Features // Europe

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…

Britain’s top ten beaches
Britain’s top ten beaches

There’s a lot of coastline wrapped around this isle – over ten thousand miles of it, in fact. Factor in Britain’s astonishing variety of landscapes and you have a country whose beaches range from epic strands to tiny notches chipped from cliffs, wilderness islands to prim Edwardian resorts. Here’s ten of the best beaches in…

Cities which aren’t the capital – but should be
Cities which aren’t the capital – but should be

Predictably, our first visit to a country will often focus on its capital city. Not only does this mean everybody sees the same old stuff, but this blind focus on the capital can also mean other great cities go unappreciated. So here we present five cities we think are worthy of – and sadly lacking…

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…

Travel news: the rise of virtual tourism?
Travel news: the rise of virtual tourism?

Rough Guides author Steve Vickers takes a look at the latest travel news and weirdness, including a new, Ferrari-branded theme park and the rise of virtual tourism. No more battling to see the Terracotta Army In 1974, farmers discovered thousands of life-sized soldier statues buried in the dirt near Xi’an, in central China. Forty years…

Six truly epic surfing spots around the world
Six truly epic surfing spots around the world

From Spain to El Salvador, our round-up of the best surfing sites from Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth covers some spectacular breaks. So whether you’re a seasoned surfer or you’ve never been near a board in your life – let alone caught a wave or hung ten – give one of these…

Where to try an Olympic sport in Britain
Where to try an Olympic sport in Britain

With London 2012 and memories of the summer Olympics still resonating around the world, you may be tempted to try some of the various sports and disciplines yourselves. Here’s five spots that offer top training for the next Olympic games. Archery The perfect place for a taste of archery is undoubtedly Sherwood Forest, legendary home…

La Tomatina: the greatest tomato fight on Earth
La Tomatina: the greatest tomato fight on Earth

“You are the smartest person I know.” The girl seemed serious in her praise, but I couldn’t help but doubt her accuracy – after all, I was wedged in the middle of a crowd of 45,000 other people, waiting to throw tomatoes around for an hour, and she was talking about the fact that I’d…

St Petersburg’s White Nights
St Petersburg’s White Nights

Imagine spending all day sightseeing, taking a shower and a nap, and then looking out of the window to see the sky as bright as midday. Your body kicks into overdrive, and the whole day seems to lie ahead of you. The streets throng with people toting guitars and bottles of champagne or vodka; naval…

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…

Top ten things to do in Estonia
Top ten things to do in Estonia

From the cultured capital of Tallinn to the winter-playground that is Otepää, here are ten of our favourite things to do in Estonia.  Admire the beauty of Alatskivi Castle Originally dating back to the sixteenth century, Alatskivi Castle was rebuilt between 1876 and 1885 by Baron von Nolcken who was inspired by the royal residence…

Champagne tasting in Epernay, France
Champagne tasting in Epernay, France

Champagne is an exclusive drink, in all senses of the word, what with its upmarket associations and the fact that it can be made only from the grapes grown in the Champagne region of northern France. The centre of champagne production is Épernay, a town that’s made much of its association with the fizzy stuff, and where all…

Standing at the heart of Mother Russia
Standing at the heart of Mother Russia

Stand in the middle of Moscow’s Red Square and in a 360-degree turn, the turbulent past and present of Russia is encapsulated in one fell swoop: flagships of Orthodox Christianity, Tsarist autocracy, communist dictatorship and rampant consumerism confront each other before your eyes. Red Square, is, well, red-ish, but its name actually derives from an old Russian word for…

12 top destinations for art holidays in Britain
12 top destinations for art holidays in Britain

If you fancy indulging your inner artist on your next British break, try one of these excellent galleries and art spaces across Britain. The Baltic, Newcastle Towering over the Tyne is Baltic, Gateshead’s striking contemporary art centre. Still emblazoned with the words Baltic Flour Mills, this uncompromisingly modernist building has just as much presence as…

