Only in Bali

Bali, Lombok or the Gilis – the names alone conjure up images of beaches lined with palm trees, coral reefs, of rice terraces and mighty volcanoes. Surfers, divers and mountaineers will find their paradise here, while the tourist centres offer all the amenities, from five-star restaurants to oriental spas. Bali’s unique culture draws travellers from all around the world: there are very few places where so much natural beauty meets with such a charming lifestyle as here on the ‘Island of the Gods’. With Marco Polo’s insider tips you can really experience the unique culture of Bali:

Bali Marco Polo Guides

WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE IN THE RICE FIELD

The Subak system – the irrigation concept of Bali’s rice terraces  – is characterised by democratic and egalitarian principles, as well as harmony between the spiritual world and man and nature. This cultural heritage is clearly explained in the Subak Museum in Tabanan.

GIANT LIZARDS AND DWARF DEER

The dividing line between the Asian and Austronesian primeval continents runs between Bali and Lombok and the flora and fauna of both continents mix here. You will get a particularly good impression of the unique animal and plant world in the Rinjani National Park – also possible on easy day tours; you don’t have to climb the peak straight away!

COLOURFUL PROCESSIONS

Women dressed in brightly coloured clothes balance fruit pyramids on their heads; the men beat heavy gongs: on Bali, you never know when you are going to come across a procession. The most impressive are the parades celebrating the Galungan Festival.

BETWEEN VOLCANOES AND CORAL REEFS

Something you can only experience on the Gilis – and best of all, on the small hill on Gili Trawangan: the Gunung Rijani rises up in the east at dawn and the Gunung Agung shows just how big it is in the west at sunset. In the hours in between, you can explore the fantastic underwater mountains of the coral islands.

SPICY POULTRY

The way the locals like it: the simple Lesehan Taliwang Irama Restaurant in Mataram, which is very popular with the Indonesians, serves a no frills, tasty chilli chicken.

THE BATTLE OF THE PACKETS OF RICE

During Perang Topat – which always takes place at the beginning of the rainy season in Pura Lingsar – Hindus and Muslim Sasak pelt each other with rice wrapped in palm leaves. The so-called ‘Rice Cake War’ is a celebration for all those involved, no matter which religious group they belong to.

 

Buy the Bali Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Bali Marco Polo Guide

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

Marco Polo Guides Bali Indonesia travel

Only in Oslo

Looking at Oslo from the water, you can see how the city cosily nestles between green hills. Its skyline is a real mixture of all sorts with a container port on one side and a marina on the other. In between are the new opera house sparkling in the sun, massive Akershus Fortress standing proud, the square towers of the red brick city hall and the promenade Aker Brygge. The whole dynamism of the Norwegian capital is spread out in front of you: industry and leisure, culture and history, politics and pleasure. 

Let Marco Polo show you the unique experiences to be had in the Norwegian capital:

Oslo Marco Polo Guide

BEAM ME UP
The Holmenkollen ski jump curves elegantly away from the slope and forms the focal point of a magnificent ski arena which is both a major landmark and the heart of Norway’s national sport. For an unbeatable view, take the high-speed lift to the top of the tower – it’s almost as quick as the skiers speeding down the jump!

READ AND BE READ
Along with the Icelanders, the Norwegians have the greatest appetite for literature of any nation in the world and Oslo is proud of having a proper literature building, the Litteraturhuset, where readings and cultural debates are held. There is also a literature café where many guests nowadays sit with iPads in front of them.

TRADITIONAL NORWEGIAN GOURMET FARE
Apart from a large number of regular guests, inquisitive and hungry tourists also find their way to this pinnacle of perfection – Mat & Vinhus – and are rewarded with excellent Norwegian delicacies such as reindeer and herring specialities.

MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT IN THE PARK
Join the locals in Frogner Park and party the ‘white night’ through ’til dawn in the middle of the city to the sound of the chink of glasses and strumming of guitars. People crowd around the Monolith in Vigeland Sculpture Park to catch a glimpse of the sunset.

THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD
Child-friendly Oslo even has a Museum for International Children’s Art with a wide variety of shapes and colours depicting how children see the world. And children can join in everything too – while adults are only allowed to watch.

