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

Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 4: Austria Krampus

It’s Day 4 of our Advent calendar and it’s an exciting time for many young children in Austria (and Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary…) these days, which is why we are heading to Vienna to meet the Krampus! Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here.

AUSTRIA KRAMPUS

Krampus is the scary looking companion of the Turkish bishop Saint Nicholas. On the night of 5 December, Krampus visits homes and businesses looking for naughty children, carrying a bunch of birch twigs and a large bag, ready to punish those who have been misbehaving and don’t deserve presents from Saint Nicholas. The tradition is originally Austrian, but spread to many other European regions under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Krampus is believed to represent the devil, chained by the Christian church, and he is often portrayed carrying large chains which he likes to rattle menacingly. Traditionally Krampus has horns, sharp teeth and claws but recently he has also been given a more cuddly appearance. However, appearances can deceive so make sure to behave or Krampus may just stuff you in his bag and carry you away.

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Eat Like a Local – Vienna

Paris has its bistros, Madrid its bodegas, Prague its beer halls and London its pubs. But Vienna has three typical gastronomic institutions: the coffeehouse, Beisl and Heuriger.

Vienna

Coffeehouses

Entire libraries are full of the literature that has been written about – and in – Viennese coffeehouses. In the Biedermeier period and even more around 1900, cafés were
the focal point of Viennese intellectual life. Today, there are more than 500 such oases scattered throughout the city where you can sit for hours with a cup of melange and the obligatory glass of good Viennese mountain spring water without being bothered. They all have a wide selection
of newspapers and many provide chessboards, bridge cards and even billiard tables to help you while away the time.

The Beisl

The second culinary stronghold of the Viennese way of life – the Beisl – has become trendy once again thanks to an amazing rejuvenation of the Viennese cuisine that is actually a mixture of
Bohemian, Hungarian, Italian, Jewish and other Central European cooking traditions.

For years, the city of schnitzel and Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Beuschel (veal lungs), Knödel (dumplings) and Palatschinken (pancakes) had a poor reputation with gourmets on account of the fat and calories. In the meantime, a new generation of ambitious cooks have adapted their menus to appeal to modern eating habits.

The Heuriger

The third Viennese institution, the Heuriger, still enjoys tremendous popularity. Most of these inns have picturesque vaulted cellars, beautiful courtyards and gardens where guests are served young wine and hearty food – and often to live Viennese music.

Most Heuriger are located in the old wine-growing areas on the edge of the Vienna Woods in the north-west of the city but those in the more peaceful districts such as Strebersdorf and Stammersdorf to the north across the Danube, or Mauer near the southern boundary of Vienna have just as much atmosphere. The genuine Heuriger – which is also known as a ‘Buschenschank’ – can be recognised by a fresh green fir branch over its door and a sign reading ‘Ausg’steckt’ next to it.

 

Local specialties to try on your trip to Vienna:

Apfelstrudel – the dream dessert made of grated or finely cut apples, nuts, and raisins, seasoned with cinnamon and sugar, wrapped in filo pastry

Beuschel – finely cut offal (mainly heart and lung) in a spicy sauce

Buchteln – Sweet yeast rolls filled with jam and often served with vanilla sauce

Frankfurter – the sausages known as ‘Wieners’ everywhere else

Frittaten – finely sliced pancakes served in clear beef soup

Kaiserschmarrn – desert made of shredded omelette, usually served with stewed plums

Nockerln – the Austrian relative of Italian gnocchi; Griess or Butternockerln (small semolina or butter dumplings) are served in soup; Salzburger Nockerln – a soufflé of egg white – is a legendary dessert

Palatschinken – sweet pancakes filled with apricot jam, curd cheese, nuts or even ice cream

Powidltascherln – Bohemian dessert: choux pastry filled with plum puree

Sachertorte – the classic cake made of egg yolks, sugar, a little flour and beaten egg whites, filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate icing

Stelze – grilled knuckle of pork – side dishes: sauerkraut and bread dumplings – or veal, with more delicate accompaniments

Tafelspitz – one of the best cuts of boiled beef; usually served with shredded fried potatoes and chive sauce or stewed apples with horseradish

Wiener Schnitzel – the classic: escalope of veal covered with breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown; the perfect accompaniment: potato salad

 

Restaurants serving traditional cuisine:

COFFEE & TEA HOUSES

Vienna

CAFÉ AMACORD 
Charming place to take a break between the Naschmarkt and Freihaus Quarter. Breakfast is served until 6pm; good cooking and moderate prices, large selection of magazines and games. Sun–Wed 10am–1am, Thu–Sat 10am–2am | Rechte Wienzeile 15 | U4 Kettenbrückengasse

