Features // Off the beaten track

Yerevan: a city swaggering into a new era
Yerevan: a city swaggering into a new era

The break-up of the Soviet Union gave the world an impressive array of new capitals. Some have since become familiar fodder on travel itineraries – think Tallinn’s Baltic charm, Kiev’s bulbous cathedrals and Riga’s drunken Brits. Others, for better or worse, remain something of a mystery. Step forward Yerevan, capital of Armenia, a city swaggering into…

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.…

12 things you didn’t know you could do in Europe
12 things you didn’t know you could do in Europe

Some sights are touristy for a good reason. They’re the ones you go to Europe to check off: a wobbly gondola on the canals of Venice, or a mandatory Eiffel Tower selfie. Europe has countless sights all worth a visit in their own right, but there’s so much more to the continent than cathedrals and beaches –…

8 of the weirdest things you’ll see in Vietnam
8 of the weirdest things you’ll see in Vietnam

Governed by Chinese dynasties for over a thousand years, ruled by the French for a century and occupied by American troops for over a decade, Vietnam has – remarkably – managed to uphold a vast array of cultural practices. To the rest of the world, some of these traditional customs seem pretty strange, but they’re still prevalent throughout this…

Svaneti: the hidden heart of the Caucasus
Svaneti: the hidden heart of the Caucasus

The isolated Svaneti region of northern Georgia is as beautiful as it is remote. True to the traditions of the Caucasus, its inhabitants have always been independent-minded, and for centuries frustrated outside attempts at control with the help of the sturdy defensive towers that still punctuate its hillsides. Yet today Svaneti is a place with…

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…

Unexplored Mexico: Chiapas and Tabasco
Unexplored Mexico: Chiapas and Tabasco

For many years Chiapas and Tabasco were famous for revolutionaries, chilli sauce and little else. But these neighbouring Mexican states are increasingly appearing on tourist itineraries, drawing in travellers with their magnificent ruins, colonial cities, unique indigenous cultures and lip-tingling cuisine. Shafik Meghji heads off the beaten track. Chiapas Stretched along the Guatemalan border in…

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 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…

Myanmar as you’ve never seen it before
Myanmar as you’ve never seen it before

Tourism in Myanmar is still in its infancy, yet this fascinating nation enthralls like no other in Southeast Asia. There’s no wonder why. With its glittering stupas, placid rivers, temple-studded plains and – above all – warm, welcoming people, this is a country that it’s hard to forget in a hurry. We’ve just published our first ever guide to Myanmar,…

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…

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…

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 –…

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…

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…

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…

Derby: the unsung hero of the Midlands
Derby: the unsung hero of the Midlands

Lottie Gross puts her preconceptions aside and discovers why Derby might be one of the UK’s most misjudged cities. When I told my friends I was planning a trip to Derby I got one of two reactions: mocking laughter, or looks of utter confusion. I have to admit, it’s never even been a consideration on…

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…

A titillating tour of the world’s finest sex museums
A titillating tour of the world’s finest sex museums

Sex museums are nothing new. Dozens were erected across Europe during the Swinging Sixties when the sexual revolution was in full swing. These days the orgy of sex museums has slowed to a mere mouthful, though they have been stimulated by a new breed of ‘erotic’ museum that aims to steer more towards art than…

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…

11 pictures of Morocco at its most magical
11 pictures of Morocco at its most magical

Our roaming author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from journeying across Iran and Egypt to researching for Rough Guides in Indonesia and India. Here he shares some of his favourite images of Morocco, a country with “plenty of dreamy spots to wander around with a camera.” “On my first visit to Morocco it…

Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do
Quirky Tokyo: the top 10 things to do

With its sushi and sumo, pop culture and age-old tradition, serene gardens and traffic hell, Tokyo bombards the senses like no other city. Ordered yet bewildering, Japan’s pulsating capital will lead you a merry dance – but being lost has never been so much fun. The planet’s largest metropolis is Asia at its weirdest, straightest,…

9 famous explorers whose travels put yours to shame
9 famous explorers whose travels put yours to shame

You may be well-travelled, but can you call yourself an explorer? From circumnavigating the world along its polar axis to trekking across the Australian outback, these famous explorers really know how to make the most of their time on earth. They’re brave, bold and fearless – the perfect inspiration for the trip of a lifetime.…

