This year, one of Rough Guides’ roaming authors and photographers, Kiki Deere, returned to northern Italy for one of Europe’s most memorable festivals. Here, she shares 13 stunning pictures of the Venice Carnival.

“Carnival has always played an important role in my life, having been brought up in northern Italy“, she says, “but experiencing Carnival in Venice is different altogether”.

“Interestingly this tradition was only revived in 1979 after falling out of fashion for a number of years, but Venetian masks have a long and intriguing history – thanks to a rigid caste system and a desire to indulge in vices that encouraged anonymity.”

“This year Carnival began on the last weekend of January, with an inaugural regatta featuring a spectacular fleet of boats and rowers dressed in colourful costumes. In the run up to Lent a plethora of events take place throughout the city, with festivities culminating on the day of Shrove Tuesday. People amble along the streets donning wonderfully elaborate costumes and distinctive masks, often pausing along the Grand Canal to be photographed. The city’s exclusive Caffè Florian on St Mark’s Square is a traditional gathering place for those in costume, who ostentatiously pose for passers-by in the café window.”

An explosion of colours during the Venice regatta

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

A beautifully ornate costume representing the sun

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

Strutting and posing along the Riva degli Schiavoni

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

A feminine outfit speckled with faux diamonds and gems

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

Lost in thought in period costume

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy Europe - copyright Kiki Deere

Views of San Giorgio Maggiore at sunset

Venice, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

Sparkling earrings and gold-laced headdress adorned with flowers

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy Europe - copyright Kiki Deere

A blue and peach coloured dress representing a majestic sunflower

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

An elaborate mask embellished with silver and golden patterns

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

A refined blue and green ensemble characterized by showy feathers

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe - copyright Kiki Deere

Taking a stroll in St Mark’s Square

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe

Twinkling attire with a silver moon-shaped mask to match

Venice Carnival 2015, Italy, Europe – copyright Kiki Deere

Intricately decorated costume with peacock feathers

Man in mask, Venice Carnival 2015, Italy Europe - copyright Kiki Deere

All photographs copyright of Kiki Deere. Explore more of Venice with the Rough Guide to Italy. Compare flights, book hostels and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

Last year our roaming photographer Diana Jarvis took some time away from her usual stomping grounds in Europe and headed to the far northeastern Indian state of Nagaland to witness the annual Hornbill Festival. Here, she shares 15 pictures of the region’s fascinating tribes.

“I’d visited India on several other occasions but my trip to Nagaland was a real photographer’s dream”, she says, “the people are extremely welcoming and proud to show off their cultural heritage but equally connected to the modern world and, like anywhere else in India, they love to pose for photos.”

“Nagaland didn’t become part of India until 1963 and, owing to its remote position bordering Assam and Myanmar, doesn’t feature regularly on many an Indian itinerary. During the second world war, however, the capital city Kohima was the site of a famous frontier battle between the Allies and the Japanese troops. As a result, the people of Nagaland have a great fondness for the efficiency of the Brits and many speak perfect English.”

“The landscape is mountainous, dramatic and teeming with wildlife. The food – give or take the odd blow-your-head-off Naga chilli – was so unique and tasty that they have their own annual Masterchef competition at the Hornbill Festival. Other cultural highlights include demonstrations of a traditional stone-throwing game, ceremonial chanting, warrior dances, plays performed in various Naga dialects and the greased-bamboo climbing competition – but my highlight was witnessing the stone pulling at Viswema which, apparently, only happens roughly once every seven years.”

A man from the Konyak tribe in battle mode

A man from the Konyak tribe in battle mode, Nagaland, India

 Ladies of the Konyak tribe fix an earring

Ladies of the Konyak tribe, Nagaland, India

Greased bamboo pole climbing competition at the Hornbill Festival

Greased bamboo pole climbing competition at the Hornbill Festival, Nagaland, India

 A gun-toting tribe line up for action

Gun-toting tribe, Nagaland, India

Stone throwing gets underway

Stone throwing game demo at the Hornbil Festival, Nagaland, India

Tribal men display feathers and weapons

Tribal men in Nagaland, India

Hornbill Festival dancing begins

Festival, Nagaland, India

An Angami tribesman

Angami tribesman, Nagaland, India

 A Konyak tribesman

Man from Konyak tribe, Nagaland, India

A smile as tribes get together

Traditional tribes in Nagaland, India

 Konyak tribe member captures the moment

Konyak tribe member taking photos on mobile, Nagaland, India

Stone pulling underway at Viswema village

Men at stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland

Crowds gather

Stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland, India

All hands on deck

Stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland, India

A ceremonial start

Stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland

You can see more of Diana’s work on her website. Explore more of India with the Rough Guide to India. Compare flightsbook hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Liked this? Discover more great photography with Rough Guides on Pinterest:
Visit Rough Guides’s profile on Pinterest.

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 find than the new Shanghai Tower, at 632 metres the world’s second tallest building and muscling its way in to every shot of Shanghai like a giant robotic arm. Twisted from base to tip, at about one degree per floor, it is even designed to withstand typhoons. By the end of this year the tower will also have the world’s highest observation deck, at 557 metres above sea level. Lifts will reach this in under one minute – so prepare for some ear-popping.

Lincoln Castle, UK

Want to see the document that gave birth to democracy? We’re talking about the Magna Carta of course, which reaches its 800th birthday this year. You can find out why it’s so highly lauded at Lincoln Castle. This eleventh-century Norman castle reopens in April and promises a state-of-the-art underground vault to house the Magna Carta, an ‘in-the-round’ film explaining its importance and history, a complete circular walk around the castle’s ancient walls and access to both the Victorian male and female prisons for the first time.

Lincoln castle, Lincoln, England, UK, Europe

The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA

One of the great shames of the art world is the amount of exceptional artwork kept in storage and rarely seen by the public. What is the point, after all, of owning a large art collection if you don’t have the space to exhibit it? The Whitney finally solves its space problem in 2015, with the opening of its new building; at 18,000 square feet, the largest column-free museum gallery in New York City. A cantilevered entrance beneath the High Line sets the tone for a graceful, light-filled gallery with river views – and, of course, some of the world’s greatest artworks.

IceCave, Iceland

Ever wondered what the inside of a glacier looks like? White? Deepest blue? Both? Well, wonder no more. Book a trip to Iceland this year and you can visit the country’s latest attraction, the IceCave. Here you can venture into a series of tunnels and caves running inside Langjökull Glacier, which stretch as much as 300 metres into the solid ice about 30 metres below the surface. These mind-bending proportions make the IceCave one of the largest man-made ice structures in the world – and well worth donning multiple layers of clothing to see.

