Where to see the southern lights

Southern lights in Antarctica

From Australia to Antarctica, we list the best places to see the southern lights

People often ask “aren’t you done with travelling?” or “where is there left to go?”

To be honest, we thought that 2018 would be the year we sort-of settled down and maybe looked into a semi-permanent base somewhere in England’s Peak District… but then we went to World Travel Market and met representatives from Greenland and the Falklands and the Faroes, and many of the other remote places we’d like to see one day and we realised that we’d probably never be done with travelling. We’d always want to see more.

24 interesting facts about Russia

interesting facts abourt russia lead image

We share the most interesting facts about Russia collected over the course of two trips to this mammoth country

Russia has been described as many things: a mother, a winner, a force and a fighter. It is, as Churchill put it famously, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Russia is outsize both literally and metaphorically. Aside from its physical bulk, it has loomed as a spectre over the west for decades.

On Peter’s recent trip to this land of secrets, he gathered a wealth of interesting facts about Russia – some well known, others less so. As is tradition, we’ve gathered the best of them below.

Announcing our new role as Lonely Planet Trailblazers

We reveal the details of our partnership with the world’s biggest travel guide publisher

Today, we announce our new role as Lonely Planet Trailblazers. Those of you who have followed us from our early journey across the South Pacific will know that we have worked with Lonely Planet periodically, from taking over their Instagram account to co-hosting Twitter chats and running campaigns for third parties.

Best natural wonders in France

Natural wonders of france featured image

From dramatic mountains to unearthly caves, we explore the best natural wonders in France

If you ask a random person to name the best natural wonders in France, they’d likely come up short. There are plenty of manmade sights we can all reel off: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Notre Dame and so on, but France is far less famous for its natural wonders. Here, we explore the best on offer.

21 interesting facts about Mauritius

We share the most interesting facts about Mauritius, gathered on our month-long journey across the stunning country

After trips to the Maldives, Fiji and French Polynesia, we wondered if Mauritius would live up to the established standard. The vision peddled in brochures is of course of great blue lagoons and powdery white beaches, but unlike the aforementioned places, Mauritius comprises one main island instead of a great swathe scattered across the ocean. Would true seclusion be hard to find?

Sigiriya Rock Fortress: 7 tips for visiting

Sigiriya Rock Fortress is Sri Lanka’s most popular attraction. We show you how to avoid the queues, crowds and touts to make the most of your morning there

It’s not often people say ‘visiting rock formations’ when asked what they like doing on holiday – a curious fact given that so many of us spend time and money doing exactly that, be it Cappadocia in Turkey, Yosemite in the US, Guatape in Colombia or indeed Machu Picchu which would be only half as dramatic without its rocky backdrop.

One of the world’s less known curiosities in this category is Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka, a gigantic column of rock rising 200m (660ft) from the forested plains below. Located in the approximate center of the country, Sigiriya is one cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, the others being Anuradhapura to the north and Polonnaruwa to the east.

The countries we most want to see

Countries-we-most-want-to-see-featimg

Despite our best laid plans, we never made it to Africa last year. With renewed plans to visit the continent after our current trip through Sri Lanka and Burma, we found ourselves in an interesting discussion: if you could see only five countries before you die, which would they be?

This question posed a far trickier dilemma than the countries we least want to see. With so much on offer, we had to be ruthless in our choices.

We didn’t choose countries we have already visited, nor stateless territories (e.g. Antarctica). Two of our countries overlapped (Nepal and Canada) so we each chose one more to make a total of 10.

Travel roundup 2016: 12 delightful things that happened this year

Here’s a roundup of our favourite travel events of 2016

In last year’s travel roundup, we spoke of tumultuous events, political instability and acts of aggression across the globe.

As the French would say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Indeed, in 2016, we saw our fair share of tumult, instability and aggression – and Brexit and Trump only promise more.

Much like last year, however, we have also been reminded that there is amusement and delight in even the direst of years. From historic events (March, September) to frivolous fancies (April, June), 2016 hasn’t been all bad. Here’s a roundup of our favourite events.

