What bloggers are saying about the new Marco Polo Pocket Guides

We launched our new series of Marco Polo Pocket Guides in 2018 and it has been wonderful seeing the positive response to the new updated guides. Here is a sampling from our favourite (travel) bloggers and what they are saying about the new Pocket Guides:

Jam and Clotted Cream

Devon and Cornwall guide:  “What I like about the guide –
It’s very family focused, containing lots of useful hints and tips on things to do with children. The ‘Great Places for Free’ section of the guide gave me some new idea’s for free days out and free activities to try – always handy as 3 children can equal a lot of money!

The guide contains a large pull out map as well as several road maps in the back of the guide, making orientation easy.

As a food blogger I’m always drawn to food and drink elements of guidebooks. Marco Polo didn’t let me down, with a comprehensive section on ‘local delicacies’ including stargazy pie, pasties and of course the famous cream tea – jam first obviously! Throughout the guide there are also insider tips on lovely cafe’s and restaurants to try. I love the fact they picked up on Woods Cafe in Cardinham Woods. They sell the most amazing homemade cakes…and pulled pork rolls too. Another one of our favourite family days out.” Read the full post here: jamandclottedcream.co.uk

SarahFunky

Photo credit: sarahfunky.com

New York guide: “While traveling the world, I always used Marco Polo guide books in all destinations. I’m pretty much obsessed with them! If you’ve never been to NYC, I recommend picking up a Marco Polo guidebook before you arrive. In addition to good suggestions on entertainment, food & drink, shopping, and sightseeing, they also come with a great interactive app, and a pull out map. Plus, the photography in the book is stunning!” Read the full post here: sarahfunky.com

The Wandering Quinn

Photo credit: thewanderingquinn.com

Rome guide: “…after 2 days of seeing the sights, both on my own and on a tour I felt like I needed to see a side of Rome that wasn’t so touristy. I wanted to get under the skin of Rome a bit more, so on my last day I visited Trastevere and with the help of the New Marco Polo Rome Guide I explored a greener and quieter side of Rome which included Trastevere, Gianicolo Hill and the River Tiber. Despite the rain (apologies in advance for the grey photos), I had such a good time and I’m so glad that I ventured over the river into this area of Rome. — I found the New Marco Polo Rome Guide really helpful and are a few other short walks in there too that I would definitely do if I go back to Rome, plus its filled with information!” Read the full post here: thewanderingquinn.com

Sophie Cliff

Photo credit: sophiecliff.com

Barcelona guide: “Sam and I both remarked that it was really good fun to “get lost with a purpose” and that’s exactly how following this discovery tour felt – there was no marching from one location to the next, instead we got to take each destination at our own pace and amble around some areas of the city that were totally new to us.

Each of the new Marco Polo pocket guides come with 4-5 perfectly tailored discovery tours that help you get off the beaten track, and I think they may be my new favourite way to discover a different side to a city. We’re already trying to decide which one we might follow when we visit New York later in the year!” Read the full post here: sophiecliff.com

Hand Luggage Only

Photo credit: handluggageonly.co.uk

Malta & Gozo guide: “A few weeks ago, the gang at Marco Polo Guides asked if we wanted to try scouting out some of their tips on our next trip (which piqued my interest straight away). Using their Malta and Gozo guide we decided to search for some of the ‘insider tips’ on the best things to do in Malta.

Suffice to say, I’m a real sucker for insider tips… Essentially, anything that means I get to make the most of my time on the islands (like those insider tips featuring some of the lesser-known spots in Malta and Gozo) is an opportunity I’ll always jump at while travelling.

After a little bedtime reading of the guide, I found a heap of recommendations that actually ended up saving my bacon on a few occasions. The tips on parking rules (i.e. how no parking or no stopping isn’t really shown with signs but instead with just the lines on the floor – which is totally different to back home in the UK) really helped and saved me a whole lot of unnecessary spend.” Read the full post here: handluggageonly.co.uk

Cornishbirdblog

Photo credit: cornishbirdblog.com

Devon and Cornwall guide: “There were no surprises for me, the guide includes everything that you would expect (speaking from a Cornish perspective), you’ll find all the most popular, picturesque and must see places but I was delighted to find some added extras too.

I particularly liked the Discovery Tours section towards the back of the book, this can be used as is or with the Free Touring App. These tailored routes help you to explore the region by guiding you from one awesome destination to the next. They also include details on cost and how long it should all take you. Some of the routes last a couple of weeks others are just a fun packed day trip.” Read the full post here: cornishbirdblog.com

Find our full range of guide books and maps here on Amazon.

What is your favourite Marco Polo travel guide?

