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Category Archives: Travel

The Best yoga holiday and retreat

You can’t move for downward dog opportunities these days. The explosion of yoga in western countries means there’s a studio on every other street and such a variety of styles and options, that choosing a holiday or retreat can be overwhelming. So where to start? It makes sense to try a weekend away before committing to a whole week. One possibility is to choose a teacher you know or like the sound of and see if they’re running anything that suits. Or you could pick a venue you fancy and see what teachers are hosting holidays there. Think about what you want too – some combine yoga with other activities (maybe good for those with non-yogi partners), some are vegan, some don’t ban booze – it’s always worth asking before you book.

Most retreats will cater for all levels, with teachers listening to individual needs, but I’ve marked those particularly for beginners suitable with a B. We think all the places we’re covering here offer good value, but those that stand out price-wise are marked with a £.

There is a glossary of yoga terms at the end of this article.

BEST UK RETREATS

Moor walks, North Yorkshire

The yoga weekends at The Orange Tree, a lovely small retreat in the North York Moors, are led by personable owner Edward Harpin and his sister Helen. They teach hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation in two or three sessions a day, which may include music, periods of silence, mantras, breathing techniques and a gong bath to enhance relaxation. There’s an outdoor jacuzzi and sauna, massages and time for moor walks before a three-course homemade veggie supper and yoga nidra prior to bed.

Go with the flow, Kent

Jean Hall and Liz Lark are among the UK’s most experienced and inspiring yoga teachers. They draw on a range of yoga styles in their teaching, and on their joint retreats they offer tuition for beginners and more advanced students in separate classes. Their Oxon Hoath base (near Tonbridge) is a stately home on a country estate where participants can expect one pranayama class in the morning and a couple of two-hour flow classes late morning and late afternoon. Mix in walks, massage, open fires and veggie meals – with wine allowed.

Doze in the Downs, East Sussex

At the end of a long country lane on the South Downs, elegant Tilton House near Lewes offers weekend yoga retreats all year round, with up to three classes a day from a changing roster of teachers. They include affable Stewart Heffernan, a former actor who teaches vinyasa and yin-based classes to all levels. Between classes, guests can go hiking, doze in the sauna, read by an open fire, have a massage or visit the Bloomsbury group’s Charleston Farmhouse nearby. Meals use ingredients from the orchard and kitchen garden.

Solar and sauna, Argyll, Scotland

The rustic retreat of Ecoyoga at Inverliever Lodge features a bath by a wild river, an underground sauna and a solar-powered hot tub for some mindful cold plunges and hot soaking between classes. Mainly ashtanga-based teachers run retreats here all year, including the ashtanga and mindfulness expert Scott Johnson, who teaches a self-practice method and encourages you to practise on your own during the retreat. There are usually two, two-hour-long classes a day with chanting, talks on yoga and healthy veggie meals (including raw chocolate cakes, naturally).

Kriya me a river, south-east Devon

A light-hearted, instinctive teacher, London-based Tania Brown leads seven, one-hour classes over a weekend at comfy, organic Trill Farm near Lyme Regis. Wake up with traditional kriya (cleansing techniques), then after a nourishing breakfast and a walk, join in dynamic yoga in the middle of the woods. There’s also massage, foraging and a restorative yoga and meditation session each evening. Meals by a River Cottage chef are seasonal and organic. Detox or indulge in organic wines.

All the right ingredients, East Sussex

Popular restorative and yin yoga teacher and personal development coach Julie Bickerton and yogi and cookery writer Mary Gwynn have teamed up to launch new retreats in East Sussex. Based at a studio in Hartfield village, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, they combine five yoga sessions designed to help deal with seasonal changes, and two cookery demos that focus on sourcing and cooking food that is in season. Largely vegetarian meals will include wine, cake and caffeine. Rooms are split between the hub and a boutique B&B in the village.

BEST FOR ACTIVITIES

Snowdon walks, North Wales

On the Isle of Anglesey Zest Life Retreats teams yoga with wild swimming, standup paddleboarding, hiking on Snowdon, walking, detoxing, relaxation, fitness and seashore foraging for engaging, restorative weekends. The base is a secluded, country house estate, and the two, 90-minute classes a day include music, meditation and pranayama either with vinyasa flow with Zest Life founder Laura Bell or yin with partner and dru yoga teacher Kate Hamilton-Hunter.

Alpine aura, France

AdventureYogi has been offering a great choice of yoga trips for the past 10 years, including fun, intense healthy weeks in the French Alps. Wake up at 7am with an energising hour of hatha yoga with Chetana Thornton, enjoy a day of skiing or snowboarding, then unwind with a sauna or a good book by a roaring fire before a 90-minute early-evening restorative class. Your base is an apartment by the slopes at Sainte Foy. Three-course gourmet vegetarian feasts include local organic wines. All levels of yogis and skiers welcome.

Ionian inversions, Zakynthos, Greece

Soulfood London runs a creative retreat combining daily yoga and photography lessons at Villa Zaharoula, which overlooks the Ionian sea. There’s a fast-paced but accessible 90-minute yoga class to music each morning, and relaxing meditative classes each evening with dynamic vinyasa flow teacher Charlie Morgan. Professional photographer Chloe Read finds something new to inspire every day, from still life to moving waves, and there’s a trip to a hilltop town and wild swimming in a quiet cove. Organic meals include meat and fish.

Circle of relaxation, Norway

This four-night retreat is pricy, but there’s nothing else like it. At this site above the Arctic circle, four 90-minute dynamic vinyasa flow yoga classes with Swedish-born teacher Minna Skirgård are followed by four personally guided adventures, including a boat safari and a trek along scenic paths. Expect to flow, sweat and connect with uplifting tunes, pranayama and mindfulness sessions. Boutique Lyngen Lodge has a sauna, outdoor jacuzzi and mountain views, and local, seasonal meals include fish from the fjords and local reindeer.

Heavenly Himalayas, India

Run by Tamsin Chubb, founder of popular Little French Retreat, this fabulous adventure features a two-hour classical hatha yoga class each morning, plus mountain walks, tiffin-style packed lunches, sunset meditation and workshops on local bio-diversity, organic farming, cooking and yoga philosophy. Tamsin teaches a relaxing, calm style of yoga inspired by sivananda and yin practices, and your base is a homely forest retreat – the Foundation for Contemplation of Nature’s Himalayan Centre – in the Almora district with a timber-framed studio and organic, vegetarian alcohol-free meals. You get to see the Taj Mahal and Delhi on this trip too.

