A Day Out In London

London is well known for its near-infinite offering of ways to spend your time – from museums to concerts, parks to skyscrapers, it really does have it all. In fact, the worst thing about London is the fact that you’ll never be able to fit in absolutely everything that you wanted to see into your packed holiday schedule. To help you out, we’ve taken a day out of the office to explore the best places to visit in London, even if you’ve only got one day!

 

Everything you see in this list and the video above can be visited in one day and can be seen by any visitor to London for completely free.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-21-57-01

Westminster is probably London’s most famous area, featuring sites such as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Take a stroll across Westminster bridge for a panoramic view of the area or simply take a break and jump in one of the London Eye’s  glass-walled cabins for an unforgettable experience overlooking London in all its splendour.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-21-58-20

Continue walking and you’ll arrive in front of the imposing Buckingham Palace, home to one of London’s most famous residents (the Queen!), venue for royal marriages and landmark historical site. The palace can be visited both on the outside and on the inside (for a fee!), don’t forget to grab a classical photo with one of the guards before leaving the spot.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-21-59-17

St James’s Park is the oldest Royal Park in London. Whilst not the largest, it is abundant in verdant beauty, St James’s Park is the perfect place for an afternoon walk. Take a picnic on the grass and feed the squirrels, or just relax and enjoy the view.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-22-01-41

The Shard is the tallest skyscraper in London and hosts restaurants, offices and hotel rooms. Its eclectic architecture and  mesmerizing views attract millions of tourists every year.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-22-01-05

For another set of arresting views and a hip atmosphere to boot, head towards the Southbank. As you walk, you’ll reach London’s best contemporary art museum – the Tate Modern. Take a few good hours to visit both its temporary and permanent exhibitions and see the work of artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp or Francesca Woodman. Since you’re at the Tate, grab a coffee on the wide terrace and admire once more the beauty of London.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-22-02-04

The Millennium Bridge is a modern construction that connects the Tate Modern with Saint Paul’s cathedral and generally with the northern side of Thames. Once you get to Saint Paul’s, make sure you walk all the way around it as each of its side is as beautiful as its grand entrance. The massive baroque church is absolutely awe-inspiring, with its elegance, architectural precision and sheer size!

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-22-02-50

One of London’s greatest museums, The National Gallery, is situated in the majestic Trafalgar Square. The gallery hosts some of the greatest collections of paintings in the world and presents the works of painters such as Michelangelo, Turner and Van Gogh. With free entrance 361 days a year, there really is no excuse for leaving this off the itinerary.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-22-04-53

It is said that the heart of London beats in Soho and there’s a good reason for it. In Soho you’ll  find everything from eclectic bars and restaurants to chic designer stores and galleries. Here you can find a cosmopolitan mix of cultures, a perfect representation of the essence of London. Connected to Soho by some narrow paved alleys, Chinatown is perhaps the most colorful part of central London. Don’t forget to taste the crispy duck on display in the windows of the restaurants.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-22-05-14

Yes, London is a city with amazing panoramas and there are plenty of options if you just want to gaze at the city from higher grounds. But the view from the Emirates Air Line offers a completely different perspective – that of the financial district of Canary Wharf, not to mention it actually serves as a means of transport and can be used with just the tap of an oyster card.

Secrets of London

Secrets of London


As you know, London is widely revered around the world by lovers of history, culture, food and drink, and is, consequentially, well documented. Despite its popularity to visit and explore, there are still so many lesser-known spots and secrets tucked away from the untrained eye.

We’ve asked a number of London experts, including tour guides, bloggers, journalists, as well as a number of ‘Londoners on the ground’ to tell us about their favourite secret spots in London and why you should visit them. We’ve collected and shared our findings in our new interactive ‘Secrets of London’ scrapbook.  Take a look by clicking on the button below and don’t forget to share!

click_button-1

 

 

Top Things To Do In and Around Taranto

Perhaps not the most renowned destination for an Italian break, Taranto is the perfect place to go during summer if you want to see a truly authentic city that’s yet to be invaded by tourists.

shutterstock_328031336

 

Not your average fishing village

Once a rich and flourishing city of the Roman Empire, then transformed into a fishing village after a dispute with Rome, Taranto has accumulated a strong cultural and traditional heritage. The reason it’s called “The City Of Two Seas” is its strap of land that separates the sea, creating two bays: Mar Grande or the commercial port and Mar Piccolo. The two are connected by the Ponte Girevole, “ponte” meaning bridge. The panorama of the old city form the bridge is worth at least a short photographic moment.

shutterstock_422688820

After crossing the bridge, you’ll encounter the medieval city and its beautiful churches, traditional houses and majestic ruins that remind us of what Taranto once was during the Roman Empire. If this intrigues you then you should definitely go to the National Archaeology Museum to see the well preserved collection of figured objects, fine ancient jewelry and ceramics. After the visit, you’ll realise what a glorious and important Mediterranean hub Taranto was.

The Taranto inhabitants are warm people, proud of their rich traditional cuisine. Just take a walk through the fish market of Taranto to get a sneak peek of what the local restaurants are serving up for dinner. Speaking of which, we highly recommend Al Gatto Rosso restaurant which is an old, unpretentious place where the locals go. Try their specialty of pasta with mussels for an unforgettable dinner.

