The days might be getting noticeably shorter and the crowds might be dispersing – but that doesn’t mean summer in Europe is coming to close. There’s still plenty of sun to be found if you know where to look. Whether you’re after balmy beaches or a relaxed city break, this is our pick of the best places for late summer sun in Europe.

Crete, Greece

Crete’s summers are long and warm, and there’s nothing better than kicking back at a beachside taverna and enjoying the last of the sun’s rays over plates of meze. For a glimpse of the island’s past, Crete’s Venetian and Turkish buildings are best-preserved in Chania; stroll around the narrow streets of the Old Town before taking a seat at a waterfront restaurant to enjoy the view of its lighthouse, one of the oldest in the world.

Switzerland

Warm days and cool nights make the end of summer the perfect time to go hiking in the Swiss mountains. You won’t be disappointed by the country’s enchanting scenery, with its fairytale-green hills, placid lakes and craggy mountains. Outside of high season you can be more flexible with your itinerary, so buy a Swiss Pass and head out to explore the towns.

Budapest, Hungary

Late summer is one of the best times to visit Budapest, when the usually crowded streets become calmer, giving you the opportunity to make the most of the city’s cafés and bars. Before it gets too cold to brave, take a dip in the luxurious thermal Széchenyi Baths; you can even play chess on a floating board.

Cornwall, England

For the picture-perfect streets of its small seaside towns, stunning views out to sea and warmer climate than much of England, Cornwall is one of the best places to enjoy the last of England’s summer. For a unique theatre experience, try to catch a show at the open-air Minack Theatre, which juts out over the ocean. You’ll find beachside restaurants armed with blankets and heaters for when the sun goes down and the temperature drops.

Barcelona, Spain

There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona, and the searing heat of Spain’s mid-summer can make it difficult to appreciate. Less intense temperatures later in the year make sightseeing more pleasant; experience Gaudi’s dreamy yet slightly barmy Park Güell, walk around the Gothic quarter and hike to the top of Montjuïc. La Rambla is one of the most famous streets in Europe, and rightly so – stop at one of its restaurants and feed on the bustling energy of a city that parties late into the night.

Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands

If you’re hoping for a beach holiday, look no further than Gran Canaria. Away from the built-up holiday resorts, you’ll find long stretches of sandy beaches. From the desert south to inland subtropical forests, the landscape is spectacular – and if you just want to lie on a beach with a book, this is the perfect place.

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany’s tall towers, striking towns and vast vineyards make it endlessly compelling. It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations year-round, but head for a late summer getaway and you’ll still be able to enjoy the pool in the balmy midday sun. From San Gimignano’s stunning skyline to Siena’s unique Piazza, there are fascinating historical towns aplenty.

Zadar, Croatia

The beautiful, largely unspoilt old city of Zadar is less busy than much of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, and just as worth a visit for its marble streets and Roman and Venetian ruins. Head to the quay as the sun goes down and you’ll find that locals and visitors alike flock to watch one of the best sunset views in Europe, accompanied by the ethereal sounds of the Sea Organ and the mesmerising light display of the Greeting to the Sun, both created by Croatian architect Nikola Baši.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Without the hordes of tourists on their summer holidays, the roads aren’t quite so mad in Amsterdam, so embrace the cliché and hire a bike like the locals. Amble along the backstreets with no particular aim in mind and you’ll find the canals twinkling in the late summer sun. The events and festival calendar of the Dutch capital remains packed late into September, a highlight of which is the city’s Fringe Festival.

Provence, France

Fields of sunflowers and lavender; vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see; rustic cottages peppering the landscape; Provence is captivating. It would be easy to just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery, but if you’re feeling more active, take a day-trip to Arles for its Roman amphitheatre and forum, or mix with locals at markets no longer heaving with holidaymakers; and you can’t leave without sampling the region’s wonderful wines.

Lake Como, Italy

Milan locals flock to Lake Como in the summer months for the lake’s cooling respite from the heat of the sun. In late summer, it’s still warm and bright but not as hot, so miss the main tourist rush and enjoy the Italian lake at a more leisurely pace, from lying on a beach and absorbing the last of the summer’s rays, to exploring traditional lakeside villages.