Align your anatomy, Italy

Set on a private hillside estate near Ponte a Moriano, Reclaim Yourself’s fun-filled healthy week features classes with jivamukti expert Emma Henry and alignment-based vinyasa teacher Adam Husler. Start with a power smoothie and a 2½-hour flow class each day with Adam or Emma, then in the afternoons work with Adam on anatomical alignment, turn up the volume in an advanced class with Emma or take a healthy cooking class with chef Sabar Rahbar. There are trips to nearby Lucca and Florence and vegan feasts under the stars.

BEST FOR SUN

Hatha in Ithaca, Greece

International teachers lead different weeks between May and October at Itha108, a gorgeous island retreat just five minutes from the Ionian sea, where accommodation is split between a Venetian-style house and five Mongolian-style yurts. All levels will enjoy weeks with Laura Gilmore, director of Bristol City Yoga, who teaches two, two-hour long hatha yoga classes a day, the second being a restorative class. Fish is served for those who want it, alongside the veggie meals.

Life of Pi, Costa Brava, Spain

With hammocks and a saltwater swimming pool just a 10-minute stroll from a beach, Pi Blau is an eco villa which enjoys 9-11 hours of sunshine a day during the summer, when Destination Yoga runs retreats here. Twice-daily, one-hour yoga classes are led by visiting experts, including vinyasa flow teacher Joanna Najduch(in June) who is particularly patient with beginners. Between times there’s walking, massages and healthy veggie meals. Guests can detox or enjoy local wine and beer.

Yurts and yin, Turkey

Sunshine is almost guaranteed from May to October in the secluded Huzur Vadisi Yoga Retreat in its mountain valley 10 minutes from the coast. Guests stay in yurts among olive groves, and do two classes a day with a changing roster of expert teachers in a spacious shala. Yin yang teacher Simon Low runs a retreat here each year, while other experts include the Scaravelli-influenced (gentle, gravity-based yoga) duo Tuesday McNeill and Marc Woolford. Between classes, guests can sunbathe, swim, walk, read, go to the beach or take boat trips. Food is mostly veggie, with fish or chicken twice a week. All levels.

Restorative riad, Morocco

Come to riad-style Hotel Tigmi in a laid-back Berber village outside Marrakech for yoga with vibrant Jonelle Lewis in May, whose classes are often set to an urban soundtrack, or for an insightful week with iyengar-trained Jim Tarran and Khadine Morcom in June. Twice-daily, 1½- or two-hour classes are punctuated by swims in the two pools, trips to the souks of Marrakech, a massage or hammam and local walks. Veggie and meat meals, cake and alcohol are all on offer.

Mediterranean meditation, Crete

On a cliff on the island’s southern coast, where the sun shines almost continually from May to October, is Yoga Rocks. Swim, sunbathe or hang out in a hammock between classes and pick a teacher who feels right to you. Reema Datta, from 13-20 May, teaches a gentle style that incorporates yoga philosophy, chanting, meditation and her own music, while Sky Akasha Tobias in September runs a funky, immersive retreat influenced by tai chi and dance. Expect gigantic vegetarian buffets including cakes.

Feel the magic, north Goa, India

India, the spiritual home of yoga, is a great place for escaping the British winter and there’s a multitude of yoga holidays to choose from. Yoga Magic is a bit special, with tented eco-lodges in beautiful gardens. There’s yoga twice a day in a shala made from mud with a palm leaf roof, led by great local teachers drawing on a range of traditions, and incredible organic Indian cuisine. There’s a natural pool and Ayurvedic and homeopathic treatments available too.

BEST HOLISTIC RETREATS

For mums and children, Derbyshire

These new yogic glamping breaks from Pachamama Yoga Retreats give tired mums – Pachamama means mother earth for indigenous Andean people – time to bond with their little ones (of any age) in a Peak District woodland setting. Stay in luxury safari tents and wake up with two hours of vinyasa flow each morning with the honey-voiced Kerry Wilde while your children enjoy forest school. Afternoons are free, then there’s a 90-minute yin yoga session each evening plus meditation, massages, vegan food and an African dance workshop.

Peak peace, Oleiros, Portugal

Restorative retreats at family-run Vale de Moses in the foothills of the Serra de Estrela mountains offer a morning silent meditation walk along rivers and through forest before an invigorating two-hour yoga class suitable for all levels. There’s also therapeutic massage and acupuncture, workshops exploring aspects of yogic life, meditation and wild swimming, while some retreats focus on sleep. The main yoga teacher is owner Barbados-born Vonetta Winter, who teaches dynamic hatha yoga focusing on strength, balance and stability. Meals are vegetarian and Ayurvedic.

Wellbeing in the raw, North Yorkshire

The women-only Healthily Happy Retreat, led by raw food expert Dr Claire Maguire at Split Farthing Hall, the 18th-century countryside base of Raw Horizons, mixes a daily 90-minute class of kundalini yoga with two daily 90-minute sessions covering wellbeing coaching, chakra balancing, aromatherapy and healthy chocolate-making. Guests can soak in the outdoor hot tub, use the far infrared sauna, have a massage or put their feet up in the cosy library. Meals are cleansing and raw, alcohol- and coffee-free, and yoga includes music.

Alpujarras ashram, Spain

At Kaliyoga’s base in the Alpujarras you can pick from a variety of activities to mix with your yoga, including hill walking, raw food cleansing and juice fasting with nutrition lectures, colonic cleanses and guided meditation. Chill by the pool, have a treatment, use the infra-red sauna and take two yoga classes a day. Resident teachers include Lely Aldworth, who teaches dynamic yoga, encouraging guests to experience yoga as a moving meditation. Alcohol-free meals are veggie and vegan.

Fruitful stays, Sri Lanka

At the soulful Sen Wellness Sanctuary, in a nature reserve, there are yoga classes on breathtaking Rekawa beach as the sun rises, followed by breakfast of fruits and a fresh coconut, and ayurvedic treatments or sessions with a resident osteopath before sunset yoga in the shala overlooking mangroves. Excellent acupuncture is available, and meals are veggie with some fish. Yoga teachers in residence in 2017 include kundalini teacher Maren Lander and Pleuni van Hulten, who teaches two Scaravelli-inspired vinyasa flow and yin yoga classes each day, giving a lot of useful hands-on adjustments. All meals are ayurvedic Sri Lankan curries, and you’ll see wild monkeys in the trees.

