Features // Europe

Soaking in lake Mývatn’s hot springs, Iceland
Soaking in lake Mývatn’s hot springs, Iceland

Most people visit Iceland in summer, when once or twice a week it actually stops raining and the sun shines in a way that makes you think, briefly, about taking off your sweater. The hills show off their green, yellow and red gravel faces to best effect, and you can even get around easily without…

Ten top British breaks for sports fans
Ten top British breaks for sports fans

From cricket at Lords to darts in Lakeside and boxing in London, here’s ten of our favourite British sporting breaks. Share your own below. Visiting the home of cricket at Lord’s Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard once said that he considered Lord’s “the cathedral of cricket”. Nestled into your seat at a Test match…

Top five wildlife experiences for kids
Top five wildlife experiences for kids

Banish boredom and the are-we-nearly-home-yet blues with five of our favourite British experiences for children, including safari parks,underwater adventures, and a healthy dollop of monkey business. Africa Alive!, Suffolk It turns out the UK’s Sunrise Coast isn’t as far from Africa as you thought. You need a good imagination to picture the African savannah in…

Hearing wolves howl, Sweden
Hearing wolves howl, Sweden

Deep in the Swedish birch forest your mind can begin to play tricks. As the shadows lengthen and a chill creeps into the pine-scented air you’re reminded of the folk tales that originated here, from gnomes and trolls to the siren call of the Tallemaja or “Lady of the Woods”. But there is one much-mythologized creature very much…

The world’s best breakfasts
The world’s best breakfasts

Morning habits are hard to break. You may love everything about a new country, but breakfast is often where culture shock first sets in. Staring down at your bowl, half-awake, all you can think is: how can they eat this in the morning? But breakfast in a foreign land can be one of the most…

Following the Oyster Trail in Galway, Ireland
Following the Oyster Trail in Galway, Ireland

A canny bit of marketing may lie behind the origins of the Galway International Oyster Festival, but Ireland’s longest-running and greatest gourmet extravaganza continues to celebrate the arrival of the new oyster season in the finest way possible: with a three-day furore of drinking, dancing and crustacean guzzling. Just after midday in Eyre Square, Galway’s…

Extreme hiking in Iceland: the Laugavegur trail
Extreme hiking in Iceland: the Laugavegur trail

In an adventure only for the bravest hikers, David Leffman tackles the rhyolite hills, black sand deserts and the icy glacier caps of the 55km trail from Landmannalaugar to Skógar. Whiteout. Five hours into a five-day hike and I was already stuck in a blizzard, barely able to see my feet through the stinging wind-driven…

20 great beaches in France
20 great beaches in France

Thanks to its three long stretches of coastline, France has plenty of great beaches. From upmarket resorts to the secluded calanques (coves) and beaches steeped with historical significance, there are a variety of opportunities for fans of the sand. Our selection of 20 top beaches was taken from the latest Rough Guide to France. Barneville, Barneville-Carteret,…

Music, dance and drama in ancient Aspendos, Turkey
Music, dance and drama in ancient Aspendos, Turkey

It’s a hot summer’s evening; overhead is a soft, purple-black and star-strewn sky. The incessant chirrup of cicadas mingles with the murmur of thousands of voices – Turkish, German, English, Russian – and the popping of corks, as the 15,000-strong audience settles down, passes round wine and olives and eagerly awaits the entertainment ahead. All…

Eat the original: five places for authentic food
Eat the original: five places for authentic food

After a long time on the road, menus – especially on the budget end – start to blur together into a mix of familiar fast-food staples, whether you’re in France or the Philippines. It’s easy to forget that some of the foods people the world over eat with gusto are actually based on a single…

Turkey in twelve meals
Turkey in twelve meals

Updating a guidebook is fascinating, exhausting, repetitive and exhilarating work. Nothing spurs you under the skin of a place more than 40 pages of listings that need checking in detail and the thought of thousands of travellers following your footsteps and relying on your diligence. Pounding the streets in search of that new café, lifting…

20 Facts about Turkey you never knew
20 Facts about Turkey you never knew

You probably didn’t know Turkey’s real name, you might have been confused about which city is the capital, and you probably thought tulips came from the Netherlands. It turns out, you were probably wrong. There is a lot more to Turkey than meets the eye – between the beaches and bustling markets lies a wealth…

