Best cocktail bars in the world

The city boasts more bars than you can shake a cocktail stick at, from spectacular rooftop views to hole-in-the-wall music joints, and whether you prefer to be shaken or stirred, our list will help you find your perfect watering hole.

 

Take in the view from Giudecca’s Skyline Bar

There are plenty of reasons to love rooftop Skyline Bar, despite its slightly awkward location on Giudecca island. First off, you get a free shuttle service from the city across the Giudecca Canal. Secondly, it offers great views of southern Venice and thus multiple photo ops. Then there is the lengthy – and idiosyncratically translated – cocktail menu. A nice touch has been to provide a Venetian take on the classics, with the drinks covering the six sestieri (districts) of the city. The free boat ride makes a cocktail (€16-20) at this glamorous hotel bar an affordable treat.

 

Join the young, hip crowd at Osteria da Filo

Known to locals as ‘La Poppa’, this buzzing watering hole has a great wine list and cocktail selection (€3.50-6), including the Zaza, a mean house speciality involving copious amounts of rum and fresh ginger. One of

Great see sights on China

The unmoving landscapes of the Silk Road have enchanted travellers for millennia. Sights along the route have lasted down through the ages, from a time when monks travelled these roads bringing Buddhism back from south Asia, and traders exchanged silk for goods and spices.

Made up of a series of roads connecting Chinese capitals with south Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean, a voyage down the Silk Road remains one of China’s most epic journeys. Travelling the length of this route today, with its flaming red mountains, towering sand dunes and alpine lakes, still offers a very real sense of what ancient traders experienced. And in 2014, UNESCO listed the entire 5000km Tian Shan Corridor as a World Heritage Site.

Luckily, the Silk Road is ever-more accessible from the rest of Chinathanks to the opening of a new high-speed rail line through Xinjiang. This train will eventually connect the furthest reaches of China’s northwestern province to Xi’an, Beijing and beyond. Here we explore a must-see list of its east-to-west sights.

 

Army of Terracotta Warriors

Painstakingly cast as guardians for Qin Shi Huang’s – the first emperor of

Culinary adventures in northern Kyushu

Fukuoka and Saga prefectures, in northern Kyūshū, are accessible places to start a food-inspired tour of the region. From ever-popular ramen to the more nuanced flavours of fermented vinegar, here is a small selection of the many local specialities worth savouring on your trip.

 

Ramen in Fukuoka

Any conversation about food in this corner of Kyūshū has to begin with ramen (and for some it ends right there, too). The ubiquitous noodles may have their origins in China, but they are hugely popular in Japan, with every region having its particular variations. Fukuoka is the country’s top ramen destination, famous for its signature tonkotsu ramen, also called Hakata or Nagahama ramen: straight, thin noodles in a thick, rich pork-bone-based broth. You can slurp back a bowl at one of the many food stalls around Fukuoka city. There are about 150 of these hawker-style stalls (yatai in Japanese), which typically have a simple counter with a few stools and start service in the evenings. Most stalls set up along the river in the Nakasu area, in the Tenjin area, and in Nagahama near the docks.

Or, for

Sand and centuries of history in Pafos

There’s more to Pafos than the beach. The ancient Greeks certainly knew that, which is why they founded their sacred city well inland, overlooking the sparkling Med from the headland at Kouklia. Modern Pafos, sitting pretty beside the sea, is a relative newcomer, dating back a measly 2400 years.

The majority of travellers to Pafos today are lured by sea, sand and sun, and Cyprus certainly gets a lot of sun – 326 sparkling, sunshiny days per year, on average. But on this island you can’t walk more than a few paces in any direction without tripping over an ancient ruin or real-life setting for a Hellenic myth. And Pafos is no Agia Napa or Protaras – this is a proper Mediterranean city, down to the veg-stacked grocers’ shops and courtyards full of potted geraniums.

 

Cultured Pafos

With more than 3000 years of uninterrupted history, Pafos was an obvious candidate for the European City of Culture 2017. Performers have been gathering on the stage of its ancient odeon (amphitheatre) since at least the 2nd century BC, and the cult of fertility worship has been active in these thyme-scented hills since Neolithic times. It was no accident that the ancient Greeks chose this

Instagram hot spots in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a city of contrasting light and constant movement; a whirl of commotion that combines climbing skyscrapers and golden stretches of sand with steaming bowls of wonton noodles and ceaseless traffic. In other words: it’s an Instagrammer’s paradise.