Healing hotspot, Thailand

At Sanctuary, a jungle and beach retreat on Koh Phangan, guests can indulge in spa treatments, use the steam room, have a healing session at a Tea Temple, take a Pilates class and follow an intense detox programme. Choose a three-, seven- or 10-night yoga retreat with visiting expert teachers, who include Peter Clifford, an Australian yoga master who teaches a flowing classical hatha style. Veggie and seafood meals can be healthy or indulgent, and there are movies under the stars.

Detox and cleanse, Wiltshire

On its retreats at 17th-century Littleton Mill, Jiva Healing cleverly mixes yoga with detoxing and healthy eating a few times a year. Choose the Creative Cooking, Conscious Eating and Yoga retreat for nutrition talks and cookery demos, or the Juice Fasting and Yoga retreat to cleanse with organic juices and coffee enemas. On each retreat, daily hatha yoga classes are taught by Chetana Thornton, whose husband Will plays live relaxing music throughout. There’s also bodywork and vegan meals.

Romantic Destinations in Europe

Romance is a deeply personal expression of love. It means different things to different couples.

While some define a stroll on the local beach as romantic, others may turn to having a glamorous city break in a foreign land. With this in mind, we have selected romantic destinations in Europe – every place in our list is perfect for loved-up couples. If you are a hopeless romantic who is keen to surprise your significant other with a magical holiday, this is the list for you.

1) Santorini, Greece

Your heart will likely skip a beat when you stand before these classy white-washed buildings with blue domed roofs in Santorini, with Aegean Sea below you and the glare of the sun flickering above you. This is the place of romance for countless couples. While most people unwind at Fira, head to Oia for a lovely beach retreat. You’ll need to take over 200 steps to reach the Ammoudi bay – but expect soft sands, warm blue waters and plenty of sunshine. With one of the world’s most romantic destinations as your backdrop, you’ll feel loved, contented, and incredibly happy. Such is the magic of romance!

2) Cinque Terre, Italy

The Cinque Terre region is arguably the most charming destination in the Italian Riviera; its five colourful fishing villages boast cute terrace buildings that seemingly defy gravity, bravely clinging to the rugged cliff-faces. Head to Manarola, perhaps the oldest town in the Cinque Terre, for a photo that will make your friends envy. Don’t forget to take a stroll on The Way of Love (Via dell’Amore) with your loved one. If the perfect setting doesn’t put you in the mood, the local wine Sciacchetrà certainly will.

3) Lapland, Finland

If your utopia is riding a snowmobile into the wild and watching the aurora borealis (northern lights) dance across the night sky, then Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, is the place for you and your loved one. Once you have enough of luminous green and blue hues flowing above you, you can retreat back to a cosy and intimate log cabin complete with sauna and crackling log fire. The outside world is a distant memory and you only have eyes for each other.

4) Fussen, Germany

At the end of the 400km (249 miles) theme-route Romantic Road (Romantische Straße), you will arrive in Füssen and be spellbound by the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein Castle, half expecting Prince Charming to arrive on horseback at any second. If this castle looks familiar to you, that’s because Disney based the designs for its Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, California on the Neuschwanstein. Visit the castle and create your own chapter of a fairy-tale story here amidst the magnificent Bavarian Alps.

5) Isle of Skye, Scotland

A land of Norse legend, the Isle of Skye impresses all who visit her with otherworldly scenes that appear almost straight from a Tolkien epic. The jagged mountain ranges, vast lochs and dramatic waterfalls make this unspoilt terrain a romantic destination without any glamour or pretense. Put on your hiking shoes and head to the Old Man of Storr. Go for a wild swim at the Fairy Pools. After experiencing the magic of Skye, you will realise romance has a supernatural facet too.

6) Copenhagen, Denmark

The capital of the happiest country on Earth, Copenhagen is effortlessly romantic and very ‘lagom’ (pronounced ‘lar-gohm’) which means to say it’s ‘just the right amount of everything’. Pay a visit to Cupid at the Thorvaldsen Museum. Enjoy a quiet stroll along the waterfront. Experience the city’s sophisticated café culture with a cup of hot coffee and some mouth-watering pastries. Take it all in, one step at a time, and you will soon realise the perfect dosage of romance has already synchronised with your pace.

7) Dordogne, France

The winding river, the soft-green rolling hills, medieval châteauxs, and postcard-perfect villages of the Dordogne valley have long been a favourite destination for couples who have mellow souls. Head to the charming Beynac-et-Cazenac and enjoy spectacular French food and wine in one of the straw-colour stone cottages. Buy truffle and foie gras from the market in Sarlat. Rest in a magnificent château. Or simply find a quiet spot by the Dordogne river, let the sun kiss your skin and together watch the world float by. Dordogne is as blissful as love itself.

8) Toledo, Spain

On first impression, Toledo can appear chaotic with its houses stacked closely together nonchalantly, but as you walk deeper and deeper into a labyrinth of cobbled streets, you will discover unrivalled cultural wealth in this old walled city. This is a place where Arabs, Jewish and Christians lived together for centuries. They left behind stunning monuments as well as a whimsical atmosphere which crosses time and space. Past, present and future all rolls into a singularity – this is a romantic experience you’ll never forget.

9) Prague, Czech Republic

Away from the stag strips and basement bars, the “City of a Hundred Spires” exudes an irresistible charm for romantics. Its winding cobbled streets, statue-studded Charles Bridge and magnificent buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era are primed for loved-up couples to visit, arm in arm. There is also a popular poem in Czech which starts “Late evening, on the first of May, the twilit May, the time of love…”, so on 1 May kissing your significant other under the blossoming cherry trees on Petrín Hill will guarantee your love to bloom forever.

10) Bled, Slovenia

Set in the foothills of the mighty Julian Alps, the resort town of Bled is heart-meltingly beautiful. Like a pearl resting on a glazed surface, the island that sits in the middle of the emerald-green Bled Lake is a must-see. Hire a pletna (traditional wooden boat) to the island and climb up the 99 stone steps to reach the Assumption of Mary Church and its “wishing bell”. Legend has it, listening to the church bell and ringing it yourself will make your wish come true. Next to the church is a bell tower which houses a beautifully restored pendulum clock. For an even better view of the lake, stop by the 12th century clifftop Bled Castle and enjoy a fantastic meal by the large windows. The view, the food and the service are all first-class.

