New titles available from Marco Polo – April 2018

Calling all trailblazers! Marco Polo has never been one to follow the crowd: since we burst onto the scene in 2012 and turned the travel publishing world upside-down, we have been pursuing a quest to create the best travel guide possible ever since!

We launched 30 ground-breaking new look pocket guides in Jan 2018 and we have just published 7 more titles in April 2018:

Choose from: Crete, French Riviera, Lanzarote, Malta & Gozo, Rhodes

We also have two local titles! With more people than ever taking staycations, there’s no better time to publish guides to some of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations:

Choose from: Devon & Cornwall, Oxford 

DISCOVERY TOURS

Along with all the regular content updates you’d expect from a relaunch – the guides also contain a new Discovery Tours chapter:

• Each book has 4 to 5 exciting, specially tailored tours helping readers get behind the scenes and head off the beaten track.
• The perfect planning tool – each tour has an overview box detailing the start and end points, distance, plus timing and costs involved – all the information an explorer needs at a glance!
• Each tour is plotted on an overview map highlighting the start point and final destination for easy orientation.
• A detailed flow chart with pictograms clearly shows the way – including distance indicators, sights to explore, views to enjoy en route and plenty of Insider Tips for
relaxing stops along the way.

FREE TOURING APP

Free touring app! The Discovery Tours are also available as an app – simply download any of the tours from the web link / QR code featured in each guide. The ultimate navigational tool to enjoy stress-free sightseeing.

NEW LOOK COVERS

Ground-breaking new look covers bring the guides bang up-to-date, so you won’t need to be shy about looking like a tourist! Fresh, simple, cool – the split line typography is designed to make you look twice and the bright colours will get you in the holiday mood!

INSIDER TIPS

The guides with Insider Tips! Showing the main sights in detail simply isn’t enough for modern-day travellers. Marco Polo specialises in getting you off the beaten track! Why follow the crowd when you can make your own path?

Let Marco Polo show you hidden gems, lesser-known locations and stunning viewpoints where you can make memories to last a lifetime. Brush shoulders with the locals, eat the food that Grandma makes and seek out unique experiences at every turn.

Be a traveller, not just a tourist!

Buy now: CreteDevon & CornwallFrench Riviera, Lanzarote, Malta & GozoOxfordRhodes

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

How to celebrate King’s Day in Amsterdam + GIVEAWAY

At Marco Polo we think that Amsterdam is a wonderful destination to visit any time of the year, but there is a very good reason to visit the city in the last week of April and that is King’s Day. The whole city – and every other Dutch city, town and village – turns into a massive street party. Embrace the orange madness now because with our insider tips you will have a great time celebrating King’s Day!

Oh, and don’t forget to scroll down for our giveaway!

WHAT IS KING’S DAY?

King’s Day, or Koningsdag as it is called in Dutch, celebrates the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange, and more specifically the birthday of the King Willem Alexander. King’s Day always falls on April 27th, unless the 27th is a Sunday, although this has been the case only since 2013. Until then the day was celebrated on April 30th for decades and every year many tourists still show up in Amsterdam on the 30th only to find out that they missed the party. For this reason the Amsterdam city actually throws a separate, smaller scale, party for those who missed the real celebrations.

WHAT SHOULD I DO ON KING’S DAY?

Do some shopping on the vrijmarkt

Vrijmarkt – the ‘free market’ is a massive flea market that forms on the streets. All regulations regarding selling your items on the streets have been lifted for the day and countless Dutch people use this opportunity to get rid of old clothes, shoes, furniture and children’s toys. It is a great opportunity to do some bargain hunting as well, even if the items you bought often end up on the free market again the next year. Children will be extremely active selling their old toys, playing instruments and putting on whole shows to earn some pocket-money.

Party, party and party some more

King’s Day in Amsterdam is likely the largest street party you will attend. There are tons of events and festivals to choose from, but you will need to book tickets in advance (check the iamsterdam website for more information). Others choose to go bar hopping, or simply take the party to the streets.

Go boating

King’s Day on a boat is a truly Amsterdam way to celebrate the holiday, but for travellers it may be more difficult to pull off if you do not know someone in the city with a boat. Also, the canals will be packed with other boats so if you do get lucky and have access to a boat, it is best to go later in the evening when there is more space.