Ice Cave, Iceland

Lost and Found festival, Malta

In April 2015 Malta will make its debut on the electronic music scene. From the 3rd to the 5th DJ Annie Mac will host Lost and Found, a new festival in St Paul’s Bay on the north shore and Ta’ Qali National Park near Rabat. With a line-up of international dance DJs, Lost and Found promises daytime pool and boat dance parties against an ocean backdrop and nighttime open-air raves with a chilled out vibe. You won’t even have to camp either: packages including hotel accommodation start from £148/$225 per person.

Dreamland, Margate, UK

2015 is set to be a great year for Margate, as the seaside resort’s most famous attraction, Dreamland, finally reopens. The UK’s oldest amusement park is being reimagined as the world’s first heritage amusement park by designer Wayne Hemmingway, its centerpiece the Grade II listed Scenic Railway, Britain’s oldest rollercoaster. Numerous rides from other parks are being rebuilt around it, many of which are the only remaining examples of their type. Ride the 1950s Hurricane Jets and the 1940s Caterpillar that once stood at Pleasureland Southport, before strolling past the large Tiffany lamps donated from the Blackpool Illuminations collection.

Seaside at Margate, Kent, England, Great Britain, Europe

TreeTop Crazy Rider, New South Wales

Two words have never belonged together more than rollercoaster and zipline. Well, the crazy folks at Ourimbah State Forest on Australia’s Central Coast certainly think so. Their new 1km-long adventure must-do promises to combine the thrill and suspense of a rollercoaster with the flying sensation of a zipline. Strap in and swoop through the forest, twisting round corners and dropping into the bush. No special skills are required and it’s open to everyone over seven.

Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France

A new building has landed at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers – although we think it looks more like the giant foot of a crystal transformer. This is the new Musée des Confluences, a science centre and anthropology museum dedicated to pondering life’s big questions: Where do we come from? Who are we? And what do we do? No existential crisis needed though, there are said to be 2.2 million objects in the collection to answer these head scratchers, not to mention regular arts and crafts exhibitions.Musée des Confluences, Lyon, France, Europe

Sa Pa cable car, Vietnam

Reaching the peak of Fansipan Mountain (3143m) used to mean a full-day hike at least. But from later this September the trek up will be reduced to a 20-minute flight by cable car. This will be the world’s longest and highest cable car, no less, running up from sleepy Sa Pa Town in Lao Cai Province to Indochina’s rooftop. Enjoy the view from the summit before exploring Sa Pa itself, an isolated community set to become firmly established on the tourist trail – the cable car will transport 2000 people per hour, the same number as reached the peak in an entire year previously.

Homepage

For the best cities, countries, and best-value destinations to visit this year, check out the Rough Guide to 2015Book hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

Alternative Miss World, London

Founded by sculptor Andrew Logan in 1972, the Alternative Miss World is in a league of its own when it comes to outrageous outfits. This unique event – that takes the original Miss World format and warps it to the point where swimwear can be an inflatable octopus and a robot can be crowned winner – has seen the likes of Grayson Perry and Leigh Bowery taking part.

Alternative Miss World, London

Theyyem ceremonies, Kerala, India

Theyyem are dramatic village ceremonies held throughout northern Kerala, usually between October and May. They are performed at the village’s shrine, and the participants embody the gods and spirits being celebrated. Each theyyem has its own extraordinary costumes, including bright body paint and gigantic, elaborately decorated headdresses (mudi).

Theyyem ceremonies, Kerala, India

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro

Taking competitive costume construction into a league of its own, for sheer spectacle Rio’s Carnaval is hard to beat. Each of the city’s samba schools spends the year preparing, striving to be the best – for music, for costume, for floats. Every school picks a theme for their costumes for the year, and thousands of dressed-up dancers and musicians battle it out in an epic parade at the city’s purpose-built Sambódromo.

Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro

World Naked Bike Ride

The World Naked Bike Ride is a unique environmental protest meant in part to highlight the exposure and danger faced by cyclists on the road, with cycle rides in dozens of cities, including prominent events in London and Portland, Oregon. From the headlines it gets, it’s clear the most controversial suit you can don is still your birthday suit. The motto is “bare as you dare”, with no one excluded and body paint de rigueur.

World Naked Bike Ride

Mardi Gras, Sydney

Dressing up as a form of protest has an illustrious history and LGBT Pride festivals have raised this to an art form. Though many are now celebratory as well as political, their origins lay in the struggle for LGBT rights, and when Sydney’s first event was held in 1978 it was met with violence and resistance. Now, it is one of the biggest events in the city’s calendar, and a spectacular display of high camp and costume.

Mardi Gras, Sydney

Life Ball, Vienna

Beauties in big white dresses might be what spring to mind when you say “Vienna” and “balls”, but the Life Ball has reinvigorated the format. Held to support AIDs charities, the annual Life Ball is a flamboyant costume event, with thousands of dressed-up spectators and celebrity guests. Queen of the ball last year? Conchita Wurst of course.

Life Ball, Vienna

Wave-Gotik-Treffen, Leipzig, Germany

Where do goths go on holiday? Leipzig is the likely answer, as every year it hosts the world’s biggest celebration of dark music, right in the heart of the city. Most of the music venues gets taken over by the Wave-Gotik-Treffen, and on every street, and on every tram, you’ll see those fans of the darker side of life in all their finery, with every goth subculture represented. It’s quite a spectacle, one that metropolitan Leipzigers take in their stride.

Wave-Gotik-Treffen, Leipzig, Germany

Junkanoo, The Bahamas

Possibly the most colourful New Year’s Day event in the world, Junkanoo is the highlight of the Bahamas’ calendar. Parades are held on both December 26 and January 1, and their origins are in the islands’ slave history – these were the days slaves were allowed time off. They are a brilliantly bright array of stilt-dancers, acrobats and elaborately costumed participants. The costumes are more feats of construction: huge, colourful creations made from cardboard, crepe paper, feathers, and glitter.

Junkanoo, The Bahamas

Tokyo Street Fashions, Japan

For thirty years Japan has produced some of some of the most avant-garde fashions on the planet, from the couture collections of Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto to the street styles of Tokyo, which have been familiar to the wider world since the mid-1990s. To see the latest styles, whether Manga influenced, Lolita-style or the extraordinary Shironuri look, which takes traditional Japanese white make-up as its starting point to create an otherworldly porcelain doll appearance, head to the Harajuku district.

