To celebrate Rough Guides reaching the grand old age of 30 this year, we’ve asked some of our writers, editors and staff members to nominate their favourite holiday destinations across the world. Be prepared for some acute pangs of wanderlust…
Our top 30 holiday destinations
Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast
James Smart, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides
The sandy, snorkel-friendly Corn Islands – essentially the Caribbean with less tourists and lower prices – are an increasingly established destination. But the rest of Nicaragua’s poor, steamy and atmospheric east coast is well worth a visit if you want to get off the beaten track – you can nod to reggae in scruffy Bluefields, head on a panga ride to the idyllic Pearl Lagoon, or use remote Puerto Cabezas as the base for trips into the rainforest and to indigenous villages.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Emma Gibbs, Travel Editor, Rough Guides
Luang Prabang is at its most beguiling at dusk. While everyone else rushes up Mount Phousi for the sunset, I prefer to wander the dusty, quiet side streets, where the thump of children’s ball games is interrupted only by the slow, melodic chanting of the monks from the glittering temples.
Eleanor Aldridge, Travel Editor, Rough Guides
Just a few hours and a budget flight away from the UK, Marrakesh is hard to beat for an exotic weekend break. I love the alluring mix of modern and traditional culture, from the sprawling souks and tranquil riads of the medina to the nouvelle ville’s hedonistic nightlife.
Curonian spit, Lithuania
James Rice, Analytics & SEO Executive, Roughguides.com and Traveldk.com
A 98km-long sliver of sand-covered land straddling Lithuania and Russia, the Curonian Spit is the ideal getaway from life’s troubles. Grab a bike, pack a sandwich and cycle your way between the dunes, past fishing villages and through forest trails. Then picnic on the beach. Perfect.
Palm Springs, California, USA
Tim Chester, Web Editor, Roughguides.com and Traveldk.com
While much of PS is still stuck in a mid-century modern time warp, the sprawling desert city is growing (for better or worse) increasingly popular with LA urbanites keen for the same sun, spas and mountain views that attracted the ’50s entertainers in its heyday. Sitting in a hot tub under the stars and palm trees, margarita in hand after a long day doing nothing, is still one of my all-time favourite moments.
Jim Corbett National Park, India
Alison Roberts, Travel Editor, Rough Guides
The diverse wildlife at Corbett Tiger Reserve ensures a memorable trip whether or not you are lucky enough to bump into one of these impressive felines. Nevertheless, an elephant ride by the misty Ramganga River with your toes dangling feet away from a snarling tiger is an experience that’s hard to beat.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Lucy White, Travel Editor, Rough Guides
It’s been in the news a lot recently for being the birthplace of the Titanic, but there’s a lot more to Belfast than ship-building. Newly rejuvenated, with a tempting array of sparkling shops and an invigorated bar and restaurant scene – try the friendly and bohemian Ginger Bistro – the city has a tangibly enthusiastic and forward-thinking attitude.
Battle Harbour, Labrador, Canada
Stephen Keeling, Author, The Rough Guide to New England
Spending the night in one of the creaky bunkhouses on isolated Battle Harbour really is a trip back to the eighteenth century: there are shimmering blue-white icebergs, humpbacks, and killer whales gliding beneath the pier – and the friendly folks here still talk like they’re in Moby Dick. Soak up the accents and the sense of utter isolation.
Borrowdale, Cumbria, England
Jules Brown, Author, The Rough Guide to The Lake District
Hop on the bus from Keswick into the heart of some of Britain’s most stunning scenery, from the lapping shores of Derwent Water to the crags of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. My adventure here is different every time, whether I’m kayaking or peak-bagging, but the lakeland outdoors never fails to thrill.
Shafik Meghji, Author, The Rough Guide to Bolivia
At a breathless 4090m above sea level, Potosí is the highest city in the world, and was once one of the wealthiest. There’s a treasure trove of colonial art and architecture, the legendary Cerro Rico silver mines, and a truly fascinating history to discover – just make sure you acclimatise first.