Cheap Travel Destinations in Asia

Asia’s always been a prime destination for gap year students and adventurers thanks to the thriving backpacker culture and cheap lifestyle. Cities like Bangkok and Hanoi have long been recognized as places where the dollar becomes positively acrobatic in its ability to stretch its value, but it seems that nowadays, travelers can travel more and spend less with some basic informal planning. All across Asia, quality doesn’t necessarily come at a price, making it easy to really enjoy the adventure.

1. Pokhara, Nepal

As a backpacker haven, Pokhara has a huge array of budget, mid-range and premium hotel choices. The sheer amount of outdoor activities also make it possible to customize a cost-effective stay. The town’s a jumpoff for tons of treks, but there are plenty of other options before the big adventure. Paddle to the middle of Phewa Lake and drift the day away, see the sunrise from Sarangkot hilltop and check out Davi’s Fall, a stunning waterfall. Street food costs just pennies, and a nicer dinner will run you about US$4.

2. Vientiane, Laos

The Laotian capital resembles a sleepy riverside town more than the political center of a country, but that just adds to its charm. The capital is largely walkable or can be easily crossed with a cheap bike rental. Unlike the foreigner-packed Vang Vieng, the capital doesn’t have quite the tourist-inflated prices. In fact, a day of wandering, a nice meal, and a few beers down by the river should set you back barely a few dollars. Excitement is definitely not the name of the game, but since it’s so money-friendly, why would you want it to be?

3. Sapa, Vietnam

Vietnam as a whole is a haven for saving money. The country’s home to the world’s cheapest beer, hoi bia, and it practically requires more effort learning how to order it in Vietnamese than it does to pay for it. In Sapa, rent a motorbike for the day for around US$5 to do some exploring. Sapa is also an ideal location as it sits in the center of some of Vietnam’s best scenery. Take the motorbike and find Silver Waterfall, one of the many markets or nearby villages. Going in winter also cuts costs, as the entry visa is cheaper than in summertime.

4. Bagan, Myanmar

Chock-full of temples, pagodas and stupas, Bagan practically comes with a foolproof itinerary. Renting a bike to explore the temple-dotted landscape is the cheapest way to spend a day, which will offset the US$300 needed to see the sunrise in a hot air balloon over the temples. Another way to see the sights is by horse-drawn cart, which is comparatively a total steal at around US$20. Like pretty much the rest of Asia, food and drinks are dirt cheap.

5. Sihanoukville, Cambodia

For a truly cheap stay, spend the whole time on the beach and just eat street food. And while that is some people’s version of paradise, doing more won’t put much of a strain on the bank account. Many guesthouses offer boat trips to nearby islands for less than US$20, or it’s possible to rent any kind of boat from kayaks to party junks for cheap as well. Answer the call of adventure with a 4X4 excursion or learn how to windsurf without breaking the bank and relax with a strict diet of cheap beer and beautiful sunsets.

6. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s capital remains cheap and cheerful, but it’s the northern part of the country that really satisfies wanderlust and a tight fist. Even splashing out on a hotel doesn’t necessarily mean a busted budget. Cheap eats abound, and the night markets are also wallet-friendly. In Chiang Mai, there are a plethora of free or insanely cheap things to do, many with an tinge of adrenaline to them. Cliff jump, go zorbing, or ride an elephant for nothing or next to it, and then relax at the hot springs or with a massage at the women’s prison.

7. Sri Lanka

Yala National Park is one of the more expensive ways to spend a day in Sri Lanka, where the entrance fee, jeep rental and driver’s tip will set you back about US$30. The emphasis on natural beauty and ancient sites keep even the most restless occupied. Visit a turtle hatchery, hang out with elephants, climb Adam’s Peak and check out all eight World Heritage sites. Taking the train not only ingratiates visitors to a local way of life, but it’s also a super cheap way to travel. Hanging out of the beach is of course the cheapest way of all to laze away a vacation, and eating endless amounts of curry keeps stomachs and wallets stuffed.

8. Bohol, The Philippines

The Philippines is a country of cheap delights. Even places like Palawan and Boracay, which are no secret to hoards of tourists, remain easy to do on the cheap. Bohol is notable for it’s nature, whether man-made, like the mahogany forest, or natural, like the decidedly unnatural-looking chocolate hills. Crossing the rickety bamboo hanging bridge costs a few cents, and the Tarsier Sanctuary is an unforgettable, if short, experience.

9. Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia tends to be left behind on must-see lists, but the country is cheap and gorgeous, and the food is delicious, providing a trifecta of reasons to visit. Penang offers a dazzling mix of cultures, architecture and food so that all visitors are sure to find something to fit their budget. Must-see museums like the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion costs just US$4 for a guided tour, while climbing Penang Hill or the Temple of Supreme Bliss is free. The wide range of culinary delights, whether from street stalls, Little India or local pastry shops keep bellies and wallets happy.

10. Taipei, Taiwan

Perhaps because of its low-key reputation, Taipei does not often get recognized for the cheap paradise it is. While taxis and hotels can be more expensive that the other places on this list, it’s the food and shopping that really matter. The endless night markets provide a way to indulge in conspicuous consumption and stuff your face on the cheap. The subway fees are also incredibly reasonable, topping off around US$2. The city contains all the international comforts of home on a great price scale, perfectly mixing ease and excitement.

African music festivals

From Morocco’s north east coastline to Cape Town on the south westerly tip, Darren Loucaides spreads his gaze across Africa to find the five objectively best music festivals on the continent.

Gnaoua World Music Festival
Essaouira, Morocco
Next year, the annual Gnaoua World Music Festival marks its 20th birthday, and artists from across the African continent and Middle East will converge on Essaouira on the west coast to celebrate. Held in honour of Morocco’s Gnaoua community, which traces its roots back to sub-Saharan Africa, and boasts a unique musical traditional borne out of animist ceremonies, the festival also strives to cast light on Morocco’s mixed cultural identity, as well as promote Morocco’s African heritage. The setting alongside battlements of the ancient port town, as well as stages on the windswept beach, is the icing on the cake.