This dynamic metropolis is prized photography country, even for those who prefer to shoot bite-sized, instantly uploadable images. Inspiration can strike anywhere, but below are the 10 best places to capture Hong Kong’s most iconic photographs.

 

1. Hong Kong’s garden hideaway

Few photos can capture the essence of Hong Kong better than those taken at Chi Lin Nunnery in Kowloon. Instagram opportunities unfurl before your lens here as classical Chinese gardens give way to a glorious golden pagoda and a lotus pond filled with plump koi carp. This serene Buddhist complex seems all the more tranquil when snapped against the contrasting skyscrapers that tower above, creating a seamless fusion of the modern and the natural.

 

2. Food too cute to eat

Embedded into Hong Kong’s culture like dragon dances and milk tea, Instagram swells with shots of steaming baskets of dim sum, so head to Yum Cha to snap something more contemporary. This dim sum restaurant does things a little differently: the pork buns are

The sound of silence

At 78° north, Svalbard is both the largest continuous wilderness in Europe and the final frontier before the North Pole. In the frozen depths of winter, a snowmobile expedition is the only way to get a sense of scope in this land of bone-chilling cold and heartbreaking beauty.

 

Many who have never stepped foot on Svalbard – the archipelago midway between Norway and the North Pole – envisage a bleak, white wilderness of ice, emptiness, and polar bears. Seen in a winter blizzard, this is bang on, but then there are the days as clear as cut crystal and the brilliance they bring. Colours. Nobody ever imagines the colours. This thought plays on my mind as I cling onto a snowmobile, bouncing giddily from side to side through a gully, the lights of the main settlement of Longyearbyen fast receding.

It’s around -20°C and a bitter wind blasts my visor, stinging and finally numbing the fraction of my face exposed to the elements. My tears freeze on my eyelashes like tiny jewels, and wisps of silver-white hair escaping from my balaclava give me a premature glimpse of my older self. It’s very, very cold and beautiful beyond belief. We enter glacial valleys

Beyond Melbourne

In decades past, art was a fairly conservative experience beyond the cities in Australia. But times have changed dramatically in Victoria. The creative energy of the state capital Melbourne has flowed to regional cities, creating numerous cutting-edge cultural hubs. Regional galleries have been revitalised with newly adventurous programming and the most urban of forms: street art has taken off.

 

Street art goes to the country

Also riding the street art boom is the regional town of Benalla with names famous in the global scene including Guido van Helten, Adnate, Rone, and DVATE. Around 200km northeast of Melbourne and just off the highway to Sydney, it has developed a colourful gallery of walls over the last few years since the first Wall to Wall Festival (benallastreetart.com.au) in 2015.

In its first year, 14 walls were painted with impressive murals by a team of artists hand-picked by Shaun Hossack, a street artist who’d grown up in the area. The event was such a success that for the next two years, artists were allocated more prominent walls off the main shopping street. The result is a colourful collection of works that turn this town into an open-air art gallery.

Within walking distance of the visitor information

Germanys secret islands

Islands have always occupied a special place in the imagination of travellers. Defined by their finite geography, they inspire a romanticised sense of ‘getting away from it all’, even if they’re just offshore. Yet, when thinking about a beach escape, Germany rarely comes to mind. Except to the Germans themselves, that is. They know that there’s no need to go to the Med or the Caribbean to find azure seas, white beaches and endless horizons.

Some 50 islands in the North Sea and Baltic Sea belong to Germany, nearly all of them slow-paced and pristine nature sanctuaries. The two bodies of water are quite different in character. While the North Sea is exposed to brisk breezes and crashing waves, the Baltic is like a giant protected sound with calmer waters and a more chilled vibe. We introduce four of our favourite offshore gems.

 

Sylt – the swanky beauty spot

Because of its reputation as a Dionysian summer colony for celebs and jet-setters, Sylt has often been compared to Martha’s Vineyard and Saint Tropez. Yes, there are flashy bars like the glorified beach shack called Sansibar, fancy Michelin-starred restaurants like Söl’ring Hof and plenty of cruising late-model BMWs and Ferraris. Yet Sylt is

Southwestern China rightfully grabs headlines

The biggest difference these days is that, instead of trade in tea and goods, tourism is taking over as the dominant draw. Visiting any of Sichuan’s old towns is a chance to explore this vast country’s living history and, increasingly, one of the last ways to see a slower pace of life in ever-expanding China.