Si Phan Don, Laos
Steve Vickers, Author, The Rough Guide to Laos
Landlocked Laos isn’t known for its beaches. But in the luscious southern part of the country, the Mekong splits into a spectacular web of channels, creating thousands of sand-fringed river islands. Si Phan Don’s natural beauty is staggering (if you’re lucky you’ll spot highly endangered Irrawaddy dolphins) but my biggest pleasure comes from chatting with the laid-back islanders, who always have a warm smile for visitors.
Andy Turner, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides
Young, vibrant and cosmopolitan, Darwin has transformed itself over the last decade to become one of Australia’s most liveable cities. Today you’re just as likely to meet young locals out for sushi and cocktails as you are a Crocodile Dundee stumbling out of a pub. When you add on the Top End’s incredible wildlife and Aboriginal sites, Darwin becomes a must-see on any Aussie itinerary.
The Somerset Levels, England
Keith Drew, Executive Editor, Rough Guides
A curious patchwork of rivers, rhynes, drains and ditches, the Somerset Levels provide some of the best inland birdwatching in the UK. Old peat workings in the mist-draped Avalon Marshes are home to hobby, marsh harrier and the rare bittern, while April and May sees herons and their young gathering in the treetops of Swell Wood.
Matthew Teller, Author, The Rough Guide to Jordan
If travel is about expanding the mind, Dana is where your imagination fills the sky. A tiny cliff-side village in southern Jordan’s craggy mountains, it has views to inspire, little locally run guesthouses, hidden campsites, lonesome trails and incredible hospitality. Dana’s peace humbles. I never want to leave.
New Orleans, USA
Samantha Cook, Author, The Rough Guide to New Orleans
Forget what you think you know about Katrina, Southern Comfort, or Bourbon Street – New Orleans is a place unlike any other, an old port city fiercely proud of its unique music, culture, language and food. From its noisy brass band buskers and exhilarating street parades to its elegant Creole dining rooms (try Galatoire’s) and hole-in-the-wall jambalaya shops (Coop’s is great), it’s a city that can’t fail to enchant.
Alice Park, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides
The first Rough Guide to Berlin was published in 1990, just as the two cities were becoming one again, and there can be few places we’ve written about that have changed so much in that time. It’s one of my favourite destinations, a vital, hedonistic and still ever-changing city, with a fantastically shabby-chic bar on every corner, a world-class club scene (check out Rosi’s), and a laidback, counter-cultural vibe that makes it worth returning to again and again.
Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, USA
Greg Ward, Author, The Rough Guide to the Grand Canyon
Deep in the dry-as-bone Grand Canyon lies an utterly beautiful oasis, where trickling streams join to cascade down magnificent turquoise waterfalls. It has been home to the Havusapai for at least a thousand years, but travellers prepared to hike ten switchbacking miles from the nearest road are welcome to camp overnight.
Roger Norum, Author, The Rough Guide to Denmark
This Arctic archipelago is about as end-of-the-world as you’re ever going to get – the soil freezes to depths of up to half a kilometre and the polar bear-to-people ratio is 2 to 1. But Svalbard’s Bergmanesque landscape, gorgeous light and opportunity for outdoor adventure make it a real bucket list of a place to visit.
James McConnachie, Author, The Rough Guide to Nepal
People come to this still-remote region of Nepal for one reason: to see Mount Everest. But Solu-Khumbu offers more than mere mountains. It plunges from snowy ridges occupied by Sherpa Buddhist monasteries to lush, steaming valleys creaking with bamboo. It’s beautiful and uplifting and, best of all, there are no roads.
Soho, London, England
Annie Shaw, Editor, Rough Guides
Louche, occasionally lairy and always alive, Soho never fails to thrill. A mix of old-school glamour and lingering sleaze, this central pocket of the capital, with its drop-dead cool and drop-down drunks, celebrates diversity and tolerance like nowhere else. Both day and night, it’s busy, buzzing and, to me, beautiful.
