Features // Europe

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…

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…

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…

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)…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 –…

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:…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 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.…

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…

The one Magna Carta exhibition you need to see this year
The one Magna Carta exhibition you need to see this year

This feature is brought to you by the Magna Carta – indirectly, at least. 2015 marks 800 years since the signing of the first Magna Carta (Great Charter) in Runnymede, England. While it was retracted and reinstated by various monarchs a number of times in the following years, the document has become an international icon of…

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…

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 >

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…

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…

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…

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…

10 great places to go walking in Scotland
10 great places to go walking in Scotland

Billy Connolly famously said that “there are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter”. Yet anyone who loves walking in this hauntingly beautiful country knows that even the weather can’t spoil the bleak majesty of its ancient landscape. It’s the rain, wind, sleet, snow, sun, and constantly changing light bursting from vast, shifting northern skies…

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…

A foodie pilgrimage along the Camino del Norte
A foodie pilgrimage along the Camino del Norte

After a foodie pilgrimage along the northern Spanish coast, Ros Walford shares some of her edible highlights of the Camino del Norte. There’s something magical about entering a city on foot. First, you see a rash of buildings in the distance; some hours later, you finally reach the centre, where, stomach rumbling, you follow your…

Video: 24 things not to miss in Germany
Video: 24 things not to miss in Germany

Whether you’re dreaming of Berlin’s buzzing nightlife or want to write your own fairytales on the Romantic Road, you’ll find a wealth of exciting things to do and see in Germany. Here, we’ve picked 24 of our highlights. Explore more of the world in video with the Rough Guides YouTube channel >

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 –…

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…

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…

Escape rooms: would you pay to get locked up?
Escape rooms: would you pay to get locked up?

Paying a stranger to lock you and your friends in a room filled with fiendish puzzles sounds an unlikely holiday activity, but “escape rooms” are springing up around the world. Shafik Meghji got locked up in Budapest… The email was brief and ever so slightly unsettling: “Please arrive punctually at 16:30 to Erzsébet Körút 8,…

A giant underground trampoline has opened in a cave in Wales
A giant underground trampoline has opened in a cave in Wales

Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills goes deep underground in the heart of Snowdonia National Park to discover the latest, and craziest, adventure activity in North Wales. A Victorian slate mine close to the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog was once where miners wielded hammers and chisels to eke out a hard living from the rock. Today, it’s…

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.…

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…

How to see Paris on a budget
How to see Paris on a budget

From the new Pocket Rough Guide, we’ve selected some of our favourite tips for seeing Paris on a budget. A trip to Paris, famous as the most romantic of destinations, is one of those lifetime musts. Long the beating heart of European civilization, it remains one of the world’s most refined yet passionate cities. Yet…

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…

Stunning video shows why you should travel at home
Stunning video shows why you should travel at home

In this week’s featured video “adventure is on our doorstep” is the message from Sebastian Linda from Saxony, Germany. “We travel to far away places because we expect holidays, recovery, adventure and new experiences. But is that always necessary?”, he asks. In this visual tour of his home state, Sebastian explores it all from the city of…

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…

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 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…

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