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

Lisbon in a nutshell – from azulejos to fado

The Sleeping Beauty on the Tagus, Lisbon is steeped in the irresistible charm of times past. Magnificent palaces and monasteries bear witness to colonial riches; picturesque alleyways and staircases, pretty corners and sleepy squares enchant visitors. That’s not all though: the melancholy capital on the southwestern edge of Europe has another side that is dynamic, modern and cosmopolitan. Discover the Portuguese capital with Marco Polo:

AZULEJOS

Azulejos (pronounced: azoolayshoosh) can bee seen everywhere in Lisbon. The colourful tiles adorn the walls of houses and benches, staircases and arches. The art of tiling is part of the city’s Moorish heritage, and the name is derived from the Arabic al zulaique (‘small polished stone’). Tiled landscapes and scenes of daily life tell a lot about Portugal’s history and culture. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo gives an excellent overview of the history of the tiled images. And a new generation of tile artists is treading new paths, choosing unusual motifs or employing the art in new ways – replicate a minimalist trend at home with a single tiny tile on its own on a big wall.

MANUELINE STYLE

Manueline style is a Portuguese variant of Flamboyant Gothic. This decorative, playful style, named after King Manuel I (1495–1521), was introduced in the early 16th century. Inspired by the exotic adventures of the seafarers and maritime explorers of the time, the architects and stonemasons covered their buildings with delicate carvings of ropes and knots, exotic plants and animals, shells and fish. For particularly beautiful examples of this architectural style, don’t miss the Hieronymus Monastery in Belém.

SAUDADE

‘Like a dagger working in the heart’ is how the Portuguese will sometimes explain the feeling of sheer boundless melancholy known as saudade – a word that cannot be translated as sorrow, fatalism, sentimentalism, nostalgia or melancholy, as it combines a little bit of all of them. The roots of this passionate feeling are considered to lie in the Islamic era, and it finds its artistic expression in the famous fado music. In conversation with Lisbon’s older generation, you’ll often find a general fatalism at work. When asked how things are going, they will often reply, ‘Eh, cá estou’ (well, here I am) or ‘Vai-se andando’ (things are going), comparable perhaps to the English expression ‘mustn’t grumble’.

PESSOA

Lisboetas have commemorated Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935), probably Portugal’s most famous poet, with a bronze monument in front of his favourite café, A Brasileira. Today, few of the countless tourists who have their picture taken alongside the statue have actually read Pessoa’s obsessive prose and poetry, tinged with nihilism. Pessoa’s name and his work are intimately connected with the city. As witty as he was eccentric, the intellectual wrote under different names – ‘heteronyms’, whose identity he would take on for a certain time – worked as a foreign languages correspondence clerk in the Baixa and moved house many times within the city. During his lifetime, Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’, published very little, but his work is currently experiencing a renaissance beyond the borders of Portugal. In the poet’s last residence, which has been converted into a small arts centre with a library, fans can follow in the footsteps of this genius of modernism (Casa Fernando Pessoa | Rua Coelho da Rocha 16 | Mon–Sat 10am– 6pm | free admission | casafernandopessoa.pt/en/, mundopessoa.blogs.sapo.pt | Eléctrico 25, 28 to Rua Saraiva Carvalho). Still worth reading: Pessoa’s poetic city guide written in 1930, Lisbon – what the Tourist Should See.

FADO

Fado is the Portuguese blues. It was born in the poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, Alfama and Mouraria in the second half of the 18th century, and for a long time had a somewhat notorious reputation. The word is derived from the Latin fatum (fate). While both men and women (fadistas) sing the fado, it is always accompanied by two men, usually with stoic expressions, working two string instruments, a twelve-string guitar and a kind of lute, the guitarra portuguesa.

In terms of subject matter, the fado revolves around love, Lisbon, hope and disappointment – and most of all the saudade, a distinctly Portuguese feeling. What fado means to the Portuguese was evident in 1999, when Amália Rodrigues, the ‘Queen of Fado’, died. A three-day period of state mourning was declared. Amália’s house in the Rua de São Bento (Nos. 191-193) has become a site of pilgrimage for her fans (Tue– Sun 10am–1pm and 2–6pm | admission 5 euros | Metro (yellow) Rato). To this day, nobody can compare with the goddess of fado, but there are many new names on the scene, such as Camané and the internationally successful Mariza.

Many visitors to the city hear fado for the first time as a canned version, emanating from a green fadomobile in Rua do Carmo. Lisbon’s only ambulant music vendor acquired the right to sell music on the street after losing his record store in the devastating fire that destroyed Chiado in 1988. When the area was re- built rents skyrocketed. Young stars such as the Sara Tavares, of Cape Verdean heritage, and the strong-voiced Cristina Branco and Ana Moura have breathed new life into the genre.

Buy the Lisbon Marco Polo Guide.

Lisbon Marco Polo Guide

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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

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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.

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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

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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.