Just reopened after a great job of renovation. There is plenty to see for children of any age and the layout allows a space where younger children can run around while browsing. The park is large and on the other side of Argyle Steet there are a couple of pubs that serve reasonable food at midday. My kids - aged 6 and 9 - loved it. Taking the Glasgow underground (if you never have) is an event in itself. Across the road is the Transport Museum which is also a good free visit, and the ice cream van outside is a must.
Kelvingrover Art Gallery and Museum: Argyll Street, Glasgow;
tel: 0141 276 9515;
Museum of Transport: 1 Bunhouse St, Glasgow;
tel: 0141 287 2720;
Directions: Get off at Kelvingrove underground after Partick train station or direct from Buchanan St underground
This free museum near the old town is worth a visit for its shady cloisters alone, but also houses a large collection of historical Basque artefacts including a terrifying birthing chair. The cavernous, atmospheric church is now being carefully restored.
tel 943 48 1580
Beamish Open Air Museum, located between Newcastle and Durham, is a fantastic attraction – a full day out for families of all ages. Step back in time as you discover what life was like 100 or 200 years ago.
Restored trams and period double-decker buses take you around this vast site as you hop on and off to visit the different attractions. There is an early 20th century Town Street, complete with shops, pub, bank, houses, a Masonic Hall and even a sweet factory. Elsewhere there is a Colliery Village with a drift mine you can take a tour into. There is also the fantastic Pockerly Waggonway - where you can ride along behind replicas of three of the world’s most famous steam engines - Puffing Billy, Steam Elephant and George Stephenson's Locomotion 1.
Other attractions on site include Home Farm - a working farm with animals and Pockerley Manor a grand Georgian manor house set in beautiful Gardens. There is also a range of events that take place throughout the year which are included in the admission price.
Beamish Open Air Museum, County Durham, DH9 0RG
tel: 0191 370 4000;
When the wrecks of several viking ships were found in the Roskilde Fjord in the 60s, it was only natural that a museum be erected on the shore to host them. The Viking Ship Museum is a leading institution in the history of viking sea travel. They offer sailing trips on the fjord on replica ships in the summer but the real treat is the adjacent boatyard where viking ships are reconstructed using authentic tools and techniques.
It's about a 25 minute walk from the train station (visit the Cathedral on the way). www.vikingeskibsmuseet.dk/page.asp?sideid=164&zcs=402
A warren of underground streets and houses hidden beneath Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Costumed guides take you around this amazing site, revealing the stories of the former residents. Very eerie and supposedly very haunted. Great for adults and older kids alike.
Mary King's Close, off the Royal Mile;
Bookings: 08702 430 160;
There are plenty of free museums and art galleries to see in Edinburgh: Chambers Street museums (Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland), Museum of Childhood, Museum of Edinburgh, The People’s Story (all central) and City Art Centre, Dean Gallery and the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art (n.b: you have to pay entry fee for some exhibitions within the galleries).
Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland: www.nms.ac.uk;
City Art Centre, Museum of Childhood, Museum of Edinburgh, The People’s Story: www.cac.org.uk;
Dean Gallery and Scottish Gallery of Modern Art: www.nationalgalleries.org
The Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli) are beautiful! Approximately 111 acres (45 hectares) of lavishly landscaped gardens behind the Pitti Palace ((Palazzo Pitti), extending to modern Fort Belvedere in Florence. Designed in a carefully structured and geometric Italian renaissance style, the gardens were begun in 1550 by Niccolò di Raffaello de' Pericoli detto Tribolo, who had been commissioned by Eleanora de Toledo, wife of Cosimo I, to create a setting that would be appropriate for vast pageants and Medici court entertainments.