Tokyo Street Fashions, Japan

Halloween, USA

Dressing up in costume for Halloween is now a worldwide phenomenon, but it’s an all-American tradition. Big city parades and parties like those in New York’s Village, LA’s West Hollywood and New Orleans’ French Quarter are large and spectacular, but a real American Halloween is best experienced in the country’s small towns, such as Park City in Utah, where even the dogs get their own parade for “Howl-o-Ween”.

Halloween, USA

Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, USA

One of the biggest events worldwide for fetish and leather fans, in the only city that could have hosted a celebration like this for thirty years, San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair attracts 400,000 people for a day where anything goes, sartorially or otherwise.

Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, USA

Walt Disney World Christmas parade, Florida

In a world where dressing up is the norm 365 days a year and an over-sized mouse rules the roost it’s hard to pick the best costume event at Disney World, but the Christmas parades and parties are a strong contender. Though often very busy, there are lots of parties, parades and fireworks, including Mickey’s ‘Once upon a Christmastime Parade’, with elves, gingerbread men and characters from Frozen all taking part.

Walt Disney World Christmas parade, Florida

Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA

With geek culture entering the mainstream, comic conventions around the world attract hundreds of thousands of fans, and San Diego’s is the biggest. You don’t have to wear a costume (cosplay) to attend but if you’ve always dreamt of dressing as a character from Game of Thrones, it’s probably a better place to do so than your local supermarket. One of the highlights of San Diego’s Comic-Con is the Masquerade costume competition.

Comic-Con International, San Diego, USA

Cologne Carnival, Germany

The “fifth season” in Cologne is taken very seriously indeed, with preparations beginning the previous November, and celebrations starting in January. The highlight of carnival week for costumes is Rosenmontag, the Monday before Ash Wednesday when around a million people turn out to see the processions on the streets of Cologne, where outfits are flamboyant, very silly and often satirical.

Cologne Carnival, Germany

Cirque de Soleil, Las Vegas

A costume gallery without something from the world of showbiz just wouldn’t be right, but who does it best? Surely Las Vegas is the spiritual home of the show-stopping stage costume, and, though Lady Gaga is giving them a run for their money, at the moment Cirque du Soleil has some of the most inventive costumes in shows such as ‘O’ and ‘Zarkana’.

Cirque de Soleil, Las Vegas

The Burryman, Scotland

Like all the best folk traditions, no one’s quite sure why it’s done, but the tradition endures. In Queensferry near Edinburgh the Burryman is a peculiar custom that’s part of the August annual fair. One local man is dressed up as the “burryman”, and covered head to foot in burdock burrs, leaving barely a gap to see through, before he progresses slowly through the town fortified by whisky.

The Burryman, Scotland

Bestival, Isle of Wight

Glastonbury might be bigger, Burning Man more extreme, but if your idea is fun is dressing up in themed fancy dress and partying in a muddy field for three days, then Bestival is the festival for you. Each year has a theme – such as Desert Island Disco, Nautical and Rock Stars, Pop Stars and Divas – and most festival-goers take part.

Bestival, Isle of Wight

Ati Atihan festival, Philippines

Kalibo in Visayas province sees street dancing and wild costumes for the Ati Atihan festival in January, one of the most exuberant festivals in a country that likes a fiesta. Originally celebrating an ancient land pact between settlers and indigenous Atis, it now also honours Santo Niño. In 2015 it will coincide with a Papal visit to the Philippines, though it’s not been confirmed whether Pope Francis will be joining in.

Ati Atihan festival, Philippines

Royal Ascot Ladies Day, England

The one day a year when hat-spotting becomes a national past-time, Britain’s Royal Ascot Ladies Day combines the best of British: sporting endeavour, eccentric attire and a healthy dose of social snobbery. Strict protocol governs spectators’ appearance – in the royal enclosure hats should have a base of a minimum of four inches diameter – but beyond that, the bigger the better.

Royal Ascot Ladies Day, England

Venice Carnevale, Italy

The masks and tricorn hats are familiar symbols of the Venice carnival, and if you’re in the city at the time it’s worth at least making an effort with a cloak and a mask, but those with the very best outfits join in the costume competition that takes place every day in Piazza San Marco. For the ten days of carnival, free outdoor concerts and performances, balls and parades make it a fun – if busy – time to be in the city.

Venice Carnevale, Italy

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These places are perfect for just that – so abandon the map, leave the sat nav behind and let the road take you where it will.

1. The Mercato, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Crowded, cramped and rough around the edges, the Mercato covers several square miles of Ethiopia’s capital city. Reputedly the busiest market in Africa, it’s a fascinating place to explore, with traders peddling their wares out of corrugated-iron shacks amidst a fug of incense, coffee and cow dung. This is very much a market for locals, with sections selling grain, vegetables, tyres and used white goods, but you can still pick up an interesting piece of jewellery or other tourist trinkets if you wish.

The Mercato, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2. The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia

The Hermitage quite simply has the largest collection of paintings in the world, and is set in one of the most beautiful buildings in Russia: the Winter Palace, an opulent Baroque confection that served as the official residence of the tsars until the revolution of 1917. The museum contains more than three million treasures and works of art, from ancient Scythian gold to paintings by Picasso, only a fraction of which are on display at any one time.

The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia

3. Bock Casemates, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Part of Luxembourg City’s impressive series of fortifications, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, the dark, dank Bock Casemates were carved out of a sandstone promontory overlooking the Alzette valley in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The extraordinary complex of underground passages and galleries ran for 23km (17km still remain), and at one time housed a 1200-strong garrison, along with bakeries, kitchens, stables and the like.

Bock Casemates, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

4. Knossos, Crete, Greece

You won’t be the first person to get lost at the Palace of Knossos. Many of the visitors that wander amongst the courtyards, storerooms and royal apartments that made up the largest Minoan palace in Crete are tempted here by the legend of its labyrinth, and of the Minotaur, the creature it was built to contain. Whilst there’s no sign of the labyrinth today, you can still peer into some of the palace’s remaining rooms, which once numbered a thousand.

Knossos, Crete, Greece

5. The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

The world’s largest covered market, Istanbul’s suitably named Grand Bazaar has been trading goods on the same spot in historic Sultanahmet for more than 550 years. Browsing is an endurance sport here, all the more so given the enthusiastic sales techniques on display, and with more than 4000 shops crammed under one roof, you’ll need to pick your battles – try bartering with the shoe-sellers on Kavaflar Sokak or the gold merchants on Kalpakçilar Başı, or the carpet-sellers everywhere in between.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

6. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Stand in the middle of the old town hall in Kolmanskop and you’ll find yourself knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop sprung up when diamonds where discovered here in the early 1900s – but it faded just as quickly once the gems petered out, and it was abandoned to the mercy of the desert in the mid-1950s. Today, it’s an eerie ghost town, its once-grand buildings – including a ballroom, theatre and casino – slowly succumbing to the encroaching dunes.