 

Places of unaltered natural beauty

You can’t go to Taranto without going to the beach. This part of the Ionian coastline has a little something for everyone. Although you’ll love Taranto’s local beaches, we recommend going to Marina di Ginosa for a crystal clear water, sandy beaches and green surroundings. Not far from Marina Ginosa, you’ll find Lake of Salinella. Many tourists come here with their cameras to capture moments of unaltered beauty or for bird watching. The presence of the lake created a microsystem that homes a variety of unique bird species.

shutterstock_357657731

In order to be able to move fast around the spectacular region of Taranto, you should rent a car. In this way you can take a day and take the one-hour drive to the baroque city of Lecce. Puglia is a great region to explore and Lecce is an architectural jewel that you must see if you’re around.  For another day of exploration on your list, there should be the village of Alberobello. There you will find districts of trulli, surreal looking buildings that are specific for the village. The story behind them goes back to the 15th Century, when because of tax reasons, the inhabitants built the conical roofs which could be disassembled easily. Another important fact about the village is that in 1996 it became a UNESCO World Heritage.

In short, Taranto is a small, authentic Italian town which will delight you from your first day. Rent a car with easyCar to give you greater flexibility and the chance to visit its beautiful and unique surroundings.

 

Things to do in London

In recent years, London has become the world’s most visited city, so it is unsurprising that it has some of the best known tourist attractions in the world. There’s Big Ben, the Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament… the list goes on and on. Whilst all these iconic places are popular for good reason and important to tick off your bucket list, there are other lesser known destinations that convey the true charm of the capital. We’ve put together our favourite locations that often go under the tourist radar. To get from A to B, rent a car with easyCar in London – red buses whilst great to take a selfie in front of aren’t always the most reliable form of transport!

 

Best View

shutterstock_373115602

London, like most big cities, is best viewed from above. It is easier to get some perspective on life when everything is laid out like a map beneath you. London had plenty of vantage points – The London Eye, St. Paul’s, Tower Bridge and The Shard being some of the most popular. The locals, however, know that a view is best enjoyed with a drink and a plate of beautifully presented food. Duck and Waffle, Sushi Samba, and Vertigo 42 are all have superb outlooks and menus, but there is one restaurant that really steals the show. Sky Garden is situated in 20 Fenchurch Street (known as the walkie talkie building due to its distinctive shape) and is the highest landscaped public garden in the city. A cross between a space station and a lush tropical garden, the Sky Garden is an oasis in the desert of the city. Visit in the day for free or at dinner time for the price of eating your meal there.  Go in the morning for yoga and brunch, or in the evening on a weekend for live music.

 

Best Market

shutterstock_328403780

London’s wealth of markets cater for a huge range shopper types, ranging from ardent horticulturists to vintage lovers. Camden Lock Market, Columbia Road Market and Borough Market are often those that lure in the most travellers, but there are many other notable markets that are often over looked. Maltby Street Market is not the largest and is often missed off lists of London markets altogether, however it is the unsung hero. Cosier and less crowded than other markets, Maltby Street is a foodie heaven which every Saturday serves up tremendous burgers, falafel, brownies, doughnuts, Vietnamese food and more. For those that are feeling classy, there’s even an a gin bar and an oyster and champagne bar. Restaurants run along either side of the street if you’re after a sit down meal and LASSCO Antiques Shop provides a great place for an after lunch rummage with a treasure trove of vintage and salvaged homeware items.

 

Best Shopping

shutterstock_386103628

Shopping in London for most visitors means being jostled on the busy pavements of Oxford and Regent street. Whilst a walk down these famous roads this is almost like a rite of passage, London offers a quieter and quirkier experience to those that stray slightly off the beaten track. Just a two minute walk from the main shopping thoroughfare, Carnaby Street is stocked with independent shops, bars and restaurants. The broad passageways are pedestrianised, so you can switch off and glide from cute boutique to eccentric designer store with worrying about speeding motorbikes and black cabs. A ten minute walk east will bring you to Burlington Arcade. A beautiful relic of a London gone by, Burlington Arcade was the world’s first shopping arcade and is now filled with upmarket jewellery and fashion shops. Decorated with wrought iron lamps and ornamental foliage, Burlington is patrolled by beadles in frockcoat uniforms and top hats. Another ten minutes of walking will land you in Covent Garden. Skip the touristy Apple Market Stalls, and find Neal’s Yard (a calm paradise in the middle of the city). Shop in this colourful square for excellent cheese at Neal’s Yard Dairy, health food at Wild Food Cafe and natural remedies at Neal’s Yard.

 

Best Theatre

shutterstock_190248704

When in London, it is tempting to see an award winning musical, but there are plenty of other theatres that put on raw, avant-garde and edgy performances. Visit the pile of concrete Jenga blocks that is the National Theatre to watch something darkly comic or see a reimagining of the bard’s great work at Shakespeare’s Globe. For classical music lovers and ballet fans, there are shows the Royal Opera House and for drama enthusiasts plays the Playhouse Theatre or The Old Vic. What ever you pick just be prepared to be captivated, entranced and riveted by what the London stage has to offer.

 

Next time you hit the capital don’t forget our advice. Leave the hoards of bum bag wearing, camera toting tourists behind and join the locals in enjoying the best bits of central London.

Book in London today

Things to do in Alicante

What’s there to do in Alicante? A better question is what isn’t there! Normally associated with its fabulous nightlife, and miles of sandy beaches, Alicante has something for everyone. The city caters for adrenaline junkies, nature enthusiasts, the explorers, and the city break lovers all with complete ease. Pick the role best suited to you and you’ll have no difficulty finding tailor made activities. Or better yet, hire a car with easyCar in Alicante and sample a few!