Joining the truffle train in Buzet, Croatia
Joining the truffle train in Buzet, Croatia

Even the most committed of culinary explorers often find the truffle an acquired taste. Part nut, part mushroom, part sweaty sock, the subtle but insistent flavour of this subterranean fungus inspires something approaching gastronomic hysteria among its army of admirers. Nowhere is truffle worship more fervent than in the Croatian province of Istria, a beautiful…

Cycling in the Dutch countryside
Cycling in the Dutch countryside

If you like the idea of cycling, but would rather cut off both arms and legs than bike up a mountain, then perhaps The Netherlands is the perfect place for you – especially if you’re also scared of traffic. The most cycle-friendly country in the world, Holland has a fantastically well-integrated network of cycle paths…

Behold the northern lights, Sweden
Behold the northern lights, Sweden

They appear as shimmering arcs and waves of light, often blue or green in colour, which seem to sweep their way across the dark skies. During the darkest months of the year, the northern lights, or aurora borealis, are visible in the night sky all across northern Sweden. Until you see the light displays yourself,…

9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015
9 new tourist attractions to visit in 2015

With a whole host of new attractions opening this year, from world-record-beating skyscrapers to whacky amusement parks, there’s plenty to get your teeth into. To help you decide where to visit, we’ve picked the top 9 new tourist attractions around the world.  Shanghai Tower, China A better symbol of China’s continuing march forward would be harder to…

Introducing the Rough Guide to Vintage London
Introducing the Rough Guide to Vintage London

Rough Guides has muted its orange and blue tones for the release of The Rough Guide to Vintage London, a comprehensive guide to vintage shopping, culture and lifestyle in London. Whether you’re looking for a retro bicycle, Mod cafe, a fifties frock, or just somewhere a bit different to go for Friday night drinks then The Rough…

Navigating Portugal’s Lake Alqueva
Navigating Portugal’s Lake Alqueva

Equipped with her compass, Helen Abramson goes treasure hunting on manmade Lake Alqueva and discovers the joys of GPS during a geocaching adventure. On the map, Lake Alqueva appears as a fierce artery, stretching out into countless capillaries offering countless opportunities to get lost. I feel prepared though; I’ve brought my compass. I’ll be staying…

A first time guide to Edinburgh’s festivals
A first time guide to Edinburgh’s festivals

At any time of the year, Edinburgh is a city of culture, books, and tradition – but in August, thanks to a variety of festivals, all three are amplified to full volume. From the hundreds of theatre, comedy and cabaret shows of the Edinburgh Fringe festival, through the pomp of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, to…

Six great treehouses – monkey business optional
Six great treehouses – monkey business optional

B&Bs and traditional hotels are all very well, but sometimes is fun to get in the foliage and live like a monkey for a few days. Here’s a few of our favourite treehouses around the world. Where’s your favourite? Keycamp, Northern France Choose between three treehouses at Keycamp’s family-friendly French campsites – at Carnac and…

Classical drama at Epidavros theatre, Greece
Classical drama at Epidavros theatre, Greece

There’s no better place to experience classical drama than the ancient theatre at Epidavros, just outside the pretty harbour town of Nafplio in the Greek Peloponnese. Dating back to the fourth century BC, it seats 14,000 people and is known above all for its extraordinary acoustics – as guides regularly demonstrate, you can hear a…

Britain’s top music festivals
Britain’s top music festivals

From Marc Bolan and free milk to stadium rave and boutique festivals, this damp isle has long been a fine place for a party. It may have nothing quite as hot as Valencia’s Benicassim or as far-out as Nevada’s Burning Man, but this wild bunch – from Butlins-brewed indie to Wiltshire-based world music, with stopoffs…

Exploring the Brecon Beacons in a Twizy: a foodie’s tour
Exploring the Brecon Beacons in a Twizy: a foodie’s tour

