Features // Tradition

Champagne tasting in Epernay, France
Champagne tasting in Epernay, France

Champagne is an exclusive drink, in all senses of the word, what with its upmarket associations and the fact that it can be made only from the grapes grown in the Champagne region of northern France. The centre of champagne production is Épernay, a town that’s made much of its association with the fizzy stuff, and where all…

Classical drama at Epidavros theatre, Greece
Classical drama at Epidavros theatre, Greece

There’s no better place to experience classical drama than the ancient theatre at Epidavros, just outside the pretty harbour town of Nafplio in the Greek Peloponnese. Dating back to the fourth century BC, it seats 14,000 people and is known above all for its extraordinary acoustics – as guides regularly demonstrate, you can hear a…

Calling in the heavies at the Highland Games
Calling in the heavies at the Highland Games

Throughout Scotland, not just in the Highlands, summer signals the onset of the Highland Games, from the smallest village get-togethers to the Giant Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon, which draws a crowd of 10,000. Urbanites might blanch at the idea of al fresco Scottish country dancing, but with dog trials, tractors, fudge stalls and more cute animals than you…

Clearing your calendar for bacalhau, Portugal
Clearing your calendar for bacalhau, Portugal

On Lisbon’s Rua do Arsenal, whole window displays are lined with what looks like crinkly grey cardboard. The smell is far from alluring, but from these humble slabs of cod the Portuguese are able to conjure up an alleged 365 different recipes for bacalhau, one for each day of the year. Reassuringly, none of this mummified fish dates back…

On the road again – travel thoughts from Simon Reeve
On the road again – travel thoughts from Simon Reeve

Bestselling author, TV presenter and insatiable traveller, Simon Reeve has visited more than 110 countries in his time. Drawn to far-flung, mysterious and often troubled places, he is an expert at chronicling the lives of the people he encounters along the way. He is best known for the BBC series Tropic of Capricorn, Tropic of…

Ten great places to celebrate Independence Day
Ten great places to celebrate Independence Day

America goes all out for 4th of July celebrations. Sure, people are remembering that historic declaration on the fourth of July, 1776, but they’re also ready to enjoy a three-day weekend right in the middle of the summer. That usually means barbecues, parades, free concerts and fireworks. Whether you celebrate in a big city or…

Bollywood glamour at the Mumbai Metro, India
Bollywood glamour at the Mumbai Metro, India

If you’ve never seen a Bollywood movie before, think John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease, then pump up the colour saturation, quadruple the number of dancing extras, switch the soundtrack to an A.R. Rahman masala mix and imagine Indo-Western hybrid outfits that grow more extravagant with every change of camera angle. Like their classic…

Find the USA’s best christmas lights display
Find the USA’s best christmas lights display

Whether it’s the chilly mountains of Pennsylvania or the warm desert of Palm Springs, Americans get in the holiday spirit with lights, lights and more lights – Rudolph’s nose is just the beginning. Here’s where to sample the wide array of festive installations this December. 37th Street, Austin, Texas From praying mantises to your classic…

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…

Watching sumo wrestling in Japan
Watching sumo wrestling in Japan

People tend to laugh when I tell them that sumo wrestling is my favourite spectator sport. In its Japanese homeland it’s regarded as somewhat old-fashioned, with younger folk preferring to watch mixed martial arts. Abroad, the perception can be even worse; the generic assumption holds that it’s little more than fat blokes in nappies slapping…

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…

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.…

Dancing with the Saramacca in Suriname
Dancing with the Saramacca in Suriname

Once a Dutch colony, Suriname sits on the northeast coast of South America and has a population of around a mere 550,000 people. Venturing deep into the jungle-clad interior, Rough Guides writer Anna Kaminski went to explore the ancestral territory of the Saramacca, descendants of seventeenth-century West African slaves.  Our little Cessna plane rumbles over the jungle; from above, southern Suriname is a dense carpet of greenery,…

Indian visas, Bitcoin, cheaper roaming – this week’s travel news
Indian visas, Bitcoin, cheaper roaming – this week’s travel news

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel news topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. Indian visas could get easier India could be about to its expand its visa on arrival scheme to visitors from around 40 additional countries, including the UK. As it stands, tourists from less…

Passport to write: travel writing competition
Passport to write: travel writing competition

** This competition is now closed ** Do you want to become a travel writer? Have you always dreamed about getting paid to travel the world? We’re on the lookout for talented new authors for our online features section, and have teamed up with Journeys are made @ gapyear.com to give someone the chance to write for…

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…

Brazilian football: more than just a game
Brazilian football: more than just a game

Joyous fans, unmistakeable yellow shirts, jogo bonito (“beautiful game”) – Brazilian football evokes many images, but the country’s relationship with the sport is far more complex than the clichés suggest, say the authors of new book Brazil Inside Out. Here’s a quick history. “The English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it” In Brazil, that old saying could…

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…

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.…

Ten things to do in Manchester for free
Ten things to do in Manchester for free

The IRA’s 1996 bomb in Manchester city centre was one of the city’s darkest days. Extensive damage was done, but ultimately it served only to unleash a flurry of investment that carries on to this day. This means, of course, that there are myriad ways to spend your pennies here these days. Yet deep down,…

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January each year. In Lalibela, one of the holiest sites in Ethiopia, tens of thousands of pilgrims gather for mass in the town’s 12 rock-hewn churches. All through the night there’s chanting, singing, swaying and praying…

21 striking photos of the world’s largest tribal gathering
21 striking photos of the world’s largest tribal gathering

Every September, thousands of people from over a hundred tribes come together in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, to celebrate their unique culture. In this traditional festival, called a sing-sing – the biggest of its kind in the world – there’s a mêlée of dancing, singing and a rainbow of colourful outfits on show. Photographer Fabien Astre visited the festival last…

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…

11 things every gaijin learns in Japan
11 things every gaijin learns in Japan

Japan is one of those countries you can’t really prepare for – the famously impenetrable etiquette, complex traditions and bitingly modern pop culture combine to make a place which could wrongfoot the most experienced traveller. Here are just a few of the things which any gaijin (foreigner) can expect to find out on their first…

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