 

The Adrenaline Junky

The Costa Blanca’s water is its playground and there is no better place to dive into the great blue yonder. Famed for its crystal clear waters and sandy shores, the islet of Tabarca is a forty minute boat drive from Alicante. The island is a protected marine reserve, so the snorkelling and scuba diving are out of this world! Sink down to the depths to admire the diverse flora and fauna, resurfacing for a caldero or paella lunch at one of Tabarca’s excellent seafood restaurants. Still bursting with energy? Test out the water sports, go for a swim, or try you hand at cove jumping.

 

The Nature Enthusiast

shutterstock_407823772

Commune with nature in Canelobre Caves. A thirty minute drive from Alicante, these natural caves have been formed by seven million years of erosion and are some of the largest open to the public. Head down the 141 stairs into the depths and marvel at the stalactites, stalagmites and other unusual rock formations. Named after a candelabra-shaped stalagmite, the limestone caves also boast jellyfish-shaped and dragon-shaped rocks. Illuminated by beautiful coloured light displays, the caves are given an added dimension by the shifting patterns and shadows cast by the lamps. Concerts are often performed here as the vaults provide amazing acoustics. Nature lovers won’t want to miss out on a chance to see the caves’ stunning surroundings by hiking to the top of Cabeço d’Or.

 

The Explorer

shutterstock_217401088

Perched atop a mountain looking out over waterfalls, mountains, and a reservoir, Guadalest is an explorer’s dream. This picture perfect village is on all the Costa Blanca postcards and is one of areas most visited locations. A trip is well worth the hour long drive from Alicante and there are plenty of viewing points to stop at en route. The village has a whooping nine museums including Orduña House, a four level residence built in the 17th Century. There’s also a castle, a fortress, a church and plentiful small shops selling local produce, so you won’t be wanting for things to see whilst there!

shutterstock_385560940

A half hour drive from Alicante (or just over an hour from Guadalest) are the Palm Groves of Elche. You’ll know you’re on the right track as the number of roadside palm trees slowly begins to increase as you travel! Known as the ‘City of Palms’, Elche’s groves date back to the Arab occupation of the 10th Century and their agricultural and irrigation work in the area. This veritable jungle is an ideal place for an explorer to spend an hour, or possibly two with a picnic. Alongside the date palms there are exotic plants, citrus trees, statues, decorative buildings, water features and a dove house. If you are after fancier fare than a humble picnic, then you can’t go far wrong with the daintily presented food at nearby restaurant Els Capellans.

 

The City Break Lover

shutterstock_297745274

Holidays needed be all go, go, go. Make some time to stay local and wander Alicante’s city centre. A great first port of call for a stroll is Explanada de Espana – one of the city’s oldest and most famous promenades. There are an impressive 6.5 million blue, red and white tiles which form the shapes of rippled waves on the beautiful mosaicked floor. There is nothing nicer than walking in the dappled sunlight created by the long lines of palm trees or stopping for a sit down and a chat on one of the avenue’s wooden chairs.  Need a refreshing hochata or an ice cream to cool yourself down? Kiosco Peret has the best that can be found and has been serving it for over a hundred years!  Sit on the terrace and lick a cone while looking out over Postiguet beach and the harbour.

Still got some strength in your pins? Quick march to Barrio Santa Cruz (the old quarter). This beautiful and unusual district has the feeling of a coastal village despite its city location. The quaint, whitewashed buildings here are decorated with love; colourful flowers spill over from the numerous plant pots attached to the house fronts, railings and balconies, and there are an abundance of religious icons and patterned titles. The neighbourhood is a pleasant one and the local run coffee shops and bars are excellent places to stop for a quick breather before darting off down another alleyway.

 

Book in Alicante today

 

Things to do in Milan

 

When one thinks of Milan, one often thinks of only one thing… fashion. And it is true, for out of this world shopping Milan has few rivals, but there is so much more on offer in this busy metropolis. So see the art, see the architecture, and be sure you see the city’s surroundings.

 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Whilst not quite the oldest shopping centre in the world, Galleria Vittoria Emmanuele certainly makes the top ten list. Designed by Mengoni in 1877, the galleria was opened without the architect’s presence as he had tumbled to his death from his own construction just days before its completion!

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

The beautiful structure with its high glass domed roof offers photo opportunities galore. For those with loaded wallets, there are a fantastic array of luxury shop ranging from mid-range designer brands to top of the range clothing boutiques. For those not quite so willing to splash out on designer gear, the galleria is right next to the Duomo with views over its roof tops. There are plenty of affordable places to eat in the galleria and there is no better way to kill an hour than window-shopping and people-watching from one of the bars or restaurants.

Hidden amongst the mosaics on the floor of the galleria is an image of a bull to represent the tradition of bull fighting in the city. It is a popular tourist ritual to spin on your heel on the bull’s testicles grant yourself good luck. Unfortunately, repeated heel grinding over the years has worn a hole into this mosaic work!

 

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como has something to offer for both the summer and winter visitor.  Make the one hour drive out from Milan to enjoy the lakeside scenery and the stylish town of Como itself. The third largest Italian lake, Lake Como is popular with watersports and boating enthusiasts, with sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing on offer in the summer and more peaceful cruises and gondola rides in the winter.  At Christmas time there is even skating on the lake!