A new green initiative has been launched in the Brecon Beacons. The Eco Travel Network was established by local researchers and business owners to offer a pool of electric vehicles to visitors who want to explore the region while keeping their carbon footprint low. These Renault Twizys carry two people and run on batteries that…

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 tale of St John of Nepomuk, Czech Republic
The tale of St John of Nepomuk, Czech Republic

As you shuffle along with your fellow tourists round the chancel of Prague’s main cathedral, there’s not a lot to see beyond the remains of a few medieval Czech kings with unpronounceable names – Břetislav, Spytihněv, Bořivoj. That is, until you find your way virtually barred by a giant silver tomb, which looks for all the world as…

Calling in the heavies at the Highland Games
Calling in the heavies at the Highland Games

Throughout Scotland, not just in the Highlands, summer signals the onset of the Highland Games, from the smallest village get-togethers to the Giant Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon, which draws a crowd of 10,000. Urbanites might blanch at the idea of al fresco Scottish country dancing, but with dog trials, tractors, fudge stalls and more cute animals than you…

Video: The Rough Guide to Vintage London
Video: The Rough Guide to Vintage London

From gramophones to bright pink dresses to Art Deco lighting, you can find it all here in London. As part of the Rough Guide to Vintage London we took to the streets, armed with cameras, to capture the vintage way of life here in the city. We took a trip to 328 Portobello Road where Glen Hargrave, owner…

A beginner’s guide to the best German beers
A beginner’s guide to the best German beers

Think Germany and you think beer. It’s a country whose beer culture is so ingrained and recognised that Oktoberfest is celebrated around the world. It’s the birthplace of lager, and one that is full of life and flavour (a far cry from the insipid mass-produced stuff). In fact, the word ‘lager’ just means cold-stored, and…

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…

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…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (September 16)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (September 16)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. Thousands apply for one-way trip to Mars More than 200,000 people have applied for the chance to help colonise Mars. Just four of the applicants will be picked for the first one-way mission being…

Plunging from mountain to fjord on the Flamsbana
Plunging from mountain to fjord on the Flamsbana

The brakes grind then release and you’re off, squeaking and squealing down a roller-coaster-like track for what might just be the train ride of your life. This is the Flåmsbana, a shiny, pine-green pleasure train that plunges nearly a kilometre in a mere fifty minutes. The unforgettable ride takes you from the heady frozen heights of the Norwegian mountains…

Clearing your calendar for bacalhau, Portugal
Clearing your calendar for bacalhau, Portugal

On Lisbon’s Rua do Arsenal, whole window displays are lined with what looks like crinkly grey cardboard. The smell is far from alluring, but from these humble slabs of cod the Portuguese are able to conjure up an alleged 365 different recipes for bacalhau, one for each day of the year. Reassuringly, none of this mummified fish dates back…

The top ten places to explore British history
The top ten places to explore British history

From Jersey up to Hadrian’s Wall and beyond, Britain is packed full of historic sites worth exploring. Here’s a few suggestions for reliving the nation’s long history, from Arthurian legends to its more recent nuclear past. Soaking up the Saxon past at Sutton Hoo When unearthed more than seventy years ago, the burial mounds at…

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…

22 stunning images from the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards
22 stunning images from the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards

After a search for the most captivating, exciting and beautiful travel photography, the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards announced their final winners last week. Here is a selection of our favourite images from this set of talented photographers. Eagle hunter, Alti Region, Mongolia By Simon Morris | http://www.tpoty.com Powell Point, Grand Canyon South Rim, USA  By Gerard Baeck…

Customs and immigration – your experiences
Customs and immigration – your experiences

You’ve been sitting for the last few hours in a cramped chair next to (or rather half under) someone else’s child, you’re tired and you can’t sleep because the child’s feet are digging in to your side. But at least you’re starting your holiday. We all know the feeling – you’re exhausted from travel but kept…

12 months of the quirkiest festivals around the world
12 months of the quirkiest festivals around the world