HERR NILSEN SETS THE TONE
Oslo is a bastion of jazz and the jazz club Herr Nilsen is at its very heart. Here you can listen to traditional jazz played live almost every evening. During the breaks, many pints are downed… along with memories.

Buy the Oslo Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Oslo Marco Polo Guide

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

marco polo pinterest oslo

Only in Munich

On and around Marienplatz, in the heart of Munich, busy shoppers are elbowing their
way through the department stores up and down the pedestrian precinct. On Viktualienmarkt, on the other hand, just 200m away, the stands are closing. It’s 6pm. A couple are seated at a wooden table in the beer garden in the shade of the chestnut trees. They both take a gulp of draught beer, squint into the evening sun, listen to the fountain splashing away and the natter of others at the nearby tables, watch the market tenders clear things away, take a contented breath of air filled with the smell of barbecued sausage and unpack the radishes and pretzels they have brought with them. So this is it: la dolce vita – the relaxed calm to be found in Munich that is otherwise attributed to southern Europe.

Discover Munich with Marco Polo and find out what unique experiences you can enjoy in this wonderful city:

Munich Marco Polo Guide

VIEW OF THE OKTOBERFEST

New York has its Statue of Liberty, Munich its Bavaria statue – personifying her homeland. She watches over the Theresienwiese and the raucous Oktoberfest. Climb up into her head and enjoy the view 18.52m (60ft) above ground level.

BAVARIAN BREAKFAST

A ‘real’ Bavarian breakfast is part and parcel of a visit to the state capital.
Many locals go to the Großmarkthalle pub for their Weißwurst and pretzel, homemade sweet mustard and wheat beer.

LA DOLCE VITA

The people of Munich live up to their reputation as the inhabitants of ‘Italy’s northern-most city’ on warm summer evenings and gather on the city’s squares, go for a stroll, or chat and relax in the open. This southern flair can be seen in particular on and around Gärtnerplatz.

BEER GARDEN TRADITION

When the weather permits, the locals like to spend their lunch breaks in a shady beer garden too. The Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) is especially well-known and popular.

CULT SITES

Both the Olympiastadion and the Allianz Arena are architectural masterpieces in which football history has been written which is brought alive on guided tours of the stadiums.

TRADITIONAL BAVARIAN COSTUMES

If you’re after a genuine Bavarian costume or at least an accessory as a souvenir, it’s worth seeking out the experts who can give you sound advice in a specialist shop, e.g. Ludwig Beck or Halfs.

THE SUN GOD

There’s hardly any other city where the art of sunbathing is so cultivated as in the Bavarian capital. Regardless of the time of year, even the very first rays of sun bring people out to the street cafés, e.g. to eternally trendy Tambosi.

 

Buy the Munich Marco Polo Guide.

Munich Marco Polo Guide

Something to say? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Only in Dresden

Dresden exudes a magical aura. When the morning sun glistens on the Elbe River and highlights the silhouette of the Altstadt, even the residents of Dresden catch their breath. And that is especially true now that the imposing dome of the Frauenkirche once again graces the city skyline. At its foot reigns Babylonian babble: English, Japanese, Bavarian – the historic centre is firmly in the hands of the tourists. Dresden welcomes around ten million visitors every year, and this figure is on the rise. The majority are looking for a myth, for the Baroque city of Canaletto, for the ‘German Florence’, as Johann Gottfried Herder once called it. Dresden is one of the most popular travel destinations in Germany, impressing visitors with its monuments, art and culture.

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in this magical German city:

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

‘THE BALCONY OF EUROPE’

The Brühlsche Terrasse is 500 m long and 10 m (32.8 ft) above the Elbe, thus resembling a balcony against the backdrop of the Altstadt. Here, you can wander past the Albertinum and art academy and enjoy the view of the river, the Neustadt quayside and – inland – the Münzgasse with the towering Frauenkirche in the background.

SHIP AHOY!

A trip on one of the traditional paddle steamboats of the Sächsische Dampfschifffahrt can be one of the most memorable experiences of a visit to Dresden. On the way upstream, you will see plenty of sights.

