No other part of Greece combines stupendous mountain scenery and scenic hikes with deserted, pristine beaches and an incredible wealth of ancient sites like the Peloponnese. After all, this is where gods and heroes were said to walk the earth and the world’s greatest sporting event was born.
Add to that terrific winery-hopping, boutique accommodation in historic stone towers and the unfailing hospitality of the locals, and you have the recipe for a memorable road trip.
Tour the Nemean Wine Route
The ideal place to start your Peloponnese road trip is the picturesque Venetian seaside town of Nafplio, set against the backdrop of a steep mountain topped with a fortress. An easy 45km drive north takes you to Nemea, one of the best places in Greece to get acquainted with local grape varieties. Greeks have been making (and drinking) wine for millennia; their ancestors even had a god, Dionysus, devoted to the tipple. While Greek wine is not as well known as its French or Italian counterparts, it’s becoming more prominent on the world stage.
The Nemean Wine Route takes you past a cluster of excellent wineries nestled in the rolling hills southwest of Corinth. Half a dozen of these organise wine tastings
It’s hard to keep anything in Hong Kong a secret for long. The walls between the world city and the world are thin; its people travel far and frequently, and they talk loudly.
But the city has some wonderful experiences that are not widely known, due to accessibility issues or simply because they have been forgotten.
If you’re looking to get under the skin of this Asian metropolis, here are a few of our favourite Hong Kong secrets.
Rocks from the dinosaur era
Hands-down one of Hong Kong’s most stunningly beautiful places but relatively unknown to visitors, Saikung’s hexagonal volcanic rock columns are part of the UNESCO-recognised Hong Kong Global Geopark (geopark.gov.hk), which features spectacular rock formations (volcanic and sedimentary) from 140 to 400 million years ago. The most geologically impressive of the volcanic gems can only be viewed from a boat, so the best way to see them is to join a boat tour or hire your own vessel.
Tours last about three hours and let you see, at reasonably close range, a variety of sea-
Fiji is known for its beautiful palm-fringed islands, but some of its most spectacular scenery is found below the waves. Its warm, clear waters offer year-round diving and snorkelling in what’s often referred to as the soft-coral capital of the world. There are reefs with lush gardens of corals, deep canyons and walls, multihued fish and plenty of big swimmers like sharks, turtles and manta rays.
Dive operators and resorts offer scuba diving and snorkelling almost everywhere in Fiji. If you’re new to the underwater world, many offer PADI-certification courses that will get you below the waves quickly and safely.
Here’s our guide to some of the best diving and snorkelling locations in Fiji.
The northeast of Viti Levu offers access to the rich waters of the Bligh Passage from Rakiraki and the nearby resort island of Nananu-i-Ra. The sites here have a good balance of scenic seascapes, elaborate reef structures and masses of marine life. Names of spots such as Dream Maker and Breath Taker sound like hyperbole – until you get beneath the waves and swim among the dense concentrations of corals and thick shoals of brightly coloured fish.
With so much to see in Rome, it can be hard to tear yourself away from the city. But venture out into the surrounding Lazio region and you’ll discover that there are a whole host of historic sites and foodie hotspots to explore. Further afield, Florence, Naples and Pompeii are all within day-trip range of the capital.
Walk the ancient streets of Ostia Antica
One of the easiest outings from Rome is a day trip to the Scavi Archeologici di Ostia Antica. Like a smaller version of Pompeii, this engrossing archaeological site showcases the remarkably well-preserved ruins of ancient Rome’s sea port.
Highlights include the Terme di Nettuno, a 2nd-century baths complex with striking floor mosaic, a steeply stacked amphitheatre, and the Thermopolium, a cafe where you can make out traces of a menu frescoed on the wall. A slightly more modern eatery, the Ristorante Monumento serves filling pastas and local seafood near the site’s main entrance.
Getting there: To get to the site, take the Ostia Lido train from Stazione San Paolo (next to Piramide metro station) and get off at Ostia Antica (25 minutes).
World Heritage villas at Tivoli
Take in two World Heritage Sites in Tivoli, a small town
More than 750 bird species can be found under Malaysia’s chattering jungle canopies – that’s a whole lot of feathers for a relatively small nation. Whether you’re an avid birder or a newbie who doesn’t know a heron from a hornbill, the wild plumages, delicate calls and orchestrated movements of Malaysia’s birds are sure to delight.
Malaysia’s birding habitats
Serious birders could spend an entire trip to Malaysia ticking off the 40-plus documented endemic species found in the country’s large system of natural parks and preserves. Casual observers are likely to spot a handful of interesting birds in just one of Malaysia’s prime birding habitats.
Top spots include Selangor’s Cape Rachado Forest Reserve, Endau-Rompin National Park in Johor; Fraser’s Hill and Kenong Rimba State Park in Pahang; Bako National Park and Gunung Mulu National Park and Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak; Mt Kinabalu National Park in Sabah; and Taman Negara National Park, which spreads across Pahang, Kelantan and Terengganu.
