France plans to be nicer to travellers, Icelandic ‘elf chapel’ is saved, Bali eco festival kicks off and free New York trips excite London

Get the best travel news here curated by Lonely Planet Destination Editors, who use their expertise to bring you the stories that matter from all over the world. In today’s edition: France plans to boost tourism numbers by being kinder, Icelandic campaigners win battle to save ‘elf chapel’ from being destroyed in road construction, the eco festival returns to Bali and  a yellow cab PR stunt with trips to New York excites London travellers.

Asia & the Pacific
The Americas
Middle East & Africa


20 June is …

World Refugee Day

Flag Day, Argentina

Gas Sector Day, Azerbaijan


Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Europe Destination Editors: Jo CookeJames SmartBrana VladisavljevicKate MorganAnna Tyler and Gemma Graham.

Gare du Nord, Paris. Image by Charles Hutchins / CC BY 2.0
Gare du Nord, Paris. Image by Charles Hutchins / CC BY 2.0

France’s big tourism strategy unveiled: be nicer
At a national conference on tourism in France on Thursday, the government revealed their plan to boost tourism numbers is by being nicer. The reputation of surly attitudes towards tourists needs to be eradicated, it was said. Other plans include renovating the Gare du Nord train station and having more shops in tourist zones open on Sundays. Read more:

Art Basel in full swing with $35 million Warhol sale
Europe’s premier contemporary art fair, Art Basel, kicked off this week in Basel, Switzerland. Over 300 galleries from around the world are exhibiting works at the 45th edition of the event where a self portrait by Andy Warhol has sold for $35 million. Tickets are still available and the fair runs until Sunday. Read more:

Moscow celebrates 50 years of James Bond with major exhibition
A major exhibition called ‘Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style’ celebrating 50 years of James Bond movies has opened at the Multimedia Arts Museum in Moscow and will run until September 7. The exhibition is spread across 12 theme rooms showcasing 23 movies, and features around 500 props, costumes, photographs and other Bond memorabilia. Read more:

Athens and Barcelona recognised as best big airports in Europe
The annual ACI (Airports Council International) Europe Best Airport Awards, held in Frankfurt, have revealed this year’s winners in  four major airport traffic categories, based on factors such as security and customer service. Barcelona’s El Prat Airport is the best in the ‘more than 25 million passengers’ category, and Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport is the winner in the ‘10-25 million passenger’ category. Oslo Airport has won the special Eco-Innovation Award. Read more:

Brunelleschi’s Duomo, Florence. Image by Glen Bowman / CC BY-SA 2.0
Brunelleschi’s Duomo, Florence. Image by Glen Bowman / CC BY -SA 2.0

Solstice phenomenon at Florence’s Duomo
Each year during the summer solstice the sun’s rays falling through Brunelleschi’s famous dome at Florence’s Duomo project a perfect solar disk onto the circular marble plate on the floor of the Chapel of the Cross. The phenomenon only lasts a few minutes, but happens twice each year: between 12.30 and 1.30pm on June 21 and 28. Read more:

Croatia’s first water park opens this weekend
The first ever water park in Croatia is due to open to the public this Saturday in Brtonigla, in northwestern Istria. The huge Aquapark Istralandia, which cost €100 million to build, has 1.2km of water slides, a wave pool and a hydromassage pool for adults, and is expected to attract around 100,000 visitors this summer. Read more:

Airline brings taxi-cab madness to London streets
Virgin Atlantic have brought a fleet of yellow New York cabs to London – and anyone who successfully hails one will be ferried to Heathrow for a free weekend break in New York City. The PR stunt has attracted huge amounts of Twitter interest, with hopeful travellers roaming London’s streets in the hope of catching one of the iconic cabs. Read more:

Icelandic highway gets go-ahead thanks to elf chapel rescue plan
An Icelandic highway whose construction was halted after campaigners warned it would disturb the local elves is now going ahead. The road, connecting Reykjavík and the Álftanes peninsula, would have destroyed an ‘elf chapel’, a 4m-high chunk of volcanic rock. The 70-tonne rock will now be moved by crane. Surveys suggest that over half of Icelanders believe in elves. Read more:


Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Asia & the Pacific Destination Editors: Megan EavesSarah ReidJoe BindlossLaura Crawford and Tasmin Waby.

