Features // Europe

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…

Baikal: exploring Siberia’s epic frozen lake
Baikal: exploring Siberia’s epic frozen lake

Anita Isalska explores the frozen surface of the epic Lake Baikal in Russia.  During Siberian winters, the mercury drops as low as minus 35ºC (minus 95ºF). Brightly painted houses in central Russia’s villages groan under the weight of snow. The surface of vast Lake Baikal freezes. But as I stand its shore, I see an…

Hamburg: Germany’s second city is hotting up
Hamburg: Germany’s second city is hotting up

Most travellers thinking about a weekend break in Germany overlook Hamburg and put Berlin and Munich at the top of their wish lists. Yet within Germany, the nation’s second city proves a popular draw thanks to nightlife, shopping and museums. Stuart Forster, a regular visitor to Germany, finds out what Hamburg has to offer. Why…

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…

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…

The best places to visit in August
The best places to visit in August

With festival season in full swing, August offers no end of opportunities to party, from the off-the-wall Burning Man to the arty Edinburgh Festival; but there are plenty of options for chilled-out breaks too. Here are our tips for the best places to visit in August: Bike the Black Forest, Germany The Black Forest may…

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…

Exploring Matera’s cavernous dwellings in Italy
Exploring Matera’s cavernous dwellings in Italy

Italy’s southern region of Basilicata is home to one of the country’s most distinctive towns: Matera. It’s a fascinating place, not least for its unique topography and intriguing history as a Mediterranean troglodyte settlement. Thanks to its biblical, otherworldly feel, it’s been used as the setting for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ too. Rough Guides…

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…

Discovering Green Glasgow
Discovering Green Glasgow

Despite its industrial heritage Glasgow is actually one of the greenest cities in Europe, writes Helen Ochyra. Clip clop. I am travelling at nineteenth-century speeds along the main road of a country estate. On one side are formal gardens, planted with shaped hedges in lush greens, on the other, open fields dotted with dun-coloured Highland cattle.…

The World Outgames, Antwerp
The World Outgames, Antwerp

From synchronised swimming to same-sex dancing, the World Outgames is an Olympic-style competition with a difference – it’s one of two sporting competitions held by the world’s gay community. In August Antwerp played host to the third ever World Outgames, and Rough Guides writer Michael Turnbull went along to discover more about the city’s LGBT community. The…

Map: beer from around the world
Map: beer from around the world

Beer-lovers rejoice: the British Government recently announced that a pint of beer in the UK will be a whole one penny cheaper than before. Not exactly saving a fortune, but why would that matter when you have thousands of alternatives from around the world? From the Belgian Chimay to the Turkish Efes, Europe alone has much…

Explore Vintage London – interactive map
Explore Vintage London – interactive map

We’re pleased to announce the release of The Rough Guide to Vintage London, a comprehensive guide to vintage shopping, culture and lifestyle in London. You can find out more about the book – including some thoughts from contributing editor Wayne Hemingway  – and take a peek inside the cover on the Rough Guides online shop. In…

Uncovering France’s hidden charms in the Dordogne
Uncovering France’s hidden charms in the Dordogne

During three weeks in the Dordogne and the Lot researching The Rough Guide to France, I clocked up over three thousand kilometres on the road – equivalent to driving from London to Istanbul – climbing up steep single-lane tracks to isolated hamlets, negotiating bizarre one-way systems, and zipping down empty country roads where every corner revealed…

Six spooky things to do in Dublin
Six spooky things to do in Dublin

Last weekend vampires of every shape and size could be spotted lurking the cobbled streets of Dublin during the Bram Stoker Festival. Yet this annual fright-fest just claws at the surface of one of the world’s most gloriously gothic cities. Here are six fun but freaky things to do in Dublin. With thanks to Orla…

Ten hilarious travel mishaps
Ten hilarious travel mishaps

All experienced travellers know there’s little you can do but sit back and relax when your best-laid plans go awry. Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile, sometimes things just don’t go your way. Inspired by TFL’s bungle here in London in January, here are ten amusing travel mishaps that entertained the world: 1.…