Kolmanskop, Namibia

7. Old Delhi, India

Founded in 1638 as the capital of Mughal India, Shahjahanabad (or Old Delhi) is the most intense and downright chaotic area of the city. Delhi is home to nearly 17 million people, and at times it can feel like most of them are jostling along Chandi Chowk, the heaving main thoroughfare, or in the surrounding warren of streets, where rickshaws and handcarts hurry between bazaars selling everything from spices to wedding garlands to car parts.

Old Delhi, India

8. The Moscow metro, Russia

Perhaps only in Moscow can a lengthy trip on the underground become a journey of artistic beauty. The system was designed in the 1930s to showcase the glories of Mother Russia, and many of the first few lines to open employed the most renowned Soviet architects of their time. There are 195 stations to wander, neck craned, gawping at decor ranging from High Stalinist opulence (think red marble, gold-encrusted mosaics and bronze lamps) to the utilitarianism that defined 1970s USSR.

The Moscow metro, Russia

9. Shinsegae Centum City, Busan, South Korea

Shinsegae Centum City is officially the largest shopping complex in the world – they’ve even got a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records to prove it. This is three million square feet of retail therapy, with over 425 shops filling sixteen floors. Plus there’s a food market, an art gallery, an ice rink, a three-floor spa, a multiplex cinema, a gym, a roof garden and the world’s largest indoor driving range, of course.

Shinsegae Centum City, Busan, South Korea

10. The temples of Angkor, Cambodia

The biggest archaeological site on earth, the temples of Angkor are scattered over some four hundred square kilometres of countryside in northwest Cambodia. For six hundred years from the early ninth century, successive Angkorian kings constructed their royal cities and state temples here – the magnificent Angkor Wat is just the most famous of myriad monuments, among them the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm, its crumbling ruins engulfed in a tangle of creepers and strangler figs.

The temples of Angkor, Cambodia

11. Fez el Bali, Fez, Morocco

The extraordinary Medina of Fez el Bali is an addictive maze of blind alleys and dead-end lanes. You can follow Talâa Kebira, the main thoroughfare, down into its bowels, past goods-laden donkeys and ancient fondouks selling olive oils and a dozen types of honey. Metalworkers hammer away at immense copper cauldrons on Place Seffarine, brightly coloured yarns dry in the heat on Souk Sabbaghine, and workers toil knee-deep in the honeycomb of vats that make up the tanneries Chouwara.

Fez el Bali, Fez, Morocco

12. Kumbh Mela Festival, Allahabad, India

The largest religious gathering on earth, Kumbh Mela takes place every three years, alternating between Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. The cities are auspicious with Hindus thanks to their location at the confluence of holy rivers, and a staggering nineteen million pilgrims attended the last Maha (“Great”) Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in 2013, when the surrounding floodplains were turned into a vast tent city and legions of naked sadhus, their bodies covered in ash, plunged into the waters each morning.

Kumbh Mela Festival, Allahabad, India

13. Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania

If ever a building defined its builder, then the Palace of Parliament is it. The enormous centrepiece of Bucharest’s Centru Civic was constructed in the 1980s for Nicolae Ceauşescu, Romania’s Communist dictator, and is regarded as the concrete zenith of his megalomania. Allegedly the second-largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon), the “Madman’s House”, as it was once popularly known, has well over a thousand rooms and took some seven hundred architects to put together.

Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania

14. Beijing’s hutongs, China

North of The Forbidden City, the labyrinth of twisting grey alleyways and half-hidden courtyards that surround Houhai Lake make up the last major hutong district in Beijing. Once the home of princes, dukes and monks, these ancient backstreets are being torn down to make way for modern housing. For now, though, workers still scurry around on rusty bicycles and old men sit quietly in the shade, attending their caged birds, in what has become an ever-dwindling outpost of traditional Beijing.

Beijing’s hutongs, China

15. Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul, South Korea

It’s strange to think that at the heart of one of the most densely populated places on the planet, just a stone’s throw away from the gleaming high-rises of bustling Insadong, there’s a quiet neighbourhood of traditional wooden houses, where locals chatter in tearooms and children play in the sloping streets. These charming hanokjip (literally, “Korean House”) hark back to a time when every home in Seoul had paper walls and was crowned with an elegantly tiled wing-tipped rooftop.

Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul, South Korea

16. The Smithsonian, Washington DC, USA

The supersized collection of big-hitting museums and research facilities that constitute the Smithsonian spreads across a large swathe of Downtown D.C. The complex’s collection is so mind-bogglingly vast that if you were to spend a minute looking at every object on display, it would take you a hundred years to see everything – and that’s without stopping to sleep.

The Smithsonian, Washington DC, USA

17. Convento dei Cappuccini, Palermo, Italy

Warning: this is not one for the faint-hearted. Lining the catacombs deep beneath Palermo’s Convento dei Cappuccini, on the outskirts of the Sicilian capital, are the gruesomely preserved bodies of some eight thousand Palermitans, each one occupying its own niche within the jagged stone walls. The deceased were interred here up until the early 1880s, row upon row of them, dressed in their finest and suspended ad infinitum in some sort of grotesque waiting room for the afterlife.

Convento dei Cappuccini, Palermo, Italy

18. Islamic Cairo, Egypt

The medieval city at the heart of Cairo is a tangled web of narrow lanes, towering mosques and aromatic bazaars. Enter the warren at Khan al-Khalili, packed with goldsmiths, spice vendors and traders hawking incense, then burrow your way south to the Citadel, a hilltop bastion with majestic views over the district’s minaret-studded skyline.

Islamic Cairo, Egypt

19. Mumbai train station, India

At 8.30am at Churchgate Terminus, Mumbai, rush hour is in full swing. The trains pulling into platforms are swollen with suburban commuters, many of them carrying up to 3000 more people than they were designed to. When two trains empty onto a platform at the same time, disgorging their passengers in an explosion of colour, you need to stand still, take a deep breath and remember that there’s only another hour and half to go until things start to quieten down a little.

Mumbai train station, India

December might be dark and chilly in much of north America and Europe, but it’s by no means a dull month to travel. There are world-class classical music events, a clutch of colourful festivals and oodles of southern-hemisphere sunshine. Here are our tips on the best places to visit in December:

 

DIVE THE BLUE HOLE IN BELIZE

Hurricane season has just come to an end in December, making it the perfect time to visit Belize before sun-seekers descend in their droves. Make a beeline for the country’s most popular islands, laidback Caye Caulker and upmarket Ambergeris Caye, from where you can take trips to the reef-fringed blue hole. Spanning 300m in diameter and over 100m deep, this peacock-blue abyss offers superb diving. Those without the necessary experience can snorkel at the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where nurse sharks might tickle your toes as they pass beneath.

