Features // National parks & reserves

You can visit all US national parks for free next week
You can visit all US national parks for free next week

To celebrate of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, visitors will be offered free entry to national parks across the USA next week. From the 16th to the 24 April, admission fees will be waived in all 59 parks, with a range of special activities also planned around National Junior Ranger Day on…

The 7 most beautiful places in Southeast Asia – chosen by you
The 7 most beautiful places in Southeast Asia – chosen by you

It’s not just appearance that makes up the beauty of a place. Often, travellers will cite the people as the most beautiful thing about a country or culture. In Southeast Asia, there’s no doubt there is beauty in every form – and now our readers have voted to decide which countries are the most beautiful. Here…

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…

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…

Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron
Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron

Just a stone’s throw from some of Africa’s most celebrated safari destinations, the astonishing Lake Natron remains irresistibly isolated and under-explored. But with so much to offer and with the world outside drawing ever nearer, Christopher Clark is left wondering what the future holds for this hidden highlight. The air seems hotter and drier with…

Biking the Camino de Santiago: cycling for the soul
Biking the Camino de Santiago: cycling for the soul

Traditionally, pilgrimage meant hoofing it, wayfaring the hard way. Yet most Catholic authorities will tell you there’s nothing particularly sinful about making it easier on yourself. You could roughly trace Spain’s Camino de Santiago, or Way of St James, by car … but then taking full advantage of the fringe benefits – discounted accommodation and gorgeous red wine – would…

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.…

Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations
Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations

The Northern Cape, home to diamond mining capital Kimberley and wilderness of the Kalahari Desert, remains South Africa’s least visited province. But it just doesn’t make sense, according to writer Meera Dattani. Here she tells us why it’s one of South Africa’s top destinations. So why should I go? If empty roads flanked by saltpans, sand dunes,…

6 reasons why Montana is the star of America’s west
6 reasons why Montana is the star of America’s west

America’s fourth largest state, Montana is bigger than Germany or Japan. Despite the presence of some of the nation’s fastest highways, the drive from one side to the other takes around twelve hours. Fortunately, many of the state’s most treasured destinations and experiences are clustered in the rugged western portion, making it less daunting for the…

Trekking in Thailand: the best routes
Trekking in Thailand: the best routes

Thailand is ripe for trekking. From its dripping, pristine rainforests to its towering, mist-enveloped mountains, there is a landscape that just begs you to get out on two feet and explore. But the real joy of trekking in Thailand here is nothing to do with the scenery, it’s the people that make every step count, from…

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…

7 of the best places to go hiking in Japan
7 of the best places to go hiking in Japan

Few countries in Asia boasts such dramatic natural diversity and such a range of hiking opportunities as Japan. Mountains make up two thirds of the country, with beaches fringing the coast and the balmy southern islands. There are active volcanoes to tackle, epic long-distance pilgrimage routes once smoothed by the feet of emperors, and steep…

6 incredible journeys in South America
6 incredible journeys in South America

South America is blessed with some of the most astonishing landscapes on earth. This dynamic continent has enthralled travellers for centuries with its array of natural wonders, ancient ruins and modern metropolises. It holds some of the world’s most impressive beaches, most fascinating cultures and most thrilling adventure activities. But one of the greatest joys…

Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region
Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region

You can’t expect to fit everything Southeast Asia has to offer into one trip – or two or three or four, to be fair – and we don’t suggest you try. So, to help you start planning, we’ve put together 8 ideas for your Southeast Asia itinerary from The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget. For those taking a big, extended…

Austria’s KäseStrasse: the hike that’s a cheese-lover’s dream
Austria’s KäseStrasse: the hike that’s a cheese-lover’s dream

Despite the name, Bregenzerwald’s KäseStrasse (Cheese Street) in Austria’s Vorarlberg region is not a marked route along a specific road. Instead it denotes an association of cheese-related industries – around 200 partners in all – that are united in cultivating, maintaining and promoting the highest standards of regional cheese production. Visitors can gain insights about cheese and other regional food production…

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…

8 things you didn’t know you could do in Ontario, Canada
8 things you didn’t know you could do in Ontario, Canada

There’s more to see in Canada’s most populated province than ice hockey, forests and freely flowing maple syrup – and some of it’s pretty weird. From the world’s largest Elvis Presley festival, to axe throwing ranges in Toronto, here are just a few things you didn’t know you could do in Ontario. 1. Drink Dead Elephant Ale…

The world’s most terrifying glass-floored bridge opens in China
The world’s most terrifying glass-floored bridge opens in China

The world’s longest glass-bottomed walkway opened in China‘s Hunan province last week, after the old wooden panels of the Haohan Qiao suspension bridge were replaced with transparent glass frames. Towering 180 meters over a scenic canyon in Shiniuzhai Geopark, the structure is billed as a walk for thrill-seekers and nature buffs alike. But is it safe? Though the…

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.…

Hedonism and history make Lisbon the perfect city break
Hedonism and history make Lisbon the perfect city break

It was not too long ago that Lisbon was often dismissed as the unfashionable capital of Portugal, the ‘Poor Man of Europe’. This was harsh on a city that spectacularly straddles the River Tejo with a flurry of old world architecture, rich African cultural influences and a notoriously wild nightlife scene. Today, savvy city breakers…

7 things you probably didn’t know about Senegal
7 things you probably didn’t know about Senegal

