Dynamic, gracious, a juggernaut, a collection of villages, exciting, provincial, ugly, exotic, vibrant… Choose any one of the characteristics from this list and put “Tokyo is..” in front of it and you’ve just made a true statement about Japan’s capital.  This city has such an endless number of different facets that it’s unlikely anyone could ever reduce them to a common denominator.

Geisha (2)

Photo Credit: Chiara Colella


Geishas no longer trip through the streets of the old district; nevertheless, you can still catch a whiff of old Tokyo flair in the area around the Asakusa Kannon Temple. Whether you purchase your most beautiful souvenir or sample traditional sweets in Asakusa, a few pleasant hours are guaranteed.


In Tokyo, it always pays to stray away from the major shopping streets.  You will suddenly find yourself in narrow alleyways where the clocks seem to tick more slowly.  Take the time to discover this side of Japan’s capital; meander, for example, through the little streets of Asabujuban, in the shadow of Roppongi Hills.



Photo Credit: RajeshTP@Pexels

In the land of sushi and sashimi, Tokyo’s fish market is a hub of activity.  Nowhere in the world does more fish change hands on a daily basis; nowhere else is the sushi so fresh and delicious.  Even if you’re not a morning person, you shouldn’t miss this sunrise spectacle.


The Japanese love technology and electronics, and the Akihabara district holds a magical attraction for them.  The countless discount shops offer many innovations from the audio and video sector as well as seemingly forgotten technology.  Manga and Anime fans will also find  treasures here.


Probably no other intersection has been photographed or filmed as often as the one in front of the Shibuya railway station.  The bustle of the crowd must be experienced to be believed.


The residents of Japan’s capital are passionate shoppers, especially for brand name and status items – and they are happy to pay for it.  Don’t forget the elegant gift-wrapping! The best hunting grounds; Omotesando and Ginza.

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Only in Japan

People who travel to Japan are usually looking for that special something in its exotic nature, its technology, its food and traditions. They want to experience how an entire nation can immerse itself in the collective intoxication of the cherry blossoms, and how the late-autumn leaves bathe its temples and gardens in a riot of colour. Visitors who are prepared to fly the long distance to the island kingdom want to relax in hot springs, enjoy the freshest raw fish, travel on the world’s most punctual train, the Shinkansen bullet train, experience the symbiosis between architecture, nature and man in its stylish gardens, and gain an insight into the future in its noisy high-tech districts. With Marco Polo’s insider tips you can truly immerse yourself in the unique beauty and culture of Japan.

Japanese elegance, a fabulous garden and excellent dining make a visit to the restaurant Tofuya-Ukai in the beautiful gardens at the bottom of the Tokyo Tower an undeniably successful, hard- to-beat gustatory experience. (Tofuya-Ukai, daily 11am–8pm, Shiba-koen, tel. 03 34 36 10 28,

Dramas about popular heroes and love stories, traditional plays and dances in fabulous costumes are performed at Tokyo’s famous Kabuki-za theatre. The all-male performers enjoy pop star status in Japan. (Kabuki-za, Chuo, tel. 03 35 41 31 31,

Despite the numerous scandals surrounding it, the Japanese love their national sport: sumo wrestling. The atmospheric highlights of this 2000-year-old wrestling match include the summer tournament at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya.

The wooden terrace of Kiyomizu Temple, which is supported by hundreds of pillars, is one of Japan’s landmarks, and has the loveliest views of Kyoto.

Chado, the “Way of tea”, is a stylish pastime and Japanese work of art. Even if you have no prior knowledge and haven’t spent hours sitting with your legs crossed, you can experience the special atmosphere during a half-hour tea ceremony at the Happo-en garden restaurant in Tokyo . (Happo-en, daily 11am–4pm, admission with garden from 2000¥, tel. 03 34 43 31 11,

Karaoke is a collective form of entertainment for the Japanese that foreigners are also welcome to share. One venue is the JoyJoy in Nagoya. (JoyJoy, daily, admission depending on room, cabin and time from 900¥, tel. 0522490717)

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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: 


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 (


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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Bali Marco Polo Guide

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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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Oslo Marco Polo Guide

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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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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Munich Marco Polo Guide

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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 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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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Dresden Marco Polo Guide

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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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.

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Paris Marco Polo Guide
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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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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!

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Portugal Marco Polo Guide

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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.


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Scotland Marco Polo Guide

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