29 June – 2 July 2017, www.festival-gnaoua.net

Harare International Festival of the Arts
Harare, Zimbabwe
Founded in 1999, this music and arts festival is a sprawling six-day event that aims to showcase the very best that Zimbabwe’s creatives have to offer. Apart from music concerts and dance performances, there’s street theatre, circus, spoken word and visual arts to marvel at. There are also various workshops for visitors to learn and participate in. The founders of HIFA are proud of the positive impact they have on the local community, which is one of the main goals of the festival. HIFA didn’t take place in 2016, but is back next year.

25-30 April 2017, www.hifa.co.zw

Abene Festivalo
Abene, Senegal
Going into its 23rd year, Abene Festivalo is fast becoming Senegal’s most important traditional music festival. The idea is for each of Senegal’s many ethnic groups, including Wolof, Serer, Diola and Mandinka, to demonstrate their music and dance. “It’s a celebration of our Senegalese African culture and traditions,” says Abene Festivalo’s director, Seyni Souane. “Young people today are so influenced by western culture, they forget their roots. At least with this festival, one week a year is dedicated to their traditional culture. Identity is important – you have to know where you come from to go forwards.” The festival lines up a mixed programme of established and emerging artists from across the country, and sometimes beyond. Each year there’s a different theme, with past instalments bearing the tags ‘migration’ and ‘environment’.

26 December 2016 – 2 January 2017, www.abenevillage.wix.com/abene

Lake of Stars
Mangoochi, Malawi
Inspired by WOMAD festival, Lake of Stars is perhaps best known for its setting. Taking place on the stunning Lake Malawi, the natural palm-fringed location ever threatens to steal the limelight. Despite this, the calibre of the artists has never failed to match up. Hailing from the UK, Will Jameson set up the festival in 2004 as a way of promoting Malawi’s rich music, as well as encourage international tourism. Apart from local acts, international artists including Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, Beverley Night and others have graced the Lake of Stars stage, and the festival has grown to become one of the most important in Africa.

2017 dates TBC, www.lakeofstars.org

Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Cape Town, South Africa
The biggest annual music event in the sub-Sahara, Cape Town International Jazz Festival is also one of the largest of its kind anywhere. Jazz stars from across the planet swoop on the southernmost tip of Africa for the event, though the organisers aim for a fifty-fifty split with local South African artists. There are more than 40 acts performing over the two nights.

31 March – 1 April 2017, www.capetownjazzfest.com

Special mention: Festival au Desert
For many years, African music lovers descended on Timbuktu for the holy grail of music events. In recent years Festival au Desert has sadly been displaced by the conflict engulfing the country; that Mali, so proud of its musical heritage, should be partly subjected to a regime that outlaws music, has only compounded the tragedy. Ever resilient, the founders have set up Festival au Desert in Exile in neighbouring countries. See www.festival-au-desert.org for more, and check out new documentary Mali Blues, which explores the country’s rich musical heritage and current crisis.

Destination in New York City

New York City can only truly be understood through its five historic boroughs, as each distinct area has a character and charm all its own. Central to them all is Manhattan, the island city with a population of more than 1.5 million. On weekdays, Manhattan sees an influx of workers and tourists that more than doubles that number to nearly 4 million people – that’s over 170,000 per square mile.

When you can get a millimetre of pavement to yourself, treading New York’s sidewalks is an endlessly fascinating exercise. One minute you’re in a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the next you’re Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, or walking down Jones Street feeling like The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan darting for Greenwich Village.

Built by migrants, New York has always been a meeting place for world cultures, a port city welcoming arrivals to the shining beacon of the Statue of Liberty. It’s a place where you can still experience the frenetic buzz of Chinatown, a wealth of black culture in Harlem and the aromatic flavours of Little Italy along Mulberry Street, all in the one afternoon.

Bewildered and wondering where to start? Our New York Travel Guide is the perfect companion for a trip to the city that famously never sleeps.

When it comes to travelling to New York City, it might be one of the best connected metropolises in the world, served by not one but three international airports: JFK, La Guardia and Newark Liberty. Getting around New York is a breeze too, with help from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and its well-connected system of buses, trains, bridges, tunnels and 24-hour subway service which, all together, claim more than 11 million passenger journeys on an average weekday. Otherwise an iconic yellow taxi can whisk you downtown in a sea of horns and flashing lights – elbows out if you want to catch a ride at rush hour though.

A hotbed of bohemianism that gave birth to the American folk music revival and built the legendary Café Society, New York City has been inspiration for everyone from The Sugarhill Gang to The Ramones, Paul Simon to Gloria Gaynor. New York’s legendary nightlife has recently ballooned beyond its old epicentres in Soho, East Village and Manhattan’s Meatpacking District to trendy Brooklyn neighbourhoods Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The Bowery Ballroom is still the city’s most buzzworthy music venue, an art deco house of worship that delivers the faithful a stream of the latest artists emerging from the worlds of indie and alternative music. Pre-booking tickets is recommended.

New York City has contributed more than its fair share of dishes to our menus over the years – it even lays claim to being birthplace of eggs benedict, the humble hamburger and of course its eponymous classic, the New York cheesecake. For a traditional taste of Big Apple cuisine, try the hand-rolled bagels at Absolute Bagels (2788 Broadway), the homegrown hamburger phenomenon Shake Shack (Madison Ave) and the legendary deep pies at Bleecker Street Pizza (7th Ave South). If you still have an appetite after all of that, see our New York restaurant guide.

New York is the city that never sleeps but you’ll be out like a light when you check in to one of the city’s many exemplary hotels. Legendary names, like the Waldorf Astoria and Roosevelt Hotel, abound in Manhattan but a growing number of boutique establishments, aparthotels and homestay options have signalled a revolution in New York accomodation.

Part-owned by famous Manhattanite Robert de Niro, The Greenwich Hotel in the Tribeca neighbourhood is one the newer additions to the Lower West Side and offers a rich combination of exotic style and decadence. Just avoid the toxicity of Trump Towers and check out our top New York hotel recommendations for an unforgettable stay in the city.

Place Most Visited Caribbean Islands

The choice destination for daydreamers everywhere, the Caribbean easily surpasses even the most fantastic images that spring to mind. Grab a pina colada and get ready to leave the slush behind because it’s time to check out the top 10 most visited Caribbean islands. A few more sips, and yes, there’s the warm breeze and the azure waves lazily lapping at your feet while you feast on mango and fried yucca.