James Stewart, Author, The Rough Guide to Tasmania
Goodbye, then, chintz and doilies – I won’t miss you. Over the last decade Tasmania has ditched the heritage clichés and grown into a role as Australia’s alternative state. Nowadays, Tassie features the most adventurous gallery in Oz, MONA, yet retains stupendous scenery that is wilder than Loony Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil.
St Ives, Cornwall, England
Helena Smith, Author, The Rough Guide to Walks in London and Southeast England
Getting to St Ives is half the fun, on the quaint branch line from St Erth that runs along a curve of sandy coast. St Ives has all the traditional bucket and spade pleasures, plus the cutting-edge Tate, intriguing painting studios and the acclaimed Porthminster Café and Restaurant which sits right on the beach.
Beng Mealea, Cambodia
Kia Abdullah, Web Operations Executive, Roughguides.com and Traveldk.com
I’ve been across the world, but Cambodia was like nothing else. From the relentless buzz of Phnom Penh to the breathtaking beauty of Siem Reap, this country has everything a traveller could want. Angkor Wat is beautiful, of course, but I was more blown away by Beng Mealea, a secluded set of ruins straight out of Indiana Jones – don’t miss it!
Natasha Foges, Senior Travel Editor, Rough Guides
For an authentic slice of Italian life, head to Naples, a raucous, chaotic city that’s brimming with rough-and-ready charm. Wander its ancient streets, dotted with Madonna shrines and buzzing with scooters, explore its beautiful Baroque churches and top-class museums – and be sure to stop at one of its hole-in-the-wall pizzerias for a world-class margherita.
Tsavo West National Park, Kenya
Richard Trillo, Author, the Rough Guide to Kenya
I’m very attached to this place. It sometimes seems every turn in the winding tracks through this 8000-square kilometre sanctuary yields a new discovery – fat-rumped zebras, a herd of wrinkled elephants like a mountain range in motion or impossibly tall, prehistoric-looking giraffes. In the region’s volcanic landscapes, bare lava fields are interspersed with sparkling, spring-fed lakes and thick stands of fig trees and acacias. Last time I was there, during the rainy season, I took a route new to me and spent two hours driving through this pristine scenery, only passing one other vehicle the whole afternoon.
The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
Claire Saunders, Contributor, Rough Guides
It’s an otherworldly and stupendously beautiful landscape of blinding white salt flats stretching for as far as the eye can see, broken only by bizarre islands covered in giant cacti. In the wet season it is transformed into a giant mirror. As well as being the most stunning place I’ve ever visited, the Salar was also the coldest: despite a hot water bottle – purchased with some foresight and much smugness the day before – and going to bed wearing every single item of clothing in my rucksack, the night I spent there was the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.
Martin Dunford, Author, The Rough Guide to Belgium
It’s a place I regularly visit on the Norfolk coast. My children love to run around in the dunes there, the beach is huge and sandy and – big plus – we can take our dog. There’s a great café to warm up (or cool off) in afterwards. Oh, and the village has a great pub too. It’s heaven.
Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Zora O’Neill, Author. The Rough Guide to Mexico
Every time I visit Mexico, I discover something new and exciting. The diversity and depth of traditional (and modern) culture here is a treasure. I spend most of my time in the Yucatán, which I love for its mellow attitude and strong Maya traditions. But drive one winding highway to another state and it’s a totally new and thrilling world.
Lapa, Rio de Janeiro
Rob Coates, Author, the Rough Guide to the Caribbean
I love a night out in Lapa. With all eyes on Brazil, the city exudes an infectious arrogance as it parties, and Lapa’s raucous street life and trendy samba clubs always leave my senses dazzled and feet jittering in rhythm.
Mark Thomas, Senior Picture Editor, Rough Guides
As a photographer, Tokyo is top of my list: a giant futuristic metropolis and the perfect sci-fi background to thousands of my shots. I’ve visited Tokyo on four occasions, met my future wife there and produced some of my best photography there. Its futuristic vision is still etched on my mind.
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