Features // Site Editor

Masada: conquering Herod’s hilltop palace
Masada: conquering Herod’s hilltop palace

The steep cliffs rising out of the Judean Desert look like an unlikely place for a fortress, but there, 400m up, overlooking the Dead Sea, sits the legendary stronghold of Masada. Masada was first fortified by Herod the Great in the late first century BC, who was apparently so scared his people would revolt that he built this…

Checking out the Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv
Checking out the Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a city with chutzpah, a loud, gesticulating expression of urban Jewish culture. Revelling in a Mediterranean-style café culture, it has dozens of bars and clubs, all aimed squarely at the under-30s. It doesn’t seem likely to have much in the way of architectural interest – it was only founded in 1909 –…

Fighting off the cats in Israel & The Palestinian Territories
Fighting off the cats in Israel & The Palestinian Territories

The Middle East isn’t all desert, desert, desert. Take a break from sand and head for the water: stand on the walls of Acre and watch the sun sink into the Mediterranean. Acre is one of the most evocative Palestinian towns inside Israel. There are ancient walls, mosques, gardens and museums here, but this old…

Eight spectacular walks across the UK
Eight spectacular walks across the UK

Britain is home to an almost endless number of world-class rambling routes. We’ve narrowed down the choice to eight of our favourite spots for a brisk walk or a challenging hike, but do add your own favourite picks below. Epping Forest One of the last remaining vestiges of the ancient woodland that once blanketed England,…

Winning the prehistoric lottery, Ireland
Winning the prehistoric lottery, Ireland

Every year in Ireland, thousands of people do the Newgrange lottery. Entry is by application form, with the draw made in October by local schoolchildren. And the prize? The lucky winners are invited to a bleak, wintry field in the middle of County Meath on the longest night of the year, to huddle into a…

Losing yourself in Connemara, Ireland
Losing yourself in Connemara, Ireland

On the far western edge of Europe, the starkly beautiful region of Connemara is a great place to get lost. Cut off from the rest of Ireland by the 25-mile barrier of Lough Corrib, the lie of the land at first looks simple, with two statuesque mountain ranges, the Maam Turks and the Twelve Bens, bordered by the…

Great dates and temple ceremonies, Indonesia
Great dates and temple ceremonies, Indonesia

It’s mid-afternoon and you’re sitting in an outdoor café when suddenly the street is closed to traffic and a procession of villagers comes streaming by. Women with delicate frangipani blossoms woven into their hair balance lavish offerings of food, fruit and flowers on their heads and walk with grace and poise, while men march by…

Watching the hurling at Croke Park, Ireland
Watching the hurling at Croke Park, Ireland

The player leaps like a basketball star through a crowd of desperate opponents and flailing sticks. Barely visible to the naked eye, the arcing ball somehow lodges in his upstretched palm. Dropping to the ground, he shimmies his way out of trouble, the ball now delicately balanced on the flat end of his hurley, then…

Capoeira dancing up close, Brazil
Capoeira dancing up close, Brazil

There’s not meant to be any physical contact in this age-old, ritualistic melding of martial arts and breakdancing. Your instructor probably explained that, though unless you happen to speak Portuguese you probably didn’t understand (and if you did, would you trust it to be true?). But you’re ready to give it a whirl; who knows, you may even…

Dancing flamenco to the gypsy beats, Spain
Dancing flamenco to the gypsy beats, Spain

With Diego El Cigala cleaning up at the Grammys, Catalan gypsy-punks Ojos de Brujo scooping a BBC Radio 3 World Music Award and Enrique Morente jamming with Sonic Youth in Valencia, the socio-musico-cultural phenomenon that is Spanish flamenco has never been hotter. Like any improvisational art form (particularly jazz, with which it often shares a platform), it’s most effective…

Snapshot: Morocco, The Atlantic Coast
Snapshot: Morocco, The Atlantic Coast

Morocco’s Atlantic Coast is dominated by the country’s elegant, orderly administrative capital Rabat and the dynamic commercial capital Casablanca. If you keep heading south you’ll encounter some delightfully low-key coastal resorts, including El Jadida, Oualidia and Essaouira. Taken from the The Rough Guide Snapshot to Essaouira and the Atlantic Coast, these are the highlights of the Moroccan Atlantic…