Lacking a natural water supply, the gardens relied on an elaborate system of water distribution, a special conduit being built to tap the river; this was further enlarged by Ferdinando I, Cosimo's son, and the garden waters are known as the Acqua Ferdinanda. The Boboli, preserved by the Italian monarchy and today a public park, displays statuary from various historical periods, and includes works by important mannerist and baroque sculptors. Among well-known features are the Artichoke Fountain, the Museum of Porcelain, a Rococo Kaffeehaus, and a much-copied, horseshoe-shaped amphitheatre with an Egyptian obelisk.
After touring through the Pitti Palace you may wish to meander through the charming renaissance gardens that occupy the hill behind the museum. You will notice the occasional baroque and rococo touches while enjoying the cypress laneways, the Limonaia & botanical gardens, the hidden statues and bubbling fountains. Inside the gardens you can also enter into the Porcelain Museum with the same ticket. Technically picnics are not allowed in the gardens but pick a secluded spot or an empty bench and you can normally eat without being noticed. There are cafes in the street before you enter into the gardens, and here you can easily purchase sandwiches and wine to enjoy in the sun. Take extra bread and feed the ducks while your there
Also take a look at the Bardini Gardens. These are newly opened gardens and can be entered with the same ticket purchased for the Boboli gardens.
You can reserve Boboli Garden tickets with Florenceart (www.florenceart.it/booking);
For more information see www.polomuseale.firenze.it/english/musei/boboli;
tel: 39 0552651838;
Austrians have a thing about death and have a museum dedicated to it. Having seen it featured on a holiday programme, it seemed interesting, so when we arrived in Vienna we got our hotel to phone and book (we don't speak German, and it said in guide books that visits are by appointment only). They said they didn't have any English interpreters to show us around and that they would have to get one in just for us (there were 2 of us on the trip) and that we would have to pay extra to cover the cost of the interpreter. We decided not to go in the end (tip for all who don't speak fluent German).
Bestattungs Museum, Vienna: telephone 501 95 4227 to make an appointment
As in olden days, you can sit outside in the park and read and listen to the orators in the forecourt or inside, where the reading room takes you back to early last century. Quaint and quiet and a great place to while away a few hours. I recommend the tour to discover the history and facilities offered by the institution.
328 Swanston Street, Melbourne,
corner of Swanston and La Trobe Streets;
The Life and Work of William Butler Yeats is a wonderful exhibition for anybody seriously interested in the story of this great poet. You can listen to many of the poems being recited, including one read by Yeats himself. The medal he got for the Nobel Prize is among the hundreds of exhibits on display.
Admission is free along with other famous buildings in the neighbourhood such as the National Gallery and National Museum.
The National Library, Kildare St, Dublin.
About 200 yards from Grafton St, the main shoppping street. See details in www.nli.ie
The Occupation Museum is a captivating collection of memorabilia depicting the struggle of Latvian independence. Displayed in an easy-to-absorb manner, you can stroll through and take in as much or as little as you can. To then walk around the old town of Riga and appreciate its beauty and modern cafe culture is a stark contrast to its history. It is a delight to see how Riga has progressed and you'll find it to be a hospitable, inspiring place to visit.
Strçlnieku laukums 1, Rîga LV-1050;
Admission: voluntary donation
tel: (+371) 7 212 715;
What’s ACMI? It’s the Australian Centre for the Moving Image,
and it’s different. Want to know the history of Australian TV?
Sick of standard Hollywood output? Interested in animation?
ACMI has it all.
Federation Square, Flinders St (opposite Flinders St Station);
tel: 8663 2200; www.acmi.net.au
Four is devoted to the development of an uninhibited artistic exploration of ideas, discourses and new trends in contemporary art and its practices. It sees its function as promoting, supporting and bringing contemporary art, curators and the artists who take part in its evolution to the public's attention.
11 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, near the Tara Street Dart station;
tel: 00 353 (0) 86 365 1256;
In addition to presenting the "history" of chocolate, the museum displays huge chocolate sculptures. There is also a cafe offering chocolate treats.