Explore more of Europe with the Rough Guide to Europe on a BudgetCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

If you’re looking for a city with fairytale architecture and gas-lit cobbled alleyways, you should probably stop reading now. Book a flight to Prague or Paris and be done with it. For Cologne (or Köln), is at first glance underwhelming in its postwar geometricity, with more busy roads than pedestrianised ones and only one blockbuster sight in the form of its towering cathedral. And even that’s the stuff of Gothic horror, not fairytales.

But what the city lacks in aesthetic appeal it makes up for in character by the bucket-load, with an open-minded, artsy scene that prompts obvious but accurate comparisons with Berlin, and a completely different kind of beer-drinking culture. Here are seven compelling reasons why you should go to Cologne for your next city break.

1. Because it has a unique beer culture…

If you thought Germany’s beer culture was all about oversized steins of frothy lager clinking together, think again.

Here, the brauhauses serve up skinny 20cl glasses of Kölsch, a pale and hoppy beer that, a bit like Champagne, must be made in Cologne to be granted the title. Expect the köbes (waiter) to keep slapping cold beers onto your table until you admit defeat and place a beer mat over your glass.

Peter’s Brauhaus by Daniel Farrell on Flickr (license)

Peter’s Brauhaus, Gaffel am Dom and Früh are the big names in the Altstadt and each offer a rousing, if slightly gimmicky, experience. For those who take their beer a bit more seriously, the Braustelle microbrewery in Ehrenfeld has a wide range of brews and runs popular tasting sessions and tours.

2. …and a cool wine culture, too

Of course, it’s not all about beer in Cologne. The city also has a taste for wine – the nearby Middle Rhine Valley is home to some of Germany’s finest vineyards.

The standout spot for wine is Wein am Rhein. The ambience here is almost the complete opposite of a brauhaus; tranquil and sophisticated with thoughtful decorative touches, like the hundreds of drooping white pockets of material hanging from the ceiling. If you go for the four- or five-course weinschmecker menu, sommelier Melanie will explain how the wines complement each dish with a degree of passion as intoxicating as the house aperitif.

3. Because of the cool grit and graffiti of Ehrenfeld

Lazy travel writers describe anywhere remotely hipster-ish as “The Dalston of…” these days, but the similarities between East London’s coolest neighbourhood and Ehrenfeld are too great to ignore.

Ehrenfeld by Dietmar Temps on Flickr (license)

Ehrenfeld’s main artery, Venloer Strasse, affronts the senses with the fumes of its traffic and Turkish takeaways, with the odd boho café – squeezed between a pound store and an offy – pumping the irresistible aroma of roasted coffee into the street.

Occasionally you’ll be enticed away from the main drag by a residential street like Koernerstrasse, with its festive bunting joining the dots between boutique shops and charming brunch spots like Sensucht.

A little further north, poke your head down Senefelderstrasse to see Belgian-born graffiti artist ROA’s contribution to the district’s ever-growing exhibition of street art – a boney rabbit dangling from the roof of a building.

4. Because there’s a post-apocalyptic event space

Photo by Greg Dickinson

Further out of town still, Jack in the Box is well worth the trek. If you get lost and end up traipsing through a post-apocalyptic scrapyard, you’re on the right track.

The reward for your efforts is a dusty, sparse space – littered with upcycled freight containers – that hosts everything from flea markets to gigs. During the Street Food Festival, you can take your pick from food carts like Turbobao and Raph’s BBQ to the sound of a DJ spinning the likes of Fela Kuti and Mayer Hawthorne.

5. Because you can see the city from a different angle on the Rhine

Whether you walk alongside it, cross it, or hop on a boat down it, you can’t visit Cologne without checking out the Rhine.

The most accessible part of the river is the pretty Rheingarten, lined by some of the most pleasingly German-looking buildings that you’ll see in the city centre – all housing tourist-trap cafés and restaurants. Lounging on the grass or people-watching on the promenade seem to be how the locals pass time around these parts.

