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…

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…

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 –…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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:…

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…

Fish stew with a difference, Hungary
Fish stew with a difference, Hungary

It’s famed for its goulash, but there is far more to Hungarian cuisine than this dish alone. The speciality of southern Hungary is halaszlé, a blisteringly hot crimson-coloured soup with huge chunks of carp, catfish and zander floating around in it. With the Danube, Drava and Tisza rivers yielding the fish, and the paprika produced…

Mud, glorious mud, The Netherlands
Mud, glorious mud, The Netherlands

You can wallow in it, make pies with it, even smear it all over your face. But in The Netherlands they have a different use for mud. They walk across it for fun, striking out from the coast of Friesland at low tide to the Wadden Islands, a string of four islands between 10km and 20km offshore: an…

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…

Quiz: how well do you know London?
Quiz: how well do you know London?

Could you pass for a true Londoner or are you just a tourist? Put your London trivia to the test and find out how well acquainted you really are with England’s capital.  

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,…

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…

The 10 best beaches in Croatia
The 10 best beaches in Croatia

When it comes to beaches in Croatia, the best advice is to head south: it’s on the Dalmatian coast where the most seductive sandy shores, pebbly coves and sun-fried rocks are to be found. Indeed all of the beaches that made our list are in Dalmatia, except for one (the bewitchingly sandy island of Susak…

Five awe-inspiring religious ceremonies
Five awe-inspiring religious ceremonies

Catching a religious event or gathering in another country can be an exhilerating experience. Here, from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, we present five spectacular declarations of faith from all over the globe. Easter in Seville, Spain “Semana Santa” (or Holy Week) is the most spectacular of all the…

Hunting for bargains in Budapest, Hungary
Hunting for bargains in Budapest, Hungary

One result of Eastern Europe’s economic transformation is that shopping is no longer a voyage into the unknown. Familiar international brands fill the malls, and local crafts lie hidden behind shelves of mass-produced souvenirs. Luckily, a parallel culture of flea markets and craft fairs is still going strong, and if you happen to be in Budapest over the weekend…

Most iconic movie locations
Most iconic movie locations

These 15 iconic film locations will transport you straight into the movies. Want to chase Rocky Balboa up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art or tuck into Amélie’s crème brulée in Café des Deux Moulins? No problem. You’ll even be able to experience fictitious spots: swim off the shore of Jaws’ Amity Island;…

Best of British campsites
Best of British campsites

Camping’s revival isn’t just about the money in people’s pockets; there are few better ways to get some fresh air and few more eco-friendly trips. The British campsites below stretch from Scilly to Orkney, taking in New Forest ponies, basket-weaving courses and ancient trails, and are fine options for a summer that’s due some sunshine.…

Top places to eat out in Moscow
Top places to eat out in Moscow

In a city where it’s possible to pay up to US$250 for a rib eye steak, it is no surprise that most feel daunted at the prospect of visiting the pricy Russian capital, Moscow. Yet there are plenty of quirky cafés, hidden restaurants and expat haunts that will not break your budget. Here is a…

Top ten Croatian island getaways
Top ten Croatian island getaways

The sheer diversity of Croatia’s islands ensures that there is something for everyone in the Adriatic, regardless of whether you’re a party animal, lotus-eater, young family or a combination of all three. Jonathan Bousfield, author of The Rough Guide to Croatia, picks out his top ten. SUSAK: THE ISLAND FOR KITE FLYERS One for the…

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…

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…

Travel Traumas – share your memories
Travel Traumas – share your memories

This week we’re asking you to share your own travel traumas, those memories from a life travelling you’d perhaps rather forget. Or at least when you learnt a valuable lesson or two. Here Gemma Smyth recounts her hungry odyssey on a Greek train. Share your experiences below… It’s nearing midnight and I’ve been waiting most…

The Friedrichsbad: the best baths in Baden-Baden
The Friedrichsbad: the best baths in Baden-Baden

Time does strange things in southwest Germany. Even before Einstein hit on his Theory of Relativity in Ülm, Mark Twain had realized something was up after taking to the waters in the smart spa town of Baden-Baden. “Here at the Friedrichsbad,” he wrote, ”you lose track of time within ten minutes and track of the world within twenty.”…

The most overrated destinations in the world
The most overrated destinations in the world

Have you ever been somewhere really hyped up and just found it a bit average? Bundled yourself off somewhere on the recommendations of friends, forum users or travel mags to find it’s just a bit, well, meh? Every regular traveller tends to have one place that didn’t stand up to expectations, and for me it…

Ten free things to do in Paris
Ten free things to do in Paris

For anyone planning a weekend break in Paris and attempting to find accommodation below €100 per person per night – and most likely failing – it’s pretty obvious that the capital of France is an expensive place to visit. An iconic city like this, though, with its intricate history, remarkable architecture and extraordinarily rich culture…

How to get away from it all
How to get away from it all

It’s one of the ultimate travel goals: how to well and truly get away from it all. Here’s ten trips, selected by the writers and editors at Rough Guides, that offer true isolation and recuperation. Share your own below. Sleep out in a remote bothy Britain may be one of the most crowded islands on…

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…

Eight amazing canoeing and kayaking trips
Eight amazing canoeing and kayaking trips

Kayaking with seals at Walvis Bay, Namibia Most people come to Swakopmund, a Bavarian-style town surreally out of place on the edge of the Namib Desert, to explore the vast dunes. Few who visit know that the sandy Atlantic shallows of nearby Walvis Bay are also home to 2500 cape fur seals – one of…

St Patrick’s Day, a different way
St Patrick’s Day, a different way

If you’re planning on celebrating your Irishness this next March (or getting yourself adopted for the day), the most obvious place to head is Dublin. But not everyone can get there – plus prices are high, half a million people descend on the capital for the parade, and it’s hard to find a place to…

The least friendly countries for tourists?
The least friendly countries for tourists?