MARKET TIME IN MUNICH

If you want to experience an old-fashioned European yuletide, the run up to Christmas doesn’t get much more traditional than in Munich, capital of Bavaria. The first Christkindlmarkt took place here in the fourteenth century; today there are at least a dozen individual markets centring on Marienplatz, where row-upon-row of wooden stalls appear at the start of the month. Christmas tree decorations, candles and lebkuchen abound, but the highlight of any shopping trip is a mug of glühwein, often fortified with a warming shot of brandy. Prost! Bondi Beach (NSW), Sydney, Australia

CHRISTMAS ON BONDI BEACH

Spending Christmas day on Bondi has become a backpacker tradition, with an international crowd congregating on the beach each year to celebrate (or commiserate) missing out on turkey and drizzle back home. Expect fur-trimmed bikinis and snowman sandcastles in place of Christmas trees and cake. The beach is now alcohol-free, but the Sunburnt Festival at The Pavillion provides barbecuing and boozing aplenty and certainly promises to be one of the best places to visit in December.

TAKE IN THE TENORS IN MILAN

Opera season kicks off in Milan on the 7th of December, St Ambrose’s Day, when the city’s most glamorous pack into the opulent La Scala. Opened in 1778, this opera house is where Verdi debuted his early compositions and the first night of the season remains a highlight on Debrett’s social calendar. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of the elusive tickets, there’s plenty of Milanese atmosphere to soak up at this time of year. St Ambrose, or Sant’Ambrogio, is the city’s patron saint, and there are festive markets and special religious services in his honour around a public holiday on the 8th.

PARASOLS, POSADAS AND PIÑATAS IN MEXICO

December is a great time to visit the white-sand beaches of the so-called Mayan Riviera on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Temperatures hover around a balmy 25°C (77°F), and it’s several months before the spring-breakers launch their annual assault on Cancun. From the 16th of December you might also catch families taking part in posadas, processions re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Piñatas – papier-mâché or clay creations stuffed with sweets – make plenty of appearances. Aspen, Colorado

GET A START OF SEASON DEAL IN COLORADO

The four resorts that make up Colorado‘s Aspen Snowmass are all open by the second week of December, and there are some good start of season ski deals available. Away from the slopes, Glenwood Springs, 30 miles north, provides the perfect respite after hitting the powder. The hot springs pools here are heated year-round by the geothermal Yampah spring, which pumps out over three million gallons of water a day at a toasty 51°C (123°F). Thankfully the therapy pool is kept at a slightly less scalding 40°C (104°F); the sight of the steam rising against the snow-capped peaks beyond is a glorious vista.

MINGLE WITH MOVIE STARS IN MARRAKESH

The chaos of Marrakesh’s souks is best experienced in a little less heat, and temperatures usually top out in the early twenties at this time of year. The first week of December also sees the city’s increasingly revered film festival come to town. Big screens pop up amid the snake charmers and henna artists in the Djemaa el Fna, and you might even catch the odd Hollywood star padding around the shady Majorelle Gardens or sipping cocktails in the Nouvelle Ville. Chillier days provide the perfect opportunity to take a cooking class or visit a hammam.

WATCH DERVISHES WHIRL IN KONYA

Turkey has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year, but remains a rewarding country to explore. December sees the intriguing whirling dervish festival come to the conservative city of Konya. A week-long feat of hypnotic whirling rituals known as sema, which the Mevlevi believe brings them closer to god, the festival leads up to the anniversary of the death of their founder, Rumi (or Mevlâna, the sainted one) on the 17th. Konya, Turkey

SEE IN THE NEW YEAR IN RIO

The easiest way to be sure of some winter sun is to head south, where summer is in full swing. From the Amazon to Iguaçu Falls, Brazil’s attractions could easily occupy a whole month, but make sure you end up in Rio for New Year’s eve: the city does a street party like no other. Several million people pack onto Copacabana beach each year for the celebrations, traditionally wearing white to bring luck in the New Year. If crowds aren’t your thing, take in the offshore firework display from a beachfront hotel.

MARVEL AT SWEDEN’S NORTHERN LIGHTS

These soft, flickering wisps of colour are caused by solar particles hitting the earth’s atmosphere: each hue is produced by a different element. They’re best seen within the Arctic Circle, so think about taking a husky-sled tour of Swedish Lapland. It’s best to give yourself a week or two for a good chance of seeing them. Keep your fingers crossed (inside a good pair of mittens) for cloudless skies.

For more travel inspiration, try our Inspire Me page. Find hostels for your December trip here and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

The third part in our Slovenia In Four Seasons feature sees Senior Web Editor Tim Chester explore the country in August. Check out our trips from the winter and the spring too.

Think of the northern Adriatic and you’d be forgiven for thinking of Italy – of Venice, Rimini, and Trieste – or Croatia, whose abundant seaside gems stretch from Rovinj to Zadar and beyond. However, you’d be missing an important 47 kilometres, which belong resolutely to Slovenia, a tiny fragment of coast wedged between its neighbours that packs in a disproportionately large number of treats.

Croatia might completely hog the waterfront in this part of the world, snatching miles and miles of stunning coastline from similarly-sized nearby countries and attracting huge numbers of visitors to match, but the Slovene Riviera – sitting pretty at the tip of the Slovene Istria in the south west of the country – is equally as beguiling.

Promenade with Church of San Clemente, Piran, Istria, Slovenia, Europe

Most visitors to this country, which has been independent since 1991, covers an area the size of Wales and numbers just a handful of million inhabitants, head straight for the capital Ljubljana or the justifiably popular Lake Bled, but I’d been told to make a beeline for the beach. So, a couple of hours after our budget plane bounced onto the tarmac we were on top of Hotel Piran in the city of the same name sipping margaritas as the sun dropped into the sea.

The drive along the top of the peninsula to Piran sets the scene: look to the right as the road crests a hill and you can see the fishing port town of Izola, beyond that the more industrial Koper, whose new developments encircle a medieval core, and in the far distance Trieste in Italy. To the left, signs point to the casinos and bars of resort town Portorož, hedges intermittently open to reveal the salt pans of Sečovlje, and in the distance Croatia squats peacefully.

We only had a long weekend to spare so we hit the ground running the following morning, exploring Piran’s cobbled streets and labyrinthine passageways with a local guide. The city dates back to medieval times but it was the Venetian Republic which really left their mark; some corners of the centre look like they’ve been airlifted from the famous watery landmark across the sea and in fact Piran is very much like Venice if you substract the crowds and the effluent.