Nearby, the Hohenzollernbrücke railway bridge (the busiest one in the world, no less) is one of Europe’s gazillion ‘love-lock’ bridges, but lower that eyebrow – it’s actually pretty impressive. On the south side of the 800-metre bridge there is around two tonnes worth of locks. In some parts, space has run out and the locks start to climb the bridge’s steel railings like poison ivy (or something more romantic).

6. Because there’s ping pong and cocktails in the Belgian Quarter

The chic Belgisches Viertel (Belgian Quarter) escaped the wartime bombing that flattened much of Cologne’s Altstadt, leaving a collection of beautiful Art Nouveau apartment buildings that give an impression of what the city would have looked like a hundred years ago.

Centre of the action is Brüsseler Platz. During the day people come here to sip milschkaffe at a café, play ping pong on one of the fixed tables around St Michael’s Church or attempt to escape from a room at the recently opened Team Escape on the north side of the square.

At night the area throngs with under 30s. Those looking for a cocktail can while away their month’s wages in understated Little Link, anyone who wants to ‘be seen’ will head to Arty Farty Artspace (their words, not mine), while everyone else hangs out in the square like there’s no tomorrow.

7. And finally… because flights there are ludicrously cheap at the moment

Even if you’re a purist when it comes to budget airlines, it’s pretty tough to turn down the RyanAir and Germanwings flights to Köln/Bonn Airport – starting from as low as £15 return from London (yes, really) and similarly affordable from other European cities.

Greg stayed in an apartment in Bayenthal courtesy of HomeAway.co.uk, who offer quality accommodation in all of Europe’s major cities. For bookings, visit the website or call 0208 827 1971. Explore more of Germany with the Rough Guide to GermanyCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Just an hour’s drive from Washington DC, you’ll find Fredericksburg, a charming historic city with a bloody past. Some of the bitterest battles of the Civil War were fought here, and the city’s close ties with George Washington and James Monroe made it a frequent stopping point for influential figures during the Revolutionary War.

Fredericksburg’s quaint colonial streets, historic attractions, and quirky antique shops and boutiques have always attracted US tourists in their droves, but until now the city has remained little-known by travellers from further afield, overshadowed by its better-known neighbours Charlottesville and Richmond.

This year, the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, is the perfect time to discover a city closely linked with the historic conflict.

Fredericksburg, VA by m01229 via Flickr (CC license

Why should I visit now?

For history buffs, Fredericksburg is best known as the site of the most one-sided battle in the Civil War. The Battle of Fredericksburg saw the Union experience a crushing defeat, suffering more than twice as many casualties as the Confederates. Thousands more died in the nearby Battles of Wilderness, Chancellorsville and Spotsylvania Court House.

Fredericksburg has marked the 150th anniversary in style, with re-enactments and smaller exhibits and performances highlighting the impact of the Civil War on the city and surrounding area.

What should I see?

Beyond the battlefields, there’s plenty to see in Fredericksburg. Top of the list should be Mary Washington House, a fascinating homage to George Washington’s mother, who lived here from 1772 until her death.

Just a short walk away is Kenmore Plantation, the former home of Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband. This Georgian-style mansion has been beautifully restored and is set in stunning grounds.

Foggy Morning at Kenmore by John Earl via Flickr (CC license

Another famous Washington family residence is the Rising Sun Tavern. Initially the house of George’s younger brother Charles, this place was a frequent stopping point for many influential figures during the Revolutionary War, most notably Thomas Jefferson. The building became a popular tavern in 1791 and is now a living museum.

Other important sites include the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, a museum filled with an eclectic mix of objects from the life of the Fifth President of the United States (who practised law in Fredericksburg), and Chatham Manor, a former plantation house that was the site of a slave rebellion in the nineteenth century and later became a hospital during the Civil War.

Where do only the locals know about?

Locals will tell you that the very best way to get a feel for Fredericksburg is to stroll through the streets of the Old Town and explore some of the city’s more unusual shops.

Must-see stores include the Picket Post, a veritable treasure trove of items from the Civil War battlefields; the Cottage Room, a shop dedicated to antique teapots and jewellery; and Fraser Wood Elements, which specializes in distinctive wooden furniture and one-of-a-kind hand-carved items. A tempting array of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and local wine can also be found at the Farmers’ Market in Hurkamp Park.

