Features // Europe

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…

An A–Z of Turkish cuisine
An A–Z of Turkish cuisine

Gourmets rank Turkish food, along with French and Chinese, as one of the world’s three classic cuisines. The country’s rich and varied cooking derives from its multi-ethnic Ottoman heritage – when it was part of an empire stretching from the Middle East to the Balkans and the Caucasus to North Africa – and food is…

Moreish, Moorish Malaga
Moreish, Moorish Malaga

Don’t head for the hills (or the overcrowded beaches and resorts) as soon as you land in Málaga and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Meera Dattani lets us in on the best things to do in Málaga, one of Spain’s most underrated cities.  A strange thing happens at Málaga airport. Almost everyone grabs their luggage and heads for…

20 fun facts about France
20 fun facts about France

France is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, and there’s plenty to get your teeth stuck into, from great cities like Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille to the prehistoric sites of the Vézère valley and Brittany’s beautiful coastline. But how well do you really know the country? Embrace “joie de vivre” with these fun facts about France: Source: thelocal.fr Source: lovetoknow.com Source: eupedia.com Source:…

A first-timer’s Guide to the Canary Islands
A first-timer’s Guide to the Canary Islands

Pre-conceptions are a funny thing. If someone told you about an archipelago of islands set adrift off the coast of Africa, an oasis that boasts superb beaches and perennial warmth, which is home to the world’s second largest Carnival, award-winning wines and Spain’s highest mountain, you’d probably want to visit. If they revealed they were…

Through the looking glass: find the real Alice in Wonderland
Through the looking glass: find the real Alice in Wonderland

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. That means Mad Hatters and Cheshire Cats will be everywhere from London to Manchester this spring. But Alice’s story finds its heartland in the villages of Cheshire, where the author was born, and in a seaside resort in…

Britain’s barmiest Boxing Day swims
Britain’s barmiest Boxing Day swims

There’s no better way to dust off the yuletide cobwebs than with a Boxing Day swim. Here are some of Britain’s barmiest spots for a festive dip, ranging from pirate outfits in Tenby, to nudism in the Isle of Wight, to a gentle “run-and-swim” in North Norfolk.  Tenby’s famous Boxing Day Dip, Pembrokeshire Now in…

Video: 25 things not to miss in Spain
Video: 25 things not to miss in Spain

From the gorgeous coastline and buzzing cities to delectable food and delicious wines, there’s plenty to see and do in Spain. Here are 25 things you shouldn’t miss. Explore the world in video with the Rough Guides YouTube channel >

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…

The travel bucket list
The travel bucket list

The Travel Bucket List 30 unforgettable travel experiences chosen by Rough Guides writers and editors and other travel experts Read the list >> Get lost in Fez el Bali Keith Drew, Co-author of the Rough Guide to Morocco There are few places left in the world where you can get well and truly lost. But…

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…

13 striking pictures of Venice Carnival
13 striking pictures of Venice Carnival

This year, one of Rough Guides’ roaming authors and photographers, Kiki Deere, returned to northern Italy for one of Europe’s most memorable festivals. Here, she shares 13 stunning pictures of the Venice Carnival. “Carnival has always played an important role in my life, having been brought up in northern Italy“, she says, “but experiencing Carnival in Venice is different…

9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots
9 of the world’s best white­water rafting spots

Rough Guides’ adventure sports expert Helen Abramson gives us her top tips on some of the world’s best adrenalin­-pumping whitewater rafting. Rapids are classified from I–VI, where grade VI is “un-runnable”, so the Grade V rivers listed here are essentially as thrilling as it gets. 1. Zambezi River, Zimbabwe Africa’s most exhilarating rafting is found on…

These are the world’s most bizarre spa treatments
These are the world’s most bizarre spa treatments

If you’re after some rejuvenation on your next break but still fancy a bit of an adventure, there are a whole host of alternative therapies offered around the world. From snail facials to a spot of sauna whipping, you can invigorate your body and soul with a smorgasbord of weird but wonderful wellness treatments. Here…

14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early
14 magical sunrises that prove it’s worth getting up early

Looking through the Rough Guides photography archive, one kind of shot stands out again and again: pictures captured at sunrise. Sure, there’s nothing more tempting than sleeping in until noon while you’re on holiday. But if you can bring yourself to brave the odd early morning, you’ll discover a magical world as dawn breaks. From…

Is Hull the least romantic place in the UK?
Is Hull the least romantic place in the UK?