MARCO POLO’S PRACTICAL KING’S DAY TIPS:

Bring cash

For shopping at the free market, for buying drinks, it is cash-only in most cases. The chances are also high that the ATM machines will run out of cash and the lines will be long so best come prepared.

Dress code: orange

Some people like to show off their orange pride by wearing the colour from head to toe, whereas others will simply add an orange accessory to their outfit. To blend in it is best to wear at least something orange or face the locals questioning your party spirit.

Bring your comfy shoes

King’s Day involves a lot of walking – or dancing – so forget the high heels and flip-flops and wear comfortable sneakers as the locals do. It is also best to leave your favourite sneakers at home.

Follow the crowd

The streets are packed with people on King’s Day so following the crowd will get you to your destination a lot faster than going against the current.

And most importantly… have fun!

Marco Polo Amsterdam Pocket Guide King's Day

GIVEAWAY

To get into the orange madness, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket guides to FIVE lucky winners, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Have you been to Amsterdam on King’s Day? If so, share your tips or experiences in the comments, if not, then just let us know in the comments. By commenting you enter the giveaway. You can earn more chances to win by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram accounts and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Friday 13 April 2018 until Thursday 19 April 2018 at 12:00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK & European residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional chances to win may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 13 April 2018 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 19 April 2018. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 5 x prize winner will receive 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides of their choice.
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control. The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

Marco Polo’s Top 5 Easter destinations for 2018 + GIVEAWAY

Easter is only two weeks away, and there is still time to book a last-minute trip to catch the first April sun in one of Marco Polo’s favourite Easter holiday destinations! Don’t forget to check out our Spring giveaway at the end of the post, for a chance to win 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides of your choice and a FujiFilm Instax Mini 9 camera!

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

ROME

Rome is perfect for a true Easter experience. Easter can be one of the busiest times to visit the Eternal city, but in recent years many people have taken advice not to visit at Easter, so there are plenty of hotel rooms to be had at reasonable prices. To hear the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica ring on Easter Sunday is an unforgettable experience. Those not too keen on the spiritual can benefit from free access to all of Rome’s archaeological sites and museums, as the first Sunday of the month falls on Easter Sunday this year. Though do be sure to pack your umbrella, as April tends to be one of Rome’s rainier months.

SRI LANKA

Not willing to risk the rain in Rome? Then why not head over to Sri Lanka? April is one of the best times to visit Sri Lanka, as the peak tourist is winding down before the monsoon season’s arrival in May. Sunshine, warm weather and beaches – not to mention the beautiful nature and fascinating wildlife – make sure that nobody misses the chocolate eggs. Whether you decide to stay in one place, or travel around the island, Sri Lanka will not disappoint.

VIENNA

Vienna is a great destination for an Easter break. While many locals head for the ski slopes, the city caters to those who stay – or arrive – with a multitude of Easter markets, chocolate and rabbits everywhere. Visit the Schönbrunn Easter market for some beautiful handcrafted souvenirs or take the children to the Prater area for some fun including the famous giant ferris wheel. Don’t forget to try Osterpinze, a local bread like pastry eaten during the Easter holidays.

CAPE VERDE

Another guaranteed destination for sun is Cape Verde. The archipelago off the coast of Africa is a perfect alternative to the more familiar Canaries. The weather is a lovely and warm, and April is the ideal time for whale-watching. Also, there are some lively Easter festivities to be seen, as the locals ring in the Easter Sunday with a big party.

BARCELONA

If a six-hour flight is not your thing, Barcelona is a good choice. Sure, the museums and shops have slightly awkward holiday opening times – mainly on Easter Monday – but there are still places that cater to the tourists. Be sure to check out the main Easter parades and processions on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday you should stay in the vicinity of the Barcelona Cathedral – not to be confused with Sagrada Familia – for a true Barcelona Easter experience.

GIVEAWAY GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

To celebrate Spring, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides of your choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 camera to one lucky winner, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Simply share the story of your most memorable Easter / Spring travel moment in the comments below. You can earn more chances to win by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram accounts and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Thursday 15 March 2018 until Thursday 29 March 2018 at 12:00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK & European residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional chances to win may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 15 March 2018 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 29 March 2018. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 1 x prize winner will receive 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides of their choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 camera (RRP £64.99).
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control. The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

That Cuba Feeling

Experience Cuba’s unique flair and find out what makes it tick – just like the locals themselves.

