If you are coming in a group then I would highly recommend a tour on the Club Class Bus. The bus can be hired privately or you can join one of the organised tours day or night.
They are famous for being the Edinburgh Party Bus taking groups to different bars and clubs on their converted double decker.
0871 789 6200
This is one of the best 4WD trips in the country, a landrover tour through an historic high country station that ranges up into the mountains high above Lake Wanaka. The numbers were small, and we got to see a real working farm. This is not a farm tour, but you do explore a 12,000 acre property with deer, sheep and cattle. Enjoyed outstanding views, one of the most beautiful deserted beaches anywhere, a great guide, a glimpse of early settler history in New Zealand, and of course, a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie.
Wanaka, Southern Lakes, New Zealand
+64 27 602 4018
Spending 4h in a car with a stranger COULD be awkward, but not with Dave – he is easy company and conversation was never less than absorbing.
We got off to a great start, with an unexpected and rare (for winter) appearance by the Checker. Such a beauty, and we weren’t the only ones who thought so – passers-by would constantly stop to look and take pictures. Disconcerting at first, yet understandable and quite good fun!
As for the food, we placed ourselves in Dave’s capable hands. By continuously gaging our preferences and appetites throughout the tour, he ensured a well-rounded experience. Everything was excellent, from the beautiful Dominican drink Morir Soñando (orange juice, condensed milk, vanilla and ice – it really was as good as it sounds) in Williamsburg, to the moistest and most gorgeous pastrami washed down with Cel-ray Soda at David’s Brisket House in Bed-Stuy. To the flavorsome, spicy doubles and aloo pie at Trini Gul. To the improbable Gargiullo burger (burger, hot beef, onions, cheese, the whole lot dipped in beef broth) at Brennan and Carr in Homecrest. To the chewiest think pizza at New Park Pizza in Queens. I could go on – you get the idea.
We ended the day full and happy and with a greater understanding of New York than any guidebook could give you. Thoroughly recommended, and if/when we visit New York again, we will definitely repeat it.
Less than an hour from the bustle of Lisbon, you can be in the rolling hills and vineyards of Estremadura, where some of Portugal's top wines are produced. Guided day tours of the vineyards are offered by Vitis-route: the guide owns a vineyard himself, and will take you to his favourite local villages and restaurants around Alenquer and the fishing village of Ericeira.
+351 912 002 847
I went on the Post Olympic architect tour from these guys, I thoroughly recommend it. I am very interested in architecture - this tour was led by someone who was very knowledgeable about the architecture of the Olympic buildings. The guide told me they mostly do tours for architecture students and professionals, but if you are interested in architecture it beats any other walking tour hand down!
+44(0)20 33 18 21 53
Just to show that these tips do work, when I had a long weekend in Marrakesh with my family I contacted Abedellatif who was recommended as a guide in the Villa Dinari post, even though we weren't staying there. He was really charming, and an excellent guide. He showed us lots of places we'd never have found, even with a guide book, because he was born and brought up in the Medina. We enjoyed his tour so much that we went on a tour with him to the Ourika Valley and saw a wonderful local market. I really do recommend him, and if we ever do go back to Marrakesh we'll definitely stay at his lovely home (he took us there for tea on our way back from the Ourika Valley).
Villa Dinari Alpha 41, Lots Bouzaoui, Commune al Ouidane, Marrakech Morocco
+212 524 32 89 22
An island which can be found on Upper Lough Erne in Co' Fermanagh. Trips can be arranged through O'Doherty's meats in Enniskillen.
The butchers source all their own bacon from these pigs that live freely upon the island on Lough Erne. Its a great trip to see how happy and how well kept these pigs are.