THE ROOT OF HAPPINESS

The Elbwiesen stretching almost 30 km (18.6 miles) along the river banks make a significant contribution to Dresden’s quality of life. People meet here to sit around camp fires, eat picnics, go for a walk, ride their bikes or relax in the sand and watch the clouds go by.

VINEYARD WITH CITY VIEW

It is only 3 km (1.8 miles) as the crow flies from the Frauenkirche to the vineyard below Albrechtsberg Castle. Vintner, Lutz Müller, decants his wines from the Elbe slopes here. They are served with ‘Flammkuchen’ (tarte flambée) and a priceless view of the town.

INTO THE MORNING HOURS

The late 19th-century district to the north of the Bautzner Straße attained fame far beyond its boundaries long ago. The number of cafés, pubs and restaurants, bars and clubs is legendary. The city’s younger generation tend to meet here at the weekends, although in the meantime an increasing number of guests from other parts of the world come to party with them.

DRESDEN’S COOLEST PARTY

The street festival, Elbhangfest, takes places on the 7 km (4 miles) between Loschwitz und Pillnitz. The people of Dresden celebrate their dolce vita on the last weekend of June with theatre performances, readings, concerts, exhibitions, ‘wine villages’ and flea markets, as well as a large procession.

Buy the Dresden Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Dresden Marco Polo Guide

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

Only in Paris

Paris, the city of love, fashion, gastronomy, art – and the city of lights. Paris has always been a metropolis where only the best is good enough, a city of superlatives.  Faster, prettier, bigger, glossier than other cities in France, and comparable to other capital cities around the world such as London or New York. But few cities have the flair and romance of Paris. Discover what makes Paris so special with Marco Polo’s tips:

Paris Marco Polo Guide

GOURMET MECCA

Paris is known as the culinary capital of the world, whose restaurants have garnered Michelin stars. Julien, the gastronomic heart of the city, offers the best quality with opulent Belle-Époque surroundings.

ARCADES – NOSTALGIE A LA FRANÇAISE

Paris is defined by the splendour of its past. Upscale covered shopping centres such as the Galerie Vivienne have existed since the 18th century and are typical of parts of the city even today.

MULTICULTURAL METROPOLIS

Chinese, Indians and Africans from every part of the continent have all injected culture and an exotic flair into certain districts. The African market, Marché Barbès, is a tantalising example.

PURE LUXURY

Paris is the epitome of luxury products and is celebrated for its champagne, perfume and fashion. You can find a large selection of luxury items at the ‘Triangle ‘d’Or’ – the golden triangle – centred around the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.

MUSEUMS OF INTERNATIONAL RENOWN

Apart from the Louvre – the museum with the largest exhibition space in the world – the Centre Pompidou boasts the most comprehensive collection of modern art in Europe today. The museum that best reflects Paris, however, is the Musée d’Orsay, with its collection of works by the French Impressionists.

STREET CAFÉS

Street cafés act as an extension of a Parisian living room. Even the tiniest space on the pavement has enough room for a couple of tables and chairs. The café terrace at the Café Marly at the Louvre is ideal for people-watching.

STEEPED IN HISTORY

There are few cities in Europe that can look back on such a tumultuous 2,000 year history. The Musée Carnavalet displays a profound and inspiring insight into the city’s past.

Buy the Paris Marco Polo Guide.

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

Only in Portugal

Castles, beaches and beautiful cities. Marco Polo loves Portugal! This is our list of things you can experience only in Portugal.

Marco Polo Portugal Guide

LAND OF CASTLES
The huge number of castles dotted all over the country is astounding. One highlight is the Convento de Cristo Knights Templar castle high above Tomar. Explore the cloisters, gardens and hidden corners behind the high walls.

CINEMA AU NATUREL
Experience the wildest yet a typical aspect of the country at the Cabo da Roca. Untamed nature with steep cliffs, whipping winds and thundering waves. This is the end of Europe, you’re standing on its last throne above the Atlantic.

ROCK OF AGES
Discover the rock art of the Parque Arqueológico do Vale do Côa in the valley of the Côa river: numerous unique rock drawings by prehistoric settlers. The rock slabs appear to be teeming with horses, goats and aurochs. An impressive place, deservedly amongst the World Heritage preserved by Unesco.