There are great shops and restaurants in the city of Como along with two historical sites (the Basilica of Sant’Abbondio and Villa Olmo) which are both worth sticking your nose into. For refreshments on the lake, Lido di Lenno is the place.  The bar and restaurant has its own manmade beach perfect for dabbling your toes in the water as you drink and there is a natural beach of the same name to bask on after you have rehydrated and re-energised.  If you make it to the fork in the lake, stop in the pretty town of Bellagio for a look around and to enjoy the colourful waterside houses.

 

The Last Supper

The Last Supper

A trip to see Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ is on many people’s ‘bucket lists’ and so it’s not surprising that it is often difficult to gain tickets. Fortunately, viewing groups are limited, so if you are lucky enough to secure a ticket, you will usually get a quiet and unobstructed viewing experience.  Situated inside the food hall of Santa Maria delle Grazie, this vast masterpiece is breathtakingly beautiful and fragile. The painting is constantly being restored due to the painting technique used to create it, the rough treatment it received during the Napoleonic war, the collapse of the convent during the bombing in World War II, and poor restoration work in the 19th Century. The painting shows the moment of Christ’s betrayal by Judas and is a wonderful study of human emotion and, like da Vinci’s other masterpieces, leaves a lasting impression on a observer.

 

Monumental Cemetery

Monumental Cemetery

Monumental in both name and nature, this colossal cemetery sits a fifteen minute drive from the city centre. Whilst graveyards are not normally a destination for holidaymakers, Monumental Cemetery is one of a kind and should not be missed.  The scale of the place hits you at the imposing entrance gates and continues throughout as you wend your way past over ornate tombs and the human sized statues of angels, nymphs, soldiers and Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Some of the family mausoleums are even as large as small houses! If you don’t make it to see The Last Supper in the flesh, then there is a bronze version to be admired at the cemetery. Admission is free and you can easily spend several hours exploring without seeing all there is to see.

Book in Milan today

 

Things to do in Portofino

 

Portofino is a small fishing village but there are an abundance of things to do there. Of course, there are some people that have always ‘been there and done that’ –  no matter what the destination! They’ve wandered the gardens of Montallegro Sanctuary, had lunch on the quayside at Piazza Martiri Dell’Olivetta, gone kayaking along the Portofino coastline and have a wardrobe of T-shirts to prove it. There is nothing special about these people, other than that they have made the right choices to get to the good stuff, like renting with easyCar.  So, escape the confines of the hotel pool and make sure you see all there is to see in Portofino with a set of your own wheels.

 

Religious Buildings

San Giorgio

If tranquillity and peace are what you seek, then Portofino is the place for you. The village has a number of beautiful religious buildings in even more beautiful settings. As you meander towards the Italian coastal village in your hire car you will find the strikingly striped church of San Martino, which is definitely worth a pit stop before you head into the village proper. The church boasts a lavishly decorated interior with stained glass, mosaics, and a decorated ceiling. There are great views over the harbour and across to the Church of San Giorgio.

Rebuilt several times over the years, but most recently in the 1950s, the Church of San Giorgio is, in contrast, much more minimal. San Giorgio’s mustard coloured exterior is simple and relatively unadorned and this style is reflected in its stark white interior.  Enjoy exploring the gardens, the cemetery, and the monochrome courtyard paved with a geometric design. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the vistas out over Portofino Bay and the Mediterranean sea beneath you.

Montallegro Sanctuary

A hour long drive from Portofino is the Montallegro Sanctuary at Rapallo. Catch a cable car from Rapallo and ascend into the clouds. Built in 1558 with a white Italian marble frontage, Montallegro Sanctuary makes for a peaceful and relaxing visit. The views of the sea and the mountains on the ride up are fantastic on a clear day and can also be enjoyed, once at the top, from the rear of the monastery itself.  If you have made it to the back of the sanctuary be sure to hunt out the one of the excellent local restaurants, concealed down a path amongst the woodland. After you have explored the church, the gardens are very pleasant to walk in and nature feels very close at hand with the thick surrounding forest. Savour this little idyll before returning on a funicular or hiking back down the hill.

 

Outdoor Fun in Portofino

Kayaking in Portofino

Kayaking in Portofino is an ideal activity for both peaceful paddlers or a mad splashers. Glide along the Italian coast and see the caverns, coves and creeks of this picturesque peninsula . Take kayaking tour to the secluded San Fruttuoso beach monastery, once frequented only by fishermen, and then refuel at one of the cove’s many restaurants. Armed with a kayak you can even venture up to Portofino National Park, something that other boats are not permitted to do due to the fact that the area’s marine life is protected. If you’re less of a fan of the structured approach, rent your kayaks instead and explore for yourselves. Another great way to see some of the Italian Riviera and to burn off some pent-up steam is by bike. Liguria, the crescent moon shaped area of Italian coastline, has a smooth cycling pathway that can be traversed by all the family. Look out at the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean as the coast’s fuchsia coloured flowers sway in the breeze created as you peddle past. Plenty of cycle hire points offer child seats, trikes and tandems, so even the littlest cyclists can get involved!