Carl’s by shoehorn99 via Flickr (CC license

Where are the best places to eat?

No trip to Fredericksburg would be complete without visiting Carl’s. There’s always a queue round the block for this retro frozen custard stand, which set up business in 1947 and hasn’t changed a bit since then. Opt for a scoop of one of the three flavours available (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), or try one of the legendary root beer floats.

For something a bit more substantial, head to Basilico Deli for a lunch of freshly made sandwiches or pasta, or enjoy a hearty evening meal at Pueblo’s Tex Mex Grill.

Where can I stay?

There’s a wealth of hotels to choose from in Fredericksburg, but if you want to really immerse yourself in the history of the city you should book a room at the Kenmore Inn. Set in a series of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings in the heart of the Old Town, the rooms are beautifully decorated with colonial-style furniture.

Explore more of the USA with the Rough Guide to the USACompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

There’s a whole lot more to Panama than its famous canal. Hiking, rafting, surfing and diving are just a few of the excellent adventure activities on offer, and it’s a brilliant destination for birdwatching with over 970 species soaring in its skies. From touring Panama City to sampling inventive cuisine from entrepreneurial chefs, there are countless ways to truly experience Panamanian culture. Here are ten of the best.

1. Scuba dive underneath the Panama Canal

Feeling adventurous? You can actually scuba dive (PADI qualification permitting) underneath the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake. Once submerged, divers can see some of the remains of old communities and railroads that still exist under water. This all happened during the flooding of Gatun Lake during the original Canal construction.

2. Visit a little piece of paradise

Panama might be the least populous country in Central America but there are plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle with the locals. In fact, there are roughly nine different indigenous tribes in Panama, including the Kuna (Guna), Wounaan, Bokota and the Ngobe among others. A little piece of paradise, the San Blas Islands are home to the Kuna people, who have maintained political autonomy from the mainland – Panama Vacations can organise day trips spent with a local guide from the community.

3. Experience Panama’s past, present and future through food

Panama City is having a culinary renaissance of sorts, with Casco Viejo hotspot Donde José leading the pack. The restaurant seats only sixteen patrons at a time, and reservations fill up fast. Head chef Jose Carles breaks the menu into sixteen courses, each using Panamanian ingredients and cooking styles – many of the dishes are smoked because cooking over fire is common in rural Panama, and he endeavours to use the entire animal as is customary throughout the country. There’s also a drink menu that goes alongside several of the dishes, ranging from wines to craft cocktails.

4. Walk inside a bat cave

Panama’s biodiversity is astounding, and as well as in the skies and under the seas, where thousands of different species can be seen in their natural habitats, it also extends to the underground. Enter the Nivida Bat Cave, located on Isla Bastimentos, which is about ten minutes from Bocas del Toro by boat. Once inside the cavern, there are hundreds of bats, so come prepared for the pungent smell. Even better? The Spanish-language school Habla Ya leads tours.

5. Tour the Panama Canal by train

Forget the boat; opt for a train tour instead. While many tourists do wind up sailing along the Panama Canal, it’s pretty much downhill after the first lock. In fact, this might very well be the lowlight of your trip. Instead, hop on the Panama Canal Railway that dates back to the early nineteenth century and travel back in time.

6. Take a tour led by former gang members

Not only is Casco Viejo a World Heritage Site and the most picturesque part of the city, it’s also a window into Panama City‘s past. A tour group called Fortaleza Tours takes travellers beyond the monuments and deep into the heart of the city. As former gang members, these tour leaders have a story for every street. You’ll see first hand how the neighbourhood has completely transformed from a hotbed of crime into a same place.

7. Celebrate Mardi Gras

Sure, Rio de Janeiro is a safe bet for experiencing Carnival madness but don’t rule out Panama. As the country’s most celebrated festival, there is plenty in store for first-time partiers. The heart of the action – think decadent costume, loud music and plenty of dancing – tends to take place in a town called Las Tablas. There’s a bit of rivalry between the “High Street” and the “Low Street” when it comes to flats and costumes, so expect the best of the best. If staying in Panama City, there’s plenty going on there as well, especially on Via España.