Browsing La Boqueria, Spain
Browsing La Boqueria, Spain

It happens to most newcomers: noses flare, eyes widen and pulses quicken upon entering La Boqueria, Barcelona’s cathedral to comida fresca (fresh food). Pass through the handsome Modernista cast-iron gateway and you’re rapidly sucked in by the raw, noisy energy of the cavernous hall, the air dense with the salty tang of the sea and…

Hiker’s paradise – seven essential walking trips
Hiker’s paradise – seven essential walking trips

Grab those boots, the ones that were made for walking, as we’re taking you on a trip round the world’s best hiking spots. From Estonian bogs to Ethiopian highlands, these are some of the most memorable walking trips we’ve ever experienced. Bog walking in Estonia Estonia is said by its locals to have a fifth…

Thoughtful travel – ten spots to remember the past
Thoughtful travel – ten spots to remember the past

There are some places in the world that you may not immediately think of visiting. Among all the favourite churches, museums and galleries lurk some more disturbing locations with morbid histories, places that represent the darker side of humanity. They may not be top of your itineraries, but they’re equally – if not more –…

The world’s strangest sports
The world’s strangest sports

For all the media’s focus on big-money events, it’s often weird local games or odd new hybrid events that really capture the joy of sport across the world. So we asked the authors of The Rough Guide to Cult Sport to select their ten favourite strange sports from the book (with apologies to the likes…

Travelling with children – a cautionary tale
Travelling with children – a cautionary tale

As part of our travel with children week, Ross McGovern recounts one particularly fraught journey with kids in tow. Travelling with children is hard enough at the best of times, but my trip to the ecumenical community of Taize in France with a four-year-old was particularly ill-planned. I’d seriously underestimated her capacity for road travel…

Canoeing down the Dordogne, France
Canoeing down the Dordogne, France

Have you ever fancied paddling in speckled sunlight past ancient châteaux and honey-hued villages, stopping off for a spot of gentle sightseeing and ending the day with a well-earned gastronomic extravaganza? If so, then canoeing down the Dordogne river in southwest France is just the ticket. For a 170km stretch from Argentat down to Mauzac…

Wild and remote Britain
Wild and remote Britain

Britain’s more remote fringes are perfect for getting back to nature. Here’s seven our our favourite wild and remote spots drawn from travel bible Make The Most Of Your Time In Britain. Visit Bardsey, island of 20,000 saints You might get more than you bargain for if you’re out for a breath of fresh air…

Gigging in Glasgow, Scotland
Gigging in Glasgow, Scotland

Pop stars, travelling from coach to bar and from plane to arena, are notoriously oblivious about the city they happen to be performing in. There are countless stories of frontmen bellowing “Hello, Detroit!” when they’re actually in Toronto. But some places have a genuine buzz about them. London is fine, but all too often its…

Hoarding books in Hay-on-Wye, Wales
Hoarding books in Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Though a drive through the electrically green countryside that surrounds Hay-on-Wye makes for a perfectly lovely afternoon, a more potent draw is the sleepy Welsh town’s mouthwatering amount of printed matter: with over a million books crammed into its aging stores, quaint, cobblestoned Hay-on-Wye (Y Gelli, in Welsh) is a bibliophilic Mecca to be reckoned…

Ten stunning film locations across Britain
Ten stunning film locations across Britain

Britain crams an impressive array of landscapes, historical sites and urban environments into a relatively small area, making it a popular location for a wide range of films. Here’s a selection of well-known film locations that also make for a great day out, whether you want a relaxing walk or a session in the surf.…

Eight top British houses and homes
Eight top British houses and homes

Britain is so packed full of historic homes and houses it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s a few of our favourite homes open to the public across the country. Dennis Severs’ House, London When sitting idly at home, do you ever try to picture who has lived there before you? Dennis…

The 20 best beaches in Turkey
The 20 best beaches in Turkey

Beach holidays in Turkey are often synonymous with (mostly) British tourists occupying row after row of sun loungers, rowdy club nights and expensive all-inclusive resorts. However, using public transport, or your own car, you can get to some of the best beaches in Turkey in no time. Meet the loggerhead turtles who bury their eggs…

Things not to miss in Croatia
Things not to miss in Croatia

Despite being one of Europe’s most fashionable destinations for summer holidays, Croatia still doesn’t feel like it’s been tarnished by the tourism industry. It still has charm, beauty and a huge variety of things to see and do. You can find peaceful coves and buzzing nightlife, historical sights and excellent cuisine. With more than 2000km…

10 great festivals and events across the UK
10 great festivals and events across the UK