It may be the UK’s next City of Culture, but that hasn’t stopped Hull from being voted the least romantic destination in the UK. The annual “Destination Romance Report” from Hotels.com saw a not insubstantial fifth of the Brits polled vote for the Yorkshire city as lacking in the romance department. And we’d have to…

5 of the best Greek islands
5 of the best Greek islands

Greece offers well over two hundred inhabited islands of all shapes and sizes, set like gems in the sparkling Ionian and Aegean seas – so you’re really spoilt for choice when planning a visit. Former resident and Rough Guide to Greece author Nick Edwards picks five of the best Greek islands for exploration. For archaeology:…

The Rough Guide to Czech beer
The Rough Guide to Czech beer

Taken from the new Rough Guide to Prague, here’s our guide to Czech beer – and where to drink it. The Czechs drink more beer than any other nation, downing approximately a pint a day for every man, woman and child in the country – in fact, more beer is drunk here than water. Czech beer (pivo)…

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…

Amsterdam with kids: 8 things I learnt travelling with a toddler
Amsterdam with kids: 8 things I learnt travelling with a toddler

Emma Gibbs visits one of Europe’s best short-break destinations with a toddler in tow. Here’s what she learnt about travelling to Amsterdam with kids. The last time I visited Amsterdam I was eighteen; eschewing the Spanish islands that most of my classmates were heading for, I was after something that was more “cultural”. In reality, of course,…

Discover the world’s most technologically advanced cruise ship
Discover the world’s most technologically advanced cruise ship

Robotic bar staff and virtual reality aren’t the first things that come to mind when thinking about cruises. But it’s time to forget images of golden-oldies sunning themselves on deck with a pina colada in one hand and foil reflector in the other: Royal Caribbean’s US-based Quantum of the Seas is the most technologically-advanced cruise…

10 free things to do in Amsterdam
10 free things to do in Amsterdam

There’s nowhere quite like Amsterdam. You could
 be sitting nursing a drink outside one of its cafés, chugging by boat along its canals, or riding its ringing trams, and you’ll sense immediately that you couldn’t be anywhere else in the world. Of course, there’s a slew of first-rate attractions, but it’s not all about big…

The top twenty best Belgian beers
The top twenty best Belgian beers

If you’re heading to Belgium any time soon you’ll want to take a good look at this list of the top twenty best Belgian beers. Whether you’re going to be in Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent or one of the country’s other entrancing cities, you’ll discover that beer is big business for the locals and they take…

15 of the most impressive castles in England
15 of the most impressive castles in England

Historic attractions abound in England. Wherever you’re based, you’ll find imposing palaces, gothic cathedrals and chocolate-box villages within easy reach, but among the most impressive examples of the country’s heritage are the slew of majestic castles. Taken from the new Rough Guide, this is our pick of the best castles in England Alnwick Castle, Northumberland…

24 hours in Madrid
24 hours in Madrid

On a weekend jaunt to Spain’s capital, Madrid, Rough Guides editors Andy Turner, Olivia Rawes, Greg Dickinson and Lottie Gross set themselves the challenge of staying up for 24 hours to discover what the city has to offer day and night. Here’s how they got on… 9am: a cycle tour of the city With just…

Milan – finding a real city beyond the concrete catwalks
Milan – finding a real city beyond the concrete catwalks

