Features // Europe

Win a walking holiday for two in Tuscany
Win a walking holiday for two in Tuscany

We’re giving away a walking holiday in Tuscany for two in our latest competition with FrancigenaWays.com. If you’re dreaming of olive groves, vineyards and quaint little hill-towns, this is the trip for you. Tuscany is in many ways the essence of Italy – and there are few better ways to explore the region than on foot. The…

Glasgow: an insider’s guide
Glasgow: an insider’s guide

Anthony Bourdain controversially characterised Glasgow as somewhere to go ‘’for a beer and a beating” in his TV show Parts Unknown. Bourdain poked good-natured fun at the city’s notoriety, where the drinking culture looms large and the language is colourful; it’s a rep that Glasgow has battled with for decades. However, Bourdain also represented its…

Tomato warfare: Spain hosts the world’s biggest food fight this week
Tomato warfare: Spain hosts the world’s biggest food fight this week

Thousands of people. Truckloads of tomatoes. The world’s biggest food fight. In case you didn’t realise, this is Grade A bucket list material. In the last week of August in the in the Valencian town of Buñol, cheering crowds assemble around a tall greased pole erected in the Plaza del Pueblo. A hoofed leg of pork…

16 pictures that capture the freedom of the Lake District
16 pictures that capture the freedom of the Lake District

Professional photographer Jon Sparks takes us on a visual tour of his homeland with these gorgeous pictures of the Lake District.  They reckon more words have been written about the Lake District than any other area of comparable size on Earth – except perhaps a few of the great cities. Artists and photographers have flocked…

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,…

Eerie film shows the ghost city of Pripyat, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster
Eerie film shows the ghost city of Pripyat, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster

A swimming pool lies empty, plants encroach through broken windows, hospital bed frames are red with rust and Soviet signs and murals are faded ruins of what was once art from another world. This is Pripyat, Ukraine, and it’s been abandoned since 1986. This eerie video shot using a drone shows the near post-apocalyptic destruction caused by the…

Coffee, cocktails and communism in Bucharest
Coffee, cocktails and communism in Bucharest

It’s fair to say that Bucharest is usually given a wide berth by most travellers eager to reach the country’s more obvious sights, such as Transylvania, but this is a shame. Romania’s invigorating capital has much to commend it. Beyond the welter of concrete – which in itself has a strange allure – you’ll find…

Groningen: an ancient city with a young heart in the Netherlands
Groningen: an ancient city with a young heart in the Netherlands

Tucked away in the far northeast corner of the Netherlands is the erstwhile Hanseatic city of Groningen. Dripping in history, this charming provincial capital with bubbling arts scene is awash with green spaces, cultural attractions, fine restaurants and gabled houses reflected in the miles of scenic canals. Gilly Pickup explores this little Dutch gem.  Groningen…

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 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles
8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles

Everybody knows the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Skye. But what about the other 6000-odd British Isles? Yes, we did say 6000. From the chunky Shetland Islands in Scotland’s far north to the sunny Isles of Scilly slung out from the coast of Cornwall, the British Isles are made up of islands of all shapes and…

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey
The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The allure of Istanbul is hard to beat. This thrilling city bridges two continents with a history spanning more than 2000 years. And with Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport hitting an all-time record for flight traffic this July, its status as a top city-break destination has been further cemented. But what about the rest of the country? “More…

5 things you didn’t know you could do in Yorkshire
5 things you didn’t know you could do in Yorkshire

Yorkshire, it has been said, is “a country in a county”. The very name brings countless images to mind – wild moors, headlands and cliffs; rugged dales and enormous beaches; medieval cities, churches and monasteries; formal estates and vast steelworks; coal mines and woollen mills. This diversity is part of the county’s appeal – its…

A taste of Andalucía: a food lover’s tour
A taste of Andalucía: a food lover’s tour

The rich and varied cuisine of Andalucía is a reflection of its dramatic history. One of its signature dishes, gazpacho, was introduced by the romans in the first millennium BC, and didn’t reach its final version until peppers and tomatoes arrived in Spain following the voyages of Columbus. Another great influence came from the Moors…

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,…

Dubrovnik: the star of the Croatian coast
Dubrovnik: the star of the Croatian coast

Lord Byron wasn’t exaggerating through an opium haze when he eulogised Dubrovnik as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. This perfectly preserved baroque former city-state is utterly, charmingly unique. It is easy to see what so beguiled the Game of Thrones producers and UNESCO’s World Heritage committee. Now, the recent influx of cafés, bars and restaurants…

Brittany: one of France’s finest foodie escapes
Brittany: one of France’s finest foodie escapes

Brittany has long been one of the jewels in France’s crown. Its beaches and holiday homes are flooded each summer by Parisians on their grandes vacances and Brits piling off cross-channel ferries. It’s easy to see why. From the rugged beauty of the northern coast to the classy beach resorts, there’s no arguing that this…

The Orange Blossom Coast: the Spanish costa you’ve never heard of
The Orange Blossom Coast: the Spanish costa you’ve never heard of