Comerç 36, in the Gothic Quarter;
tel: 93 268 7878;
metro: Jaume I or Arc de Triomf;
open: Mon-Sat 10am-7pm; Sun 10am-3pm
Forget the castle: it's a 1950s concrete repro with neon strip lighting and a lift in the middle. If you want traditional culture in Nagoya... well, you probably should've gone somewhere else, but that doesn't mean you have to go home empty-handed.
The Owari branch of the Tokugawa family were one of the most powerful daimyo (feudal rulers) of the Edo period (1603-1867), and their vast array of heirlooms are showcased here. It's a mighty impressive collection, running the gamut from swords to pottery to exquisite centuries-old paintings and kimono. Everything is presented beautifully, and the displays are pretty much all bilingual.
The jewel in the museum's crown is a large portion of the 12th-century Illustrated Tale of Genji, but owing to its fragility it seldom goes on public display. Small sections are shown at certain times of the year, and there are also regular special exhibitions. Check the website for details.
1017 Tokugawa-cho, Higashi-ku, Nagoya 461-0023
Adults: 1,200 yen, Seniors: 1,000 yen, Students: 700 yen, Children (7-14): 500 yen
Open 10:00-17:00 Tuesday-Sunday (last admittance 16:30). Closed Mondays (except national holidays, in which case closed on Tuesdays).
By train - Take the JR Chuo line to Ozone station. The museum is a 10 minute walk from the South Exit (Minami-guchi).
By bus - If you're going from Nagoya Station, take the City Bus for Hikarigaoka or Idaka Shako from Green #7 Bust Stop at Eki-mae City Bus Terminal. If you're going from Sakae, take the City Bus for Hikiyama or Sankenya from #3 Stop at Sakae Bus Terminal (Oasis 21). For both, get off at the Tokugawaen Shindeki bus stop. It's a few minutes' walk from there.
In 1798, the remains of Lisbon's Roman amphitheatre were discovered dug into the side of the hill, in what must once have been a very dramatic location just uphill from the Sé. It's been excavated and turned into a simple but very attractive museum.
Pátio do Aljube, 5 (off Rua Augusto Rosa) or Rua da Saudade; tel: 21 75 13 200;
Cuenca’s plazas and common areas. The square alongside San Sebastian Church is one of the better ones. It’s the perfect place to get away from the hot midday sun, sit in the shade and read your book. Then, full of the joys, you can cross to the southern end of the square and get a bit of culture too. The Museum of Modern Art is located in a charming, whitewashed old adobe building that used to be a hospice for alcoholics. Some might say that is appropriate given some of the bizarre art on display, but it’s always interesting.
Near the corner of Mariscal Sucre and Coronel Talbot, the Plaza San Sebastian
Ruined church right in Chiado in Lisbon's centre. Wonderful, relaxing and quiet place to escape the heat. Great museum also inside with some weird and wonderful exhibits. In a nice shady square too. Go in early spring to get the jacarandas in bloom. Closed on Sundays (whereas most museums close on a Monday). You can get a look in if you go up the Elevador da Santa Justa - which also has fabulous views over Baixa.
Largo do Carmo;
tel: 21 346 0473
Come out of the top exit of Baixa-Chiado metro, walk down the hill (past cafe Brasileira) and turn left up any street – which will be steep. It's at the top in the shade.
An art museum housing an eclectic collection of Western and Eastern art as well as contemporary Portuguese works. The gallery spaces are well designed and the Gulbenkian complex is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Well worth a wander through.
Avenida de Berna 45a, Sao Sebastiao;
tel: 21 7823000;
Recently restored, the temple of mercy/compassion is little visited by tourists, despite being in the centre of Chengdu. Aside from its main purpose, this temple has a very lively yet relaxing teahouse (various teas, average price 5-8 Rb) and there’s a folklore museum. Some outstanding statues/carvings. 3 Rmb to get in. Open 9am to 6pm.
Da Ci Si Lu 23 hao (10-15 mins walk from Crowne Plaza/Holiday Inn);
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