SALSA DANCING

In Cuba you can learn salsa moves or hone your skills almost everywhere – in the bars and dance clubs, at concerts, with the help of the welcoming team at the airport, or under the instruction of the teachers at your hotel. First you need to learn the basic steps so it’s “un, dos, tres”… the man leads and spins his dancing partner until you get dizzy from just watching them.

CASAS PARTICULARES

It has become very popular to stay in a private Cuban home. Quite a few of these private rooms are now very well equipped. To experience a private stay, look for the blue sign (similar to an anchor) on the door. You will feel just like you are at home in the modest homes or in the elegant – a new development – casas particulares with lovely terraces, and sometimes even access to a beach or a swimming pool.

CHEVY TOUR

Not only vintage car enthusiasts will enjoy the sight of all the classic American cars, with their glittering chrome, as they roll through Cuba’s streets looking as if they are part of an open-air museum. Many of the Cadillacs and Chevrolets are maintained with great care and polished to a high gloss. You will feel as though you are on a journey back through time when you are chauffeured through Havana.

DIVE DEEP

The Cuban coral reef is one of the largest and most species rich in the world. The south coast is popular with divers, especially the Isla de la Juventud. In sites like Cueva Azul and Tunel del Amor, divers swim among colourful fish, eagle rays and even turtles and explore the wrecks and canyons in the deep blue waters.

REBEL TRAILS

Wearing a T-shirt with Che Guevara’s face on it is not enough to make you a real fan of the Revolution. So the “Adelante Comandante!” (Forwards, commander!) slogan makes the Revolution more tangible on a hike through the Sierra Maestra. Follow in the footsteps of the guerrilleros inland and pay your respects to the most famous rebel and his fellow fighters – such as at the Che Guevara monument and mausoleum in Santa Clara.

CUBAN-STYLE DRUMMING

If you are carried away by the pervasive rhythm of the congas and timbales, then why not take an introductory course in the art of drumming. Finding a teacher is not difficult – you can spot a real pro if he makes his pupils do fingers exercises to warm up before they start – all you have to do is ask one of the street musicians in the Callejon de Hamel pedestrian zone in Havana. It doesn’t get any more authentic than that.

ON TWO WHEELS

No Cuban would even dream of spending his holiday on a bicycle – most of the bikes have neither lights nor gears. But, if you decide to ride a bike, you will have plenty of routes to choose from: endless, at trails and even the motorways (where there is usually very little traffic) or more demanding serpentine roads such as La Farola at Baracoa.

SALUD Y SUERTE!

Some people never want to leave Cuba simply because of the drinks; Ernest Hemingway immediately springs to mind. You don’t need many ingredients to make a mojito, the national cocktail. Mix the juice of a lime with half a teaspoon of sugar, crush six mint leaves in the glass, add a shot of Havana Club Rum (Añejo 3 Años), fill it up with soda water and decorate the glass with a few sprigs of mint – this way, you will be able to keep on enjoying the Cuban feeling after you return home from your holiday.

Buy the Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

Marco Polo Cuba Spiral Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Only in Peru & Bolivia

Breathtaking nature, remnants of ancient civilisations from times past, amazing food – Peru and its neighbouring country Bolivia have it all. Let Marco Polo show you how to experience the unique things these two South American countries have to offer: 

FOR FISH LOVERS

Anyone who goes to Peru without eating Ceviche has not actually been there. This national dish – raw marinated fish – is a delicacy that you should definitely try when in Lima, for example in the restaurant Punto Azul (www.puntoazulrestaurante.com/)

ADMIRE THE CONDOR

It is rare to come as close to the noble condor, the iconic bird of the Andes, as at the Cruz del Condor in the Colca Canyon. Other tourists know this as well though – you won’t be the only one trying to catch a glimpse of these mighty vultures.

MAGNIFICENT HIKING

A well preserved section of the Capac Ñan, the ancient Incan street that at one time connected Quito in Ecuador with La Paz in Bolivia, can be experienced in Peru by hiking it.

SOFT, FLUFFY AND WARM

Peru produces some of the finest Alpaca wool. In Arequipa it can be found in exclusive shops, such as the Casona de Santa Catalina, in the form of sweaters, blankets and scarves.

