STOP FOR A FREE TOUR

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL NEWS - SU­SAN BUGG

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.

UTRACKS.COM

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

PIC­TURE: ISTOCK

HONG KONG Cathay Pa­cific pas­sen­gers can ex­pe­ri­ence free sight­see­ing tours of Hong Kong on stopovers of three nights or more.

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