Meditating in the Himalayas, Nepal
Meditating in the Himalayas, Nepal

People have looked to the mountains for spiritual consolation for millennia. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,” say the Psalms, “from whence cometh my help.” For Nepalis, the link is especially powerful. The Himalayas are where the Hindu gods go to meditate and replenish their tapas, or spiritual “heat”, and the Buddhist…

The 20 best islands in Japan
The 20 best islands in Japan

Japan is a hugely diverse country, especially when it comes to its thousands of islands. There are approximately 6800 to choose from, so you don’t have to go far to find mountains, beaches, coral reefs and quaint little villages. Many of the islands are almost untouched by tourism so make for an exceptionally traditional experience.…

Everest: the hard way, Nepal
Everest: the hard way, Nepal

By the time you’re halfway up the notorious Lamjura Pass – which rises in one lung-busting, 2km-high staircase of green, terraced hillside from steamy river to airy ridge – you’ll be asking yourself why. Why did I ever think of walking to Everest Base Camp? Why did I carry so much stuff? And why did I not fly…

The Taj by moonlight, India
The Taj by moonlight, India

When it comes to viewing the Taj Mahal, there isn’t really an unflattering angle or wrong kind of weather. Even the Dickensian smog that can roll off the Jamuna River in midwinter only serves to heighten the mystique of the mausoleum’s familiar contours. The monsoon rains and grey skies of August also cast their spell;…

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…

Whale watching in Husavik, Iceland
Whale watching in Husavik, Iceland

The fact that in Icelandic the word for beached whale is the same as that for jackpot or windfall may give you some clue as to how these seaborne beasts are seen by the locals. Yes, you may well find whale on the menu in Iceland’s restaurants – but thanks to a temporary moratorium on…

Soaking in lake Mývatn’s hot springs, Iceland
Soaking in lake Mývatn’s hot springs, Iceland

Most people visit Iceland in summer, when once or twice a week it actually stops raining and the sun shines in a way that makes you think, briefly, about taking off your sweater. The hills show off their green, yellow and red gravel faces to best effect, and you can even get around easily without…

Soothe your troubles at the Hotel Gellert, Hungary
Soothe your troubles at the Hotel Gellert, Hungary

You might be impressed by the stately location of the Hotel Gellert, just over the “Liberty Bridge” on the western bank of the Danube, anchoring the old section of Buda. You might enjoy this picturesque scene especially after dark (and you’ll certainly feel compelled to take pictures) on your way back across the bridge from…

Heading to market in the Guatemalan highlands
Heading to market in the Guatemalan highlands

The market town of San Francisco el Alto adopts its suffix for good reason. Perched at 2610m atop a rocky escarpment, it looks down over the plain of Quetzaltenango to the perfect volcanic cone of Santa María that pierces the horizon to the southwest. But on Friday mornings, few of the thousands that gather here…

Interactive Map: The world’s best street food
Interactive Map: The world’s best street food

One of our most popular galleries recently was our round-up of street food across the globe. From bunny chow to poutine, it had a variety of suggestions for hungry travellers. Here we’ve pinned those photos to one of our world maps so you can see where to go for your next foodie fix. Where would…

The 20 best islands in Thailand
The 20 best islands in Thailand

Thailand is home to an astonishing array of islands offering all manner of diving, swimming and sunbathing opportunities all year round. The hardest part for any visitor is singling out the best. Here are 20 of our favourites, taken from the Rough Guide to Thailand’s Beaches & Islands. Scroll down to see them placed geographically on…

Circling Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
Circling Lago Atitlan, Guatemala

Ever since Aldous Huxley passed this way in the 1930s, writers have lauded the natural beauty of Lago Atitlán. Ringed by three volcanoes, the lake is also surrounded by a series of Maya villages, each with its own appeal and some still quite traditional, despite the influx of visitors. A week spent circumnavigating Atitlán is…

All aboard the chicken buses, Guatemala
All aboard the chicken buses, Guatemala

Camionetas (“chicken buses”) start their lives as North American school buses, Bluebirds built to ferry under-eights from casa to classroom. Once they move down to these parts, they’re decked out with gaudy “go faster” stripes and windshield stickers bearing religious mantras (“Jesús es el Señor”). Comfort, however, is not customizable: bench seat legroom is so limited that gringo knees…

20 great beaches in France
20 great beaches in France

Thanks to its three long stretches of coastline, France has plenty of great beaches. From upmarket resorts to the secluded calanques (coves) and beaches steeped with historical significance, there are a variety of opportunities for fans of the sand. Our selection of 20 top beaches was taken from the latest Rough Guide to France. Barneville, Barneville-Carteret,…