A TRIP TO THE DESERT

The new trendy sport in Peru is referred to as sandboarding. Surfing the sand dunes on a synthetic board is great fun, you don’t have to worry about falling in the water and there is no shortage of sand in Ica.

THE SALT OF THE EARTH

Allow yourself an experience that will push your consciousness to its limits: a jeep tour on the Bolivian Salar de Uyuni, the largest expanse of salt in the world and suspend your perception of time and space.

DANCE OF THE DEVILS!

The former silver mining city of Oruro, is the centre of the Bolivian carnival where, among the hustle and bustle, one can watch the colourful parades and dances of the Diablada.

Buy the Marco Polo Peru & Bolivia Pocket Guide.

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Marco Polo’s Top 5 Romantic Destinations + GIVEAWAY

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is all about the big romantic gestures, and what better way to show your love than by taking your significant other on a romantic getaway. We at Marco Polo have decided to share our top 5 romantic destinations with you and to spread the love, we are also giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket Guides:

AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam may not seem like a romantic destination, but there is a lot of love in this Dutch city. A stroll down the canals, hand in hand with your love, while the locals cycle by, also often hand in hand. Or take a canal cruise and snuggle on the boat while you take in the beautiful 17th century sights.

Oh, and don’t forget to treat your love to a bunch of tulips at the Bloemenmarkt!

BALI

Bali is without a doubt a romantic getaway destination: the beaches, the views, the sunsets, what more could you ask for? The island is a perfect couple’s paradise! For those wishing to splurge, check out the AYANA Resort and Spa in Jimbaran for first class luxury! For those looking for luxury on a budget, this can still be found at Keraton Jimbaran Beach Resort with its own private beach!

While you’re on the island be sure to check out Sanur for its relaxed vibe, Ubud’s rice paddies and in the north: Lovina to do some dolphin watching!

Venice Marco Polo Guide

VENICE

The canals, the gondolas, the gorgeous historical buildings – Venice is full of romance! It has been the setting of many a love story, and one of the most famous ones is the tragic love story between a fisherman and a mermaid. All that is left of their love is a stone heart that is said to bring eternal love to those who touch it, so make sure to take your own love there.

For the best view of Venice, check out Ponte dell’Academia, also known for the many love locks attached to it. Just don’t leave yours there, the locals will not appreciate the damage done to the historical bridge.

Photo credit: Tim Kelly

LAKE GARDA

The beautiful Lake Garda, with mountains in the distance, makes for a stunning scene for the couples seeking an active vacation. Visit the historical harbour of Sirmione, go hiking in the nearby mountains and end your day in one of the area’s excellent Italian restaurants, or watch the sun set into the lake on the beach.

NEW YORK

With all the romantic comedies set in New York, it would be hard to argue why New York does not belong on this list. It is the perfect urban setting for your very own love story. Exchange kisses on the top of the Empire State Building, take a stroll in Central Park and re-enact your favourite romantic movie scene in the city that never sleeps.

*****

GIVEAWAY

To spread the love, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Pocket guides to one lucky winner, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Simply share the story of your most romantic travel moment or your favourite romantic destination in the comments below. You can earn more win-chances by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Wednesday 14 February 2018 until Tuesday 20 February 2018 at 12.00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck! 

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK and EU residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional win-chances may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 14 February 2018 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 20 Febryary 2018. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 1 x prize winner will receive 5 x Marco Polo Pocket Guides: (£7.99 each).
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control.

The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL

That Australia Feeling

Discover what makes this huge country with its unique flair so special – just as the Australians do.

NOSTALGIC RIVER TRIP

In South Australia where the Murray River flows sluggishly into the Indian Ocean, a replica of a historical paddle steamer is an irresistible invitation to take a relaxing river cruise. The PS Murray Princess has lots of space on board, cabins with every conceivable comfort and is not going anywhere in a hurry – the perfect place to chill out under the southern sun (3–7 nights, departing from Mannum, Captain Cook Cruises, tel: (02) 9206 1100, www.captain cook.com.au).

COFFEE CULTURE

Thanks to the many Italian immigrants, Melbourne has turned into the Australian coffee culture hotspot. Skilled baristas conjure up wonderfully creamy latte, fluffy- topped cappuccinos and aromatic espressos in many different cafés in the city. The Melbournians generally find time for a coffee break – and when that’s not possible there is always the practical coffee-to-go.