 

Dujiangyan (都江堰)

Though not the oldest of Sichuan’s old towns (it’s close, founded in 250BC), Dujiangyan is undoubtedly the most important, for it was here that governor Li Bing of Shu conceived of and built the town’s eponymous irrigation system during the Warring States period (475–221 BC). Visitors to modern Dujiangyan can see the workings of this still-functional irrigation system, a marvel in its day, walk the small old town area and visit numerous temples that local communities have built to give thanks. Each year on Tomb-Sweeping Day, a traditional Chinese festival that celebrates ancestors, Dujiangyan holds a ‘water releasing ceremony’ to mark Li Bing’s accomplishments and honour his memory.

 

Pingle (平乐)

Once an important stop on the ancient Tea-Horse Road trade route between tea-rich Yunnan and Tibet and believed to be at least two thousand years old, the Pingle of today is more party town than caravan route. City-worn Chengdu residents

Glimpse at Europe best national parks

Europe contains some of the most charismatic and cultured cities on the planet. But the continent is also blessed with an extraordinary array of natural landscapes, which lure travellers from far and wide.

From the glacier-carved fjords of Norway to the sun-baked gorges of Greece, many of these areas have become national parks, conserving their beauty for everyone to explore and enjoy.

In this selection from National Parks of Europe, a practical introduction to the continent’s 60 best national parks as chosen by our expert writers, we give a glimpse of what to expect from a few of these wild, wonderful places.

 

Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi, Italy

A grass-carpeted valley, birds chirping in the bottle-green trees, a twinkling brook: this bucolic scene is sheltered by a castellated line of mountains, formed of an almost luminescent pale rock. The drama is heightened by the contrast between the soft, gentle curves of the pastures and the sudden eruption of vast, sculptural mountains, each prong like a cathedral tower.

Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi is geology as theatre. The scenic drama has been formed through the different consistency and brittleness of the rock, which has allowed erosion to sculpt it into jagged shapes, and hollow out

An island unlike any other

Lying in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa, the island of Madagascar has evolved in splendid isolation for more than 80 million years; the result is a unique and startling world full of upside-down trees, stone forests and, of course, lemurs.

Join us on a journey through a wildlife-rich destination that never fails to surprise.

 

Kirindy and the baobabs

Start your trip in the west with wildlife encounters and a walk among iconic trees

Jean Baptiste strolls cheerfully through the forest, arms swaying, flip-flops flapping. For the past hour, he has led the way through a tangle of paths that each looks identical to the last, pausing to point out brown creatures hidden in the brown undergrowth: a twig-like pencil snake here, a fist-sized land snail there.

It takes some time to locate the lemur he spotted with barely a glance, but after much gesticulating (‘To the left of the fork, down from the second branch, no, not that branch, down further’), there it is: a sportive lemur, its teddy-bear head and goggly brown eyes poking out of a tree hollow. The sighting opens the floodgates to an embarrassment of encounters in the forest of Kirindy.

A few steps on, a black-and-white Verreaux’s

Dance your way through a Queens in night out

Just a subway ride away from Manhattan, this energetic borough offers an array of drinking, dining and entertainment options – and won’t be as hard on your wallet. Mix and match the recommendations below to create your own perfect Queens night out.

 

Happy hour

If you like to get started early, the pubs, cocktail bars, beer halls and lounges in Queens are ready with enticing after-work specials. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria has a giant patio area that makes it the perfect place to meet in the spring and summer, but the half-priced beer at happy hour makes it worth hitting up year-round. The interior and patio both have a classic beer hall aesthetic, with Czech, Slovak and American flags hung proudly from the fortress-like walls. Inside, you can catch sports and enjoy some classic Slavic cuisine with your drink.

Looking for a less conventional happy hour? Visit The COOP in Flushing. This Korean fusion spot has a great beer, sake and wine selection, but specializes in custom-made cocktails such as a lychee cosmopolitan. At happy hour you’ll find great deals on oysters and small-plate fare: kimchi egg rolls, fried chicken gizzards and their famous hot wings, which add a uniquely Korean

Decades before that it formed part of the Soviet Union

As I step out of Kyiv’s Khreshchatyk metro station, the Ukrainian capital’s tumultuous postwar history is laid out before me – in concrete and steel. The busiest, grandest boulevard of downtown Kyiv, Khreshchatyk street is lined by buildings of communist-era vintage. Some are highly decorated, others bear plain facades; but all are lofty, intimidating structures.