Defying gravity on the Semmering Railway
Defying gravity on the Semmering Railway

You don’t need a train spotter to tell you that the Semmering Railway is a little bit special. Running 42km between the towns of Gloggnitz and Murzzuschlag, the line – a World Heritage Site – winds through the last surge of the eastern Austrian Alps before they taper off into the Hungarian plains. Of course,…

Island-hopping on the Aegean, Greece
Island-hopping on the Aegean, Greece

There’s an indefinable scent that, in an instant, brings the Greek islands vividly to mind. A mixture, perhaps, of thyme-covered slopes cooling overnight and the more prosaic smells of the port, of fish and octopus, overlaid with the diesel exhaust of the ferry that’s carrying you there. A moment at night when you can sense approaching land but not…

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…

Interactive Map: 20 best places to pitch your tent
Interactive Map: 20 best places to pitch your tent

Picking the best place to pitch up for the night is an art that requires precision. Rocky terrain makes for an uncomfortable sleep; hard ground means battling with those tent pegs; and soft spots mean you might fly away. Put all these concerns aside for a moment though, and imagine waking up in the shadow…

Follow in the footsteps of kings at Bath Spa, England
Follow in the footsteps of kings at Bath Spa, England

For almost twenty years at the end of the last century, Britain’s most famous spa town had no thermal baths. The opening of the new Thermae Bath Spa in 2006, at the centre of this World Heritage City, was therefore a watershed in Bath’s history. Once the haunt of the Roman elite who founded the…

Meet the people of Cuba
Meet the people of Cuba

With his sticking-out ears and Groucho Marx moustache, Lucio Parada Camenate makes an unlikely revolutionary hero, but as the face of Fruit Passion, his mugshot appears on juice cartons across the world, wherever Fair Trade products are marketed – much to the evident amusement of his colleagues, who tease him mercilessly for being famoso. Lucio…

Land of the midnight son, Cuba
Land of the midnight son, Cuba

It’s a sweltering Saturday night in Santiago de Cuba, and the entire barrio seems to be packed into La Casa de las Tradiciones. A mist of rum, beer and sweat fills the air of the much-loved club, while dozens of pairs of feet pound the flexing plywood floors. The wail of a trumpet rides above…

Where to try an Olympic sport in Britain
Where to try an Olympic sport in Britain

With London 2012 and memories of the summer Olympics still resonating around the world, you may be tempted to try some of the various sports and disciplines yourselves. Here’s five spots that offer top training for the next Olympic games. Archery The perfect place for a taste of archery is undoubtedly Sherwood Forest, legendary home…

Video: The Rough Guide to Vintage London
Video: The Rough Guide to Vintage London

From gramophones to bright pink dresses to Art Deco lighting, you can find it all here in London. As part of the Rough Guide to Vintage London we took to the streets, armed with cameras, to capture the vintage way of life here in the city. We took a trip to 328 Portobello Road where Glen Hargrave, owner…

Following the Oyster Trail in Galway, Ireland
Following the Oyster Trail in Galway, Ireland

A canny bit of marketing may lie behind the origins of the Galway International Oyster Festival, but Ireland’s longest-running and greatest gourmet extravaganza continues to celebrate the arrival of the new oyster season in the finest way possible: with a three-day furore of drinking, dancing and crustacean guzzling. Just after midday in Eyre Square, Galway’s…

Losing yourself in a good book at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt
Losing yourself in a good book at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

A hallmark of modern architecture, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a superb addition to Alexandria’s cityscape. A stunning work of stone and metal, the central library features a huge, tilted glass roof reminiscent of a sundial, and the walls are carved with text from over 120 languages, ancient and modern. Its location beside the Mediterranean only…

20 best beaches in Thailand
20 best beaches in Thailand

On the hundreds of islands on Thailand’s coast, there are thousands of fantastic beaches to choose from. Whether you want to party hard with a vodka bucket, or just relax in a beachside bungalow, Thailand has it all – so, taken from the latest guidebook, here’s our rundown of the best beaches in Thailand. Hat…

Equatorial differences in Quito, Ecuador
Equatorial differences in Quito, Ecuador

If you find yourself in Quito, a visit to the equator is more or less obligatory – the middle of the Earth is only about a thirty-minute drive north from the Ecuadorean capital. As you get closer, the highland vegetation gives way to sandy plains punctuated by uninspiring brown hills. The “Mitad del Mundo” monument…