8. Swim in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean in one day

Due to Panama’s geographic position and generally modest landmass (80 kilometers separates the two oceans), it’s possible to swim in both the Atlantic and the Pacific on the same day. There’s an abundance of beaches just south of the Interamericana (the main highway going through Panama City), and for an Atlantic swim, head northeast to Guna Yala for white sand and palm tree paradise.

9. Spot one of the world’s largest flying predators

The majestic and slightly daunting harpy eagle can be seen in Panama’s remote Darien region, along its border with Colombia. What makes them so scary? For starters, they stand three feet tall and can have a wingspan of up to two metres. Due to habitat loss or destruction, they’ve mostly disappeared from other destinations in Latin America so Panama is the best place to see them in action. Plus, the harpy eagle is the country’s national bird.

10. Indulge on fresh strawberries

Chiriquí Province is becoming a travel hotspot thanks to its ideal climate and agriculture. Besides lush forests, hiking trails and sandy beaches, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with strawberries. Since the soil is so fertile, coffee, oranges and other vegetables are grown here as well – stop by the Finca El Pariente strawberry farm for a closer look.

Explore more of Panama with The Rough Guide to Panama. Megan is the author of Bohemian TrailsCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Drone footage has hit the news for all the wrong reasons recently, but this clip shows how incredible the results can be when it’s done right. Amateur film-makers, this is is the one video you need to see.

Max Seigal’s pin-sharp mini-film takes you round the world in two minutes. Starting in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, the soaring footage crams in New York City, Greece, Croatia, Switzerland, California, Colorado and more before coming to a close in Japan.

Look out for the incredible flight through a bird colony at 00:33, mountain bikers riding Utah’s burnt orange rocks at 00:57, the base jumper at 01:10 and the fisherman swinging their nets in Vietnam at 01:29.

There are still plenty of gaps in this world tour, but even so, this distance-defying film is our pick of the week.


Around the World in Two Minutes from Max Seigal on Vimeo.

Pakistan is a country filled with unexpected highlights. Contrary to many preconceptions, its borders hold soaring mountains, glassy lakes and intricately-decorated mosques.

Our video of the week gives an insight into Pakistani life. In this 2-minute clip, film-maker Umar Bhutta returns to his homeland, travelling from north to south, visiting five cities and mile-upon-mile of stunningly beautiful countryside along the way.

“It is my hope that one day, very soon, it will be commonplace for all of you too, to visit this beautiful country” he says, “[to] experience the delicious dishes, the overwhelming culture and the gracious people, and have an unforgettable journey of your own.”


Pakistan in 2 Minutes from Umar Bhutta on Vimeo.

Check the latest advice from your country’s embassy or consulate before travelling to Pakistan. 

Former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Alastair Humphreys is the pioneer of the Microadventure. Greg Dickinson caught up with him to discuss walking around London’s M25, cycling around the planet and the joys of sleeping in a bivvy bag.

How did your life as an adventurer begin?

I started as a normal person who wanted to have a big adventure. When I was 24 I set off to cycle around the world. I had just finished university and I realised it was a perfect chance to go before real life got in the way.

When I got back I wanted to write a book about it, so to fund my life I started doing talks at schools and got paid a bit. Then I started to think… hey, maybe I can make adventure my life.

 

Image by Alastair Humphreys

In ten words, what exactly is a microadventure?

Just an adventure, but one that is compatible with busy real life.

That was twelve but we’ll let you off. How did you come up with the idea?

I started to realise that more people love the idea of adventures than those who actually go out and do the adventuring themselves. It’s partly down to laziness, but it’s also down to real life things getting in the way: like a lack of time, lack of money, lack of experience.

I wanted to show that you could still have adventures around those constraints. If you’re unable to spend four years cycling around the world, it’s better to go cycling for the weekend than to do absolutely nothing at all.

What is the “5 to 9” Microadventure?

If you try to think of a trip that’s too big and too complicated it often just doesn’t happen. So I came up with the idea of leaving work at 5, having a microadventure and then going back to the office the next day.

If you go and do that once, you then realise it’s much easier to go and have a weekend trip. Then you start to get a bit of momentum, and before you know it you’re speaking to your boss requesting an extended chunk of annual leave.