 

Al Fresco Eating

Al Fresco Eating in Portofino

Portofino is one of those places that gives you a feeling of real decadence and no place more so than Piazza Martiri Dell’Olivetta. Lined with boutiques, designer shops and art galleries, and with its water studded with luxury mega yachts, you can find no better spot for a bite of lunch than this waterside piazza. The quayside is surrounded by red, green and yellow buildings decorated with frescos. The restaurants offer all the Italian classics along with traditional Ligurian fare and unmissable refresh seafood. Try Taverna del Marinaio for their friendly atmosphere or Da Puny for their unusual antipasto della casa and shrimp curry risotto.  Portofino is home to Armami, Dolce and Gabbana during the summer months and the village has drawn celebrities and royalty to its shores for decades. So you never know, you might be having a coffee and pasta next to a superstar!

 

Views

Castello Brown

Portofino is great close up and superb from a distance. When it comes to views this little village has some to make your eyes boggle, and you needn’t go too far to find them either. Faro di Portofino is a lighthouse on the end of a promontory.  Once you have climbed up to the top of the peninsula here are wonderful views back over Portofino and a restaurant bar to enjoy drinks, ice cream and light nibbles whilst admiring water. If you are still feeling full of zip then continue on your trek to Castello Brown. The walk itself is very pretty and the olive tree covered castle grounds are littered with perfect photo opportunities with the distant Portofino marina as a magnificent backdrop.

[mappress mapid=”1″]

And there you go, one car, one amazing holiday and a load of things ticked off your bucket list that you can happily brag about on your return!

Rent a car in Portofino

Glen Coe

Things To Do In Glasgow

Glasgow is a city of artists and art galleries; of fisheries and seafood restaurants; of music and whiskey. On top of all this, its surroundings are some of the most beautiful in the world. There is an overwhelming amount of things to do in, and around, Scotland’s most fashionable city. Rent a car in Glasgow with easyCar and experience the best of Scotland’s urban and rural attractions, at your own pace.

 

Wander down Ashton Lane at Night

Skip across the cobbled street after sunset to experience late-night folk music alongside some fine Scottish whiskeys and delicacies. Rows of restaurants sit beneath a ceiling of fairy lights. Head to the Grosvenor Café, a bar-cum-cinema with a nice atmosphere on a weekday night or for the independent arts market on Sundays. The space is very child-friendly with face painting at the weekend. For a more refined experience, head to The Ubiquitous Chip to taste regional Scottish cuisine. With vines dripping down the inside-walls, the décor has a Mediterranean greenhouse feel.

Ashton Lane

 

Visit Glasgow’s on trend area, Finnieston

Once the area was a magnet for dockworkers, seeking out more salacious kinds of nocturnal entertainment. Now low rents have attracted an artsy crowd. Pop up bars and restaurants rub shoulders with independent shops on “The strip”. Pop into the Kelvingrove Café for a cocktail (there are virgin options available for the designated driver), it is the unofficial community hub of the area. Then explore The Hidden Lane, a collection of creative studios and artisan businesses. For a nice meal, head for the trendy The Gannet restaurant set in a sweeping, mahogany warehouse with floor to ceiling windows. Order the lamb from the Scottish borders. Or for something less pretentious, Old Salty’s has a great reputation for fish and chips.

 

Take a cruise of the River Clyde.

The river is central to Glasgow’s existence and it is Scotland’s second biggest. Trace its history back to its shipbuilding days, when it was an artery of trade. A 90 minute tour on the Clyde with Clyde Cruises gives you a unique perspective of the city; its bridges and its waterfront architecture in particular. Glide past the glass cube that is the BBC Scotland building and hop off at The River Museum, designed by world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid and sculpted like a jagged wave. The exhibitions are focused on transport; great if you want to see some of the world’s finest cars.

River Clyde

 

Take a day trip to Glen Coe

Just over 2 hour drive away from central Glasgow, you will find the remains of an ancient super volcano which is thought to have erupted 420 million years ago. Glen Coe is a glen of volcanic origins, set in the breath-taking landscape of the Scottish Highlands. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the UK. The green, craggy mounds form a U-shape, moulded by an ice age glacier. Head north west to discover Loch Leven as it shimmers beneath cold, clear skies – flanked by rolling hills. Join the 85,000 walkers who come each year to walk the West Highland Way or climb the Devil’s Staircase. Have some food at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe village before driving back to Glasgow.

Glen Coe

 

Indulge in Scottish seafood.

Fish is one of Scotland’s culinary highlights. It’s no real surprise with the country’s miles of rugged coastline and its endless network of rivers. Traditional smokehouses litter the landscape. Curious to see where your smoked salmon comes from? Organise a visit to the Inverawe smokery and fishery, where you can feed the fish, visit the trout lochs or the Salmon River. If you like your fish ready to eat, stick to Glasgow itself where you can find plenty of top class seafood restaurants. The Mussel Inn offers the city’s best mussels and a delicious range of sauces for good prices. At the Fish People Café you can get anything from Cullen skink to Shetland cod and Loch Fyne smoked salmon. Feeling inspired to make your own? Pop into the fishmongers next door. For a younger, hipper vibe try the Crabshack which is a refreshing addition to the traditional scene of Scottish fish restaurants. Here you’ll find a great selection with a modern twist.

Escape the confines of the Scottish public transport network and avoid the cold Glaswegian bus stops – choose easyCar for your car rental in Glasgow.

Book in Glasgow today

Kelingrove art gallery

Cultural Guide To Glasgow

Glasgow has a reputation for “scuzzy-chic”. It’s not posh but it’s certainly stylish. Art runs through the city’s veins: it’s everywhere – in the countless free museums and painted on the city’s streets. To get a peak at it all, your best bet is renting a car in Glasgow with easyCar.