Trekking in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
Trekking in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

The road to Corcovado National Park was once paved with gold – lots of gold – and although most of it was carried off by the Diqui Indians, miners still pan here illegally. These days, though, it’s just an unpaved track that fords half a dozen rivers during the bone-rattling two-hour ride from the nearest…

The 20 best beaches in Turkey
The 20 best beaches in Turkey

Beach holidays in Turkey are often synonymous with (mostly) British tourists occupying row after row of sun loungers, rowdy club nights and expensive all-inclusive resorts. However, using public transport, or your own car, you can get to some of the best beaches in Turkey in no time. Meet the loggerhead turtles who bury their eggs…

Turtle-watching in Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Turtle-watching in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

It’s a clear, moonless night when we assemble for our pilgrimage to the beach. I can’t understand how we are going to see anything in the blackness, but the guide’s eyes seem to penetrate even the darkest shadows. We begin walking, our vision adjusting slowly. We’ve come to Tortuguero National Park, in northeast Costa Rica,…

Visiting the last panama hat wearers, Ecuador
Visiting the last panama hat wearers, Ecuador

Panama hats, as any Ecuadorian worth their salt will tell you, don’t come from Panama. Authentic Panamas – or sombreros de paja toquilla, as they call them locally – are only woven in the Andean country, from the straw of the toquilla plant, which grows in the swamps near Ecuador’s central coast. The origin of the misnomer comes from…

Climbing Mount Sinai, Egypt
Climbing Mount Sinai, Egypt

The interior of the Sinai peninsula is a stark, unforgiving place. Beneath a strikingly blue sky lie parched mountains, rocky outcrops and great expanses of barren sand, interspersed with isolated oases and crisscrossed by medieval pilgrimage routes. It is, in the truest sense, a landscape of biblical proportions. In the south of this region, just…

Art after dark: an evening in the Louvre, France
Art after dark: an evening in the Louvre, France

If getting up close to the Mona Lisa was never easy, in the wake of Da Vinci Code fever it’s now almost as challenging as the puzzle at the heart of Dan Brown’s blockbuster. But come on a Wednesday or Friday evening for one of the Louvre’s late openings, and you’ll find things considerably quieter.…

The top 20 best beaches in Italy
The top 20 best beaches in Italy

Once you’ve finished shopping in busy Milan or scaling volcanoes at Mt Vesuvius, Italian beaches are often a glorious escape, but with an increasing number of hotels charging for access to the sands, it’s hard to know where to spend your money. Here’s our breakdown of some of the best beaches in Italy that are…

Sampling macaroons for her majesty, France
Sampling macaroons for her majesty, France

It’s 5.30pm on a Friday, and a queue stretches out through the door of Ladurée, on rue Royale near the Place de la Madeleine. If you’re wondering what the fuss is about, just take one look at the display of fabulous cakes and pastries – so renowned are Ladurée’s confections that foodies will cross Paris…

Canoeing down the Dordogne, France
Canoeing down the Dordogne, France

Have you ever fancied paddling in speckled sunlight past ancient châteaux and honey-hued villages, stopping off for a spot of gentle sightseeing and ending the day with a well-earned gastronomic extravaganza? If so, then canoeing down the Dordogne river in southwest France is just the ticket. For a 170km stretch from Argentat down to Mauzac…

Discovering Green Glasgow
Discovering Green Glasgow

Despite its industrial heritage Glasgow is actually one of the greenest cities in Europe, writes Helen Ochyra. Clip clop. I am travelling at nineteenth-century speeds along the main road of a country estate. On one side are formal gardens, planted with shaped hedges in lush greens, on the other, open fields dotted with dun-coloured Highland cattle.…

The 20 best beaches in Greece
The 20 best beaches in Greece

With thousands of islands to choose from, Greece can be an intimidating place to start looking for your next beach break. Don’t be put off though, as the nation has more than a lot to offer, whether you’re island-hopping or just looking for the perfect setting to unwind. From the busy, iconic bays to the…

The 20 best beaches in Spain
The 20 best beaches in Spain

Thanks to its ample coastline there are hundreds of incredible beaches in Spain, so choosing where to go can often be a troublesome decision. To save you the pain of searching for your perfect stretch of sand, here’s our round-up of the best beaches in Spain, taken from the Rough Guide to Spain. Conil, Andalucía…

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