Ayasofya: 7 tips for visiting the iconic building

Ayasofia-turkey-featimg-3

Practical tips for visiting Ayasofya, Istanbul’s most iconic structure, including the best time to visit, how to avoid the crowds and things not to miss

Ayasofya (or Hagia Sophia in Greek) is one of Istanbul’s most iconic structures. It graces travel brochures and glossy magazines and has even made a cameo in video game Assassin’s Creed.

The 1,500-year-old structure is considered the most important of the Byzantine era and is one of the world’s great monuments. Completed in 537 AD, Ayasofya was the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

Ayasofya and its central dome, a giant 32 metres (105ft) in diameter, stands sentry over Istanbul, offering beguiling views both inside and out. Here’s how to make the most of your time there. 

What is the world’s most diverse country?

travel skills: old Indian man in yellow turbanDreamstime

Papua New Guinea is the world’s most diverse country, both ethnically and linguistically. We examine the rankings based on two academic studies

When Sadiq Khan was voted in as London Mayor, he announced his city ‘the most diverse and fantastic in the world’. This triggered interest from the BBC which ran a podcast examining his claim.

The podcast named the Canadian city of Toronto as the most diverse but in doing so, highlighted a number of methodological problems that also apply when measuring the world’s most diverse country.

US national parks: 20 weird and wonderful sights

US national parks offer a delightful assortment of sights, from trees that existed at the time of dinosaurs to the most active volcano in the world

As spring takes hold in earnest, nearly all US national parks are preparing for a special week.

The National Park Service turns 100 years old this year and, to celebrate, is offering free entrance to over 120 US national parks and monuments on select dates. These include 16-24th April for National Park Week, 25th-28th for the official National Park Service birthday, 24th September for National Public Lands Day and 11th November for Veterans Day, as well as Martin Luther King Jr. Day which was on 18th January.

To help promote this fantastic celebration of the great outdoors, Atlas & Boots has hand-picked 20 weird and wonderful sights from a number of US national parks that you can see for free next week.

22 books about obsessive searches

books about obsessive searches lead image

We list some excellent books about obsessive searches – perfect reading for your own journeys of discovery

All travel to some extent is about searching. It may be a deep and yearning search for fulfilment, a soul-wrenching quest for absolution, or something far more base (Thailand, anyone?).

For some, travel is a way to silence an echoing need, be it for knowledge, enlightenment, glory or revenge. These obsessive searches take travellers on great journeys across the wild, usually giving rise to incredible tales of incredible lands. At times, these tales are humbling; at others, they are exasperating but never are they boring.

Top 10 places for expat romance

Head to one of these top places for expat romance to bypass one of the most common problems plaguing expats: that of finding a partner

Our home town of London can be a lonely place or an amazing one depending on who you are and what you want.

It, like other great cities (New York, Paris, Rome), can be a glittering metropolis of opportunity or a deeply isolating experience. It’s not unusual for first-time expats to have problems settling in and making friends. In fact, finding a partner is one of the most difficult aspects of expat life.

How to travel without ruining your career

Use our practical guide on how to travel without ruining your career

Our trip around the world was the best decision we ever made but it didn’t come without concerns. We both quit our jobs, Peter as head of department at a London school and Kia as product manager at Penguin Random House.

We knew we wanted a slower pace of life but also that we would have to find jobs once we returned to London. (Alas, Peter’s great plan to win the lottery hasn’t yet come to fruition.)

6 charmless South American towns we couldn’t avoid

Tourist towns inevitably crop up next to major sights and more often than not, they’re completely charmless. Here are five we failed to avoid

Travellers go to Latin America hoping, expecting, knowing they’ll be wowed. Home to three of the world’s Seven Wonders, the region has a wealth of both manmade and natural attractions.

Travellers also know that their journey through this vast continent won’t always be full of rainbows and kittens. Amid the bright, great wonders will be dreary days in dull towns with nary a redeeming feature.