Tartini Square, Piran, Slovenia

Tartini Square is the place to get your bearings, a former inner port whose buildings and statues tell a variety of stories. Named after Giuseppe Tartini, a famouse violinist and local hero whose statue stands proud in the midst, the city’s hub is crowded with messages for anyone looking in the right place.

On one side, Casa Veneziana is a light red example of Venetian gothic architecture, an erstwhile lodging for a local girl who caught the eye of a Venetian merchant, emblazoned with the words “lasa pur dir” (“let them talk”) in response to the gossip that followed their courtship. The Municipal Palace, meanwhile, features a stone lion with wings holding an open book under its paw, the bared pages signifying the fact it was erected during peace time. The nearby 1st May square is also full of secret stories; look out for depictions of Law and Justice in front of the stone rainwater collector, and the statues holding gutters.

Elsewhere and Piran is home to eight churches, most sadly closed due to vandals and thieves, including the impressive baroque St George’s Parish Church which dates back to the 12th Century and commands awesome views. The imposing city walls and several family attractions, from the Maritime Museum to an aquarium, are also worth your time.

Fonda Fish Farm, Slovenia

That afternoon we were taken by speedboat to a cluster of floating nets belonging to the Fonda Fish Farm, where thousands of Piran sea bass grow into huge healthy specimens under careful supervision. The company are aiming to nurture top quality fish and mussels and their enthusiasm was infectious.

We followed our tour with a dip in the Adriatic back at Piran’s concrete beach and ended the day at Pri Mari, a family-run Mediterranean restaurant and a Rough Guide author pick. The owners, Mara and Tomi, lavished us with fine Slovenian wines and endless thanks once they discovered we were from the book that had brought in so much business over the years, but their hospitality was exemplary before they knew who we were. Two steaks (because that’s what you order at the coast, naturally) were delectable and the place was thrumming with happy customers. Piran nightlife seems somewhat sedate but we managed to find two guitarists playing Pink Floyd to a small dancefloor and a man serving pina coladas in one corner of the port to finish things off.

The following day we drove into the hinterland in search of wine. The Karst region behind the coast is carpeted with vineyards and olive groves, interspersed with peach and cherry trees and harbouring thousands of underground caves (the Postojna and Škocjan caverns are the best known).

Before long we arrived at Korenika & Moškon, a small family-run cellar dating back to 1984. The place actually goes back much further – the family has been producing wine for ages – but the communist regime put paid to that for a while. For several hours we were plied with golden yellow and peachy Malvasia and Paderno whites and bold, interesting reds such as local pride and joy Refošk, a dark ruby and almost port-like liquid.

Town of Izola, Slovenia

From here we were driven to Izola for the weekend fish festival, a lively gathering of locals and domestic tourists who descend on the port for live music, craft stalls and plenty of fried catch.

On Sunday we sped through Portorož, Slovenia’s answer to the French Riveria but without the bumper-to-bumper traffic and hordes of people selling tat laid out on bedsheets, to the Sečovlje salt pans.

Salt pans, Slovenia A worker collects salt in Slovenia

A vast national park that has been producing salt for 700 years and continues to this day, it marks the border with Croatia and plays host to an abundance of wildlife. We jumped on a golf cart for a flying tour of the endless salty pools before taking a dunk in the dirt at the in-house spa. Lying caked in sea salt and mud wraps in the middle of this barren landscape, we fell into a trance like happy hippos.

Back in Piran, a final goodbye cocktail reflecting the deep orange rays of one last late summer Slovene sunset, we toasted our new discovery: 47km of criminally overlooked summer fun.

 Explore more of Slovenia with the Rough Guides destination page for Sloveniabook hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Motorbiking around Sulawesi in search of one of the island’s famed funerals, Anthon Jackson attends an intense and bloody ceremony to bid farewell to the deceased.

Leashed to a stake in the ground, the buffalo’s entire body squirmed as its broad throat was slit, its knees buckling and its huge torso collapsing onto the grass. With its last breath, it raised its head high into the air, the gash across its neck stretched wide open and gushing. Finally the bull’s head lowered to rest against the wet ground. It was at this point that the old animists of Toraja, an ethnic group in south Suluwesi, believed the deceased had finally passed on, headed at last towards Puya, the land of souls.

One of Toraja’s famous funerals was underway. Earlier that morning in Rantepao – capital of the North Toraja Regency on the island of Sulawesi – my wife Joanna and I had hired a motorbike for £4 and sped off through the hills in search of one such ceremony, said to be getting started somewhere to the southeast.

Even outside the peak funeral months of June to September, there seems to be a funeral almost every day in Toraja; you just need to know where and when. Today it was the village of La’bo, and after just twenty minutes through the rice paddies we were unmistakably there.

Funeral Grounds - Tana Torajahpyjama via Compfight cc

In the wet fields along the drive were only a handful of farmers and buffalos mired in mud, but here were over a hundred guests: family, friends and a smattering of foreigners led by guides hired in Rantepao. Encircled by towering tongkonan – traditional houses each intricately carved with curved, sweeping roofs of split bamboo – was the casket. All were waiting for the funeral to begin.

Since the arrival of the Dutch in the misty highlands of Tana Toraja, the animistic “Way of the Ancestors” (Aluk To Dolo) has been largely supplanted by Christianity, now the region’s majority religion. Nevertheless, the old funeral rites have survived intact.

Funerals remain by far the most expensive and ceremonious occasions in Torajan life and death, and at their heart remains animal sacrifice. Torajans save up for years to throw a funeral, as the more buffaloes and pigs amassed for the feast, the greater the honour to the deceased.

Tana Torajah, Indonesia funeral SINGLE USE ONLYpyjama via Compfight cc

In my broken Bahasa I asked for the head of the household and was pointed towards a tiny old woman in black. When our turn came to approach her, we handed off our gift with two hands: a carton of kreteks, clove cigarettes. She accepted the present with a smile, offered a frail handshake and ushered us to our seats. Stepping around a dozen or so tied, squealing pigs laid out in the grass to await their slaughter, we made our way into one of the bamboo huts surrounding the grassy field where the casket lay. The women chewed on sweets while the men chain-smoked and sipped palm wine. We chatted with extended family members until the first wave of food arrived.