1. Dominican Republic with 4,306,000 visitors

The beauty and the sense of being a part of a buzzing, pulsing atmosphere makes the Dominican Republic a fine choice for a holiday. The scenery just doesn’t stop, from beaches and waterfalls to deserts and mountains packed into its half of the island of Hispaniola. Santo Domingo, the Caribbean’s largest city, bounces along to a blasting merengue soundtrack, stealing the title of the city that never sleeps. And the near guarantee of new friends and a push to eat more all signify the makings of a perfect getaway that requires a sequel.

2. Puerto Rico with 3,048,000 visitors

Although small, Puerto Rico requires at least a week’s stay to truly experience the wide range of activities and day trips available. The flawless island features world-class beaches, stick-to-your-ribs food and the El Yunque rainforest. Added to the charming colonial architecture and electric hum of life, Puerto Rico is one place that fits the bill for all types. The rum tastings certainly don’t hurt the island’s image, either.

3. Cuba with 2,688,000 visitors

Although restricted for U.S. citizens, Cuba sees a steady stream of worldwide visitors every year, including a growing number of American visitors arriving from Canada or Mexico. The Antilles’ biggest island lack of economic powerhouse pales in comparison to its incredible rich heritage, food, and history. The faded architecture looks more shabby chic than run-down, and the preservation of iconic sites and traditions presents visitors with a deep look into Cuban history and pride. And the country’s popular medical tourism proves that Cuba has plenty of modern offerings. Of course, it should go without saying that the lush countryside, bays and inlets are just as vivid as the houses, music and people in the cities.

4. Jamaica with 1,952,000 visitors

Jamaica’s probably the best known out of all the Caribbean offerings thanks to Bob Marley, reggae and Rastafarianism. Swirled together with jerk seasoning, Jamaica presents a rich mix of culture and history unlike the rest of the Caribbean. The island is also the poster child of elopers and newlyweds everywhere, with its romantic all-inclusive resorts and dreamy landscapes. Outside the resorts, visitors can find breathtaking waterfalls and trails as well as the Caribbean’s dependable crystalline waters and the chance to swim with dolphins.

5. The Bahamas with 1,346,000 visitors

Consisting of 700 islands, of which just 23 are inhabited, it seems the possibilities are endless in The Bahamas. From Christopher Columbus to the pirate Blackbeard, the chain of islands has seen its fair share of history’s noted adventurers, but these days the visitors tend to be of a calmer ilk. Honeymooners, adventure seekers and families can soak up a wide range of activities, including the endless beaches and pampering in the many resorts. Get moving with all sorts of water sports or a dive for some sunken treasure. For even more traveling, check out the unique sights and history of the various islands.

6. Aruba with 870,000 visitors

Just off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is outside the the main hurricane avenue and has a dry, sunny climate, making it the ideal for a Caribbean getaway. The island has it all, from Arikok National Park, which covers almost 20% of the island, to world-class wreck diving and surfing to an all-night nightlife. Whether chilling out on Eagle Beach or horseback riding through the countryside, Aruba’s motto of “One Happy Island” immediately rings true.

7. Barbados with 568,000 visitors

As if the beaches and slow pace of life wasn’t enough, Barbados is also the birthplace of rum, and no visit is complete without a night of too many rum punches. Enjoy the signature drink while watching the horse races, at a fish fry, at the club or at any point of the the 70 miles of beaches. Honeymooners and travelers can snorkel or swim in the reefs on the south side of the island or surf on the choppy waves on the eastern edge, which is considered one of the best surfing spots in the world.

8. U.S. Virgin Islands with 536,000 visitors

Water Island, St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas comprise the U.S. Virgin Islands, each with their own unique, must-see qualities. Over half of St. John’s 12,500 acres are national park, and each beach comes standard with clear waters, pristine sand and unspoiled views. For a historical take, walk the Heritage Trail on St. Croix and then visit the protected sea turtles at Sandy Point. Splash around in shallow Magens Bay and walk through the capital on St. Thomas. And if that isn’t enough, truly get away from it all on Water Island, where there’s no cars and nary a store, and barely 200 inhabitants.

9. Sint Maarten with 424,000 visitors

Sint Maarten is a mix-and-match of various cultures, cuisines and things to do. The Dutch constituent country shares the tiny island with the French collectivity of Saint-Martin. Visitors can feast on cuisine that mixes Dutch, French and native elements, test their luck at the casinos, spend the winnings at the duty-free shops, party until dawn, and then finally, take in the natural beauty. Adrenaline junkies can parachute over the island, explore the central mountain range and partake in any number of water sports. Sint Maarten is also ground zero for yachting, echoing the over-the-top indulgence of the whole island.

10. Turks and Caicos Islands with 354,000 visitors

Turks and Caicos is the ideal Caribbean destination, with around 230 miles of white sand beaches lining the 40-island archipelago. Avid divers and snorkelers can enjoy pristine reefs, thanks to the protected status and lack of industry. Additionally, visitors can fish, bird watch and explore caves and shipwrecks. Or just unwind and indulge at the upscale resorts that often play host to vacationing celebrities.

Tips to Dealing with Money when Travelling in a Group

Money can be a huge issue when you travel in a group, especially in the likely event that you don’t all have the same amount to spend. When you’re travelling together, and everything ends up costing a little more than you’d expect, this can be the cause of tension.

That’s why it is important to be prepared, for everything. That means using the following budgeting advice so you can enjoy the scenery and the continent, rather than worrying about the euros in your wallet, or in your friends’.

1. Decide on a rough budget beforehand

Chances are you all have a different amount of access to money. It’s not really fair on the skint one if you go off all the time flashing the cash, yet at the same time you can’t let that person hold you back if you want to spend on doing things.

You need to accept and acknowledge that you have different budgets and goals when it comes to travelling in a group. If you decide on a rough daily budget, it will help everyone to plan and work out what they can and can’t do.

2. Understand each other’s different budgets

Once you’ve decided on a budget, try to stick to it. Don’t call your mate out if they bow out of anything for financial reasons. Let them work to their own budget and do as they wish. You’re not all going to want to spend the same amount or do the same things – respect that. Don’t cause tensions in the group by bringing attention to your friend either, or get all offended if they do it to you.