Image by Alastair Humphreys

What was your first microadventure?

The thing that changed everything for me was when I walked a lap of the M25. I did it with a friend in January when it was snowy and cold. We would hop over the fence beyond the hard shoulder and walk in the fields, woods, towns and villages adjacent to the motorway.

I was really surprised quite how much I enjoyed it, and how many similarities the trip had with something like cycling around the world; going to new places, meeting new people, doing something challenging, finding beautiful places to sleep. It was a really stupid thing to do, but I was trying to show that you can find adventure and wilderness anywhere, even in the most unlikely of spots.

What was your favourite microadventure to date?

One of my favourite microadventures was last summer. Trying to find time to see your friends becomes quite difficult, even when they live on the other side of London it’s a struggle. So quite a few of us who now live in different places – London, Kent, Bristol, Cheltenham – all agreed to meet on a hill in the middle of the Cotswolds one summer’s evening for sunset.

People finished work, we climbed the hill, rendezvoused for sunset, had food and a couple of drinks, slept on the hill in a bivvy bag and disappeared the next morning back to work.

Image by Alastair Humphreys

So tell us, what’s it really like sleeping in a bivvy bag?

Sleeping in a tent out in the wild is quite fun, but once you’ve tried a bivvy bag you realise that a tent is just a really crap version of being indoors. If you want to be properly outside then a bivvy bag does the job; when you wake in the night you see the stars overhead. It’s cheap, simple, light to carry, it’s not a hassle, it’s easy to pack away when you get home and it’s a bit silly. Unless it rains, in which case they’re miserable. Or if there are midges…

What else is on the essential microadventure kit list?

The kit is so simple. Sleeping bag, warm clothes, rain clothes, bivvy bag, camping mat, torch, food and water – and any luxury items you feel will make things more enjoyable.

What’s your next microadventure going to be?

In September it will be the equinox. This year I am going out on the two equinoxes (spring and autumn) and the two solstices (June and December) to sleep in the same wood four times. Just seeing different places at different times of year in different conditions feels like a bit of an adventure.

Image by Alastair Humphreys

What have you learnt about the UK since you started going on microadventures?

I’ve learnt so much about the UK. Before I started going on microadventures I was excited about travelling the world. I loved far off wild places and thought Britain was a bit boring and small. But I’ve discovered that the variety of the landscapes in the UK is truly amazing.

The mountains are really big, wild and beautiful but they’re also so tiny that anybody can go up them. From thinking of the UK as being a rubbish place for an adventurous person to live, I now absolutely love it. That’s been a real revelation for me.

What would you say to convince someone to go on a microadventure?

The first step is putting a date in the diary. If you’re the sort of person who’s a bit lazy and wimps out of stuff then recruit a friend so you can chivvy each other on. Next, find a plan that is really unambitious so you’ll actually do it.

If you find it difficult to motivate yourself for an adventure then I’d advocate just sleeping in your garden for one night, just to remind yourself what it’s like to see the stars and hear the birdsong.

Alastair blogs about his adventures and Microadventures on www.alastairhumphreys.com. His highly acclaimed book, Microadventures, can be ordered through his website (UK) or on Amazon.

Photos don’t do justice to some places on Earth – you just have to go and see them. From the ancient pyramids and the Taj Mahal to the Golden Rock and the Colca Canyon, some sights are too stupendous to appreciate on screen. Get your bucket list at the ready, these are 22 natural and man-made wonders you need to see to believe.