Alternative eating in Hackney, London
Alternative eating in Hackney, London

The East London borough of Hackney is booming, particularly with regard to new restaurants, cafés, bars and speciality delis. Alongside long-established Vietnamese and Turkish eateries you’ll now find a Swedish corner café, a Ghanaian pop-up and even a farmyard bistro. A funky restaurant aesthetic has emerged, characterized by bare bulbs, monastic wooden benches and fresh local…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. First route to the Philippines since 1998 Philippine Airlines is about to open a new route from the UK. The flights, from London Heathrow to Manila, will be the first direct link between the UK…

11 tips for travelling in Greece
11 tips for travelling in Greece

The good news for travellers to Greece is this: ignore the crisis headlines. Away from the grim scenes in central Athens, life goes on as normal; there’s little sign of impending doom, instead it’s consistent blue skies, clear water and good cheer. These tips are the accumulated wisdom of avid Hellenophile Marc Perry, after three trips…

The world’s most honest cities
The world’s most honest cities

Losing your wallet or purse while travelling is often a painstaking mistake. We keep so much of our lives in there: cash, plastic, drivers’ licence, ID cards. When all of those things go missing together, it can be a costly process to get them back. If you’re prone to losing your wallet, dropping things or…

Thrill-seeking in the Julian Alps, Slovenia
Thrill-seeking in the Julian Alps, Slovenia

It might not be at the top of the list for great skiing destinations, but perhaps it should be. Tiny Slovenia has a surprising amount to offer in the way of winter sports, from cross-country runs to great skiing resorts – all within easy reach of the capital. Rough Guides editor Helen Abramson, a seasoned…

Street life photography: Turkey, Georgia & Iraq
Street life photography: Turkey, Georgia & Iraq

On a journey through Turkey, Georgia and Kurdish Iraq, photographer Jake Threadgould captured some of the unique people and stories through his series of street life photography. Backgammon players, Sinop, Turkey The clacking of plastic tokens and the trickle of dice on polished wooden boards is a ubiquitous soundtrack around many of Turkey’s cafes and…

Video: the world’s friendliest cities
Video: the world’s friendliest cities

Which cities are going to welcome you with open arms? Where will the locals be likely to buy you a beer, and who’s going to invite you in for tea when it’s cold? We asked our social media followers to vote for the friendliest city in the world. These are the results: Explore more of…

Stunning Slovenia in pictures
Stunning Slovenia in pictures

Slovenia is a small but surprisingly varied country. From the wine regions in the east to the famous lakes in the west, there are countless wonderful views across the country. Photographer David Fajula took some time to photograph Slovenia in all its beauty and this is the result of his project. Bovec town beneath the…

Teen to embark on record setting South Pole trek
Teen to embark on record setting South Pole trek

As I walk my shoes stick to the icy ground. It’s refreshing at first – almost comforting to be so cosy inside my huge thermal jacket, and feel the contrast of the crisp air biting at my cheeks. I am standing in the ­minus-25-degree conditions of the South Pole, and I feel like I’m ready…

The best photography on Picfair: the locals
The best photography on Picfair: the locals

For the second piece in our “Best of Picfair” series, we take a look at locals around the world. From Haiti to Vietnam, here is some of the best travel photography from some of the top photographers on Picfair – a website that lets amateurs and professionals upload and sell their photographs for a fair price. Next month’s theme…

The best beaches in Crete, Greece
The best beaches in Crete, Greece

Crete has easily the longest summers in Greece, and there are plenty of beaches with which to fill those long, lazy summer days. Whether you’re into watersports, skinny dipping or good old-fashioned sunbathing, the island almost certainly has a stretch of sand to suit your tastes. Elafonísi Elafonísi Beach comes as an exotic shock. The…