3. Keep a written record of what you owe and are owed

You might not be bothered about a few euros here and there, but chances are there’ll be someone in your group who will be.

Keeping a written track of everyone’s spends makes everything fair. There’ll usually be someone in a group who feels like they’ve paid out more – a manual or electronic record help you all keep up to date.

The Splitwise app can really help with this. Use it to record everyone’s spends and set it to equal up electronically at the end.

4. Relax, and have a buffer

When you’re travelling in a group it can be difficult to keep a hold of your finances. I know from experience that you’re tempted to drink and eat more, thanks to the mere suggestion of a bite to eat or quick drink when perhaps you didn’t actually need one. Soon, in a group, that will escalate.

I can guarantee though, these will be your best travel times. Make sure to have a bit of a financial buffer put away so you don’t balk at the bar bill from a brilliant night when it comes to paying your fair share.

5. Don’t be tight

Don’t be stingy, you’ll ruin the experience for everyone, including yourself. If you’re on a tight budget, let your friends know at the start and then try not to mention it too much from then on. Nothing spoils a nice drink or lunch more than a moaner. Bow out of things graciously and don’t make a big deal out of it.

6. Save money as a group

As a group you can save money on all kinds of things from transport to activities to accommodation. When you’re doing your research look out for opportunities for group travel discounts and make the most of them. A little compromise from everyone here and there (like sleeping on sofa beds in rented apartments) can save a lot.

7. Stock the car up

Travelling to Europe as a group in a car can save a lot of money. One car can be for up to nine people with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, meaning if you time it right and get a deal you could actually go for just a few pounds each. Going in a car also means that you don’t have all the baggage fees you get with air travel. You can pack everything you need in the car and not worry about it again.

The fact you have a car also means that you can save money on food and accommodation as you could bring everything you need to camp, and to eat on the go. You could even bring a camping stove!

8. Communicate

As a group agree on the lengths you’ll go to to save money. For example, hostels, sleeping on transport, or in cars. That way everyone knows what they’re letting themselves in for.

Remember that a few euros here and there is not worth losing your friendship over, so communicate fairly if you feel it’s not right. And if you really want to earn some brownie points, and bring the group together on the last night, save a few euros for a bottle of the local tipple. The perfect way to end the trip, and it won’t cost you much at all.

 

Things to Do during Your Holiday in Marbella

Marbella is one of the most popular resorts in the Spanish Costa del Sol region, and offers a range of things to see and do for those looking for an enjoyable, relaxing holiday. Over the years it has developed a reputation for being somewhere for the more discerning tourist to travel to, due to the fact it has a number of fine-dining restaurants, designer shopping boutiques, beautiful villas (see some examples here), an incredible yachting scene and excellent beaches.

If you are planning on taking a holiday to Marbella, here are four of the best things you can do while you’re there.

Enjoy the high life at Puerto Banús

If you are looking to mix with the real jet-setters in life then spending some time hanging out in Puerto Banús has to be top of your priorities list. This marina is where the rich and famous dock their superyachts to spend some time shopping in the exclusive stores like Gucci and Dolce & Gabana, before dining in the restaurants dotted around the harbour. The area also has a great nightlife scene – you are on holiday after all!

Visit the beaches

Often the main reasons we go on holiday is to spend some time relaxing on the beach. Fortunately, Marbella is home to some amazing beaches – 24 in fact, dotted across a 16-mile stretch of coast. The best beaches to visit depend on where exactly you are staying – those in the city center should try El Faro and Fontanilla, while those to the east of the main resort should try Las Chapas and Cabopino. If you are looking for something a bit more exclusive you find that here too, with Ocean Club and Puro Beach a couple of the highlights.

Walk around the old town

Still in the city but seemingly a world away from the more bustling areas is the Marbella Old Town. Here you will find a number of narrow alleys and streets dotted with cafes and restaurants, which allow you to relax and take in your surroundings. You’ll find more of the authentic Spanish dining experiences around here too, with tapas and a number of other Andalusian favourites being offered. It’s also a good area to pick up your souvenirs to bring home, as there are a number of fascinating boutique shops to be explored here.

Go to the theme parks

For small and big kids alike, Marbella is home to a number of zoos and theme parks, all of which are worth paying a visit to. Tivoli World, located in Benalmádena is a great choice if for all the family with a number of rides, live performances, magic shows and restaurants. Then, the Costa Water Park, which is split into two locations in Marbella and Puerto Banus, offers a range of water slides and other attractions. If you want to travel a bit further afield, you can visit the Selwo Safari Park, which is home to a huge number of animals and creatures and is said to be the most stunning Safari Park in the whole of the country.

6 top Valentine hot spots

1. Africa: Safari at Pinnon Lodges

I’ve always been in love with Asia, but recently Africa has started to catch my eye: the landscapes, the wildlife, and the sense of space and peace is supremely romantic. This Valentine’s Day, my pick is the Pinnon Safari Lodge in Kafue National Park in Zambia, run by British couple Ruth and Lyndon Pinches.

It’s intimate — maximum occupancy is just eight guests — and you’re completely secluded in the wilderness. You can sit on the deck with a glass of wine in hand, watching the puku and impala graze, take a game drive through the park to see cheetah, elephant, and lion, and then enjoy a sundowner by the river. It’s a place to get away from work and the bustle of everyday life, and spend endless sunsets with the one you love. And at $150 per person per night, it’s incredibly affordable for safari.

2. Philippines: Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa

If your idea of romance is walking hand in hand along white sand beaches, occasionally dipping your toes in an azure sea, come to Eskaya on Panglao Island in the Philippines. One of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the incredible villas look out across the water, and many of them have their own infinity pools. Drink cocktails on the lawn, treat yourselves to a his and hers massage in the Handuraw Spa, and then feast al fresco beneath the moon and stars with a candlelit dinner for two, or beside a roaring bonfire.

If you can drag yourself away from the beach, taking the butterfly watching tour is a pretty cute excursion, and likewise booking lunch and a river cruise on the Loboc, with musicians serenading you whilst you eat, is guaranteed to earn you brownie points.

3. Greece: Lindos Melenos, Rhodes

Secluded from the holiday crowds, and almost hidden above the quintessential Dodecanese fishing village of Lindos, one finds the unique Lindos Melenos Hotel. A labour of love, by owner and island local Michalis Melenos, this truly romantic property offers tranquillity and privacy, with eclectically decorated, bohemian-style guest rooms and honeymoon suites where lovers can be cocooned from the outside world.

