Features // Europe

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,…

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…

A gourmet guide to Croatia
A gourmet guide to Croatia

Croatia’s growing popularity as a tourist destination hasn’t led to a levelling down of gastronomic standards; on the contrary it has had the effect of tweaking them upwards. The rediscovery of regional recipes, a boutique approach to wine production, and a flair for combining creativity with tradition are the main themes of Croatia’s burgeoning foodie…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 five British children’s museums
Top five British children’s museums

Britain’s museums and galleries have upped their game, now entertaining and enthralling young visitors as well as educating them. Where “don’t touch” used to be a common command, these days children are positively encouraged to interact, often involving some mind-blowing hands-on displays. Here are some of our favourites. Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great…

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…

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…

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 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…

A guide to the best pubs in Edinburgh
A guide to the best pubs in Edinburgh

From historic bars pouring the finest whiskies to gastropubs serving up gourmet burgers, Edinburgh has a drinking den to satisfy every craving. There are some world-class establishments here but also plenty of duds. Follow our guide (and steer clear of the Grassmarket) for the best night out the Scottish capital has to offer. Best for…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Top holiday ideas for thrill seekers
Top holiday ideas for thrill seekers

If you like your holidays with a pinch – or even liberal lashings – of adrenalin, then you may want to check one of these life-changing experiences out. Taken from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, here’s ten ultimate trips for thrill seekers. Sand-skiing in the dunes, Qatar Launching yourself…

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…

Party in the sun at Boom, Portugal
Party in the sun at Boom, Portugal

Twenty thousand revellers each year come to Boom, Europe’s greatest outdoor dance-music festival, which takes place for a week over the August full moon on a lakeside ranch about 60km from Lisbon. In true summer-of-love fashion it combines non-stop dance music with eco-idealism: here you’ll find sustainability workshops, recycling and composting bins, a permaculture garden…

Croatia’s best beachside campsites
Croatia’s best beachside campsites

Croatia’s growing popularity with independent travellers has given a new lease of life to the Adriatic camping scene, with a new breed of small, family-owned sites squeezing themselves into some beautiful corners of the country’s famously stunning coastline. Facilities are improving – nowadays you get things like wi-fi as well as hot water – but it’s…

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…

Five great nostalgia trips around Britain
Five great nostalgia trips around Britain

Britain has a lot of history, and heritage coming out of its ears, but it’s not all stately homes, worthy-but-dull museums and nerd-heavy battle re-enactments. The booming nostalgia industry throws up some fantastic participatory experiences. Here’s five of our faves. Beamish, County Durham Britain’s best open-air museum puts you right in the middle of daily…

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…

Britain’s top five steam railways
Britain’s top five steam railways

Is it the fact that the British invented them? Or that children know Thomas and Percy better than their own parents? Or that peaked caps, billowing steam and The Railway Children bring a strange quiver to grown men’s hearts? Whatever the reason, there’s something about the British and their steam railway heritage that only a…

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.…

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…

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…

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…

Heading into deepest mafia country, Italy
Heading into deepest mafia country, Italy

The deep south, toe-end region of Aspromonte is still considered by many Italians to be out of bounds. For it is here, among the thick forests, crenellated mountain peaks and tumbledown villages, that the n’drangheta, or Calabrian mafia, based their empire until the 1990s. The organisation had its origins in landless nineteenth-century peasant workers who…

Get down and dirty in Dalyan, Turkey
Get down and dirty in Dalyan, Turkey

Stepping off the boat at Dalyan’s mud baths, you’ll be forgiven for wishing you hadn’t. But don’t be put off by the revolting rotten-egg stench of the sulphur pools – after a revitalizing day here, you’ll be gagging for more. The instructions are simple – roll in the mud, bake yourself in the sun till…

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…

Six up-and-coming destinations to consider
Six up-and-coming destinations to consider

Sometimes visiting the world’s best-known destinations can be a little tiring – so many people, piling in and out of attractions, keen to see, do and experience the same things. Almost anywhere can feel like a tourist trap at the wrong time of year. So if you’ve decided to spend your next trip feeling a…

Top cooking breaks
Top cooking breaks

Some say that the best way to discover a country is through its food. For the epicurious, cooking vacations give you the chance to delve deeper into a country’s cuisine beyond its restaurants and markets. You’ll get a crash course in local produce at a food market then dive straight into the kitchen with a…

The world’s best bars
The world’s best bars

If you’re bored of your local pub, why not try one of these drinking holes around the world? From kava in Fiji to caipirinhas in Rio, via the most remote beer in the world, we’ve rounded up some unique drinking experiences in our quest for the best bars in the world. Well someone had to do…

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…

Top British excursions for book lovers
Top British excursions for book lovers

If you fancy a book pilgrimage this year, look no further than our round-up of Britain’s top literary destinations, taken from the pages of Make The Most Of Your Time In Britain. The Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye is a lovely, little Welsh border town that is a pleasure to hang out in for a variety of…

Hiking in the Tatras, Poland
Hiking in the Tatras, Poland

The country’s traditional attractions – Warsaw’s lively old town and Kraków’s gorgeous squares – are worthwhile stops, but it’s easy to forget that there is another Poland, a genuine wilderness of high (and often snowbound) peaks, populated by lynx and bears. The Tatras Mountains are as beautiful as any national park in Europe, and their…

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).…

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…

Five stunning white villages of Andalucia
Five stunning white villages of Andalucia

The Alhambra Palace in Granada; the Mezquita in Cordoba; the Alcazar and the Barrio de Santa Cruz in Seville… Andalucia certainly isn’t short of big-name sights. But beyond the cities (with their throngs of visitors) and crowning the dramatic landscapes that stretch away, lies another, just as appealing side: the stunning white villages of Andalucia.…

A day at The Eden Project, Cornwall
A day at The Eden Project, Cornwall

Home to over a million plants and more than five thousand different species from around the world, the iconic “biomes” (gigantic greenhouses) at the Eden Project are the focus of the UK’s premier green attraction. Built on the site of a former clay quarry, the Rainforest Biome houses plants from tropical islands, Malaysia, West Africa…

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…

Five of the world’s best clubs
Five of the world’s best clubs

Tired of your local nightclub? Bored of trekking to the same venue every Saturday night? Then try one of these awesome experiences from Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth, as witnessed by Rough Guides writers all over the world. Techno and turbo-folk: having a blast in Belgrade Belgrade has every right to proclaim…

Ten beautiful time-lapse videos
Ten beautiful time-lapse videos

Time-lapse photography, where multiple images are captured and played back at an increased speed, can portray the world in unusual and awe-inspiring ways. Here’s a look at ten of the best clips we’ve seen, featuring Yosemite National Park at night, a flight across the USA, and the northern lights. Yosemite Range of Light This clip,…

A new side to the Czech Republic – five marvels of Moravia
A new side to the Czech Republic – five marvels of Moravia

The word’s been out for some time now: the Czech Republic does not begin and end with Prague. A little further over to the east, for example, the region of Moravia stands out for having all the rural Czech hallmarks you could possibly hope for – while at the same time still being within easy reach of…

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…

London – an interactive movie guide
London – an interactive movie guide

Be it the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, or the neon headache that is Piccadilly Circus, film directors have blown countless reels of stock on London’s iconic sights. One legacy of the Big Smoke’s 2000-year history is an array of buildings and vistas that lend themselves to the cinematic treatment, from flicks that deal in…

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