Scotland’s largest city now boasts the UK’s largest contemporary art scene outside London and at the centre of the city’s universe is The Glasgow School of Art. The building is considered to be the masterpiece of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Glasgow’s celebrity-architect.

Not only does the art school churn out waves of well-dressed students, it also generates a remarkable amount of Turner Prize winning artists; from Richard Wright and Simon Starling to Douglas Gordon. Other famous graduates include Jenny Saville and David Shrigley.

Cheap rent means many artists stay here after university, cementing the city’s creative atmosphere and forming an art scene that extends beyond the student community.

Kelingrove art gallery

Learn more about Scotland’s un-reported art scene in the city’s extensive range of galleries. See the diverse, international collection at Kelvingrove art gallery; visit GoMa, Scotland’s most visited contemporary art gallery and don’t forget the People’s Palace, set on the picturesque Glasgow Green alongside the grand Royal Doulton Fountain.

Glasgow hasn’t always been a beacon of creativity. After the decline of its ship-building industry, the city became grey and depressing. Tenement slum-housing was swapped for high-rise tower blocks, changing the city’s sky line and breaking apart long-standing communities. Neglect and poor urban-design began to breed crime and widespread deprivation.

But the 80s and 90s were Glasgow’s turning point. The city was determined to change, not to resign itself to irrelevance. A financial district started to emerge, reinvigorating the local economy and architecture became its new focus – the city’s sandstone started to share space with monuments to glass and steel. Now its cityscape is a medley of modernity, Victorian buildings, art nouveau design and Italianate palazzo frontages.

By 1990, Glasgow was named the European City of Culture, the first UK city to become a cultural capital, confirming its reputation as a centre of the arts. After that, an avalanche of awards followed.  In 1999 it was branded City of Architecture and Design and in 2003, it was European Capital of Sport. In 2014 it became the location for the Commonwealth games.

St Mungo Museum

Unexpectedly, Glasgow has a rich and diverse religious history, stretching to the modern day. Explore the entire spectrum; from the Scottish reformation and the arrival of Irish Catholic immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries to the more recent arrival of a Muslim minority and a catholic-protestant tension crystallising in football clubs and separate state schools. Visit the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art in the Cathedral Precinct in the east end. Here you can find beautiful religious art and artefacts.

Yes, Glasgow has had its gloomy periods, but it’s always been a sociable city filled with music. In the 1920s, it had more ballrooms and dance halls than anywhere in the UK. The Glaswegians are a resilient bunch: thousands kept dancing throughout the ‘40s as German bombers roared overhead.

For music lovers, it is still a place with an overwhelming amount of options to choose from. For a bohemian haunt try SWG3, found in an archway by the motorway. Here find artist studios, a gallery, as well as gig and club nights.  For a more intimate evening head to The Poetry Club, a speakeasy-style bar with spoken word and small parties. Or re-live punk at The Classic Grand or Nice n Sleazy.

Glasgow Concert Hall

For visitors who like to sit down while they listen to their music, there’s The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, home to The Royal Scottish National Orchestra or The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – a college which also puts on public performances. Every year, in June, the Glasgow International Jazz Festival descends on the city. And traditional Scottish folk music is never far away.

Celtic Connections is another authentic Scottish music festival, offering over 300 Celtic music events every January.

Culture-hungry visitors have a lot to pack into their Glasgow trip. Renting a car in Glasgow with easyCar so you can see as much as possible.

Book in Glasgow today

Edinburgh Castle

Things To Do In Edinburgh

 

Edinburgh is the UK’s jewel in the North. Often overlooked by visitors in favour of better-known London, Scotland’s capital city is a hive of history and culture. Renting a car in Edinburgh is simple with easyCar, visitors can explore every nook and cranny in the densely packed city as well as dipping in and out of the thistle encrusted wilderness beyond the city’s borders.

 

Climb Arthur’s Seat

Looming above Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat. The dormant volcano rises out of the urban sprawl; a Scottish giant carved out of the rock. Sitting within the 640 acre Holyrood Park, it offers stunning views of the city and a taster of the wild Scottish landscape that lies beyond the capital. Explore Arthur’s Seat by foot; drive to the Scottish Parliament to start your walk to the top. As you climb higher and higher, spot the river Forth, the wind turbines of Fife; the Pentland Hills and Edinburgh Castle. The best aerial view of the city by far.

Arthur's seat

Get lost in Edinburgh’s Medieval Heartland

Descend into the vaults and wynds – aka narrow lanes – of Edinburgh’s old town. The area stretches along a high ridge, leading to Edinburgh castle. The winding cobbled alleyways unveil hidden courtyards and reformation-era tenement buildings. Quaint shops, churches and early high rise buildings also line the streets. Visitors can even explore underground, as beneath the old town a warren of underground streets exists. Mary King’s Close was, in the 17th and 19th century, a bustling hive of activity – people lived, worked and died in its subterranean passageways. In the 1600s, the streets were open to the skies and traders would come here to sell their goods.

Now a tourist attraction, Mary King’s Close is rich with tales of plague, murder and ghost sightings. Its reputation for hauntings is thought to originate from its proximity to the old Nor Loch – once a heavily polluted marsh. Biogas from the marsh would escape into the close, creating an eerie light and sometimes causing hallucinations.