From Hogmanay in Edinburgh to Bonfire Night in Lewes, Britain is home to a whole range of excellent festivals and events throughout the year. If you’re planning a visit anytime soon we recommend you build you trip around one of these memorable parties. Notting Hill Carnival in London Carnival Sunday morning and in streets eerily…

A night out in Independence Street, Turkey
A night out in Independence Street, Turkey

You’ve had a satisfying day or two’s heavy sightseeing in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district. You’re culturally replete – but have a nagging feeling that you’ve missed something. The locals. Just what the hell do they do in this metropolis of fifteen million souls? To find out, head across the Golden Horn to Independence Street (İstiklal Caddesi), the nation’s liveliest…

Top ten great British wildlife experiences
Top ten great British wildlife experiences

Get up close to nature with our pick of the ten best wildlife sites across the UK, and let us know your own top British wildlife experiences below. Starling work on the Somerset Levels An eerie sight greets visitors to the Somerset Levels in late autumn and winter. At dusk between November and January a…

Toasting bad weather in the Scottish Highlands
Toasting bad weather in the Scottish Highlands

First, be glad that it rains so much in Scotland. Without the rain the rivers here wouldn’t run – the Livet, the Fiddich, the Spey. Without the rain the glens wouldn’t be green and the barley wouldn’t grow tall and plump. Be glad it’s damp here in Scotland. Peat needs a few centuries sitting in…

What’s the best festival you’ve been to?
What’s the best festival you’ve been to?

While February might not spring to mind as a time of celebration, some of the world’s greatest festivals are going on this month – not least the Kumbh Mela, rumoured to be the largest gathering on earth, and the infamous Rio Carnaval. Elsewhere, with ten days until Chinese New Year, cities across China and the…

Eat your way round Britain – 5 protected British foods
Eat your way round Britain – 5 protected British foods

They may not be as internationally renowned as Parma ham, Greek feta, or champagne, but Britain boasts an increasing range of tasty regional produce  whose “unique heritage, character and reputation” is protected by the EU. Here are five of the best. Herefordshire cider Cider’s come a long way since the days of The Wurzels, and…

Top ten unusual places to stay in Britain
Top ten unusual places to stay in Britain

From ornate Victorian water towers to wave-battered houses in the sea, Britain in bursting with unusual places to stay. Try one from this list below, and you’ll refuse to stay in a Travelodge ever again. La Rosa, Whitby, North Yorkshire Way before the “glamping” revolution, a campsite near Whitby started putting people up in vintage…

Hot coals for Constantine, Greece
Hot coals for Constantine, Greece

In a handful of sleepy farming villages in northern Greece, the fire-walking ritual is an annual celebration of a thirteenth-century miracle, when locals rescued icons from a burning church – without being burned themselves. By nightfall, the towering bonfire in the main square has dwindled to glowing embers. Every light is put out and all…

Navigating a Swedish smorgasbord, Sweden
Navigating a Swedish smorgasbord, Sweden

Offhand, how many different ways can you think of to prepare herring or salmon? The two fish are staples of the smörgåsbord and, at last count, there were well over 120 varieties being used in restaurants and kitchens across Sweden. The Swedish smörgåsbord (literally “buttered table”) is a massive all-you-can-eat buffet where you can sample…

Folking out under the Sugar Loaf, Wales
Folking out under the Sugar Loaf, Wales

Convertibles sell better in Britain than in much of the Mediterranean. That might make it sound like the inhabitants of this damp island are stupid. A kinder explanation is that they just enjoy the sunshine when it comes – an impression that will have struck anyone who’s attended a pop festival in the UK with…

10 unusual types of transport
10 unusual types of transport

Getting around abroad doesn’t have to be all about cars, trains, buses and bikes. From cruising Peru’s Lake Titicaca on a boat made of reeds to flying down the streets of Madeira in a wicker toboggan or taking an odd horse-drawn carriage in Pakistan, there are so many unusual types of travel to be tried.…

Eight wet and wild water adventures
Eight wet and wild water adventures

From rafting to swimming, snorkelling and diving, here’s a few of our favourite water-based holidays around the world. Surfing at Raglan, New Zealand Don’t be surprised if you to come to the beach town of Raglan and stay for longer than intended. Many do. Experienced surfers are drawn by the reliable swells and one of…

Gorging on chocolates in Brussels, Belgium
Gorging on chocolates in Brussels, Belgium

The Mayans may have invented chocolate long ago, but Belgium is today its world headquarters, and nowhere more so than Brussels, whose temples to the art of the brown stuff are second to none. It’s not just a tourist thing, although within the vicinity of the Grande-Place you could be forgiven for thinking so. Chocolate…