1. The ultramarine sea and sheer cliffs of Shipwreck Bay, Zákynthos

2. The Pyramids at Giza in Egypt

Dreamstime.com: Dan Breckwoldt / Danbreckwoldt

3. The Wave in Arizona

Dreamstime.com: Csongor Tari / Cstari

4. The floating grass Uros Islands in southern Peru

5. The Erg Chebbi dunes in Morocco

6. Tongariro National Park, New Zealand 

Dreamstime.com: Dmitry Pichugin / Dmitryp

7. The Pinnacles Desert in Nambung National Park, Australia

8. The Atrium of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

9. Peru’s Colca Canyon

10. The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

11. Cholla cacti in Joshua Tree National Park, California

12. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from the sky

Dreamstime.com: Bin Zhou / Dropu

13. Ganghwa’s dolmens, South Korea

14. The gentle curve of Wave Rock, Western Australia

15. The colours of Yellowstone‘s Grand Prismatic Spring

Dreamstime.com: Derekteo

16. The ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru

Dreamstime.com: Jarnogz

17. Parque Nacional del Teide in Tenerife

18. The tufa rock formations at Mono Lake in California

19. The magical Golden Rock in Myanmar

20. India‘s mesmerising Taj Mahal

Photolibrary: Corbis

21. The unforgettable approach to Petra in Jordan

22. The icy expanses of Lake Baikal, Siberia

Dreamstime.com: Dshamanov

Anthony Bourdain controversially characterised Glasgow as somewhere to go ‘’for a beer and a beating” in his TV show Parts Unknown. Bourdain poked good-natured fun at the city’s notoriety, where the drinking culture looms large and the language is colourful; it’s a rep that Glasgow has battled with for decades. However, Bourdain also represented its lesser-known highlights: its charms and culinary delights. This is the side of the city you need to discover – Claire Boyle shares her insider’s guide.

Why should I visit now?

Fresh from a year dominating the news cycle for hosting the Commonwealth Games, experiencing a historical political referendum and witnessing the devastating fire in one of its architectural feats, the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow is as much the “dear green place” as it has ever been.

Go for the West-End Festival. Stay in the bohemian West End and picnic in the Botanic Gardens, sourcing treats from one of several delis on Byres Road (Kember & Jones , Peckham’s), then follow it up with Shakespeare al fresco or A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

What should I see?

Easily walkable from a West End base are the Victorian architecture, tenements, Gothic Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. Visit The People’s Palace, the museum for Glaswegians, and the Gallery of Modern Art; where New York has MOMA, Glasgow has GOMA, and the infamous statue outside of Wellington with a traffic cone atop his head.

Go to the new Zaha Hadid designed Riverside Museum to discover more about Glasgow’s industrial history. Follow it up with a trip to nearby Crabshakk in revitalised Finnieston – seafood on the west coast of Scotland should not be missed. Finish the day with drinks at Chinaski’s, named for Charles Bukowski’s popular protagonist.

Don’t miss Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and the Art Nouveau legacies by Charles Rennie Mackintosh throughout the city (the Hunterian Museum on the Glasgow University campus has reassembled The Mackintosh House; House for an Art Lover is worth the suburban trip; take afternoon tea in the renowned Willow Tea Rooms; receive a student-led tour of the Glasgow School of Art while it undergoes restoration).

Where do only the locals know about?

Courtesy of Bakery47 on Instagram

Venture to the South Side of the city (5–10 minutes by train from Glasgow Central) and go to bakery47 for incredible homemade cakes before a performance at the Tramway or Citizens theatres.

For non-theatre lovers, Glasgow has a popular and diverse music scene, with live bands at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut every night. Go for laughs at The Stand, Glasgow’s popular comedy club, or have a quieter evening at the arthouse cinema.

Wander the cobblestone lanes of Hillhead for boutiques and quirky restaurants and bars, as well as nearby Otago Lane for the curious institutions, Tchai Ovna tea house and Voltaire and Rousseau secondhand bookshop.

Where are the best places to stay and eat?

Glasgow has a range of hotels and hostels to suit every budget. Staying central or in the West End provides easy access to attractions and to the Glasgow Subway , or “Clockwork Orange” – a circuit of which takes only 24 minutes.

Two of our favourites are The Brunswick, a small, independent designer hotel and the Alamo Guesthouse, a good-value, family-run boarding house next to Kelvingrove Park.

Brunch at Tribeca, The Hyndland Fox, or Cafe Gandolfi and dine at The Ubiquitous Chip, Rogano, or Stravaigin; these restaurants will dispel the stereotype that Glasgow only caters deep fried pizzas and Irn Bru (although these can be sourced, if desired). One of the best things to eat in Glasgow is curry; try Mother India ’s Cafe, Koolba, or The Wee Curry Shop.