What it’s like to be a pilot for a day
What it’s like to be a pilot for a day

It was a beautifully clear evening; the sun was sinking below the horizon and the runway at Heathrow stretched ahead in neat rows of orange lights. The cars on the access road were getting closer and closer, their headlights sweeping across the road in the early evening light. “One hundred”, the automated voice said. I…

Arrivals: the latest travel news
Arrivals: the latest travel news

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks some of the most unusual stories in the latest travel news. Turkey introduces e-visas for tourists If you’re travelling to Turkey later this year, you might have to do some forward planning. Tourists arriving in the country after 10th April…

The best places to visit in January
The best places to visit in January

January doesn’t have to be that depressing, post-Christmas comedown month we’re all used to. There’s so much going on across the world, so whether it’s celebrating Australia Day in the sunshine or bagging bargains at the January sales in London, there are plenty of ways to banish those post-holiday blues. Here are our top places…

Great places to stay in the Netherlands
Great places to stay in the Netherlands

The Dutch are on a roll this year with a newly crowned king, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum reopening after a decade of restoration and even a long-lost Van Gogh painting unearthed this autumn. Local hoteliers have not been slacking and you will find a great range of charmingly individual places to stay, from luxurious heritage conversions to…

Gorging on Portuguese food in alluring Alentejo
Gorging on Portuguese food in alluring Alentejo

Alentejo is huge and Alentejo is gorgeous. The Portuguese food is excellent, the wine arguably even better; it’s cheap, it’s quiet and it’s wild. And for now at least, besides a handful of the rich and famous who own houses here, you can have it largely to yourself… Neil McQuillian takes a rather delicious tour…

Incredible photos of the world’s rarest tribes
Incredible photos of the world’s rarest tribes

There are places in the world where little sign of western development exists, but it still threatens to change traditions and beliefs forever. Jimmy Nelson found and documented 31 of these traditional isolated communities in his quest to photograph the “purity of humanity”.  “I wanted to witness their time-honoured traditions, join in their rituals and…

30 incredible photos of Iceland
30 incredible photos of Iceland

A land full of bubbling hot springs, frozen glaciers and striking fjords, Iceland is a photographer’s dream. There are lush green fields, barren landscapes and towering mountains and volcanoes to be discovered, and the hiking is some of the best in the world. See if these incredible photos of Iceland convince you to fly north……

Travel news: Moscow to Beijing in just two days?
Travel news: Moscow to Beijing in just two days?

Follow us on a whistle-stop tour of the latest travel stories, including news of a super-fast train line between Moscow and Beijing, the suitcase that heats up to kill bed bugs, and the airline that wants passengers to start checking in with their thumbprints.  Two-day Trans-Siberian Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the world’s…

Eight facts about British travellers
Eight facts about British travellers

We’re tweeting mad, blessed with a hint of thriftiness and we don’t trust our friends as much as strangers – this week’s World Travel Market Industry Report revealed the following interesting facts about UK travellers: 1. 39% of UK travellers will only consider short haul holidays next year With the UK’s aviation tax increasing again…

Our favourite spectator spots for the Grand Départ 2014
Our favourite spectator spots for the Grand Départ 2014

It’s less than 100 days until the Tour de France begins, and the organisers of the opening stages are already gearing up for the Grand Départ with the announcement of 17 spectator hubs earlier this week. The race begins in Yorkshire, making it the first time the Tour has ever visited the north. Prepare yourself…

Visiting Vlad the Impaler, Romania
Visiting Vlad the Impaler, Romania

The whereabouts of Dracula’s grave is a contentious issue; two monasteries in Romania are fighting for the title of the resting place of Vlad the Impaler – but which one has the strongest argument? John Malathronas goes to Snagov monastery to find out. “You need four people for an impalement,” says my guide, Gabriel, in taciturn…

The best places to visit in June
The best places to visit in June

Whether you’re after beaches, culture or countryside, June’s glorious weather and long days make it the perfect month to travel in Europe. Elsewhere, wildlife enthusiasts can spot whales in Iceland or bears in Yellowstone, while the World Cup will be in full swing in Brazil. In a bumper round-up, Helen Abramson and Eleanor Aldridge run…