We spent the following several hours in the hut, stepping out only briefly when the ceremony turned raucous. First came the shaking of the coffin. A dozen men surrounded the coffin, lifted it up and carried it in a wandering circle around the patch of grass. They shook the carved box wildly enough to send the lingering spirit on its way – and possibly break a few of the corpse’s bones. In a procession that was anything but solemn, the smiling widow, trailed by a handful of elderly, black-clad peers, led the haphazard cortege under a long piece of red cloth tied to the coffin.

Next came the eulogies, then more food, and finally, one of the buffaloes was dragged onto the patch of grass. It wasn’t long after the first bit of bloodletting that Joanna was ready to get moving again.

After a round of goodbyes in the smoky hut, we headed out the back way towards the road from where we could hear the shrieks of bound and paralyzed pigs, louder than ever. We glimpsed several of the poor beasts strewn across the hill in various stages of butchery. Our friends at the funeral would have plenty of meat for the feast.

Funeral in Sulawesi, Indonesia SINGLE USE ONLYImage by Anthon Jackon

The final resting place for this deceased would be in one of the limestone caves that dotted the surrounding hills, while some Torajans are buried in stone graves and others high on the cliffs in hanging coffins, the latter taking years to rot and then break onto the rocks below.

Before leaving Rantepao, we rode to a couple of nearby cliff sites, finding piles of skulls at the mouths of deep caves. The wreckage of fallen coffins was strewn around them. At Londa, a few meters up the cliff face from the burial site, was a shelf crammed with wooden tau tau, effigies of the deceased. From their crudely carved faces, painted eyes stared blankly across the rice paddies below, somewhat eerie embodiments of the special bond between the living and the dead of Tana Toraja.

The launching point for attending a funeral in Tana Toraja is Rantepao, (8hr by bus from Makassar), where you’ll find plenty of knowledgeable guides to escort you to a funeral. Explore more of Indonesia with the Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget. Book hostels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. 

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 the heavyweight names at the Book Festival, the city is the world’s summer arts capital. The benefit of so much going on is that you are never far from the next cultural event – meaning that with a little planning, you can blend the best of Edinburgh’s attractions with discovering the next big thing.

Get your bearings

If you stand in Princes Street Gardens in the centre of town, you can see the city rise up around you. To its north is shopping drag Princes Street, with the stout Georgian architecture of the New Town climbing up behind it. Head south down the Mound, past the excellent Scottish National Gallery and climb the steep streets to hit the Royal Mile – marked as the High Street on many maps – which serves as a high street for the Old Town. It runs from the imposing castle to Holyrood Palace.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

If you want to get even higher, climb up one of the city’s many hills: Arthur’s Seat is the most famous (you’ll even find a daily comedy show there at 1pm during the Fringe), but nearby Calton Hill is the hidden gem, featuring an abandoned Parthenon-esque monument. Or you could stay in Princes Street Gardens and pay the £3 to climb the Scott Monument, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott.

While August’s festival schedule covers every possible venue in the city, you can get your bearings by starting with the hub of the action: Bristo Square is the centre of Fringe activity, housing the Underbelly’s giant inflatable purple cow, with the Gilded Balloon and Pleasance Dome both nearby. Charlotte Square, near Princes Street Gardens, is home to the book festival, and offers free, thought provoking nightly shows throughout August.

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database rights 2013

What to do

Edinburgh Castle’s craggy perch is a good place to load up on history (rather than the disappointing Edinburgh Museum) and while there, pop into its Camera Obscura and World of Illusions exhibit for a more fun way to see the city. The castle is also home to the Military Tattoo – book ahead as it always sells out – and the Witchery restaurant provides some of the classiest dining in town. Although, if you want to chow down somewhere cheaper, the Mosque Kitchen serves huge portions of curry at knockdown prices. To see another side to the city’s history, try the supposedly haunted 17th century Mary King’s Close, then steady yourself afterwards by visiting the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, showcasing an unpretentious but classy knowledge to Scotland’s whisky heritage. Edinburgh Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh also has a strong tradition of independent shops. Avoid the mediocre high-street names of Princes Street and head to the fabulous department store Harvey Nichols on St Andrew Square – it even has a Chocolate Lounge featuring a conveyor belt of cake and champagne – or browse the independent bars and shops of Broughton Street, including sci-fi bookshop Transreal. The Old Town’s indie shops cluster around the Grassmarket (don’t forget to pop into Greyfriars Kirk and see the statue of famously faithful dog Bobby), while nearby West Port offers loads of great second-hand bookshops.

The best of the fest

Fringe Festival programme

If you want to see some of the Fringe while in Edinburgh, it’s easy to find yourself overwhelmed with choice. There are hundreds of venues across the city this year, so how do you pick what to watch? Avoid the flyerers on the Royal Mile and pick up Fringe bible Three Weeks and the newer Fest Mag around town, or browse the British Comedy Guide’s online index of all the Fringe reviews.

Some tips comedywise: there’s a lot of hot interactive comedy this year, including the controversial Australian hit Come Heckle Christ (10.20pm) and the live version of British kids’ TV show classic Knightmare (5.30pm), both at the Pleasance Courtyard. Indeed, the Courtyard probably has the best programme this year, and great bars to boot. There’s also panel show fave James Acaster (8pm), the comedy night where comedians are pushed to be ‘honest to point of regret’ It Might Get Ugly (11pm) and Ivo Graham (8.15pm), who is likely to blow up as the next big thing in comedy.

Then there’s the Free Fringe. Some of the best shows this year are at the Banshee Labyrinth, including Chris Boyd’s tales of chasing storms in the American Midwest (1.15pm) and sardonic poet Rob Auton (4pm) with his show about faces. Expect to pay around £10 for paid-for shows; it’ll be more for big TV names. There’s lots of shows on the Free Fringe but keep a couple of quid in your pocket to put in the bucket at the end.

Explore more of Scotland with the Rough Guide to Scotland.

For too many years Glasgow has laboured under a negative – and unfair – reputation. Scotland’s second city suffered greatly in the twentieth century from industrial decline, but in the twenty-first it has gained a new lease of life. The Clyde has been cleaned up, the inner city regenerated and the hotel and restaurant scene greatly improved.

The prize is the Commonwealth Games, to be hosted by Glasgow this summer. From July 23 to August 3 the Games will bring the eyes of the world to the city – not to mention thousands of athletes, officials and spectators. New venues have been built, existing ones extended and a whole host of brand new bars and restaurants have opened up. So, where to start? If you’re visiting Glasgow for the Games, it’s time to get organized. Here’s our guide to getting the best out of this once in a lifetime event, venue by venue.