CAFÉ CENTRAL 
Luxurious café in Venetian neo-Gothic style. This is where men-of-letters and journalists sharpened their pens around 1900. Mon–Sat 7.30am–10pm, Sun 10am–10pm | Herrengasse 14 | bus 1A, U3 Herrengasse

**FRAUENHUBER** INSIDER TIP
Vienna’s oldest café is a gem, with Persian carpets, red velvet and Biedermeier glass cabinets. Mon–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun 10am–10pm, closed Sat evening in Aug | Himmelpfortgasse 6 | U1, U3 Stephansplatz

HAAS & HAAS 
This traditional tea house is famous for its many different types of breakfast. There is also a salesroom where you can buy exquisite teas and accessories. The inner courtyard with comfortable wicker chairs is a dream. Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat 8am–6.30pm, Sun 9am–6pm | Stephansplatz 4 | U1, U3 Stephansplatz

 

RESTAURANTS: EXPENSIVE

HUTH
Elegant host and high-quality Viennese cuisine, fine wines, stylish living room in the cellar. Daily | Schellinggasse 5 | tel. 5 13 56 44 | www.zum-huth.at | tram 2, D Schwarzenbergplatz

MOTTO AM FLUSS 
The new mooring place for the shuttleboats to Bratislava lies like a luxurious yacht of glass at anchor on the right bank of the Danube Canal. In addition to a café and bar, it also houses a restaurant that became the in-place for the bourgeois, bohemian and business people in next to
no time. Light, regional gourmet cuisine, fine wines, a spacious terrace with a fabulous view of the canal; lavish breakfast served in the café until 4pm(!) Daily | Schwedenplatz | tel. 2 52 55 11 | www.motto.at | U1, U4 Schwedenplatz

PLACHUTTA 
Ewald Plachutta and his team serve more than a dozen different kinds of boiled beef in their chic city eatery. Daily | Wollzeile 38 | tel. 5 12 15 77 | www.plachutta.at | U3 Stubentor

ZUM SCHWARZEN KAMEEL
The roots of this stylish classic restaurant can be traced back to the 17th century. Chef de cuisine Sevgi Hartl’s cooking is creative while still respecting tradition and Maître Gensbichler guides his guests through the wine and cheese kingdom with the charm of times long past. The ‘Camel’ also has a stand-up bar and exquisite wine and delicatessen shop. Closed Sun | Bognergasse 5 | tel. 5 33 81 25 | www.kameel.at | U3 Herrengasse

 

RESTAURANTS: MODERATE

AUX GAZELLES 
The essence of the Orient for all the senses: the glamorous combination of brasserie, café and deli with an oyster bar, tea salon and club. It even has a Moroccan steam bath! Mon–Thu Café 11am–2am, Fri/Sat 11am–4am, restaurant Mon–Sat 6pm–midnight, club with DJ Thu–Sat 10pm–4am | Rahlgasse 5 | tel. 5 85 66 45 | www.auxgazelles.at | U2 Museumsquartier

**ZUM BLAUEN ESEL** INSIDER TIP
The ideal place for a meal after visiting Schönbrunn – don’t be put off by the surroundings!
Cosy restaurant with a wonderful garden with gravel underfoot and chestnut trees above. Excellent local cooking, steaks and scampi from the barbecue, and very good wines. Closed lunchtime and Sun | Hadikgasse 40 | tel. 8 95 51 27 | www.blauer-esel.at | U4 Hietzing

GMOAKELLER 
Sophisticated and refined home-style cooking using traditional recipes with a touch of Styria in the atmosphere of a cosy pub. Excellent wines. Closed Sun | Am Heumarkt 25 | tel. 7 12 53 10 | www.gmoakeller.at | U4 Stadtpark

HANSEN 
Wonderful lunchtime restaurant in the cellar of the stock exchange with a view of lush green plants. Modern, light cuisine. Closed Sat evening and Sun | Wipplingerstraße 34 | tel. 5 32 05 42 | www.hansen.co.at | tram1 Börse

LUSTHAUS 
Beautiful former imperial hunting lodge with terrace, gigantic chestnut trees and  tangy wine. On balmy summer evenings, you will feel blissful here in the heart of the Prater woods. The kitchen will also satisfy sophisticated diners. May–Sept Mon–Fri noon–11pm, Sat, Sun, holidays to 6pm, Oct–April closed Wed, Thu–Tue noon– 6pm | Freudenau 254 (Hauptallee) | tel. 7 28 95 65 | www.lusthaus-wien.at | bus 77A Lusthaus