The hotel feels more like a perfect Rhodian village, lost in time, full of creative and artistic details inspired by early 17th century Lindian Mansions. Explore the nearby ancient acropolis, meander through the hotel’s jasmine scented gardens, flirt over a candle-lit dinner in the rooftop restaurant; and watch the sunset from your private terrace, decorated with charming black and white ‘kochlaki’ pebble stone mosaics. Or just order the delicious room-service and put ‘Do Not Disturb’ on the door.

4. Argentina: Recoleta Grand, Arentina, Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and the gorgeous Recoleta Grand (formerly Buenos Aires Grand) is the only place we’ll stay when we’re in town. This hotel has a perfect location in the heart of tree-lined Recoleta and the hotel has everything you need for a relaxing, romantic stay, including top-of-the-line finishes, and an in-house spa, pool and sauna free for all guests to use. It’s also one of our most recommended destinations for solo travelers visiting the area. Book the breakfast included option when you stay, it’s well worth the extra few dollars to have access to their killer buffet spread of local and international breakfast options.

Since your’e in the heart of Recoleta, take a stroll through the famous Recoleta cemetery, where Eva Peron (Evita) is buried, and walk hand-in-hand down the street as you snack on medialunas and empanadas. At night, head out to a steakhouse for wine and Argentina’s most famous dish: steak. Our favorite is La Brigada in San Telmo.

5. Italy, Castello di Casole,Tuscany

I stayed here during my first holiday with my boyfriend, which was a 7-day road trip around Tuscany. We drove from Pisa to Florence via San Gimignano and Siena and it was the rustic Italian adventure people you might dream of. Castello di Casole is a beautifully restored Italian castle based on a country estate in Tuscany.

We were surrounded by green rolling fields, vineyards and olive trees and it really felt like an undiscovered slice of Italy. We indulged in fresh Italian pasta, drank rich red wine and spent peaceful quality time together. Maybe it was thanks to the red wine, but this trip was romantic for me as it was the place where I first realised that I was in love.

If you’re planning to visit this part of Italy, be sure to hire a car for guaranteed freedom and adventure.

6. New Zealand: Kokohuia Lodge, Hokianga

Three hours drive north of Auckland, Hokianga mixes edge-of-the-world back country vibe with stupendous scenery and rich history. This is where legendary Polynesian explorer Kupe settled after his arrival in New Zealand 1000 years ago, beguiled by a place he christened “the spring of the world of light” (Te Puna O Te Ao Marama).

Overlooking the vast Hokianga Harbour, Kokohuia Lodge is a chic wood-and-glass hideaway above the coastal township of Omapere. Think luxe styling, impeccable eco-credentials plus the blissful seclusion of a place that hosts one couple at a time. Get owners Steve and Suzanne to rustle up a romantic dinner to enjoy on a deck above fragrant native bush, where dazzling starry skies are the only distraction from each other.

The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries

f you’re a book lover, you probably tend to gravitate to public libraries and bookshops when you travel. Whether it’s the scent of old books, the allure of knowledge or the history of grand buildings, there is something tantalizing about seeing how each city chooses to showcase literature. From centuries-old establishments that ooze history to modern, architecturally-impressive facades, there is a variety of interesting library designs around the world. If you can’t get enough of seeing breathtaking book palaces each time you vacation, then read on for five of the most amazing libraries in the world.

The State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne landmark and superb example of heritage architecture, the library is made up of 23 buildings and takes up an entire city block. Building construction started in 1854 and the facility features some of the most breathtaking heritage interiors in Melbourne. Considered by many to be one of the greatest libraries in the world, the State Library houses over two million books, hundreds of thousands of maps, manuscripts and newspapers and a variety of digital material. The works contained in the library reflect Victorian culture over the past 150 years and visitors to the institution can take a free guided tour to learn more about the establishment and its history. One of the highlights of the library is the La Trobe Reading Room, which features a stunning domed ceiling. Tourists can also browse two free permanent exhibitions, one of which features famous bushranger Ned Kelly’s armor and the other a history of books. Visitors can play chess, watch films and admire art — the library is home to three free art galleries.

The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Royal Library in Copenhagen is a “must-see” destination in Denmark’s capital. Spread over four sites, it is home to almost all known printed Danish works, including the first book that was published in 1482. While Copenhagen boasts many fine buildings, one of the most impressive is the 1999 extension to the Royal Library that’s known as the Black Diamond. With a black marble and glass exterior and a magnificent interior featuring an eight-story atrium with wave-shaped walls and a huge ceiling fresco, this is a visually stunning library. The Black Diamond wing doubled the size of the original Royal Library, and is connected to it by a number of bridges. The architectural masterpiece leans out over a canal and provides beautiful water views and a peaceful place to get lost in the works of Hans Christian Andersen.

The Stuttgart City Library in Stuttgart, Germany

Another library with a simple, modern design that has the feel of an art gallery, the Stuttgart City Library is one of Germany’s premier destinations for book lovers. The library has been designed as an intellectual and cultural center for Stuttgart and features a huge, white, four-story central space called the Heart that represents both the spatial and meditative center of the building. Above this core lies a five-story, pyramid-shaped, atrium reading room. The neutral, white-colored design of the interior is designed to showcase books, and indeed the whole library is a stunning architectural wonder that stands out in the city.

The Central Library in Seattle, Washington

With a design that makes it look more like a classy hotel than a library, the Central Library in Seattle features 11 levels and is made from glass and steel. The modern building opened in 2004 and is divided into eight horizontal layers, each with a varying size to fit a relevant function. The Central Library currently houses over one million items and has 9,906 shelves devoted to books — it has a capacity to grow even larger though and will be able to hold 1.45 million books and materials when at capacity.

The Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland

The Trinity College “Old Library” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Dublin and was first constructed in the 18th century. One of the most beautiful libraries in Ireland, it houses the famous Book of Kells, a gospel manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800. The library contains a collection of 200,000 of Trinity’s oldest books and features a distinctive barrel ceiling, marble busts of famous authors and philosophers and a central walkway that spans nearly 200 feet.

To find more fun things to do in Dublin, check out this article on Expedia’s travel blog and this Dublin site to see what else the city has to offer besides libraries. Happy Travels!