O'Doherty's Fine Meats Belmore Street, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, BT74 6AA
+44(0)28 6632 2152
Google map: bit.ly/10XqCRc
My wife and I recently took a trip to Assam in India. We chose Greener Pastures as our tour organizer, and they really made a difference, ensuring that we got a taste of the local culture. They made us stay in local homes, gave us a local experienced guide who we wont forget, and we even got to eat some tasty ethic cuisine. As we visited three national parks, in all of them, we were given local naturalists who had great knowledge on the local flora and fauna. What makes me recommend this company is that they are a small team of youths and are very passionate to apply responsible tourism in their operations and bring about real sustainable development. Also, their expertise in the region is brilliant and there is no compromise on the service.
H.S Road,Dibrugarh,, Assam, India.
I've just returned from a trip of a lifetime walking in the desert with an excellent guide, a docile dromedary carrying everything for a night's camping and the dromedary minder who led me on spectacular rides into the sunset. Imagine, the only sound was birdsong, no other people to be seen, delicious meals and a star filled sky at night - truly a dream come true! Reach the desert by 4X4 from Marrakech.
Mambo Poa Tours is a new tour agency located on the South East Coast of Zanzibar. We heard a lot of discussion about Zanzibar becoming over touristy and over-charged, but we did not find this the case to be on the south east coast. Jambiani is a perfect base to stay, and the boys from Mambo Poa had some really interesting tours, beside the usual tours. We did a snorkelling trip, a day out in Stone Town (ask them about a combo of Spice tour, City Tour and Prison Island - it was a day full of fun!) and to a place in the south of the island with an abandoned hotel site (definitely something different.) You can tell that the boys know their island and they were nice and honest guys to hang out with.
We had a great day out of Riga. Me and my friends from the UK booked the Liepaja tour from the local tour operator Around Latvia. I personally would recommend this tour if you are interested in the military and the history.
I recommend Les visites particulières, which is a private tours agency in Paris.
They offer private guided excursions throughout several exceptional art locations in Paris. Their passionate guides open the doors of art galleries, foundations, museums, artist workshops and private collections of Paris.
Oh luxury, a personal driver is provided.
I've never lived such an experience anywhere. Paris is the capital of arts, I live there, and I didn't know there was so much beauty.
Rila mountain is a two hour drive from Sofia. The landscape is alpine, serene and astonishingly beautiful. Rila is known for the Seven Lakes area - glacial lakes, which reflect perfectly the surrounding peaks and the few puffy clouds in the sky. In my experience the hiking trails are well marked and signposted. If you are doing a popular hike, you meet people every now and then, which is comforting and you can ask for directions. I have done a five day hike to the highest peak – Musala 2925m and the Seven Rila lakes. You need to be relatively fit to do it. If you are not, do not worry. Most routes are loop hikes, so you can always stop in one of the mountain huts for a cup of tea. If you are doing a guided tour, ask your guide about the level of difficulty.
Pirin mountain is a three hour drive from Sofia. The starting point for most hiking routes is the ski resort Bansko or the nearby village of Dobrinishte. From Bansko you can go by car/taxi/shuttle bus to Vihren Hut, which is at the foot of peak Vihren, 2,914 m. In Bansko in July there is an international jazz festival. I also recommend going to Dobrinishte – there is a thermal spa pool surrounded by the view of snow-topped mountains. The perfect way to relax after your hike.
For a guided hiking tour, me and my husband have used the services of Penguin Bulgaria www.penguintravel.com and can recommend them. The advantages are that you have an English speaking guide, who knows the mountains; transfers to and from the mountains are included, they pick you up at the end of the walk by car and bring you to your hotel (in the event that you are not sleeping in the mountains), accommodation and meals are also included, they look after your luggage so you may be able to go with a daypack only.
I can’t recommend the city of Krakow highly enough. One of the most enjoyable and informative ways to get acquainted with this beautiful city is take a four hour cycle tour with “the cool tour company”. Our group of four were lucky enough to have a guide to ourselves for the afternoon and he personalised the tour to suit our interests. Matheus was incredibly knowledgeable about his city, taking us round the old town, along the river Vistula, and into Kazimierz - the Jewish district. You don’t have to be fit to do the tour as you make frequent stops, and over lunch Matheus was able to answer any question we put him about the history of Krakow. We enjoyed cycling so much that on another day we hired bikes ourselves and cycled out of the city, along the river and through leafy suburbs to the Koscuiszki mound, a man-made memorial to an 18th century Polish patriot, which commands great views of the city. The company does other trips on foot and further afield which also come highly recommended.