Milan. Where chihuahuas are shepherded around in handbags and the streets double as concrete catwalks. Where high-fashion stores pump out perfume the way that Subways leak doughy aromas in less fabulous cities. It’s understandable that few place Milan, with its shallow reputation, at the top of their Italian city bucket list: Florence trumps for art,…

The best places to experience Moorish Spain
The best places to experience Moorish Spain

Descended from North African tribes of Berbers and Arabs, the Moors ruled parts of Spain from the eighth until the fifteenth century, focusing much of their domination on the southern province of Andalucía. During their 800-year rule, the Moors inevitably left their mark upon Spanish culture – in its cuisine, language and architecture. Many vestiges…

The best of Scotland’s Outlander filming locations
The best of Scotland’s Outlander filming locations

If you live in North America you’ll probably need no introduction to Outlander. This epic TV series is already massive on the western side of the Atlantic and has finally hit UK TV screens courtesy of Amazon Prime. For the uninitiated, think of Outlander as a cross between Game of Thrones and the movie Braveheart.…

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 –…

The best cycling holidays in the world
The best cycling holidays in the world

As any cyclist will tell you, there’s few better ways to see the world than on two wheels. From Armenia to Vermont, here’s some of our favourite bike trips across the globe. Let us know your own favourite cycling holidays below. Mountain biking at Coed Llandegla Forest, Wales Coed Llandegla is a purpose-built mountain-biking centre,…

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…

Dublin: what to see in the Year of Irish Design
Dublin: what to see in the Year of Irish Design

This is the year to discover the Irish capital’s burgeoning creative scene. The country’s designers are stepping into the limelight to celebrate the Year of Irish Design, and Dublin is taking centre stage as 2015’s World Design Hub. Visitors already arrive in their droves for the city’s the literary connections, the Guinness and that intangible…

Eco travel – great green holidays
Eco travel – great green holidays

If you sometimes find yourself feeling a little environmentally guilty on your travels, and would like to do something a little more than reusing your plush towels two days in a row, consider one of these green holidays around the globe. Spend a week at Ecocabin, Shropshire Nowhere is 100 percent green, but Ecocabin –…

Brilliant boozers: 12 of the best pubs in London
Brilliant boozers: 12 of the best pubs in London

Taken from the new Pocket Rough Guide, this is our pick of the best pubs in London.  London is a very big city. In fact, it’s the largest capital in the European Union, stretching for more than thirty miles from east to west, and with a population of just over eight million. Ethnically and linguistically, it’s also…

An edible exploration: east London in 5 foods
An edible exploration: east London in 5 foods

It’s not the most attractive area of London, but Shoreditch is  a compelling district. Once famous for its turbulent history of crime and immigration, today this corner of London’s East End has been enlivened by an ever-expanding street art scene, a cluster of Sunday markets and an influx of hipsters toting handlebar moustaches and double…

20 stunning close encounters with animals
20 stunning close encounters with animals

If you like getting up close and personal with the animal kingdom on your travels, these trip ideas should appeal. From alligators to zebras – via reindeer, cheetahs, baboons and gorillas – we’ve herded together a veritable wildlife park to inspire you. See wildlife in Gabon The jungles in Gabon have the highest diversity of…

Win a cycling trip for two along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
Win a cycling trip for two along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. With hundreds of scenic roads and tracks ripe for exploring, there’s no better way to see the Irish countryside than on two wheels. Enter this competition and you could be the lucky winner of an IrelandWays.com cycling trip for two… We’re giving one lucky pair the chance to cycle one of…

How many of these funny place names are real?
How many of these funny place names are real?