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Dominating the city’s skyline is Edinburgh Castle. Occupied since the iron age, it is a monument to Edinburgh’s rich history which fascinates tourists from all over the world. An important stronghold for the Kingdom of Scotland, it has played a role in many of the country’s conflicts – from the Wars of Scottish Independence to the Jacobite Rising. Recent research indicates that the fortress may be the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world; it has been involved in 26 sieges in 1100 years.

Inside the castle, find the Crown Jewels of Scotland (the Honours) and the Stone of Destiny – over the years this block of Sandstone has become a holy relic and a symbol of Scottish nationhood.

Edinburgh Castle

Feast on Scottish delicacies

If the Scots know one thing, it’s whiskey. Bars in Edinburgh revel in the opportunity to introduce visitors to Scotland’s favourite drink. One of the best is the Whiski Bar – a cosy spot on the Royal Mile, with its dark mahogany decor and a back wall dense with whiskey bottles. Its mission is to be as Scottish as possible and every evening, folk music rings out from the corner of the pub. Soak up the whiskey with Whiski Bar’s fish and chips or head down the road to the Royal McGregor for a taste of another Scottish delicacy: Haggis. Not recommended for vegetarians or fussy eaters, haggis is made of sheep’s or calf’s offal with suet, oatmeal, and seasoning. It may sound disgusting but it is in fact, delicious – particularly after a cold day climbing up and down the old town’s uncountable steps. Here, the haggis is served in a tower of neeps and tatties, drizzled in Rosemary gravy. If you’re not ready to commit to a whole plate of Haggis, try the Haggis Fritters or the highland burger with Haggis and Whiskey sauce.

Visit YouTube-famous pandas at Edinburgh Zoo

On the south slopes of the Corstorphine Hill, smugly overlooking the city, sits Edinburgh Zoo. World famous, thanks to its two giant pandas – swaggering male, Sunshine and cheeky female, Sweetie. Constantly in the news, these pandas are national celebrities and YouTube stars. The pair are often caught on camera doing ninja rolls or feasting on ice cream. Since they came to Edinburgh in 2003, they’ve captured Scotland’s hearts. Sunshine and Sweetie, however, are only on loan from a breeding centre in China, so make sure you see them before they return home. These are the UK’s only giant pandas and Edinburgh is also home to the UK’s only koalas. The zoo’s international reputation means it is Scotland’s second most popular tourist attraction after Edinburgh castle.

Edinburgh Zoo

Make all of the above possible with your rental car in Edinburgh with easyCar.

 

The Scott Monument

Cultural Guide To Edinburgh

 

“Welcome to Edinburgh”. The words ring out across the city’s sandstone buildings, printed on purple signs reminiscent of the Scottish thistle. The Scots pride themselves on their national identity, so their capital city has evolved into a monument to Scottish-ness.

Scotland may sit within the borders of the United Kingdom, but the country has an entirely different cultural and political perspective to England and Wales. This singularity creates a unique holiday destination; making it popular with tourists. In 2011, it became the second most visited city in the UK, after London. Rent a car in Edinburgh with easyCar to get out into the country and really experience it yourself.

Use Edinburgh’s history to explore the tumultuous relationship between Scotland and England, which stretches on today – the country still reverberates from last year’s referendum and the sharp rise of the Scottish National Party in May’s election. In 1707, the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote: “We are bought and sold for English gold. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.”

Scotland and England were constantly locked in bloody battles, both before and after the union was created, but Scottish history is about more than just conflict. Other key historical moments include the establishment of Protestantism during the Scottish Reformation, the Union of Crowns where the monarchies of England and Scotland were united, the Scottish Enlightenment and the recovery of the city after World War One.

Edinburgh Fringe

Every August the city becomes crammed with visitors from all over the world – they come for Edinburgh’s International Festival. The city’s cultural scene, however, does not just evaporate once August is over. It lives on, vibrantly holding its own on the world stage.

Edinburgh is packed with museums – The Museum on the Mound exists in the bowels of the Lloyds Bank’s Scottish HQ and is an excellent place to visit if you are interested in how money evolved over 4,000 years. If you’ve never seen £1m in the flesh before, here’s your chance.

Remember Dolly the Sheep? She was the first animal to ever be cloned back in 1996. She might have died in 2003 but her body has been stuffed and can now be seen in Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland, alongside T-rex skeletons and the jawbone of a sperm whale.

The Scottish National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy both have impressive international collections, with a special focus on Scottish artists. In the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, see portraits of famous Scots – from Sean Connery (aka James Bond) to Mary Queen of Scots.

Contemporary art also has a strong presence in the city. Collective is a progress organisation, set up in the 80s, that focuses on collaboration and experimentation. It has become a hub for bright new talent, so head here to get a glimpse of the future of Scottish art. Ingleby is another forward-looking gallery that is well worth a visit –  known for its bold, unashamed adoption of conceptual, cutting edge artists.

The Scott Monument

For something more children-friendly, visit Camera obscura – a novelty gallery packed with optical illusions. This is the Alice in Wonderland of the art-world; the interactive exhibits include tricks where you can pick up passers-by in your hand, descend into psychedelic wormholes and tower over someone of the same height. If the visual stimulation becomes overwhelming, take a lunch break and come back later – your ticket lasts all day.