Gintonic is the only thing to drink in Barcelona
Gintonic is the only thing to drink in Barcelona

Whatever you’re looking for from a night out, you’ll find it somewhere in Barcelona – bohemian boozer, underground club, cocktail bar, summer dance palace, techno temple, Irish pub or designer bar, you name it. But when it comes to drinks, gintonic, as it’s known, has always been a favourite. In recent years, however, there’s been a…

Box set travel – six ideas for a TV show pilgrimage
Box set travel – six ideas for a TV show pilgrimage

In the past, nobody ever based a holiday around popular TV show filming locations. Imagine how stupid you’d have to be to spend a miserable fortnight digging around inside all the bins in Brooklyn because you’d watched Sesame Street and wanted to see where Oscar the Grouch lived. But the recent rise in box set…

Wine tasting in the Loire Valley
Wine tasting in the Loire Valley

It is hard to believe the Loire valley lies just an hour from Paris. Peppered with storybook châteaux and sleepy riverside villages, this bucolic region is one of the most captivating in France. But while the castles and scenery have won the valley a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, its wines remain under-appreciated.…

Ten reasons to explore Poland
Ten reasons to explore Poland

Poland has always been the Doctor Who of the European continent, undergoing successive bouts of regeneration in response to the challenges of war, revolution or regime change. For the traveller, many of the old clichés about this country’s grim post-communist cities can be safely thrown out of the window – in fact, there’s hardly a single…

Going downhill fast: adventure sports in Wales
Going downhill fast: adventure sports in Wales

The recent opening of a £2m, state-of-the-art mountain bike centre has cemented the Welsh Valleys’ burgeoning reputation as an adventure sports hub. Rough Guides writer Shafik Meghji went downhill fast as he braved the Welsh mountain bike trails. As I approached Melted Welly, a winding trail down the 491-metre-high Gethin Mountain, my biggest concern was not…

The best places to visit in March
The best places to visit in March

Whether you fancy an Aussie music festival, a literary break in England or sake and sakura in Japan, March is an excellent month to travel. Spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, while riotous festivals take place everywhere from Ireland to Brazil. Here are our tips on the best places to visit in March. See…

How I spent two months camping in Spain for €19
How I spent two months camping in Spain for €19

Sea-view dining, sleeping to the sound of the waves and bagging beachside accommodation needn’t cost the earth. Hayley Spurway finds some of the best free camping locations across Spain and Portugal. Over two months on the road in the camper van our accommodation costs came to grand total of €19. That’s pretty impressive for a…

Ten free things to do in Lisbon
Ten free things to do in Lisbon

With its stunning setting, sunny climate and an alluring mixture of old world charms and hip nightlife, it is no surprise that Lisbon has moved into the top league of city break destinations. Lisbon has always been one of the most affordable of Europe’s capitals, but its rise in popularity has also seen a hike…

Snapshot: Bologna & Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Snapshot: Bologna & Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Visiting this charming, relatively little-visited region in the north is one of the best things to do in Italy. It has a wealth of attractions and activities to entertain, from majestic cathedrals and castles, to fine food and wine. Here are seven of our favourite highlights of Bologna & Emilia-Romagna: Bologna’s restaurants: a meal out in…

Indian visas, Bitcoin, cheaper roaming – this week’s travel news
Indian visas, Bitcoin, cheaper roaming – this week’s travel news

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel news topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. Indian visas could get easier India could be about to its expand its visa on arrival scheme to visitors from around 40 additional countries, including the UK. As it stands, tourists from less…

Tracking bears in Transylvania, Romania
Tracking bears in Transylvania, Romania

Home to over 8,000 brown bears, the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, Romania are one of Europe’s last frontiers. Greg Dickinson joined Romania’s leading wildlife guide in search of a bear. He was now just inches away from me. Sharp, feral fangs. Thick wires of hair covering every inch of his heavy frame. And not to forget the…

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