There are hints, however, of post-Soviet adjustments. Down the street I spot a large star surmounting an imposing apartment building. When Ukraine was part of the USSR, it must have been painted revolutionary red; now it’s a striking blue over yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. And the metro station houses a branch of an American fast-food chain, sandwiched between Stalinist facades.

It’s outside this eatery I meet Anna, the guide who’ll be taking me on a walking tour of communist Kyiv. As I grew up in Australia during the Cold War years, I’m keen to learn what those times were like in the former USSR. Anna says I’ve come to the right place: after Moscow and Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Kyiv was the third most important Soviet city. That’s one reason nuclear power plants were situated in the region, with catastrophic results in 1986 at

Cairns and gin making in the Boyne Valley

At first glance, the famous cairns that cluster around the River Boyne, in counties Meath and Louth might elicit a shrug – most are simple passages leading into small chambers. But the more you look, the more fascinating they get.

Almost 100 Neolithic monuments make up the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne (‘the Palace of the Boyne’), many dating from around 3200 BC, making them around seven centuries older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. They’re decorated with strange swirls and shapes and aligned with the sun and the landscape, yet so distant are their pre-Celtic creators that archaeologists are still guessing how the great stones were transported (possibly by river, or even rolled on seaweed) and whether they were built to honour the dead, the sun or the sea.

 

Stone Age magic at Newgrange and Loughcrew

Newgrange is the largest and most popular tomb, as well as the easiest to visit, via buses from the nearby visitor centre. Its 80m diameter is impressive, but the real thrill comes when you clamber through its dark tunnel, feeling the silence under muffled breath and gazing up at the enormous sandstone roof slabs as your heart stills and your eyesight sharpens. It’s hard not

Exploring The Gambia

In some cases, you need not even leave The Gambia’s sandy shores to soak up some sensational cultural experiences, while other traveller treats involve trips into dense forests, mangrove swamps and petite villages.

 

The village of Tanji

Set on a wide, sweeping beach, this tiny village is ripe with cultural and wildlife opportunities. Stand with your feet in the surf and watch the colourfully-painted fishing boats bobbing rhythmically in the waves as local women ferry the day’s catch to shore in buckets atop their heads. Behind you is the fish market, which heaves with Gambians shopping for everything from fish and flip flops to vibrant vegetables and loudly-coloured clothing. As the sun starts to set and the crowds begin to wane, the beauty of the scene seems to grow tenfold – the water sparkles, elegant silhouettes parade across the backdrop of a golden sky and the long light cuts deep into the incredibly atmospheric smoke houses.

The village also has a charming museum where you can explore a recreated Mandinka village, complete with huts and displays about this ethnic group’s traditional customs, beliefs, music and crafts. For a wilder, more nature-based experience, check out the Tanji River Bird Reserve, which hosts as many

Are you love a trip away with your family

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, that’s for sure. And just the thought of having to hush the baby or keep a writhing toddler still in the aeroplane seat for 10 or – gulp – up to 24 hours when, chances are, they simply will not sleep, is enough to make most parents retreat into a dark chasm of despair.

But the reality isn’t nearly that bad. Babies are often coaxed into a sleepy state by the drone of the plane’s air regulator. True, flying with young kids of a certain age – let’s say roughly between one and two years old – can be a constant trial, but once they are old enough to appreciate in-flight entertainment, two thirds of the battle is won. The trick is to understand what you’re getting yourself into and plan ahead.

Top tips: Take a night flight if you can, when your kids are at their sleepiest and the cabin lights will be dimmed, and tag-team with a flying partner so each of you gets some respite if the kids are playing up. Run your children ragged in the airport before boarding, and always overestimate the amount of carry-on clothes, nappies and snacks you think

A guide to the locations of the cult classic

The heart of Twin Peaks country is the Snoqualmie Valley, in the hills east of Seattle. It’s at an easy distance for a day trip from the big city. Drop in first to Fall City, a town that is home to the building which starred as Bang Bang Bar, generally referred to as The Roadhouse. This was Twin Peaks’ adult entertainment venue, filled with couples and bikers listening to live music and downing a beer or two.