Edinburgh is more than just a city of art, it’s a city of literature. In 2004, it became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, further cementing its reputation. It was once the home to great writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and Muriel Spark.

Sir Walter Scott is given pride of place in the city – the Scott Monument is the largest monument given to a writer in the world. Climb its narrow spiral staircases to get a panoramic view of the city and look out for the 64 characters from his novels, carved into the sandstone.

Edinburgh is not a complacent city; it continues to build its literary legacy. It was here, in the city’s cafes, where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter and it is also home to Ian Rankin, the Scottish Crime writer and the imagination behind Inspector Rebus.

Forth Bridge

Take a drive over the iconic Forth Bridge, on the edges of Edinburgh, to witness what was regarded as an engineering marvel when it was built in the 60s. In 2016, the Bridge will become dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians when The Queensferry Crossing is opened. At 2.7km, the new crossing is to be the longest bridge of its kind in the world – revealing how Edinburgh is keen to continue making its presence felt on the international stage. Now all that’s left is your transport, hire a car in Edinburgh for the best experience.

 

Manchester quays

5 things to do in Manchester

 

Manchester is world renowned for many things, but most notably for its music, football and science. The spirit of these comparative advantages dominate the city, and Manchester is constantly reinventing itself. The city offers an array of fantastic attractions for visitors and locals alike, blending innovative and modern urban redevelopment with an industrial past.

In recent decades, the city has been challenging Birmingham for second-city status in the UK with a series of prestigious developments. Examples include the BBC moving a large chunk of their operations to MediaCity in Salford, as well as Manchester City rising to become a serious force in English and world football. Add in a huge student population, buzzing music scene and an ever-growing range of museums and you’ll start to understand how Manchester is taking the 21st century in its stride.

With so much going on, we’ve created a bespoke to do list with five of our highlights from the “capital of the north.”

 

Watch the water

Manchester quays

Although Manchester lies just over 25 miles inland from the coast, it is still bursting with water features, from its tastefully redeveloped quays to the extensive canal system that snakes around the city.

Once a bustling dockland, Manchester’s Quays have now been transformed from an abandoned post-industrial wasteland into a glittering modern waterfront complete with ample shopping, restaurants and entertainment, all just a short walk from the city centre. A night time trip comes highly recommended, as the reflection of the lights on the water is a truly special sight.

Another aquatic relic from the city’s past is also being refreshed in the form of the canal system (once the largest of its kind in the world).  Stylish waterside apartments are springing up next to the canals, and on a sunny day you can enjoy a relaxing walk down the tow paths or even book a cruise with friends.

 

Get lost in Manchester’s music mecca

The Smiths, Oasis and The Stone Roses are just some of the stratospheric musical successes Manchester can boast as its own, and although its music scene has had less iconic exports of late, it is still alive in the form a great gig venues & record shops.

Eastern Bloc, Vinyl Exchange and Piccadilly Records are must-sees for any music addict, sporting characteristic collections of everything from Dutch Uncles to Dire Straits. The mere fact that these institutions have weathered the turbulent transition from physical to online music consumption proves that they still offer something unique for music fans. Kingbee Records, just a short drive outside the city centre, is also a hidden gem. Get your car rental in Manchester with easyCar for the most competitive rates.

Some great venues such as Gorilla and The Ritz, complement these resilient record stores, hosting the best local and global talent all year round.

 

Marvel at the museums

Manchester is continuing to build up its world-class cultural portfolio with a host of museums and exhibitions to suit a variety of tastes.

History buffs won’t want to miss out on the University’s Manchester Museum, which specialises in Egyptology but also houses collections of Roman, Greek and Byzantine artefacts, as well as collections on zoology and earth sciences amongst other things.

Those more fond of aesthetics than ancients will want to head for the Whitworth Gallery, which was recently given the prestigious museum of the year award by the Art Fund. The museum hosts a variety of historic and contemporary exhibitions as well as innovative events such as “Art Picnics,” where people can “eat, chat…” and “make” together in the park (weather permitting!).

Whitworth Gallery

Political aficionados should visit the People’s Museum which celebrates democracy through exhibitions on human history and struggles, whilst the Imperial War Museum North takes visitors on a journey through military history and is housed in an impressive “aluminium clad” building facing the waterfront.

 

Enjoy afternoon tea in the Northern Quarter

London may be experiencing a coffee revolution, but up in Manchester things are more in keeping with British traditions, as tea is moving out of the living room and into stylish venues in the city’s hip Northern Quarter.

Teacup Kitchen blazed the trail after being set up by brew loving beats master Mr Scruff in 2005. Here you’ll find an exceptionally friendly atmosphere, with a more down to earth feel than its more caffeinated southern cousins and a menu offering everything from simple sourdough toast to toffee apple cake or fully blown afternoon tea.

Sugar Junction is another local favourite, boasting 25 different tea blends and opening hours lasting into the night for those looking to extend their afternoon break.

 

Head for the Theatre… of dreams

Old Trafford

No guide to Manchester would be complete without a mention of the beautiful game. With the city now boasting two footballing giants in United and City, the longstanding rivalry between red and blue has never been more fierce or more competitive.

Enjoy a stadium tour of Old Trafford or the Etihad, to witness what goes on behind the scenes at championship winning clubs, or visit the National Museum of Football for an in depth journey through every aspect of the game.

While Manchester may not be the largest UK city, perhaps the best way to get around would be to rent a car in Manchester. For the best rates around, go via easyCar.