Sampling macaroons for her majesty, France
Sampling macaroons for her majesty, France

It’s 5.30pm on a Friday, and a queue stretches out through the door of Ladurée, on rue Royale near the Place de la Madeleine. If you’re wondering what the fuss is about, just take one look at the display of fabulous cakes and pastries – so renowned are Ladurée’s confections that foodies will cross Paris…

Solving the mysteries of Pompeii, Italy
Solving the mysteries of Pompeii, Italy

Pity the poor folk picking through the rubble of the Forum in Rome. To make the most of the ruins there you have to use your imagination. In the ancient Roman resort town of Pompeii, however, it’s a little easier. Pompeii was famously buried by Vesuvius in 79 AD, and the result is perhaps the…

Our top 30 holiday destinations
Our top 30 holiday destinations

 To celebrate Rough Guides reaching the grand old age of 30 this year, we’ve asked some of our writers, editors and staff members to nominate their favourite holiday destinations across the world. Be prepared for some acute pangs of wanderlust… Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast James Smart, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides The sandy, snorkel-friendly Corn Islands…

Unusual accommodation ideas
Unusual accommodation ideas

If you’re the kind of traveller that seeks out new and unusual accommodation, allow us to present some really far out suggestions. From ice hotels to underwater boltholes, here’s some of our favourite wacky hotels around the world, taken from Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth. Troglodyte villages, Tunisia When Tunisia gained its…

Travel bargains for 2012
Travel bargains for 2012

This article was originally posted in February 2012 Tourism is a lifeline for so many countries, but economic crisis, civil unrest or natural disasters can suddenly pull the plug on visitor numbers. And this can be a great time to experience these countries: often many areas are still safe, locals will usually be delighted to…

Britain’s top five surfing spots
Britain’s top five surfing spots

There are times when Britain’s wet and windy climate comes in very handy – such as, for instance, when you’re a surfer. All that wind and wet blowing in off the surrounding seas produces surprisingly consistent and varied surf year-round, and thanks to the combination of Gulf Stream warmth and high-tech wet suits conditions are…

World rituals – eight captivating celebrations
World rituals – eight captivating celebrations

One of the great pleasures of travel is observing – and learning from – the locals. Here’s a selection of awe-inspiring rituals from around the world, that feature dancing, theatrics and a little sacrificial slaughter. Cavorting with the kukeri, Bulgaria When it comes to the rich folk heritage of Eastern Europe, few events carry the…

Top British holidays for children – part one
Top British holidays for children – part one

Our rundown of essential holiday experiences for kids features farms, festivals, wild watery adventures and even a spot of digger driving. As ever, share your own child-friendly holiday ideas below. Getting wet and wild on the Pembrokeshire coast There are family days out that involve being a spectator or sitting down for a ride. And…

Kaffee and kuchen in a Viennese kaffeehaus, Austria
Kaffee and kuchen in a Viennese kaffeehaus, Austria

As refined as afternoon tea and as sacred as the Japanese tea ceremony, Kaffee und Kuchen – coffee and cake – is the most civilized of Viennese rituals. It is not an experience to be rushed, and should you try, the archetypal grumpy Viennese waiter will surely sabotage your efforts. Kaffee und Kuchen is as much a cultural as…

Top five crime-related holiday experiences
Top five crime-related holiday experiences

Go behind bars in Liepaja, Latvia The best place to book yourself in for a bit of rough treatment is the former naval prison in Karosta. Formerly used as a punishment block for unruly sailors, the grim-looking red-brick prison is now the venue for “Behind Bars” a two-hour interactive performance that involves being herded at…

The world’s most expensive cities
The world’s most expensive cities

Don’t go to Japan or Australia if you’re looking after your pennies. A new poll from the Economist Intelligence Unit has placed Tokyo and Osaka as the first and second most expensive cities in the world, followed closely by Sydney, Oslo and Melbourne. Personally, I didn’t find Oslo too bad, but as a Londoner I’m…

Tear gas in Taksim Square – Turkey in turmoil?
Tear gas in Taksim Square – Turkey in turmoil?

Tim Chester recounts his experiences travelling through Turkey a month ago – including a brief encounter with tear gas – and explains how the current situation doesn’t reflect the country as a whole. Nothing prepares you for your first faceful of tear gas. It dismantles three of your senses at once, knocking out sight, smell…

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