This short drive of around 30 miles takes you to the heart of the ancient wine-growing region of Ribeiro through rolling vine-terraced hills and some of the most interesting villages in the area. You can also visit one of the many wine–cellars or bodegas although it is always wise to phone or check with the Tourist Information Office before doing so. Stop off in Beade to admire its medieval parish church, situated on a promontory with spectacular views, and the quirky architecture of its well-preserved pazos, mansions owned by the nobility. Then drive past Leiro and on to Pazos de Arenteiro for more traditional architecture, river walks and captivating views of the surrounding countryside and the river. On the way back stop to admire the Cistercian monastery of San Clodio and have lunch there or at the restaurant in the beautiful square.
+34 902 93 24 24
Take the OU 209 out of Ribadavia heading for Leiro. Leiro, Beade, Pazos de Arenteiro and San Clodio are all well signed from this road. You can pick up a large scale map from the Tourist Information Office in the Plaza Mayor, Ribadavia, to help you find your way around.
Google map: bit.ly/UOH1FB
We had an amazing time on this tour. From the moment the Trabant turned up to collect us at our hotel it turned heads. Fellow guests who were due to go on a tour of the city in a coach looked on enviously as we got in our quirky transport. Our guide was very knowledgeable and the tour gives an interesting insight into life under communism. The highlight by far was the car and all its quirks! Would highly recommend the tour to anyone visiting Krakow.
ul.Krakusów 1a/31, 30-092 Kraków
+48 5000 91 200
Auschwitz - if you happen to be in Poland, this should be on your itinerary. You'll need a whole day and there are excellent tours operating from out of Krakow. My tip: take a tour but get there early before the crowds arrive to allow you some time for private reflection before thousands of tourists descend to pose (while smiling!) in front of the 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign. The tour will take all day (there are two sites to visit - Auschwitz and Birkenau). To gain some minute impression of the unimaginable hardships endured go at the height of summer or deepest winter. End the day reflecting on the infinite courage humans are capable of (there are examples of this which shine out like beacons among the cruelty and horror) in one of the many excellent local restaurants in the old Jewish quarter in Krakow. You may never enjoy the taste of food, the warmth of an open fire or the feeling of how lucky we are to be alive more than now.
They call themselves an urban exploration company, and I guess thats a good description. Basically a really cool and different way to explore Santiago and see the city's real side. Foto Ruta offers group events every Saturday which begin with a photography workshop and an introduction to the area, and then in groups people go out with a map and set of clues and explore the city.
I found it to be by far the most interesting activity in Santiago, which doesnt tend to have a huge amount on offer for tourists. So i'd highly recommend it, even to people are arent interested in photography!
Seeing the sun rise at Mount Penanjakan and then climbing 249 concrete steps up to the ridge of Mount Bromo to peer into the active volcano, albeit accompanied by hundreds of other tourists, is on the “to do” list of every visitor to Eastern Java. However, continue your journey by jeep beyond the volcano and you will have the Sea of Sand to yourself, with unique views from within the Tengger caldera of Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java and also an active volcano. You eventually emerge from the desert of ash to be surrounded by verdant hillsides with wild flowers and crazy paving terraces of cultivated farmland. Continue to the 13th century Budhhist temple of Candi Jago in the village of Tumpang, then on to Malang, founded in the 8th century and still displaying its recent Dutch colonial heritage, and you will have encompassed thousands of years of astounding geology and history in a single day.
This online poetry collection of works by local Melbourne spoken word artists and poets is a great way to get a feel for the city and its people. Each poem is inspired by a different place (a statue, a building, a street corner) and the poems have been organised into a series of poetry walks, which you can download as MP3 files. Explore Melbourne through its poets and you'll discover what a creative and inspiring city this is.
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