Spain is known for its costas, the sandy strands that attract thousands of visitors seeking sun and sangria every year. But most people tend to head to the big hitters: the Costa del Sol, the Costa Brava and the Costa Blanca. But of course these are just the bright and brazen names that have made…

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…

10 reasons why Cardiff is one of the coolest cities in the UK
10 reasons why Cardiff is one of the coolest cities in the UK

Capital of Wales since 1955, Cardiff is unrecognisable even from just a few years ago. With an exhilarating mix of heavyweight cultural sights, exciting regeneration projects – not least the revitalized Cardiff Bay – world-class sport, a prolific music scene and some seriously banging nightlife, it’s easy to see why Cardiff now ranks alongside London…

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…

The Lofoten: discover Norway’s untamed islands
The Lofoten: discover Norway’s untamed islands

Draped across the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea, far above the Arctic Circle, Norway’s Lofoten Islands are, by any standard, staggeringly beautiful. In a largely tamed and heavily populated continent, the Lofoten are a rare wilderness outpost, an untrammelled landscape of rearing mountains, deep fjords, squawking seabird colonies and long, surf-swept beaches. This was never…

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…

20 unforgettable places to stay in Great Britain
20 unforgettable places to stay in Great Britain

If you didn’t know that the “Great” in Great Britain was strictly a geographical term (it refers to the largest island – containing England, Scotland and Wales – of the British Isles), you’d be tempted to give Britain the accolade anyway. From dynamic London to misty Scottish mountains, there’s enough to see and do here to…

Passport to write: the runners-up!
Passport to write: the runners-up!

After weeks of deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce the results of the Rough Guides and Journeys are made @gapyear.com writing competition. The winning piece can be read here, but we’ve also picked two fantastic runners-up.  Kyle Cunningham chose the theme “my greatest adventure”, writing about several days of searching for the rare silky sifaka in the lemur-filled jungles…

Quiz: can you locate these national parks?
Quiz: can you locate these national parks?

National parks are some of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural places, taking in mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and forests (sometimes all in the same one), but how much do you know about them? Can you tell these national parks apart? Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

Life on GMT: Gozo Maybe Time
Life on GMT: Gozo Maybe Time

It starts as soon as the ferry pulls away from the quay. Heading out from the bustle of the main island of Malta into the shimmering blue waters of the Gozo Channel, the Mediterranean sun warm on your skin, tensions just ebb away. Sliding past the tiny island of Comino, its solitary defensive tower giving…

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…

Bratislava: it’s high time you discovered Slovakia’s capital
Bratislava: it’s high time you discovered Slovakia’s capital

“Little Big City” proclaims the sign on the side of Bratislava’s trams. It’s certainly right about the first, Slovakia’s capital is dinky compared with its neighbours on the Danube – Vienna, the grand old dame of European capitals, ninety minutes to the west by boat, and exuberant Budapest, three hours to the southeast by train.…

Rome with kids: a different kind of mini-break
Rome with kids: a different kind of mini-break

Having visited Rome no less than four times, Monica Woods decided it was time to see it with a fresh pair of eyes: those of her four-year-old son. Here she discovers what Rome has to offer for a family holiday. Early spring in the eternal city. A weekend escape, a chance to get reacquainted with…

9 of the best tapas bars in Barcelona
9 of the best tapas bars in Barcelona

It’s tempting to say that there’s nowhere quite like Barcelona. As cool and hip as they come, this is Catalunya’s elegant and self-confident modern capital. It’s no wonder, then, that the city is also one of the most exciting places to eat in Spain. From the Pocket Rough Guide to Barcelona, this is our pick of the best…

The world’s longest pizza has been baked in Milan
The world’s longest pizza has been baked in Milan

Proving that revenge doesn’t taste sweet so much as tomatoey, Italy has officially reclaimed the title of “World’s Longest Pizza” from previous record-holders Spain. They took the title at the Expo Milano 2015 by baking a 1596.45m-long pizza – that’s nearly a mile of doughy, cheesy goodness. The massive margherita comes with some impressive stats: 1.5…

15 amazing pictures of London
15 amazing pictures of London

Professional landscape & wildlife photographer Nick Jackson shares some of his favourite pictures of London.  “I’ve lived in London for 15 years now, never intending to stay for anywhere near that long. This seems to be a common mindset amongst Londoners and particularly photographers, because every time it feels right for a change, the city itself changes…

Inside Europe’s most expansive cave system
Inside Europe’s most expansive cave system

Of Slovenia’s many show caves, none has quite the pulling power of Postojna, located in the heart of the country’s beguiling Karst region. And, at more than 20km long, it is Europe’s most expansive cave system. Writing about Postojna in the seventeenth century, the great Slovene polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor remarked: “in some places you…

You can now travel by dragon in Wales
You can now travel by dragon in Wales

Who wants to drive for hours on winding Welsh roads, or take one of those tiny local stopping trains, when you could hop on the back of a dragon and make the journey between Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons in just 32 minutes? No, the Queen of Dragons from Game of Thrones hasn’t taken over Wales (although we’re…

Quiz: can you name these famous UK landmarks?
Quiz: can you name these famous UK landmarks?