Whether you’re on a weekend away or a month-long adventure, being made to feel unwelcome by rude or unpleasant locals can make or break a holiday. So, if you don’t want to be shunned by waitresses and dismissed by taxi drivers, then Pakistan and Russia are apparently not for you. Following an HSBC poll on the…

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,…

Ten perfect birdwatching trips
Ten perfect birdwatching trips

Few travel moments illicit such a thrill as catching sight of a rare or beautiful bird emerging from its natural habitat. Here are a few of our favourite birdwatching holidays, from pigeons in Mauritius, to birds of paradise in New Guinea. Live among the birds of prey at Dadia, Greece As you begin the hour-long…

Ten things to do in Barcelona for free
Ten things to do in Barcelona for free

There’s a lot of things to do in Barcelona, Spain’s second city: the dark, twisting streets of the Barri Gòtic; the cool and sophisticated La Ribera district filled with designer shops and fashionable bars; the enticing beaches and über-modern seafront area – all topped off by some seriously unusual architecture, an integral part of Catalan’s…

The top ten best ever British hikes
The top ten best ever British hikes

Our green and boggy isle may be small, but one thing’s for certain: it’s home to some of the most magnificent landscapes in Europe, if not the world. Sure, our much lamented climate means you’ll likely get a soaking or three (four if you’re in Scotland), but with everything from coastal strolls to fearsome scrambles,…

Your top packing tips
Your top packing tips

Packing: we all know the usual suspects – the sun cream, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and first aid kits – that are essential to a successful trip and a recent survey by Columbus Direct found that Brits cannot leave home without their smartphone, book or ebook reader, or sunglasses. But when we asked you what one…

Five eccentric and uniquely British experiences
Five eccentric and uniquely British experiences

Britain has always tended towards the bonkers. This eccentric isle harbours all manner of strange customs and weird rites if you know where to find them. Here’s five of our favourite unusual activities; share your own below. The Chap Olympiad Those who didn’t excel in the athletic arts back when they were in short trousers…

Soviet Exhibitionism in Moscow, Russia
Soviet Exhibitionism in Moscow, Russia

For a taste of all the Soviet Union once promised and an illustration of what it has come to, there’s nowhere better than the all-Russian Exhibition Centre, known by its acronym VDNKh. This enormous park in northeast Moscow is a glorious illustration of Soviet hubris, an exuberant cultural mix ’n’ match vision of a world…

Ten essential British foodie experiences
Ten essential British foodie experiences

Get ready to add another notch on that belt as we reveal ten of our favourite foodie experiences across the UK. Let us know your top food destinations below. Witnessing oyster adulation on the Kent coast Dedicating a week-long festival to the humble oyster might seem a tough act to pull off. But Whitstable, now…

Going coastal: 12 of Britain’s best seaside spots
Going coastal: 12 of Britain’s best seaside spots

With over 5000 miles of coastline on mainline Britain alone, it’s no wonder the nation has an almost endless array of watery destinations to explore. Here’s twelve spectacular spots that are very much worth a detour. The North Norfolk coast The North Norfolk Coastal Path allows you to explore an unusual semi-watery landscape, and to access…

Tread the Plitvice boardwalks, Croatia
Tread the Plitvice boardwalks, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park, some 80km from the Adriatic, is Croatia’s most enticing natural attraction. Like a colossal water garden, this 8km string of sixteen crystal-clear, turquoise lakes descends through some of Europe’s most primeval forests (complete with brown bears, if you know where to look), connected by rushing waterfalls and linked by footpaths, wooden…

Ten top volunteer holidays
Ten top volunteer holidays

If you’ve been thinking of swapping the traditional beach and beers break for something a little more, well, useful this year, allow us to present ten inspiring options. Whether it’s monitoring fish in Tobago or cleaning elephants in Thailand, these breaks allow you to really put something back on your travels. Help conserve the Galápagos…

Seven spots for thrilling volcanic activity
Seven spots for thrilling volcanic activity

Hiking up a volcano and dunking in natural hot springs should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re yet to get up close and personal with lava, and the only geysers you’ve encountered are down the pub, might we suggest one of these memorable experiences? Hiking by Stromboli’s lava flows, Italy Stromboli is the most…

10 unexpected highlights of Croatia
10 unexpected highlights of Croatia

By now we all know what’s on the Croatia bucket list – the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Dubrovnik’s medieval walls, and at least one of Croatia’s growing roster of music festivals. However there’s a lot more to Croatia than meets the eye, so it’s well worth planning a few detours to take in some of…

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