TO MARKET!
Every Thursday, for market day in Barcelos, the little town turns into a buzzing open-air bazaar for the Feira. Its colourful rows of stalls offers everything – food, clothing and typical crafts – and is not even expensive. Well worth a visit even if you don’t want to buy anything

A BLESSING FOR THE MONASTERY VISITORS
Batalha boasts the Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória, once inhabited by Dominicans and one of the most impressive monastic buildings in the country, having absorbed elements of the Gothic and Manueline styles. Experience the church, the cloisters and the Unfinished Chapels.

PICTURE-PERFECT BEACH
Thanks to its privileged climate and beaches, the Algarve enjoys a reputation as an oversized sun bed. A top-notch beach is the Praia da Falésia near Albufeira, beyond which rusty-red rock walls rise – a stunning contrast to the blue Atlantic!

Buy the Portugal Marco Polo Pocket Guide.

Portugal Marco Polo Guide

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

Only in Scotland

Scotland is iconic! Nessie and whisky, bagpipes, castles and myths lure you to this wildly romantic northern country with its magnificent, scenic landscapes. Check out Marco Polo’s insider tips to find out the best only Scotland has to offer.

Scotland Marco Polo Guide

Edinburgh’s magnificent mile

The Royal Mile is a stretch where you will find all things Scottish and along the way you go from the 21st century all the way back to the Middle Ages. The strains of the bagpipe, ghost walks and quaint pubs all set the tone for your Scotland stay.

Nessie mania

Steve Feltham has been tracking the Loch Ness monster since 1991. A full time Nessie hunter, he lives on the famous loch and is always keen to share what knowledge he has of the mythical sea serpent.

Legendary hiking trail

A trip to the Highlands wouldn’t be complete without this hike: the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William is just less than 95 miles long and is legendary. Outlaw Rob Roy once hid in the idyllic wooded eastern shore of Loch Lomond.

A whisky pilgrimage

Only the Scottish could succeed in harnessing the spirit and taste of their country in a bottle! For connoisseurs there is the Malt Whisky Trail and you get to taste your way through the distilleries sip by sip.

Sit! Stay! Good dog!

At Viv Billingham’s on St Mary’s Loch and on Leault Farm at Aviemore you can watch the clever Scottish Border collies hard at work.

Royal Highland Games

To see men in skirts tossing the caber or country dancing you should visit one of Scotland’s many folk festivals. The guys are absolute pros! If you attend the main one in Braemar you could even get a glimpse of the Queen and her family.

Folk music to get you going

Celtic folk music is both melancholic and haunting and yet also very danceable. Sandy Bell’s is an Edinburgh pub where it is played and sung at jam sessions – also at the Orkney and Shetland festivals.

 

Buy the Scotland Marco Polo Guide.

Scotland Marco Polo Guide

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

Only on Malta

Malta is like a lavish buffet. You can choose what you like from what’s on offer, and enjoy a holiday there at any time of year. Malta and its little sister Gozo are small enough to allow you to get to know the island republic within a single week. You can go diving and windsurfing, you can swim and play golf, take a culinary journey round the world or make it a ‘wellness’ holiday in a spa. And Malta’s nightlife has made the island a happening place on the club circuit.

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had on Malta and Gozo:

Malta Marco Polo Guide

Discover Malta’s painters

Painters once had the role that photographers have today. They not only portrayed the
Grand Masters of the Knights of St John, they also captured on their canvases Maltese landscapes of the 18th and 19th centuries, on show in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.

Dine like a lord

The Tá Frenc luxury restaurant on the island of Gozo has all the atmosphere of an old Gozitan nobleman’s estate. Almost all ingredients used here come from the island, and even the herbs come from a little garden in front of the restaurant.

A one-horse-power ride

When you take a horse-drawn carriage at the Grand Master’s palace in Valletta, you can feel like the nobles of old as it goes clip-clop through the old knights’ city – an experience that’s best at dusk as the lights come on.

Delicate silver jewellery

Silver items are among the few craft products that have a tradition on Malta. The place to find them in Valletta is the Silversmith’s Shop.

Politicking behind closed doors?

Not on Malta. Part of each kazin of the local party offices is a bar, where you’ll soon be able to strike up a conversation with locals, e.g. in Rabat in the bar opposite St Paul’s Church. But before you start sounding off about politics, find out which party’s bar you have come to.