FUN ON THE BEACH

True to the motto ‘life’s a beach’, a day with sea and sand is among the Australians’ favourite pastimes. The top address where tradition, style and a high fun factor can be found is Sydney’s fine sandy Bondi Beach, where the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club was founded in 1907. The voluntary lifeguards in their famous red and yellow swimsuits are liked by all, and the Club regularly keeps beach-goers on the move with watersport competitions.

CROSSING THE CONTINENT BY RAIL

The long-distance train ‘The Ghan’ operates between Adelaide in South Australia and Darwin in the far north. This legendary rail connection crosses 22 degrees of latitude and passes through four climate zones on its journey of almost 3,000km (1,850mi). This trip of a very special kind takes about 50 hours – and a meditative mind – as the stunning Outback scenery sails past the panorama windows. (Great Southern Railways, www.gsr.com.au).

STARS UNDER THE STARS

Darwin holds evening cinema screenings under the starry tropical sky. Choose your lounger, order a cool drink and enjoy the magic of old and new films on the huge outdoor screen at the Deckchair Cinema. An open-air cinema also exists in the middle of Melbourne from December until March, the Rooftop Cinema at the top of Curtain House (252 Swanston St., www.rooftopcinema.com.au).

ROADHOUSE TRUCK-STOPS

Legendary Aussie roadhouses can be found at regular intervals on the endlessly long highways. The petrol stations are often attached to rustic eateries and motels which serve coffee, chilled beer and enormous portions of plain, simple food. One popular stop for truckers, who drive roadtrains across the Outback that can be up to 50m (165ft) long, is Blue Heeler Hotel (tel: (07) 4746 8650) on Landsborough Highway near Kynuna in Queensland.

KOALAS, KANGAROOS & CO.

Getting a close-up view of the continent’s unique wildlife is something typically Australian – such as taking a Jumping Crocodile Cruise, for example, (tel: (08) 8988 8144, www.jumpingcrocodilecruises.com.au) on the Adelaide River, 64km (40mi) southeast of Darwin, where saltwater crocodiles – which grow up to 6m (20ft) long – leap out of the water at bait. And anyone who doesn’t manage to see enough animals in the wild can visit one of the many small animal reserves where it is worth timing your trip to coincide with feeding times.

HEAD FOR THE MOUNTAINS

Anyone wanting to explore Down Under up high should head for the Snowy Mountains in the south-east of New South Wales, where Mt Kosciuszko, at 2,228m (7,310ft), rises far above the rest of the continent. In winter, the slopes are at the mercy of skiers and snowboard fans; the rest of the time, especially during the spring when everything is in bloom, the rugged mountains make the hearts of hikers, climbers and other nature-lovers beat faster. The centrally located starting-point for year-round activities is the welcoming mountain resort of Thredbo which offers a range of places to stay and eat (www.thredbo.com.au).

Buy the Marco Polo Australia Spiral Guide

Marco Polo Australia Spiral Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

10 reasons to go back to Vancouver & the Canadian Rockies

The changing seasons, the stark contrast between the city and the wilderness – Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies are definitely worth a visit… and once you’ve been there, you will only want to return! These are Marco Polo’s 10 reasons to go back to Vancouver & the Canadian Rockies:

1.  Whales, bears, mountains, prairies, cities… it is not possible to experience it all in one visit.

2. The Canadians are so kind and helpful that you will soon find that you sorely miss them.

3. The beauty of the night sky will make you want to see the Milky Way more than once.

4. Where else can you be the only person for hundreds of miles?

5. Locals believe that Vancouver is the pearl of the Pacific, and the world’s most beautiful city.

6. No Sunday drivers and no tailgaters: Canada’s roads are a driver’s dream.

7. No matter whether you are in a city or in the middle of nowhere: the infrastructure is excellent.

8. Canada changes with the seasons and each season is different.

9. You can never tire of the vast, seemingly endless, rippling grasslands of prairie.

10. Mother Nature is the greatest show on Earth – Canada’s scenery is too beautiful not to be experienced a second time.

Buy the Marco Polo Vancouver & Canadian Rockies Spiral Guide

Something to say? Leave a comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

That New England Feeling

The Atlantic Ocean, lobsters, beautiful nature and plenty of history and culture, New England and Boston have it all!  Experience the region’s unique air and find out what makes it tick – just like the locals themselves.