Explore more of Glasgow with the Rough Guides Snapshot GlasgowCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Home to wind farms, vineyards and wild meadows full of cornflowers and poppies, the countryside in the southernmost part of Sweden – known as Skåne – feels a world away from the dense pine forests of the north.

You can get a taste for the good life down here by hiring a car and hopping between local farms, which churn out more than half the country’s food, including plump strawberries and gangly stalks of asparagus. But to get really close to nature you’ll need to leave the roads behind and get off the beaten track. Or, in the case of this disused railway line near Lund, stick as closely to it as possible.

A disused railway, you say?

The scenic, 9km-long stretch of track between Björnstorp and Veberöd fell into disrepair in 1980 and quickly became overgrown. The branches of tall trees formed canopies over the rails, and weeds began pushing their way up between the heavy wooden sleepers.

Locals hatched a plan. Instead of letting the rails get completely swallowed up by nature, they kept them free of plants and debris and began hiring out old track inspection cycles so tourists could pedal along the route at their own pace, catching glimpses of wild eagles, roe deer and rust-red farmhouses along the way.

It’s been popular a popular summer activity among Swedes for years, and now foreign visitors are cottoning on.

Image © Steve Vickers

So it’s like a bike on rails?

Exactly. But with a little sidecar, too. Each dressin (trolley) has space for two adults and a child, though only one person can cycle at a time, so you might prefer to take it in turns.

While one person cycles, another can snap pictures and keep their eyes peeled for cows, horses, or the colourful butterflies and dragonflies that flit between the hedgerows. There’s a footbrake if you suddenly feel you’re going a bit too fast, but as there’s nowhere to go except forwards, the handlebars are completely useless.

From the start point in Björnstorp, which is little more than a painted shed at the side of the road, the track winds through patches of shaded beech forest and over the top of wide, open fields. After around 45 minutes you’ll reach the village of Veberöd, where you can admire the views and breathe in the country air before heading back to the start point.

Image © Steve Vickers

Is it hard work?

The return journey is ever so slightly uphill, which can get a little tiring, but otherwise it’s just like using a regular bike. The only real problem is when you meet someone pedalling in the other direction; as there’s only one set of rails, you’ll have to swap trolleys, turn each one to face the right direction, and then carry on along your way. At some points where the road crosses the train line, you’ll have to get off and push.

Is there anywhere to stop for food along the way?

Apart from one picnic spot around halfway along the route, grazing options for humans are a little limited. If you’re prepared to book in advance (and shell out around 1300 SEK per person), you can join a ‘gourmet’ cycling tour with food from local producers laid out tapas-style along the route.

A cheaper option is to do a food tour of the area under your own steam. The Lodge, atop a hill just outside Veberöd, does tasty pickled herring and potato salads, but also serves handmade truffles and coffee that’s brewed using locally roasted beans. A 20-minute drive southwest, Vismarlövs Café sells stone-baked walnut bread, hearty soups and pots of gloopy local honey.

Image © Steve Vickers

What else is there to do nearby?

Slick coffee shops, wonky medieval buildings and a lively student population make Lund, one of Sweden’s oldest and most spectacularly good-looking cities, the obvious place to stay. Winstrup Hostel is a solid budget choice (and the only proper hostel in town), with a super-central location and some of the comfiest bunks in the country.

When you tire of checking out museums and independent art galleries – and there are a lot of them spaced out along the city’s cobbled lanes – head back out into the country. The sleepy village of Dalby, not far from the disused train line, is the site of Scandinavia’s oldest stone church. It’s been around for nearly a millennium, but is equipped with a whacky audio tour that fills the whole nave with noise – and scares the hell out of unsuspecting tourists.

How do I do it?

Björnstorp, the start point for rides along the railway line, is a 20-minute drive southeast of Lund. Cycles are available to borrow every day from April–October, and cost 250 SEK for a 3hr 45min session – that’s plenty of time to cover the whole route in both directions. Bookings are best made by phone: +46 (0) 705 747 622. For more information see the Romeleåsen Dressincykling website.

Steve Vickers is the founder of www.routesnorth.com, an independent travel guide to Sweden. Explore more of Sweden with the Rough Guide to SwedenCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Header image © Steve Vickers

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