STOP FOR A FREE TOUR
Escape readers regularly write to us asking how they can make the most of transit time or stopovers. Travellers flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong until February now have a new option, and it won’t cost anything. The airline has collaborated with the Hong Kong Tourism Board to give extended-stay stopover visitors a free sightseeing tour.
Anyone staying in Hong Kong for three nights or more can choose one of four complimentary sightseeing tours including a daylong hop-on, hop-off bus tour or a guided city walk. Travellers with a transit between six and 24 hours until May can get free return Airport Express tickets and discounts on day tours. CATHAYPACIFIC.COM
MELBOURNE, CANBERRA ... HERBERTON
The latest list of Australia’s top museums is out, with the nation’s biggest cities jostling for spots in the top 10 with regional towns.
The National Gallery of Victoria took out the No. 1 spot in the annual TripAdvisor rankings, reaffirming Melbourne’s claim to fame as Australia’s culture capital. And while museums in Sydney, Canberra and Darwin made the list, other state capitals were overlooked in favour of regional centres including Albany in WA, Bendigo in Victoria, and Herberton in Queensland.
Since opening in late 2014, the National Anzac Centre in Albany has wowed visitors with its spectacular location and impressive displays.
Bendigo Art Gallery has forged a name as a destination for touring exhibitions in recent years – the latest which has just opened features Hollywood costumer Edith Head.
Atherton Tablelands town Herberton, population less than 1000, has a historical village set up to recreate a mining town of the 1800s, which has so impressed visitors that its glowing reviews outweigh those of Brisbane’s city museums – none of which rated in the top 10.
PEDAL WITH POWER
Cycling holidays are booming as travellers seek out more adventurous yet relaxed ways to see a destination. But admit it, some people don’t want to work hard for their pleasures.
Electric bikes are exploding in popularity across Europe, according to Australian active holiday specialist UTracks.
UTracks general manager Kate Baker says e-bike sales in Europe have more than doubled from 600,000 in 2010 to 1.35 million in 2016. Germans alone bought more than half a million e-bikes last year.
The surge in popularity has prompted UTracks to offer electric bikes on 80 per cent of its 187 European cycling itineraries next year. “An e-bike can be ridden by almost anyone and makes the journey physically easier without taking away from the adventurous spirit of a cycling trip,” Baker says.
Until October 20, UTracks has 10 per cent off new bookings on European itineraries priced under $2000 a person.
NEW NOT SPOTS
Still in Europe, Intrepid is setting its sights on lesOsnerFatrcaevbeOlOlekd roads in an attempt to@deisrceacpte“.tcrOamff.aicu” away from destinations where overtourism is becoming an issue.
The pressure of tourism is creating tension among locals in hot spots such as Venice, Barcelona and Dubrovnik and in response Intrepid has created a list of European “not spots” to visit in 2018.
“Overtourism is impacting the experience for locals and for travellers,” Intrepid CEO James Thornton says. “So in 2018, we’re encouraging travellers to consider the alternatives.”
Travellers keen on Game of Thrones-type locations who want to see Croatia could look at the castles, coast and monasteries of North Cyprus instead, for example.
Calabria and Sicily in the south of Italy, an alternative to Venice, has dramatic cliffside villages, clear waters and delicious seafood.
The company’s new Europe itinerariesOfnroFmacebOOk
Centra@l Eesucraoppee.ctOom.au Morocco and incorporates Intrepid’s first trip to Cyprus. INTREPIDTRAVEL.COM.AU
HONG KONG Cathay Pacific passengers can experience free sightseeing tours of Hong Kong on stopovers of three nights or more.