NENI
Refreshing, aromatic Israeli-Levantine cuisine – mezzeh, kibbeh and salads. Café and charming rooftop restaurant; sandwiches to take away. Closed Sun | Naschmarkt 510 | tel. 5 85 20 20 | www.neni.at | U1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz

UBL
This is not the place if you are counting calories but perfect for fans of classic Austrian specialities such as schnitzel, knuckle of pork or fried offal served in a really relaxed inn with a round iron stove, old wooden panelling and floorboards. Closed Mon/Tue | Pressgasse 26 | tel. 5 87 64 37 | U4 Kettenbrückengasse

 

RESTAURANTS: BUDGET

CENTIMETER 
This local chain of restaurant is extremely good value for money. The menu in the
form of a yardstick offers a great variety of gigantic, thickly-spread open blackbread
sandwiches that you pay for by the centimetre. Daily | Stiftgasse 4 | tel. 4 70
06 06 | www.centimeter.at | U3 Neubaugasse, tram 49 Stiftgasse

CURRY INSEL
Meat, fish and vegetable curries, served with coconut or lemon rice. Tamil culinary
art of a high standard is served at low prices in this friendly restaurant. There is
an all-you-can-eat buffet on the first Sat in the month (approx. 13 euros) and
brunch is served 11am–3pm on Sun. Daily, closed July/Aug. | Lenaugasse 4 | tel. 4 06
92 33 | www.curryinsel.at | U2 Rathaus

GLACISBEISL
This classic restaurant right behind the MuseumsQuartier serves good home-style cooking in post-modern surroundings. Inexpensive set lunch, wonderful garden. Daily | Museumsplatz 1/entrance: Breite Gasse 4 | tel. 5 26 56 60 | www.glacisbeisl.at | U2, U3 Volkstheater

**INIGO** INSIDER TIP
Cheerful, laid-back meeting place for people from all walks of life. The vegetarian meals and set lunch are something special. Closed Sun | Bäckerstraße 18 | tel. 5 12 74 51 | www.inigo.at | U3 Stubentor

**SOHO IN THE NATIONAL LIBRARY** INSIDER TIP
A canteen for government employees in the style of a designer restaurant with bistro cuisine at cafeteria prices. Different set meals every day and snacks. Am Josefsplatz 1/Neue Hofburg | entrance from Burggarten next to Butterfly House (Schmetterlingshaus) or behind the Palace Chapel (Burgkapelle) door on the left | Mon–Fri 9am–4pm | set meal from 11.30am | tel.
06 76 3 09 51 61 | U2 Museumsquartier, bus 2A Michaelerplatz

WALDVIERTLER HOF
A typical country inn – in the heart of town! Substantial specialities from northern Lower Austria; friendly, speedy service, cosy, rustic atmosphere and a large garden with chestnut trees – reasonably priced set lunches. Closed Sat/Sun | Schönbrunner Str. 20 | tel. 5 87 34 47 | www.waldviertlerhof.at | U4, bus 59A Kettenbrückengasse

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Vienna Marco Polo Guide

What’s the best thing you have ever tasted in Vienna? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

Only in Vienna

Unique experiences to be had in Austria’s glorious capital!

Vienna Marco Polo Guide

In the classical coffeehouse
They are Vienna’s answer to London’s pubs and the bistros of Paris. The hundreds of ‘public living rooms’ spread throughout the city are still the epitome of everyday Viennese culture. You can feel this especially well in magnificently renovated Central.

Visit the State Opera
The ‘House on the Ring’ helped cement Vienna’s reputation as the world’s music capital. You have the opportunity of seeing and hearing opera performances of the highest standard almost every evening.

Fiacre ride
Trotting through the narrow streets of the city centre or around the Ringstraße in a horse-drawn carriage is not only one of the most celebrated Viennese clichés but it is also a lot of fun!

The Reinprecht Heuriger wine tavern
Reinprecht in the heart of Grinzing is one of the most famous addresses where the Viennese indulge in their legendary gemütlichkeit. Sitting under vines, you will be able to savour the young wine and the high calorie delicacies from the buffet.

Plumbing the depths of the Sigmund Freud Museum
Even if nobody has to lie down on the couch, you can still feel a unique aura in the original rooms of the practice where the father of psychology cast light on the human soul.

A round on the giant Ferris wheel
Along with ‘Steffl’ and Schönbrunn, this gigantic steel construction is considered a classic symbol of Vienna. Going for a ride in one of the bright red carriages is a lot of fun especially in spring when – in the words of the song – ‘the flowers bloom again in the Prater’.

The Burgtheater – a must
The ‘Burg’, as the famous theatre on the Ringstraße is known, is the flagship of theatrical art in German. No matter whether a classical play or a provocatively modern piece, a visit is always worthwhile.

 

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