Features // Europe

The 10 best beach holidays in Europe
The 10 best beach holidays in Europe

For a relatively small continent, Europe has some extraordinary coastlines. Their variety is dizzying, from sheltered rocky coves fringed with olive trees to vast stretches of soft sandy beaches. Whittling down the list for possible beach holidays in Europe can be tough, so here are a few places that will get you in the mood for lazy days…

Things not to miss in Scotland
Things not to miss in Scotland

Tartan kilts, whisky, shortbread, and loch-dwelling mythical creatures are not all Scotland has to offer. Think cultured cities, ruined castles and deep lush valleys, surrounded by a scattering of quaint little islands famous for wildlife and snow-tipped peaks. These are the top things to do in Scotland: Music: Latha Math by Mánran from the Rough…

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. 

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…

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…

Video: Things not to miss in Italy
Video: Things not to miss in Italy

Incredible scenery – from coast to mountain-top – amazing art and world-adored cuisine, Italy really does have it all. No matter how many times you return to Italy you’ll never be short of things to see and do. But for your first trip, here is our list of the top things not to miss in…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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:…

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 –…

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 >

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 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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

Flamenco to fortresses: the top things to do in Granada
Flamenco to fortresses: the top things to do in Granada

Set in Andalucía, Spain’s southernmost region, Granada is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, and with good reason. The city is in an astounding setting at the confluence of four rivers, backed by the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and there are plenty of things to do. The extraordinary palace and fortress 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…

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…

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.…

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 >

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

What it’s like to be a pilot for a day
What it’s like to be a pilot for a day

It was a beautifully clear evening; the sun was sinking below the horizon and the runway at Heathrow stretched ahead in neat rows of orange lights. The cars on the access road were getting closer and closer, their headlights sweeping across the road in the early evening light. “One hundred”, the automated voice said. I…

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…

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…

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…

The best beaches in Crete, Greece
The best beaches in Crete, Greece

Crete has easily the longest summers in Greece, and there are plenty of beaches with which to fill those long, lazy summer days. Whether you’re into watersports, skinny dipping or good old-fashioned sunbathing, the island almost certainly has a stretch of sand to suit your tastes. Elafonísi Elafonísi Beach comes as an exotic shock. The…

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…

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.…

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…

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…

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…

Video: 17 things you shouldn’t miss in Iceland
Video: 17 things you shouldn’t miss in Iceland

One of the world’s most beguiling countries, Iceland offers endless vistas of volcanic landscapes, black beaches, snow-topped mountains and one of the coolest cities in Europe. Here, we’ve compiled 17 things not to miss. Explore more of the world in video with the Rough Guides YouTube channel >

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…

Hamburg: Germany’s second city is hotting up
Hamburg: Germany’s second city is hotting up

Most travellers thinking about a weekend break in Germany overlook Hamburg and put Berlin and Munich at the top of their wish lists. Yet within Germany, the nation’s second city proves a popular draw thanks to nightlife, shopping and museums. Stuart Forster, a regular visitor to Germany, finds out what Hamburg has to offer. Why…

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…

You can now zip line through Wales at 100mph
You can now zip line through Wales at 100mph

If you’ve ever dreamed of flying through the air at high speed, or wondered what it might be like to jump off a large metal platform and leave your fate in the hands of some rope and wires, then Zip World Titan is for you. Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills visited the disused quarry in…

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