Kashmir: paradise with imperfections
Kashmir: paradise with imperfections

After an unforgettable first trip to Kashmir, India, in 1990, Nick Edwards returned to research the area for recent editions of the Rough Guide to India and found some things unchanged, while others quite different. Ever since being mesmerised by the symphonic juggernaut of Led Zeppelin’s epic track in the mid-seventies, the name Kashmir held a…

Four Seasons in Slovenia
Four Seasons in Slovenia

Sandwiched between Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Austria, Slovenia might be small but it’s a surprisingly diverse country. Venture just an hour or so from the compact capital, Ljubljana, and you’ll find nearly 50 kilometres of sunny Adriatic coastline, tranquil wine regions and the stunning Lake Bled, backed by the soaring Julian Alps. Travel a little further and you’ll hit the dramatic Logarska Dolina,…

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…

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…

Camel trekking into the depths of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia
Camel trekking into the depths of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Following in the footsteps of the late explorer and travel writer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, Rough Guides writer Anthon Jackson takes to the back of a camel across the Danakil Depression, in pursuit of Lake Abhe Bad on the Ethiopia-Djibouti border.  Just after dawn on our fourth day in the dusty frontier town of Asaita, Go’obo,…

The untouched coast of southern Myanmar (Burma)
The untouched coast of southern Myanmar (Burma)

While researching the new Rough Guide to Myanmar (Burma), Jo James discovered the Tanintharyi Division – a blissful corner of the country that has only recently opened up to travellers. As we coasted downhill towards the village I tried, briefly and unsuccessfully, to suppress a grin. The road ahead curved along a soft sweep of sand.…

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,…

Up and coming: Savamala, Belgrade
Up and coming: Savamala, Belgrade

On a walking tour through the city, travel writer Mary Novakovich discovers regeneration in one of Belgrade‘s oldest neighbourhoods, Savamala. From buzzing clubs to a new four-star hotel, Savamala is picking itself up after years of leaving its buildings to decay.  Heavy lorries rumble noisily past, adding to the dust rising from the road works…

Sampling craft beers in the Holy Land
Sampling craft beers in the Holy Land

A sense of revolution is playing a central part in an unlikely craft beer scene currently thriving in the heart of the Middle East. Fearless beer-loving Yorkshireman Nick Appleyard set off in search of the best pint he could find on either side of Israel’s security barrier. It’s fair to say the Holy Land hasn’t…

Best places to visit in July
Best places to visit in July

July doesn’t have to mean fighting for space on packed European beaches, dodging flocks of school children and gritting your teeth at peak prices. Winter in the southern hemisphere promises cheap flights and fantastic skiing, while elsewhere July is packed with unusual festivals, wild celebrations and some of nature’s most spectacular events, giving you a…

Discovering musical stars in rural Rajasthan
Discovering musical stars in rural Rajasthan

The state of Rajasthan – a land route for trade and culture between the Arab world and Asia – could obsess a musicologist for an entire lifetime. With the right guidance, at every five paces you can meet singing genealogists and poetic percussionists, flute-playing farmers and dancing snake priests, living alongside child stars and living…

Browsing English veg in the Asian hills, Sri Lanka
Browsing English veg in the Asian hills, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has many unexpected sights, but few are as surreal as early morning in Haputale. As dawn breaks, the mists that blanket the town for much of the year slowly dissipate, revealing the huddled shapes of dark-skinned Tamils, insulated against the cold in woolly hats and padded jackets, hawking great bundles of English vegetables…

Braving Torres del Paine national park, Chile
Braving Torres del Paine national park, Chile

You have to keep your head down. Despite the spray-laden wind, it’s tempting to lift it above the rim of the boat and look ahead, so you can see the foam-capped waves racing past as the Zodiac inflatable roars upstream. Soon, in the distance, a towering peak of rock rises up. As you get closer…

Hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales
Hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path fringes Britain’s only coastal national park, which has resisted the onslaught of the twenty-first century in all but a few hotspots such as Tenby and St David’s (and even these remain remarkably lovely). Get out and stride along part of the 186-mile trail and you’ll soon appreciate this evocative and spectacular edge of Wales. Long…

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