Features // Europe

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

10 essential dolphin and whale-watching trips
10 essential dolphin and whale-watching trips

From whales in Iceland to the pink penguins of Hong Kong harbour, here’s ten of our favourite holidays for seeing whales and dolphins, taken from the pages of travel bible Great Escapes. Let us know your own below. Whale-watching off the coast of Iceland Iceland’s waters are blessed with large numbers of almost every kind…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Yorkshire’s overlooked oddities
Yorkshire’s overlooked oddities

Yorkshire boasts a wealth of big-hitting tourist attractions, but hidden away there are a few entertaining oddities which would be a shame to miss. Here, in no particular order, are ten of the best. The Teapottery Housed on an industrial estate just outside Leyburn, the Teapottery calls itself, with justification, the “home of eccentric teapots”.…

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…

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…

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…

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 –…

Ten things to do in Madrid for free
Ten things to do in Madrid for free

Sophisticated, globally minded and perfect for late-night parties – Madrid can be an expensive place to enjoy. So if you want to see the sights on a budget, timing is crucial. Many of the city’s best museums, galleries and historic buildings are free to visit but only for a few hours at a time, so…

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…

Five top British music holidays
Five top British music holidays

Britain is a nation bursting with song. While this most musical of islands has nurtured numerous world-class singers and bands, it almost bursts with festivals and concerts all year round. Here’s five favourite escapes for music fans. Add yours below. Shetland’s legendary folk festival Despite a surprisingly diverse live music scene, Shetland is best known…

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…

Twelve things we learnt at Edinburgh’s festivals
Twelve things we learnt at Edinburgh’s festivals

If you’re thinking of heading to Edinburgh for the festivals during August, there’s one thing you need to bring: time. Come loaded with lots of it, as much as you can, because it runs out quickly and you’ll head home lamenting the hundreds of treats you missed. A weekend is the bare minimum, a week…

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…

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…

Paying respects to Lenin, Moscow
Paying respects to Lenin, Moscow

One of Moscow’s unforgettable highlights is a visit to the father of the Russian revolution: Vladmir Lenin. Adam Bennett depicts his encounter with the dogmatic politician who was embalmed and preserved over 80 years ago. Staring into the bulletproof glass that separates me from the legendary Russian leader, I am surprised to see he’s still…

The best places to visit in November
The best places to visit in November

As the Northern Hemisphere is getting colder in November, below the equator things are hotting up as spring gets ready to give way to summer. The cooling temperatures aren’t all bad however, as the temperature in Egypt and India becomes far more bearable, and autumn in South Korea is a sight to behold. Check out…

Into the valley: hearing a Welsh choir
Into the valley: hearing a Welsh choir

The road into Senghenydd from the imposing Welsh castle town of Caerphilly snakes along the side of a steep slope that drops into a rocky valley below. Lined with red-toned terraced houses constructed from local stone, the village almost clings to the hillside, and though coal mining died out here long ago, the landscape still…

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,…

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…

Top British holidays for children – part two
Top British holidays for children – part two

Kids – you’ve got to love them, but you’ve also got to keep them entertained. In the second part of our special guide to British breaks for children, we look at puppet theatres, model villages, and trusty Thomas the Tank Engine. Share your own ideas for kid-friendly holidays below. Revisit the Viking era in York…

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…

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…

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…

The best places to visit in Europe in 2012
The best places to visit in Europe in 2012

London might get all the press as the world floods in for the Olympics, but elsewhere in Europe plenty of intriguing destinations are on the rise, either due to special events planned for this year or new attractions that are just beginning to draw visitors. So what are Europe’s best holiday ideas in 2012? We’ve…

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…

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…

Follow in the footsteps of kings at Bath Spa, England
Follow in the footsteps of kings at Bath Spa, England

For almost twenty years at the end of the last century, Britain’s most famous spa town had no thermal baths. The opening of the new Thermae Bath Spa in 2006, at the centre of this World Heritage City, was therefore a watershed in Bath’s history. Once the haunt of the Roman elite who founded 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…

Ten weird and wonderful British competitions
Ten weird and wonderful British competitions

The British appetite for all things eccentric – particularly anything with a competitive element – ensures that on any given weekend you can find a bunch of people who lead otherwise sensible lives in a damp field somewhere snorkelling through bog water, racing pigs or chucking around black puddings. Here are the best ones to…

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 best places to go in September
The best places to go in September

As the summer holiday season winds down, September is the perfect time to get an off-peak deal or some late sun. Here are our choices for the best places to go on holiday in September. Add your own trip ideas below. Surfing in North Devon, UK For surfers steering board-laden camper vans down North Devon’s…

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…

Fire festivals around the world
Fire festivals around the world

A great fire festival should be on everybody’s bucket list. Here we rundown some of the greats… Guy Fawkes Night, UK “Remember, remember the fifth of November – gunpowder, treason and plot” – a rhyme Brits have grown up reciting in the run-up to Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night).…

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…

Meet the locals – how to immerse yourself on your travels
Meet the locals – how to immerse yourself on your travels

However good your intentions are, it’s often all too easy to retreat to the comfort of the hotel room and shy away from really engaging with the locals when you’re on your travels. Here’s a selection of holiday ideas that will thrust you into the heart of the community you’re visiting and foster a much…

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…

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…

Five top blow-the-budget hotels in Britain
Five top blow-the-budget hotels in Britain

Feeling flush? Or perhaps just in need of a treat? Why not try one of these luxurious and extravagant establishments… Babington House, Somerset Babington House, near Frome, pioneered the modern brand of country-house chic back in 1998, when its seductive mix of heritage, pampering and cool design, set against a backdrop of rolling Somerset hills,…

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