The whole world loves a party, and a good one provides a great excuse to travel. Here’s a whole twelve months of some of the more interesting ways people celebrate during festivals around the world. January: World Buskers Festival, Christchurch, New Zealand Clever street performers: they head to the southern hemisphere this month, where they can…

One year on: Picfair’s best travel photography
One year on: Picfair’s best travel photography

If you’re a keen travel photographer, amateur or professional, and you’ve not heard of Picfair you’re missing a trick. As a platform for professional photographers it’s revolutionary, allowing them to sell their pictures at a price they want. Travellers with camera can get in on the action too. Since its launch in August 2013, 5,000…

Top 9 articles for American readers in 2013
Top 9 articles for American readers in 2013

What inspires you to travel? Whether you’re looking to save the world (one eco-lodge at a time), add new destinations to your travel bucket list, or just taste the finest Belgian beers, check out this rundown of our most inspiring ideas for US travelers on RoughGuides.com: 1. Top 20 Belgian beers Beer is big business…

Ten reasons why you should visit Lviv, Ukraine
Ten reasons why you should visit Lviv, Ukraine

Home to a burgeoning café scene and an ever-growing stock of backpacker hostels, the western Ukrainian city of Lviv (Львів) represents the country at its most tourist-friendly. A top pick in Rough Guides’ top ten cities for 2014 list, it’s certainly the Ukraine’s biggest surprise, a former outpost of the Habsburg Empire whose elegance and charm will challenge…

The 20 best beaches in Greece
The 20 best beaches in Greece

With thousands of islands to choose from, Greece can be an intimidating place to start looking for your next beach break. Don’t be put off though, as the nation has more than a lot to offer, whether you’re island-hopping or just looking for the perfect setting to unwind. From the busy, iconic bays to the…

Wet & wild – twelve watery adventures across Britain
Wet & wild – twelve watery adventures across Britain

From sailing to surfing, canoeing and coasteering, here’s our twelve favourite ways to get wet across Britain. Surfing the Severn Bore The Severn Bore (pictured above) is one of the longest and biggest tidal bores in the world. It’s a startling spectacle when you’re watching from the riverbank. If you’re actually in the river, it…

Hitting Ibiza’s closing parties
Hitting Ibiza’s closing parties

Ibiza’s summer clubbing season is an orgy of hedonism, full of beats, late nights and frazzled young things. It reaches a messy climax in September, when the main club promoters and venues host a series of seratonin-sapping parties to round things off and extract a few final euros from their battered punters. These end-of-season events…

Essential outdoor pursuits across the UK
Essential outdoor pursuits across the UK

If you like your holidays with a dash of exercise, or perhaps even liberal lashings of adrenalin and white knuckle thrills, one of these excursions may appeal. From deep sea diving to Scottish skiing – via a quick go at zorbing in Dorchester – here’s a few essential outdoor pursuits on offer across Britain. Tackling…

Top 9 destinations for American travelers in 2013
Top 9 destinations for American travelers in 2013

If you’re looking for the latest travel hot-spots, check out the top picks from US readers on RoughGuides.com. From Europe to Asia, the Americas, and Australia, here are the most popular overseas destinations for US travelers: 1. Netherlands No larger than the US state of Maryland, the Netherlands is a surprisingly diverse country for its size.…

A to B by cross-country ski, Norway
A to B by cross-country ski, Norway

With 30,000km of marked trails, Norway is the true home of cross-country skiing, the original and most effective means of getting yourself across snowbound winter landscapes. And it’s easier and less daunting to learn than the more popular downhill variety (well, more popular outside Scandinavia – here, everyone is a cross-country skier from the age…

Responsible travel – a green stay in Amsterdam
Responsible travel – a green stay in Amsterdam

Minimise your footprint in Amsterdam with our green guide to the city, taken from travel bible Great Escapes. Pedal your way around Amsterdam has an excellent network of trams, metro and buses, but cycling is usually the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to travel around the city. Nearly all the cycling lanes are separate from…

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