10 of the best eccentric attractions in Europe: readers’ travel tips

Weird wonders, including a prowl around Amsterdam’s cat museum, a truly deep Transylvanian theme park and ‘Stalin’s World’ in Lithuania, have made readers embrace the quirky.

Julian Worker has written a number of travel books including

Travels through History : France

Travels through History – The Balkans: Journeys in the former Yugoslavia

Travels through History – Northern Ireland and Scotland

‘Blissfully unhurried’: hopping around Germany’s ‘forgotten’ islands

The Halligen Islands are so low-lying that high tides flood them each winter, but the laid-back inhabitants are more than equal to the challenge

Lost in rhyme: a walk in the poetic beauty of Ballynahinch, Galway

Amid great walking trails, fantastic fishing, and literary heritage, Ballynahinch Castle hotel delivers the best of Connemara – and you don’t need to be a poet to appreciate it

10 of the best places to visit in Malaysia

Lunch with monks and a poignant war memorial park share equal billing with Penang’s street food and sundowner views over Kuala Lumpur

The Royal Mile – Edinburgh

Excerpt from the book Travels through History : Northern Ireland and Scotland  Belfast and the Causeway Coast has been rated best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet. In September 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world by a respected travel company, Rough Guides.


The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town. With all the historic buildings along this street, it came as a surprise to me to learn the name ‘Royal Mile’ was only coined in 1901 in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century. The name was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920. The Royal Mile runs uphill from Holyrood Palace to the Castle. East to West it comprises Abbey Strand, Canongate, High Street, Lawnmarket, and Castlehill.

Visitors can spend an entire day sampling all the delights and sights along this single street in Scotland’s capital and that’s without doing any shopping. It’s always better to see a few things well than to see many things fleetingly, so pick your favourites and choose to spend more time at them.

Abbey Strand is the shortest of the five named parts of the Royal Mile and is only as long as the Queen’s Gallery, where items in the Royal collection are exhibited in the former Holyrood Free Church. There are also the remains of the gatehouse of Holyrood Palace built by James IV. The coat-of-arms set in the wall belong to James V and is not an original. With Holyrood at your back and looking up the Royal Mile, the modern building to the left is the Scottish Parliament. Work began in June 1999 and Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) held their first debate on 7 September 2004. Enric Miralles, the Catalan architect who designed the building, died before its completion.

Best little ski resorts in Europe

Head to these lesser-known – and often cheaper – ski areas, some with challenging off-pistes and others with family-friendly runs and hotels, but all with breathtaking scenery