Firing a salute

The Maltese are fond of old military habits and keep them alive by means of re-enactments. Every day at noontime a cannonade goes off from the Saluting Battery in Valletta.

 

Buy the Malta Marco Polo Guide.

Malta Marco Polo Guide

Something to say? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Only in Bangkok

Bangkok is not just another large city; Bangkok is a universe in itself. Typically Thai
on the one hand yet very cosmopolitan on the other. A city that unifies a traditional
past with a modern life, one that captures the past and anticipates the future.

Here is our list of unique experiences to be had in Bangkok!

Bangkok

Life on a canal

‘Venice of the East’ is no cliché: canals or khlongs spread throughout the Thonburi district like a giant spider web. Take a long-tail boat tour and see the old shingle-covered teak stilt houses.

Exquisite travesty

You will see transvestites everywhere in Bangkok – the ladyboys
are out and proud in this tolerant metropolis – and the most beautiful of them can be found at the Calypso Cabaret. Dressed in opulent outfits they give their audience an action packed show.

The budget traveller

The Khao San Road is loud, colourful and unique not only in Bangkok, but worldwide – and all the international backpackers meet here. Explore this iconic mile where a party takes place every night at the hippest bars.

Midnight snack

Fast food on the pavement: Bangkok’s street cooks prepare delicious snacks and even full meals right on the road. For the haute cuisine of street food go to Soi 38 in Sukhumvit Road, where they serve delicious gourmet food at midnight.

Palace of palaces

Many royals had palaces built in Bangkok but none is grander than the Grand Palace. This fairy tale building with its Wat Phra Kaeo temple is an absolute must. It is an architectural testimony to the close bond between the Thai monarchy and Buddhism.

Tailor-made

At first glance every second shop in Bangkok appears to be a tailor. But be warned: not everyone is a master of his trade. The ones offering tempting bargains and those with touts at the door are best avoided. A better bet would be to go to a reputable professional like Pinky Tailor.

 

Buy the Bangkok Marco Polo Pocket Guide

Bangkok Marco Polo Guide

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

Only in Berlin

Berlin attracts creative people from all over the world as if by magic. No other city in
Europe has as much art and culture to offer! It is also famous worldwide for its feverish nightlife with more than 200 clubs, innumerable bars, cafés and pubs. There are no set closing times and most places stay open until the early hours of the morning – if they close at all!

Whatever your personal tastes and preferences, Berlin has something for everyone! Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Germany’s capital…

Berlin Marco Polo Guide

Quadriga with twelve legs

The Brandenburg Gate (photo) is an absolute must. Not only the street artists let their hair down here, there are also many hobby photographers. Who can take the most beautiful picture of this city landmark?

‘TV-asparagus’

This is the name the people of Berlin have affectionately given the Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz. You will really miss out on something if you don’t visit the viewing platform 203 m (666 ft) above street level – it’s the best view in Berlin.

Wall taxi

A taxi will take you to all remnants of the Berlin Wall in the city. The driver will point out the most important places and garnish his stories with his personal experiences in the former divided city.

Curry 36

Cheap but tasty – that’s all a Berlin currywurst needs to be, with some chips or a bread roll to go along with it. The Berliners queue up at Curry 36 in Kreuzberg for a grilled sausage with curry powder.

Sophisticated shopping

Time and time again, the Ku’damm has been pronounced dead, but the many customers in the fashionable boutiques on the elegant boulevard cannot all be wrong. This is where Berlin is at its most glamorous in a setting of magnificent old buildings: typical of Berlin – but sometimes beautiful can be expensive.

Don’t forget your swimsuit…

You will feel like you are at the seaside: deck chairs and sand as far as the eye can see. The wide expanse of water at Wannsee is an inviting place to sunbathe or take a swim, and a snack bar is never far away.

Jazz in a beer garden

Real Kreuzbergers don’t give a hoot about the yuppies in Mitte or Friedrichshain when they sit back with a pint in their hands in one of ‘their’ beer gardens – listening to live jazz in Yorckschlösschen, for example.

 

Buy the Berlin Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Berlin Marco Polo Guide

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