Surfers and sunbathers on Legian Beach. Image by eoin finn / CC BY 2.0
Surfers and sunbathers on Legian Beach. Image by eoin finn / CC BY 2.0

Bali’s annual eco festival returns this weekend
Locals and tourists in Bali have been encouraged to join surfing greats including Mark Richards and Sally Fitzgibbons in a Legian Beach clean-up on Saturday in support of Bali’s Big Eco Weekend. The festival continues on Sunday at Uluwatu, with 32 participants surfing against local and international pros to raise money for environmental programs on the island. Read more:

Albino humpback spotted off Sydney
Migaloo, the much loved albino humpback whale, was among the whales spotted off the coast of Sydney on Thursday on their annual migration along Australia’s east coast from Antarctica to North Queensland and back. Read more:   via

Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in danger from climate change
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s permafrost has shrunk by 16% over the past 30 years according to new data from the CAS Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research. Temperatures in China’s far west reaches have risen by 1.8 degrees Celsius over the same span, melting some 8000 square km of glaciers. Authorities are now working to ensure the integrity of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world’s highest, is not compromised. Read more:

Trekkers in Nepal will need a local guide
According to reports from protesting travel agents in Kathmandu, the government has agreed to demands to make it mandatory for foreign trekkers to employ a Nepali guide or porter. The government has yet to confirm or deny the claims, but the move has widespread support amongst people in mountain areas, who depend on trekking for their livelihood. Read more:

Airports in Vietnam to tackle bird problem
Following eleven reported cases of birds striking planes this year, authorities are boosting measures to control bird populations around Vietnam’s airports. Setting traps, using equipment to scare birds away, and limiting food sources are among the methods to be investigated. Read more:

Tokyo holds sake fair
Sake Fair 2014 will be held in Tokyo on Saturday, featuring sake exhibitors from all over Japan, seminars, brewing information, food, and the opportunity to taste some 440 different types of award-winning sake.  Read more:


Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Americas Destination Editors: Clifton WilkinsonDora WhitakerAlex Howard and MaSovaida Morgan

Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 2013. Image by Doug Anderson / CC BY 2.0
Telluride Bluegrass Festival, 2013. Image by Doug Anderson / CC BY 2.0

Telluride Bluegrass Festival continues through the weekend
The 41st Telluride Bluegrass Festival began on Thursday and will continue through the weekend in the Rocky Mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. The festival features acts from around the country, with artists including the Yonder Mountain String Band, Ray LaMontagne and Andrew Bird & The Hands of Glory. Read more:

Infamous LA bar to close
One of the most iconic dive bars in Los Angeles is to close its doors on Monday June 23. The Power House, just off Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame, was well known as the place to go for cheap drinks and the chance to meet some interesting regulars, but the owners now plan to give it a make-over, turning it into something more upmarket. Read more:

Tahoe celebrates summer solstice
Tahoe City, on the northwest shore of the eponymous lake Lake Tahoe, celebrates midsummer this weekend with a series of events. Visitors can visit a vintage car show, enjoy a drink or two as they shop for local art and jewellery, and take the opportunity to get out on the water in a kayak. Read more:

Police say remains found in Panama may be missing Dutch travelers
Police in Panama have reported the discovery of bones and a pair of boots that may be the remains of two Dutch women who went missing from the town of Boquete in early April. The women had traveled to the area to do social work after completing a two-week Spanish course. Investigators say the discovery is significant and DNA testing will be conducted on the remains. Read more:

Group of youths arrested for throwing fireworks at England fans
Police in São Paulo have arrested 14 people who are being accused of throwing fireworks at England soccer fans outside a bar shortly before the England-Uruguay World Cup match Thursday. The nationality of the arrested individuals was not determined, but police say many of them are believed to be Brazilian. No one was injured during the incident. Read more:

Theatre troupe to stage Shakespeare’s complete works in Portland
This weekend, the Portland Actors Ensemble will continue its Complete Works Project, an effort to stage each of Shakespeare’s works over two years, with a production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in Laurelhurst Park in Portland , Oregon. The production will feature live Arabic and contemporary music and runs through July 26. All shows are free. Read more:


Stories curated by Lonely Planet’s Middle East & Africa Destination Editors: Helen Elfer and Matt Phillips.

Roman ruins, Jerash, Jordan. Image by Jan Smith / CC BY 2.0
Roman ruins, Jerash, Jordan. Image by Jan Smith / CC BY 2.0

Jordan’s Jerash Festival kicks off
The 29th Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts has begun in Jordan. The six-week fest includes folk troupe performances, arab poetry readings, concerts and theatre productions. There will also be a performance from this year’s winner of Arab Idol, Palestinian Mohammad Assaf. Read more:

Serengeti highway proposal declared unlawful
The Tanzanian government’s proposed 53km highway through the centre of Serengeti National Park has been declared unlawful by the East African Court of Justice. A spokesperson for the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), the group who won the initial injunction against the road in 2010, said the decision confirms that the Serengeti deserves optimal protection from high impact development. Read more: