered to suit your wayfaring tastes. If you’ve got wheels, wanderlust and a spot of time, here’s some adventure fuel. Start your engines: these are the best road trips in Europe.…

9 special places to stay in Andalucía
9 special places to stay in Andalucía

The southernmost territory of Spain, Andalucía is the part of the Iberian peninsula that is most quintessentially Spanish. The popular image of Spain as a land of flamenco, sherry and ruined castles derives from this spectacularly beautiful region. Andalucía’s manageable size also makes it easy to take in something of each of its elements – inland cities,…

12 hiking tips you need before setting off
12 hiking tips you need before setting off

Walking: just putting one foot in front of the other, right? How hard can that be? Yes, a walking trip is something that anyone can do, but it is also something that is widely misunderstood. Hiking boots that don’t fit, a water bottle that isn’t big enough, a phone battery that never lasts – these…

15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany
15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany

Tuscany harbours the classic landscapes of Italy, familiar from a thousand Renaissance paintings, with its backdrop of medieval hill-towns, rows of cypresses, vineyards and olive groves, and artfully sited villas and farmhouses. It’s a stereotype that has long held an irresistible attraction. Nowadays Tuscany is among Italy’s wealthiest regions, but it remains predominantly rural, with great tracts of land still…

8 things you didn’t know you could do in the UK
8 things you didn’t know you could do in the UK

So you’ve gawked at the guards of Buckingham Palace, hiked up Snowdon and hit the beach – what next? From lethal motorcycle races to mountain towns that look like something out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, here are 8 unconventional things to do in the UK. 1. Horse about at Scotland’s Common Ridings The Common Ridings of the Scottish border towns of Hawick, Selkirk,…

Behind the scenes of the best restaurants in Lima
Behind the scenes of the best restaurants in Lima

Co-author of The Rough Guide to Peru and Lima resident Greg de Villiers gives us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the city’s best restaurants.  Beto is a big man, whose big man hands nearly swallow the spoon he’s using to ladle fish out of a beat-up blue cooler. He is famous in his area, his restaurant an…

The best beaches in Hawaii
The best beaches in Hawaii

Renowned the world over for their palm-fringed beaches and spectacular scenery, the ravishing islands of Hawaii poke up from the Pacific more than two thousand miles
 off the west coast of America. There’s nowhere better to get a fix of sun, sea and surf. To help you to get the best out of your trip,…

Cities with sand: the world’s best urban beaches
Cities with sand: the world’s best urban beaches

Can’t decide between a city or beach break? Some of the world’s most magnificent metropolises have been blessed with pristine stretches of sand, so you can effortlessly combine architectural riches, cutting-edge cuisine and vibrant nightlife with a spot of seaside relaxation. So slap on the sun block and the shades, here’s our pick of the…

This summer you can hire a sandcastle butler
This summer you can hire a sandcastle butler

You’ve dug a moat, successfully sculpted a mound higher than your knees and managed to drizzle a viscous mixture of sand and salt water over the château spires (for that drippy je ne sais quoi) – then some rogue child bulldozes your beach creation back to oblivion. Well, it was never as good as it…

It’s time to make a beeline for Berkeley
It’s time to make a beeline for Berkeley

Ever since the 1960s Berkeley has been synonymous with left wing politics and student protests. And while the city has stayed true to its progressive credo, it offers numerous other reasons for visitors to the Bay Area to make sure they don’t only get trapped in the albeit sublime honeypot of San Francisco. Former US…

A guide to Sweden’s unforgettable midsummer celebrations
A guide to Sweden’s unforgettable midsummer celebrations

Nobody does midsummer like the Swedes. They down tools and head for their summer houses on the coast for a family gathering lubricated by beer, herring and shots of the local firewater. Whether you’re a builder or a banker, it’s the one day of the year that everyone casts aside their daily routine and goes…

Get your claws out: 14 places to go for the best lobster in Maine
Get your claws out: 14 places to go for the best lobster in Maine

While the American lobster is found all along the east coast of North America, from Newfoundland to North Carolina, it is most commonly associated with Maine, where the crustacean is abundant and devoured in a number of dishes and numerous restaurants. Maine’s lobster industry contributes more than $1 billion to the state’s economy – 2014…

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…

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…

How to see Paris on a budget
How to see Paris on a budget

From the new Pocket Rough Guide, we’ve selected some of our favourite tips for seeing Paris on a budget. A trip to Paris, famous as the most romantic of destinations, is one of those lifetime musts. Long the beating heart of European civilization, it remains one of the world’s most refined yet passionate cities. Yet…

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…

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