One of the most memorable scenes here featured the mystical Giant appearing in a vision to FBI Agent Dale Cooper, warning him of a murder with the line ‘It is happening again.’ Nowadays the century-old building houses the Fall City Roadhouse (fcroadhouse.com), offering food and accommodation.

Out back is another location: the cabin used to depict The Bookhouse, headquarters of the secret society known as The Bookhouse Boys.

 

White Tail Falls

Heading farther south-east to the town of Snoqualmie, the next major location is this impressive waterfall, falling majestically across our screens as the opening credits played to the haunting theme of composer Angelo Badalamenti.

In reality known as the Snoqualmie Falls (snoqualmiefalls.com), it’s a significant site to the Native American Snoqualmie people, who say the mist from

Sensational day trips from Naples

One of the great attractions of a visit to Naples is the opportunity to explore the rich cultural and natural landscape of the surrounding Campania region. Seaside escapes, restless volcanoes, royal palaces and some of the most famous archaeological sites in the world; there is something for everyone, all within easy reach of the city.

 

Trek up Mt Vesuvius and explore Pompeii

A morning hike up Mt Vesuvius, the volatile volcano that entombed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii in 79 AD, is classic Neapolitan adventure. The 30-minute ascent along a steep gravel path is suitable for most fitness levels. Peering inside the crater, you won’t see any gurgling lava, but your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views across the Bay of Naples.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the mammoth Unesco World Heritage Site of Pompeii. Don’t miss the Forum, with its chilling Vesuvian view, the vibrantly restored Dionysus fresco at the Villa of the Mysteries, the co-ed Stabian baths, the 2nd-century BC House of the Faun and the ancient stone Amphitheatre.

Lunch stop: Just outside Pompeii’s amphitheatre gate, Stuzzicò by Lucius (facebook.com/Stuzzicò-by-Lucius) serves freshly made Neapolitan dishes in a small, authentic setting.

Getting there: Take the EAV bus (eavsrl.it) from Naples to Vesuvius and back to

Denmark to Iceland for sailing

Iceland is busy headlining countless travel blogs, design magazines and social-media feeds. The country’s position near the top of global bucket lists seems rock-solid. If you haven’t yet visited, you’re probably planning to; if you’ve been, you likely want to return. Fancy making your journey north more noteworthy? Take the ferry from mainland Europe.

Most visitors to Iceland fly into Keflavík (the country’s international airport) to begin their vacation. Fans of slow travel who are looking for a point of difference, a super-scenic voyage, or a means to reduce holiday costs (by bringing their own car or campervan), should consider sailing on Smyril Line’s Norröna, the only ferry that cruises from Hirtshals in northern Denmark to Seyðisfjörður in east Iceland, via the spectacular Faroe Islands.

 

The journey

Sailing time is around 36 hours from Denmark to the Faroe Islands, and 19 hours from the Faroes to Iceland. The ferry’s home port is Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, a small archipelago with a population of just 50,000 that’s a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark.

All journeys pause in Tórshavn, and stopovers range from six hours to three days, depending on the season’s schedule. Since the ferry runs weekly, there’s also the option

The essential guide to backpacking

The section of the ancient Silk Road that runs through China is an epic journey through desert dunes to the end of the Great Wall, a length of pink mud that ends abruptly in the magnificent beige towers of the Jiayuguan Fort.

This is not a voyage that many travellers experience; it’s often and understandably overlooked in favour of more accessible and famous destinations in China.

But for adventurous travellers looking for something truly different, backpacking the Chinese Silk Road reaps glorious rewards: sand-sledding down a magical unmoving sand dune, a camel ride around an oasis, a trek up the end of the Great Wall and sipping wine under grape trellises are just a few of the possibilities. So don a sand-proof rucksack and check out our guide to backpacking the Silk Road through China.

 

The route

Historically, the Silk Road was not one but many routes that connected east and south Asia to Mediterranean Europe, so named because the largest commodity traded down the route was sought-after Chinese silk. The route traditionally started in Xi’an (then known as Chang’an), China and continued northwest through modern-day Gansuand Xinjiang provinces before reaching Central Asia.

Several historical splits in the road mean that you have options when