How well do you know the UK? Do you know your castles from your stately homes and your abbeys from your cathedrals? Take this test to find out. Can you name these ten famous UK landmarks? Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

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

You’ve booked your flight to Italy, now where to stay? Whatever kind of trip you’re planning, co-author of the Rough Guide Natasha Foges has the lowdown on the best area to stay in Rome. Best for romance: the Centro Storico The Centro Storico (historic centre) is what most people dream of for their Roman holiday: a…

21 things everyone should know before visiting Britain
21 things everyone should know before visiting Britain

Brits can be a funny lot. The country might be small, but you could spend a lifetime learning its quirks and idiosyncrasies. Regional pronunciation, strange road rules and its renowned drinking culture can all prove hazardous to the first-time visitor. Here’s our guide to surviving in Blighty. 1. There are three nations in Britain First…

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…

Somerset: a British road trip to rival the world’s great highways
Somerset: a British road trip to rival the world’s great highways

Keith Drew sees Britain’s Somerset in a different light from behind the wheel of a six-man motorhome. Cotton-budded wisps of mist hung lazily above the water, the early morning sunlight glinting off the pools. Freshly brewed tea in hand, we settled down in chairs outside our motorhome to survey the reedbeds in front of us,…

A beginner’s guide to the best German beers
A beginner’s guide to the best German beers

Think Germany and you think beer. It’s a country whose beer culture is so ingrained and recognised that Oktoberfest is celebrated around the world. It’s the birthplace of lager, and one that is full of life and flavour (a far cry from the insipid mass-produced stuff). In fact, the word ‘lager’ just means cold-stored, and…

Video: why Cappadocia is best seen from above
Video: why Cappadocia is best seen from above

The ethereal landscape of Cappadocia is one of Turkey‘s top attractions, and the fields of naturally-hewn “fairy chimneys” and mysterious rock caves here have intrigued visitors for years. These days, however, there’s only one way to take in Cappadocia’s unusual formations – from the air. On still days at dawn, a swarm of hot-air balloons slowly ascends as the…

Scaling the Metéora: the monastic mountains of Greece
Scaling the Metéora: the monastic mountains of Greece

Not for those without a head for heights: Rough Guides editor Ros Walford conquers one of the cliffs of the Metéora.  This is no ordinary day. I’m dangling by a rope from a vertical rock face in mainland Greece. All around me are towers of sandstone, jutting from a wide plain – carved by water…

The best gelato in Rome
The best gelato in Rome

While in Rome researching the upcoming Rough Guide, Natasha Foges sampled gelato in every corner of the city – all in the name of research. Here’s the scoop on where to find the city’s best. Every Roman has a favourite gelateria, and can spend hours arguing the merits of their local haunt. In the last…

Lyon: the French city that has it all
Lyon: the French city that has it all

Forget Paris. Lyon is currently where it’s at, and whilst it’s reputation as France’s culinary capital is fully justified – twenty-two Michelin stars and counting – there’s a great deal more to this colourful city than gluttony. A flourish of fabulous new accommodation, cultural sights galore, and a raft of exciting festivals will keep you…

This Greek beach looks like it’s on another planet
This Greek beach looks like it’s on another planet

Dotting the southern Agean, the Cyclades (Kykládhes) are one of the best places in Greece’s for island-hopping. But it’s not all the crystal-clear seas and golden beaches that you might expect. On volcanic Milos, a geologically diverse island known for its unusual rock formations and geothermal springs, the spectacular shorelines are characterized by multicoloured rocks and volcanically heated sand. Sarakiniko, in particular, is astonishing.…

5 street foods you need to try in Istanbul
5 street foods you need to try in Istanbul

One of the most enjoyable ways of tasting the best Istanbul has to offer is to work your way around the city snacking on the incredible street food, sold from carts and trays at street corners and other likely spots. This can be as simple as raw almonds on ice, but there are far more…

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 –…

21 pictures that will make you want to jump on a plane to Italy
21 pictures that will make you want to jump on a plane to Italy

From Tuscany‘s picture-perfect countryside and rambling hill-towns to Venice‘s dreamy canals and palazzos, there’s no end to Italy‘s beauty. It’s really no wonder that the country attracts nearly 50 million visitors a year. Here, we’ve picked 21 of our favourite pictures of Italy from the Rough Guides archive. If these don’t make you want to jump on a plane, we don’t know what…

Minsk: beyond the stereotypes of the Belarusian capital
Minsk: beyond the stereotypes of the Belarusian capital

‘Mini-break’ and ‘Minsk’ don’t trip off the tongue. And if you’ve never considered a visit to the Belarusian capital, you aren’t alone. Anita Isalska explores why the city makes for an interesting trip.  Firstly, there’s the popular perception of Minsk as a grey, post-Soviet megalopolis. Another disincentive is the Belarusian visa, a requirement for visitors…

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