FEELING BOSTON

Families on picnics, students out for a stroll, tourists photographing the swans, ducks, and monuments: the Boston Common is many things to many people. Above all, it is a wonderful place to daydream. Sit down on one of the benches and ponder over everything that started here in Boston. Many of the movements that later changed the way America thinks had their roots in this city – puritanism, abolition, feminism and same-sex marriage are just a few.

BEACON HILL

Boston is Beacon Hill and, when you leave Boston Common and immerse yourself in this posh residential district, you will feel like you are right back in days gone by, in the America of old. In the days of horse-drawn carriages, the city’s most influential people resided in these red-brick town houses. Especially interesting are the cobblestoned streets like Acorn Street, with its tenement buildings where the domestic staff were kept out of sight.

SO GREEN

Take a lawn with a monument in the center, add a neat church and scatter a few colonial-styled public buildings around it and you have the classic New England idyll. The following rule of thumb will help you in your search for the most beautiful village greens: those in Connecticut are large, there are a great number of them in Massachusetts and New Hampshire’s are small and inviting. Some of the most picturesque greens are in the following towns: Warren, Rindge, Lebanon, and Fitzwilliam (all in New Hampshire).

ART AS YOU GO

Artists are good for tourism and in summer many communities organise regular art walks. The galleries move their exhibits outside onto the pavement and invite passers-by to stop and chat with the artists. You will fund excellent art walks in Brattleboro, VT (www. gallerywalk.org), Portland, ME (www.liveworkportland.org/arts/ walk) and Boston (www.beaconhillartwalk.org/).

LOBSTER GALORE IN MAINE

Steaming pots, melted butter, and long lines – the lobster shacks in Maine are at their busiest in summer. There are several dozen of these simple lobster eateries between Kittery and Bar Harbor. Especially good: Five Islands Lobster Co. in Georgetown (www.fiveislandslobster.com) and The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport (www.theclamshack.net).

FOREST OF FLAMING COLOUR

New England in autumn comes alive with natural displays of colour when forests of birch trees, beech, and hickory all explode in vibrant tones. This spectacle of nature begins at the end of September and the foliage is most beautiful in the Berkshires, the Green Mountains, and the White Mountains.

KISS ME ON THE BRIDGE

Ever since Meryl Streep risked more than a quick glimpse at Clint Eastwood from one, covered bridges have become synonymous with romance. There are still many constructions of this type in New England; the roofs protect the wood from decay and their shady interiors make them ideal for a romantic rendezvous. That is why they are also known as kissing bridges. Vermont has the most, 106 in all, and also has the only museum devoted to this subject: the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum (44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington; Fri–Sun 10am– 5pm).

A NEW ENGLAND HIKE

After so much culture you need a touch of the wilderness. The White Mountains are the best hiking area in the northeast and the Appalachian Trail, America’s most famous long-distance hike, runs through the most spectacular sections. And, if you feel like going on a multi-day hike but don’t want to pitch a tent, you can take advantage of the hut system operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club (5 Joy Street, Boston, 617 5 23 06 36, www. outdoors.org).

 

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10 reasons to go back to Prague

Prague is one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations and those who have been there know why! Here is Marco Polo’s list of 10 reasons to go back to the Czech capital.

Never been to Prague? You really should! You can check out our other Prague tips here.

Prague Marco Polo Guide

Photo Credit: Tim Kelly

 

1. In comparison with other leading cities, Prague is still very good value for money.

2. The architecture of the town is spectacular and is definitely worth a second visit.

3. The beer is far too good for one trip to be sufficient to give it the attention it deserves.

4. The coffee house scene is so dynamic that there is always something new happening.

5. Last time, there probably wasn’t time to enjoy at length the sun on the Vltava Embankment.

6. Next summer it would also be fun to rent a paddle boat on the Vltava.

7. You need to follow the Kafka Museum with the Kafka Tour.

8. David Cerny’s tongue-in-cheek works alone take up one whole day…

9. Taking a taxi is so inexpensive that you can leave your car at home next time.

10. In winter, the Christmas markets in Prague are also well worth a visit.

 

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Prague Marco Polo Guide

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