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TRAVEL

Sri Lanka bombings: three months on, tourism workers tell their stories

The Easter attacks hit the tourist trade hard. We talk to five Sri Lankans, whose livelihoods depend on visitors, about hardship, recovery and hope

May and June are the low season in Sri Lanka, but this year, following the Easter Sunday bombings, tourism ground to a halt. Hotels were empty, beaches were deserted and popular attractions that had been starting to suffer from overtourism were eerily quiet. The UK Foreign Office’s warning against all but essential travel was issued on April 25, effectively forcing UK holidaymakers to either cancel or postpone bookings.

Visitors in May were down 70% year on year. After the FCO changed its advice six weeks later on 6 June – and other countries lifted their restrictions – visitor numbers rose a little but were still 57% down year on year.

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Beckenham Place Park: London’s newest green space

A former golf course in Lewisham has been transformed into south-east London’s biggest park. Our writer, a local, explores the new gardens, swimming lake and wildflower meadows ahead of its opening this weekend

Ancient oaks and luxuriant lawns stretch away from a spectacular Palladian mansion. A crescent-shaped lake glints amid trees in a shallow valley. People linger over picnics and wander off to woodland glades, kids kick balls around, soul music washes over us and people emerge from the mansion holding glasses of wine.

This isn’t a summer function at a stately home but a “new” municipal park in south-east London, nine miles from Trafalgar Square, on the cusp of its official opening on 20 July. The opening coincides with a week-long festival marking London becoming a National Park City (20-28 July), a Mayor of London initiative designed to make the capital greener and healthier.

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French leave: fun places to stay on four routes to the south of France

With the annual summer dash under starter’s orders, we suggest how to turn a schlep into a road trip, staying in treehouses, chateaux and cool hotels en route

From the north-west ferry ports (St Malo, Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre) down the west of France, via Nantes and Bordeaux, to the south-west

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Museum of underwater art to open on Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Submerged sculptures and others that appear at low tide to be installed at several Queensland sites, as part of a project that also aims to rehabilitate sections of the reef

From a colour-changing figure warning of warming seas to a sunken skeletal greenhouse encrusted with coral, a new museum of underwater art in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef marine park aims to raise awareness of the threatened ecosystem – and rehabilitate parts of the reef.

Created by British sculptor and environmentalist Jason deCaires Taylor, the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) will feature partially and fully submerged installations and sculptures that will become sites for coral and marine life regeneration.

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10 of the best things to do in Vevey, Switzerland

The Swiss town’s wine festival is as revered as it is rare but, from a Chaplin museum to boat tours and chocolate heaven, a trip need not be grape-related

On 18 July, the peaceful town of Vevey, on the shores of Lake Geneva near Montreux, transforms into party central as it hosts one of the world’s biggest (and rarest) wine festivals. The Fête des Vignerons – which was granted Unesco intangible cultural heritage status in 2016 – was founded in 1797 to honour the wine-makers of the Lavaux wine region, one of Switzerland’s premier wine appellations.

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Environmental damage of tourism comes under MPs’ spotlight

Inquiry to address problems including aviation emissions and traffic in UK and abroad

Holidaymakers’ responsibility for foul beaches, overcrowding, traffic, aeroplane emissions and other environmental impacts will come under parliamentary scrutiny.

The inquiry into the environmental cost of tourism and transport will consider whether the UK government should play a greater role in offsetting the waste and damage caused by the tens of millions of Britons who go on holiday overseas each year.

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A local’s guide to Stockholm: 10 top tips

Sweden’s capital comes alive in summer, with its archipelago of stunning islands perfect for boat trips and swimming, not to mention a buzzing food scene

The Stockholm archipelago is surrounded by clean waters, so the wild bathing opportunities are numerous. A good spot in the actual city is Långholmsbadet, a small beach on the north shore of Långholmen Island, where you can swim, relax on the sand or lawns, and there are plenty of places for a coffee or a meal. There used to be a prison here, which has now been converted into a hotel and hostel (doubles from £48 room-only). A few hundred metres to the west of the beach you can dive from the rocks at Klippbadet. On the way to the island, check out the hipster area around Hornstull, with its tattoo studios, cosy bars, restaurants and trendy barbers.
Subway Hornstull

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10 of Europe’s best hostels near city railway stations

Don’t go the extra mile for a bed in Europe’s great cities. From Rome to Vienna, Berlin to Barcelona, here are 10 great hostels just a short hop from the train

All five Clink hostels can be found near train stations: two in King’s Cross in London, and two more opening soon in Dublin and Lisbon, each a few minutes’ walk from the main stations. The fifth hostel is ClinkNoord is opposite Centraal Station on the other side of the Amstel river. A free, 24-hour ferry runs every seven minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night. It takes five minutes to cross, then it is a 300-metre walk to the hostel, which is a converted 1920s laboratory. There are private en suite rooms (single, twin, doubles and quads), plus mixed and women-only dorms (sleeping four or 10). The cafe serves homemade banana bread and all-night panini; the bar has a happy hour from 5pm-7pm, food until 11pm and regular live music. Daily events include city walking and cycling tours, yoga and meditation sessions, and tasting sessions of Dutch beers.
Dorm beds from £13, doubles from £65, clinkhostels.com

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Five great Interrail itineraries across Europe

Interrailing is an easy way to see the continent. We plot itineraries that cover the Med, the Alps and an affordable version of the Orient Express

Suggested duration 15 days
Stops Lausanne, Annecy, Chamonix, Zermatt, Lucerne, St Anton, Zell am See, Innsbruck, Bern
Shortcut Head straight to Zermatt to make it an 11-day trip
Best Interrail pass 15 days within two months (£337 youth/£439 adult/£395 senior/under 12s free) or the tighter 10 days within two months (£274/£357/£321/free). Plus train reservations

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10 classic UK trips by public transport

Trains in hidden valleys, scenic bus routes, fun ferry rides … many journeys are better by public transport. Kevin Rushby plots exciting itineraries for the carefree and car-free

With a car, most of these amazing journeys are impossible or prohibitively expensive. Most of these 10 routes could be done in a day or with a single overnight, but ideally you will spread them over a weekend, using the opportunity to hike over a mountain, laze by a lake or build a sandcastle. All routes only use public transport or scheduled services on heritage railways.

Times given are for Saturdays and Sundays through the summer unless stated. Ticket prices (correct as of 14 May, 2019) are regular adult singles except where stated

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15 of the best off-grid places to stay in Europe

With no wifi to bother you, nature, starry skies and wilderness take centre stage at these huts, pods, cabins, treehouses and more
• The best off-grid places in the UK

Teacher’s Cottage on Stóra Dímun, the smallest inhabited Faroe Island, gets snapped up fast (bookings for 2020 go live on 1 January). The island is a great place for stepping away from the world – just seven people live on Dímun (and hundreds of sheep). The cottage, sleeping eight, with kitchen and shower room, is normally used for a teacher but let from mid-June to mid-August. Access is via helicopter three times a week (from £30 return, atlanticairways.com) – and with no shops you’ll need to bring supplies. The family that owns the cottage offers guided tours. Helicopter timetable at atlanticairways.com.
From £115 a night, plus £13 adult, £7 child, email dimun@olivant.fo

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