Do you know your Bottom Flash from your Cock Alley? Have you ever taken a trip down Fanny Hands Lane? The UK has a plethora of rude, silly, strange and downright funny places names. You might not believe it, but Shingay cum Wendy is a real parish in the county of Cambridgeshire, and the village of…

11 breathtaking Welsh views
11 breathtaking Welsh views

Picturesque Wales has long drawn holidaymakers to its unspoilt countryside, rugged mountainous terrain and long, lonely coastline. Whether you’re after a dream-like hike or scenic drive, beautiful views aren’t hard to find. Here are some of our authors’ favourites – walks, nature reserves, beaches, railway journeys and much more – taken from new Rough Guide…

Five top cycling holidays in Britain
Five top cycling holidays in Britain

Rolling along the Ridgeway The Ridgeway really is as old as the hills – well, almost. For over 5000 years, travellers, farmers, soldiers and, more recently, cyclists have followed this 87-mile-long trackway (pictured above) between Avebury in Wiltshire and Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire – part of an ancient trading route that once stretched from the…

Discover Zagreb, Croatia’s capital of cool
Discover Zagreb, Croatia’s capital of cool

The Croatian capital Zagreb has enjoyed the dubious honour of being underestimated twice over. Cold-shouldered by Croatia-bound travellers because it’s a landlocked city without a beach, it has also been ignored by city-breakers bound for Prague, Kraków or Budapest. One consequences of this relative neglect is that Zagreb is one of the few European capitals…

18 beautiful pictures of Finland
18 beautiful pictures of Finland

Professional travel photographer Tim Bird shares his love of photographing Finland.  “I’ve been based in the Finnish capital Helsinki for more than thirty years, so I know the country well. Four distinct seasons lend varied moods to endless landscapes of lake and forest. In the far north, Arctic wilderness fells are ablaze in reds and yellows…

Ten great journeys in the UK
Ten great journeys in the UK

As the old cliché testifies, it’s often the journey not the destination that’s most rewarding. With that in mind, here’s ten spectacular journeys around Britain. Travelling on The Snowdon Mountain Railway, Gwynedd A haunting whistle cries out across the wild Snowdonia valleys as Wyddfa, one of the original 1895 steam locos, leaves the Halfway station bound…

13 crazy new British beers you need to try
13 crazy new British beers you need to try

It’s an utterly sparkling, adventurous and intoxicating time for beer right now. The number of British breweries is pushing 1400, and there are 70 in London alone – in 2006 there were only two in the capital. Hundreds of small, highly experimental craft brewers have sprung up in garages and industrial estates using borrowed, begged…

Take the Trans-Mongolian Express
Take the Trans-Mongolian Express

Even after seven unbroken days on a train from Moscow, nothing can prepare you for the Chinese border. As you pull into the platform, which is lit up in neon colours, a Chinese-tinged version of the Vienna Waltz comes blaring over the Tannoy. Trying to work out the cultural relevance of this is a hopeless…

Ten things to do in London for free
Ten things to do in London for free

Visiting London, it’s hard to imagine the UK is staggering its way out of a recession. Lamborghinis continue to roar down Bond Street, new restaurants pop up each week and the East End appears to be entirely populated by espresso-sipping hipsters, with not a jellied eel in sight. However long you spend in the capital,…

Ten trip ideas for watersports fanatics
Ten trip ideas for watersports fanatics

There’s few better ways to spend a holiday than getting wet. Here, from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, we present some of the best water-based holidays around the world. So whether it’s kayaking with sharks or snorkelling with turtles, give one of these experiences a try and let us…

Travelling for the first time
Travelling for the first time

We’ve just published new editions of The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe and The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World, and they’ve got us thinking about the advice we wish we’d been given before our first big trips abroad. Travelling for the first time can be daunting. Do you go alone? What do you…

The best food in the world – and where to eat it
The best food in the world – and where to eat it

Prepare for some serious stomach growls as we reveal 20 of our favourite foodie experiences around the world. These picks, taken from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, are some of the finest ways to truly eat authentic dishes in the countries that do them best. If you’re looking for…

Video: 24 things you shouldn’t miss in Wales
Video: 24 things you shouldn’t miss in Wales

Once voted one of the world’s most beautiful countries by Rough Guides readers, Wales has something for everyone. From the mountains to the stunning coastline, here are our top things not to miss in Wales. Explore more of the world in video with the Rough Guides YouTube channel >

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