There are so many birds in Fraser’s Hill – an easy day trip from Kuala Lumpur – that the local government celebrates with the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race (blog.malaysia-asia.my/2015/05/frasers-hill-international-bird-race.html) in May or June. Cape Rachado has a long-running raptor watch where you can sight any
The second-highest capital in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia), Quito is a lovely Andean city with an exquisite colonial centre packed with architectural treasures. Wandering the Unesco-listed centro histórico (aka old town’) is pure sensory overload.
Picturesque plazas, baroque 17th-century cathedrals and the snow-covered peaks beyond form a backdrop to a vibrant city in motion: indigenous in traditional garb and bowler hats mingle with mestizos amid the sing-song voices of street vendors, newspaper sellers and shoeshine boys, while the scent of Andean cooking spills out of open-sided restaurants and food stalls.
Rise early for a stroll through old town’s cobbled streets, which are sprinkled with some of the finest colonial churches in the Americas. Not to be missed is 18th-century La Merced, with its fascinating artwork, including paintings showing volcanoes erupting over colonial Quito. Nearby the jaw-dropping Compañía de Jesús church was 160 years in the making, with a dramatic gilded interior, complete with Moorish elements and perfect symmetry (right down to the trompe l’oeil staircase painted in the rear). It’s widely considered Ecuador’s most beautiful building.
Have a rest in the Plaza Grande, the heart of Quito’s old town. Always vibrant, this is a fine place to take the pulse
Peppered with futuristic skyscrapers such as the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel, the Singapore skyline is truly a sight to behold. As the sun begins to set and the temperature drops, head up to one of these sky-high bars to experience this city from its best angle – drink in hand.
Cé La Vi
Balancing on the ‘bow’ of the equally famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel, this might just be the most hyped bar in Singapore. The view is what you’re here for, and the bar formerly known as Ku De Ta (which received a facelift along with its new name in 2015) certainly delivers. Service can be patchy and at times it can feel touristy – but the sweeping views over Marina Bay really are worth it.
Dress code: rules are strict – no shorts, flip-flops or tank tops. It’s cultivating a chic vibe so it’s best to glam up.
What to order: cocktail prices are equivalent to what you’d pay to visit the SkyPark Observation Deck on another area of the rooftop – we think getting a drink and a view is a better deal. Cocktails are strong and there’s a large spirits menu, including a particularly
Hiking with children can bestow them with a love of the outdoors and a thirst for exploration that lasts a lifetime. But before the adventures begin, you have to succeed in dragging them off the sofa and into the wifi-free wilderness…
Turn square-eyed digital devotees into wide-eyed walkers with these tips and tricks for hiking as a family.
Play and plan together
Involving children in the planning of an outdoor adventure can really engage their interest. Show them some potential routes on a map or computer, and ask them to choose which one you do. During the walk, let them carry the map or GPS unit and lead the way for a bit. Afterwards, review the route together to show them how much they’ve achieved – and let them know how proud you are.
Take baby steps
Starting small is key. Tailor treks to suit the capabilities of the youngest or least outdoorsy member of your group; the last thing you want is for kids to become tired and upset before the end of a walk. Little heads come equipped with big memories, so it’s essential that your early adventures end well. Start with shorter strolls and build to bigger missions;
It is said that an immortal from the north flying on a goose was so taken by the scenery at Huizhou’s West Lake that she landed and turned into Flying Goose Mountain. This is how Huizhou got its term of endearment, “City of the Goose”.
Located on the eastern periphery of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province, Huizhou can feel a world apart from the surrounding industrial region of the Pearl River Delta – China’s manufacturing powerhouse.
Urban upstart cities like nearby Dongguan and Shenzhen might outsize and outpace Huizhou (sounds like ‘hway-joe’), but old Goose Town’s lakes, waterways, and verdant hills, not to mention its many historic attractions, make it the perfect antidote from the rush and clamour of modern China.
The delight most feel when first confronted with Huizhou’s West Lake is not unique. The Song Dynasty scholar Su Dongpo (also known as Su Shi) was equally awestruck. Su hailed from Sichuan province, but had grown to prominence in the Song capital, Hangzhou, only to be exiled from the
A lot of people think of the United States as a young country with little in the way of history. Sure, the country’s only been a country since 1776, but before that there was the colonial period and before that there were centuries of Native American cultures. And, of course, there’s its more modern history. Together they have all left fascinating glimpses into the past. Here’s our chronological top ten.
Mesa Verde, Colorado
The Ancestral Puebloans (also known as Anasazi) were a Native American civilisation in the southwest whose most famous ruins mix history with mystery in Mesa Verde, Colorado. It was here, in the late 1100s, that they built a spectacular cliff-side city, only to abandon it a century later for reasons still not completely understood, though environmental changes are thought to have played a role.
You’re more likely to associate pyramids with Egypt than Illinois, but this Midwest state has not one but dozens of pyramids, clustered together in a site known as Cahokia Mounds. This now-grassy spot was previously the largest city of the Mississippian culture which flourished across a huge swath of what is now the central and southern US, reaching its peak (literally)