The SECC

Events: gymnastics, boxing, judo, netball, wrestling and weightlifting
The SECC complex includes the exhibition halls, Clyde Auditorium and SSE Hydro sitting on the site of the old Queen’s Dock beside the river Clyde. Located just over one mile to the west of the city centre, you can walk here from Glasgow Central station in about 25 minutes.
Where to eat/drink:
From the SECC it’s a short walk up to Finnieston, one of Glasgow’s most vibrant communities. Head to Crabshakk for delicious Scottish seafood (try the shellfish platter) or The Finnieston for expertly mixed cocktails.
Things to do:
A short walk along the water’s edge is the Riverside Museum, Scotland’s museum of transport and travel. Exhibits range from skateboards to locomotives and you can also explore the Clyde-built Tall Ship moored alongside.

Glasgow 2014

Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre

Event: lawn bowls
In the shadow of the well-known, eponymous art gallery, the Bowls Centre is about one and a half miles west of Glasgow Central station and roughly a 35-minute walk along Argyle Street.
Where to eat/drink:
Almost directly opposite, on Sauchiehall Street, Butchershop serves high quality cuts of meat. Try a T-bone or settle in for the limited edition Tomahawk – a bone-in steak that can weigh in at up to two kilograms. For drinks, call in to Brewdog for craft beers and innovative ales.
Things to do:
Don’t miss the Kelvingrove itself, one of the UK’s leading art galleries. There are 22 themed galleries here, including one dedicated to Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style. Look out also for Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, numerous important Scottish archaeological finds and a genuine Spitfire.

Ibrox Stadium

Event: rugby sevens
Home to Rangers football club, this long-standing stadium dates back to 1899. It’s more than a two-mile walk from Glasgow Central, across the Clyde and along Paisley Road, so allow an hour for a relaxing stroll.
Where to eat/drink:
For a few post-event drinks, try The Louden, beloved of Rangers fans for its extensive memorabilia and lively atmosphere, or head to the Balcony Café in the Glasgow Climbing Centre, which serves sandwiches and cakes in the rafters of this converted church.
Things to do:
In nearby Bellahouston Park you’ll find House For An Art Lover, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece. The perfectly proportioned rooms of this elegant house are awash with with unmistakably-Mackintosh detailing and the parkland surroundings are the perfect place for a stroll.

1905_Table_TennisV2[1] Updated 05Nov

Scotstoun Sports Campus

Events: squash and table tennis
This sports campus includes Glasgow Club Scotstoun, the National Badminton Academy, a squash centre and the Scotstoun Stadium. It’s located about 4.5 miles west of the city centre: trains run from Glasgow Central and Queen Street to Scotstounhill station, a 15-minute walk from the venue itself.
Where to eat/drink:
A 10-minute walk down to South Street brings you to La Bodega tapas bar, Spanish-run and known for its relaxed atmosphere and tasty tapas.
Things to do:
In nearby Victoria Park is Glasgow’s oldest tourist attraction, the Fossil Grove. The fossilized trees discovered here in 1887 are the remains of a forest some 330 million years old.

Glasgow National Hockey Centre

Event: hockey
The National Hockey Centre is located in Glasgow’s oldest public park, Glasgow Green and was built specifically for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It is about 1.5 miles east of Glasgow Central station can be reached by a 30-minute walk, largely through the park itself.
Where to eat/drink:
“Glaswegian heart, German head” is the ethos at West Brewery on Glasgow Green. Tuck in to traditional German cuisine made with Scottish ingredients, washed down with a pint of premium lager in the Templeton building, an ex carpet factory modeled on Doge’s Palace in Venice.
Things to do:
The park is also home to the People’s Palace and Winter Gardens, a local social history museum that gives visitors an insight into the lives of Glaswegians over the centuries.

GlasgowLife025

Emirates Arena and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome

Events: badminton and cycling
This brand new venue in Glasgow’s East End is a 45-minute walk from the city centre (about 2 miles). You could shorten the walk to the Velodrome to less than 15 minutes by taking the train from Glasgow Central to Dalmarnock station.
Where to eat/drink:
Either eat at the venue itself or head back into the city. Close to Glasgow Central station you’ll find dozens of places to eat. Try Rogano for Scottish seafood in art deco surrounds or the Victorian Horseshoe Bar for cask ales and simple pub grub.
Things to do:
Treat yourself to a few hours relaxation at the Refresh spa, part of the Emirates Arena complex. There’s a sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy pool plus facials and massages.

Celtic Park

Event: the opening ceremony
Located across London Road from the Emirates Arena, Celtic Park (home of Celtic football club) is also a 45-minute walk from the city centre (about 2 miles). Shorten this to less than 15 minutes by taking the train from Glasgow Central to Bridgeton station and walking along London Road.
Where to eat/drink:
You’re better off heading back towards the city centre than eating in this area. Travel one stop back to Argyle Street and head into the Merchant City where you’ll find Café Gandolfi which serves quality Scottish fare including haggis, salmon and scallops.
Things to do:
Just north of the stadium is the Glasgow Necropolis, a cemetery with several notable graves and monuments, including 18 Commonwealth war graves.

1905_Celtic_Park[1] Updated 05Nov

Tollcross International Swimming Centre

Event: swimming
You could walk the almost four miles east from Glasgow Central to this extensively refurbished venue but it’s far better to take the train from Glasgow Queen Street to Carntyne, a 15-minute walk away through Tollcross Park.
Where to eat/drink:
There are a few simple cafes and takeaways along Shettleston Road but you’re better off eating before getting on the train at Queen Street station, or on your return to the city centre. Try Café Andaluz on St Vincent Place or Elia Greek restaurant on George Square, both within five minutes of the station.
Things to do:
Pay a visit to Tollcross Park where you’ll find a children’s zoo, impressive rose garden and numerous nature walks. Look out for the secret garden, a sensory garden hidden somewhere in the park.

Hampden Park

Events: athletics and the closing ceremony
Scotland’s national football stadium was once the largest stadium in the world and is located 2.5 miles south of the city centre. It’s a 10-minute train journey from Glasgow Central to Mount Florida station (a 10-minute walk from the stadium).
Where to eat/drink:
Battlefield Restaurant is a 10-minute walk away along Battlefield Road and serves a menu of inventive Italian dishes. Across the road, Beanscene has coffee, sandwiches and occasional live music.
Things to do:
Nearby Queen’s Park, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, is a lovely place for a walk and offers expansive city views from the flagpole at the top of Camp Hill – you can even see Ben Lomond on a clear day.

Getting around

Glasgow 2014 is a keen exponent of so-called “active travel” – walking or cycling. It’s a fairly compact city and most venues are within easy walking distance of the centre so plan to travel on foot wherever possible. When you receive your tickets there will be transport information related to the specific venue included. Find out more at glasgow2014.com/games/transport.

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

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month