Say Senegal or mention West Africa and misinformed mutterings of ebola start to spread quicker than the virus itself. Sitting on the western shoulder of Africa, Senegal is frequently overlooked by travellers – but for little good reason. While the excellent birding and beaching in The Gambia – the country that slices Senegal’s coastline in two…

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…

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,…

This video takes you from Mexico to Canada on foot in 3 minutes
This video takes you from Mexico to Canada on foot in 3 minutes

The fabled Pacific Crest Trail guides adventuresome hikers from the borders of Mexico to Canada, blazing across the deserts, mountain ranges and dense forests that make up America’s breathtaking Western States (California, Oregon, and Washington). It usually takes five months for thru-hikers to complete, but you’re about to make the 4286km journey in less than three minutes.…

The best islands in the Great Lakes
The best islands in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes comprise the largest body of fresh water on the planet and more than 35,000 islands are found in the water system. Not all are inhabited and some aren’t much more than a single rock jutting out of the lake with a lighthouse on it – but the inhabited ones provide the perfect…

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…

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…

A guide to the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park
A guide to the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park

About two hours east of Los Angeles awaits a landscape so starkly foreign, it’s like landing on another planet. The 3000-square-kilometre Joshua Tree National Park sits at the meeting of two deserts, the Colorado to the east and the Mojave to the west, and those two ecosystems are home to a wide array of curious animals…

The eeriest ghost towns in the USA
The eeriest ghost towns in the USA

Emerging above the rolling tumbleweed of prairies or hidden below modern cities, hundreds of eerily desolate former towns are scattered across the United States. Many of the USA’s ghost towns were once thriving settlements: they grew quickly, but disappeared just as fast in the boom and bust Gold Rush years, while others have a more shadowy…

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…

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…

Europe’s best mountain biking: the Dolomites, Italy
Europe’s best mountain biking: the Dolomites, Italy

With a little courage, a lot of leg-power and some encouragement from an exuberant Italian guide, Greg Dickinson discovers some of Europe’s best mountain biking in the Dolomites, Italy.  “Do you suffer from vertigo?” Paolo is straight faced, but it’s hard to take him seriously in his patchwork yellow and pink sunhat. I tell him I’m alright…

20 stunning photos of New England fall foliage
20 stunning photos of New England fall foliage

Autumn (or Fall) in New England is a breathtaking and beautiful season: the billions of leaves change from green to a rainbow of browns, reds, oranges and yellows across the fields and forests of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. At this time of year the air is cool and crisp, making it…

Car-free in the South Downs National Park
Car-free in the South Downs National Park

Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills road tested a car-free weekend escape in the gently sloping chalk downlands and pretty patchwork fields of the South Downs National Park, just an hour south of London by train. Get up close and personal with nature It is possible for city folk to escape to the countryside without foregoing…

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…

Canyons, creeks and wildfires in Arizona’s national parks
Canyons, creeks and wildfires in Arizona’s national parks

Arizona is peppered with sensational landscapes – deserts lacerated with zig-zagging canyons, vast brightly coloured cliffs, boulder-filled creeks, and of course, the ultimate crack in the earth: the Grand Canyon. Rough Guides editor Helen Abramson takes on the national parks of this southwest American state. “I’ll take them!”, I cry enthusiastically to a heavily bejewelled,…

Exploring Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
Exploring Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

In preparation for the new Rough Guide to Ethiopia, the book’s editor, Edward Aves, travelled to the remote and little-visited Bale Mountains National Park.   “Another two hours? This is interminable!”, blurts out one of my fellow passengers, as frustration at the bus’s glacial progress along the single, winding dirt track begins to set in, sparking snorts…

Exploring Slovenia’s diverse coastline
Exploring Slovenia’s diverse coastline

The third part in our Slovenia In Four Seasons feature sees Senior Web Editor Tim Chester explore the country in August. Check out our trips from the winter and the spring too. Think of the northern Adriatic and you’d be forgiven for thinking of Italy – of Venice, Rimini, and Trieste – or Croatia, whose…

From mountains to markets in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
From mountains to markets in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second largest city, is a tropical gateway to one of the region’s main surfing areas, Kenting. But it’s also well worth a visit in its own right. Jamie Fullerton finds some of the top things to do in Kaohsiung. Taipei, the capital of Taiwan and most travellers’ gateway to the island that is…

Cycling around my new favourite city on earth
Cycling around my new favourite city on earth

Portland, Oregon, can be addressed in many ways. It’s a city of soubriquets, bearing nicknames bestowed by locals to reflect its charms: The City of Roses to those who love its natural abundance; The City of Bridges by those who can’t help but notice the freeway’s influence; Beervana by fans of its prolific brew culture.…

17 things you must see and do in Croatia
17 things you must see and do in Croatia

Planning a trip to Croatia and wondering which 17 things you shouldn’t miss? Always thought about Croatia for a holiday but never knew what it had to offer? Allow us to present our favourite things to see and do in the European gem.

The top ten best ever British hikes
The top ten best ever British hikes

Our green and boggy isle may be small, but one thing’s for certain: it’s home to some of the most magnificent landscapes in Europe, if not the world. Sure, our much lamented climate means you’ll likely get a soaking or three (four if you’re in Scotland), but with everything from coastal strolls to fearsome scrambles,…

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