Features // Europe

A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences
A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences

There’s nowhere quite like Scotland. This epic land of mighty mountains, plunging glens and surging rivers offers a sweep of experiences that you just cannot find anywhere else. If you’ve ever wanted to have your own kilt fitted, canoe down a river fuelled by a wee dram or hop on Europe’s only scheduled flight to land…

Bee tourism in Slovenia: the travel trend with plenty of buzz
Bee tourism in Slovenia: the travel trend with plenty of buzz

You’ve probably never heard of apitourism, or even considered “bee tourism” to be a thing. But it is, and it’s a travel trend swarming all over Slovenia. While bee populations in countries such as the US are dwindling at an alarming rate, Slovenia is the only EU member state to have officially protected its prized…

21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon
21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon

Iceland‘s landscapes look different from every angle and at every time of day. Whether it’s a late-morning sunrise in the middle of winter, or the aurora borealis dancing in the skies above a glassy lake, the country produces vistas that make even the most travel-weary adventurers say “wow”. The climate can be challenging, but the rewards are plenty –…

In pictures: Wales hosts Europe’s largest Elvis Presley festival
In pictures: Wales hosts Europe’s largest Elvis Presley festival

Last week, Porthcawl in South Wales hosted Europe’s biggest gathering of Elvis Presley lookalikes. This annual festival sees the small seaside town flooded with Elvis fans and tribute acts for a weekend-long rock ‘n’ roll romp. The action culminates on Saturday night at the The Elvies award show, “the World’s leading award show for Elvis Tribute Artists”, with awards dished out for the…

8 reasons why Belgrade is Europe’s hidden highlight
8 reasons why Belgrade is Europe’s hidden highlight

Serbia’s capital is always on the move – a constantly changing scene of new bars and restaurants alongside old favourites. After a scorching hot summer, temperatures are now perfect for getting the most out of the city’s lively café culture and Eastern Europe’s best nightlife. Here are a few reasons why Belgrade is a hidden…

9 of the best road trips in Europe
9 of the best road trips in Europe

From the sunny shores of Portugal to the darkest dungeons of Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, the following itineraries can be easily combined, shortened, or altered to suit your wayfaring tastes. If you’ve got wheels, wanderlust and a spot of time, here’s some adventure fuel. Start your engines: these are the best road trips in Europe.…

Exploring London’s hidden waterways
Exploring London’s hidden waterways

Go to Venice or Amsterdam, and you can hardly cross a street without tumbling into a canal. In London, you have to dig deeper. You’re looking for the Regent’s Canal, which stretches from chichi Maida Vale to Thames-side Limehouse, and cutting past London Zoo’s aviaries, Camden’s pop kids, Islington restaurants and Hackney high-rises on its way. Built…

Rotterdam: 8 reasons to visit the Netherlands’ second city
Rotterdam: 8 reasons to visit the Netherlands’ second city

Rotterdam has the confident vibe of a place on the up. Amsterdam might still be the brightest beacon for travellers to the Netherlands, but a host of exciting new attractions are putting this southern city on the map. Last year, Rotterdam Central railway station and the Markthal, a market hall and apartment complex whose arched…

Hedonism and history make Lisbon the perfect city break
Hedonism and history make Lisbon the perfect city break

It was not too long ago that Lisbon was often dismissed as the unfashionable capital of Portugal, the ‘Poor Man of Europe’. This was harsh on a city that spectacularly straddles the River Tejo with a flurry of old world architecture, rich African cultural influences and a notoriously wild nightlife scene. Today, savvy city breakers…

The best pizza joints in Naples
The best pizza joints in Naples

Where better to eat pizza than in the city where it was invented? Naples’ most affordable food is also its most sacred; a local saying goes “you can insult my mother but never my pizzamaker”. You can’t come to the city without trying an authentic crusty pizza, baked rapidly in a searingly hot wood-fired oven…

Paris is going car-free next week
Paris is going car-free next week

In a ground-breaking eco initiative, Paris is going car-free for the first time. Next week, on Sunday the 27th September, cars will be banned from the centre of the city from 11am to 6pm. Despite the well-known Velib cycle-sharing scheme, Pais is struggling with pollution. The organisers hope the project will galvanise residents to think about how they are shaping the future…

7 reasons why Cologne could be Germany’s coolest city
7 reasons why Cologne could be Germany’s coolest city

If you’re looking for a city with fairytale architecture and gas-lit cobbled alleyways, you should probably stop reading now. Book a flight to Prague or Paris and be done with it. For Cologne (or Köln), is at first glance underwhelming in its postwar geometricity, with more busy roads than pedestrianised ones and only one blockbuster sight…

6 reasons to visit Edinburgh outside of the Fringe
6 reasons to visit Edinburgh outside of the Fringe

It’s that time of year again: Edinburgh has taken off its Festival face and the Fringe has finally petered out of our social media feeds. After a month-long celebration of all things arts, culture and creativity, the city can go back to sleep. Or can it? It’s not all about the Fringe in Scotland’s capital…

24 pictures that will make you marvel at northern Italy
24 pictures that will make you marvel at northern Italy

After a two-and-a-half-month research trip for the next edition of the Rough Guide to Italy, Kiki Deere shares some of her stunning pictures of northern Italy.  My trip took me across northern Italy, from the Western Alps to the Slovenian border. In Piedmont I strolled the pretty Baroque streets of Turin, and sampled some of the…

In pictures: the 30th Bog Snorkelling World Championships
In pictures: the 30th Bog Snorkelling World Championships

In August 2015 the world’s finest athletes gathered in one place to push their bodies to the limits. No, we’re not talking about the Beijing World Championships, we’re talking about the 30th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships. By Peter Barnett © www.focusdisplay.co.uk That’s right. Last weekend around 150 competitors from across the globe assembled at Waen…

The best pubs in Ireland for traditional music
The best pubs in Ireland for traditional music

If the Irish didn’t invent the pub, they’ve certainly espoused its cause with great vigour. The pub retains a pivotal place in Irish society. It’s the place where stories are narrated, deals and pacts are made, jokes are told and traditional music is heard. During the 1990s, the “Irish pub” concept (albeit with “authentic” period…

A bar in London wants you to get tipsy by inhaling a cloud of gin
A bar in London wants you to get tipsy by inhaling a cloud of gin

Drinking alcohol is so passé. In 2015 London, it’s all about inhaling vapourised booze through your lungs and eyeballs. Set in the basement of an ancient monastery near Borough Market, Alcoholic Architecture is the latest installation from Willy Wonka-esque design firm Bompas and Parr, who have previously made an entire steamship out of jelly and…

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

This competition is now closed. 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…

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…

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