In London, the courtyard at Somerset House transforms into an ice-skating rink every year from mid-November to January.

For scenes straight out of a box of old-fashioned Christmas cards, head to England. Many classic Christmas trappings, from caroling to mince pie and wassail, have been part of English tradition for centuries.

Other holiday customs have their roots in the 19th century. Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert, popularized the decorating of Christmas trees and the sending of Christmas cards. Around the same time, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol --...

ATMs are a frequent target for travel scams in Europe — if anyone’s around, cover the keypad when entering your PIN.

Europe is a surprisingly creative place when it comes to travel scams. Many of the most successful gambits require a naively trusting tourist, but seasoned travelers can be taken in, too. We should all be wary of the numerous subtle scams -- a cabbie pads your fare, a hotel business center computer records your password, or a waiter offers a special with a "special" increased price. But if you're cautious and not overly trusting, you should have no problem. Here are some...

Travelers in Venice can now enjoy a visit to the Doge’s Palace at night, when crowds are smaller.

Nighttime's the right time -- and reservations are smart any time -- when it comes to seeing the great sights in Northern Italy. With all the crowds heading for the same few attractions, popular sights and destinations are packed, and ticket lines are long. For 2020, officials thankfully have promised longer hours and easier opportunities to book entries in advance. Here's the latest:

At Venice's St. Mark's Basilica, it is now easy to reserve an entry...

The pointed arches of Gothic cathedrals allow for dramatic stained-glass windows, such as the ones in Chartres’ cathedral.

Though visiting Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral won't be possible for the foreseeable future following a devastating fire, there are plenty of fine examples of Gothic cathedrals -- and other Notre-Dames even -- that you can see in France.

When traveling in France, I can't help but marvel at the towering Gothic cathedrals that mark the centers of many towns. I like to imagine what it was like to be a pilgrim 600 years ago, hiking for days to a particular...

Carvings on the Whare Runanga, a Maori meeting house built in 1940 at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in New Zealand. Photo: ©Rafael Ben-Ari/

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 527th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine. 

Your neighbors aren’t interested in the photos from your latest trip? Well, you’ll find an eager audience here, so send in a few (with captions). Or write up a couple highlights of your journey. ITN subscribers will appreciate it. These are your travel kin.

David E. Johnson, Jr., of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, wrote, “Thanks for the wonderful information you...


In my March 2019 column, I made the following statement regarding a type of overseas emergency-medical-evacuation insurance policy offered by Divers Alert Network, or DAN (Durham, NC; 800/446-2671,, and their “membership” coverage: 

“I no longer recommend this type of coverage because, in case of a medical emergency, it will take you only to the nearest appropriate medical facility, and there is no provision for medical costs. If I...

Chef Doreen Williams-James with Sea Purslane Fish Cake. Photos by Sandra Scott

Before going to Bermuda in July 2019, I searched the internet for a place to take a cooking class or see a cooking demonstration there. I ended up booking a unique experience with Doreen Williams-James of Wild Herbs N Plants of Bermuda (St. George’s, Bermuda; phone, in US, 441 335 1958, 

Doreen calls herself a forager, an expert in locating and preparing foods that grow in the wild. Foraging runs in the family; she learned from her father....

A cruise ship offers memorably fantastic views of the classic whitewashed villages of Santorini. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

I’ve spent the last several decades exploring Europe from every conceivable angle. And this includes checking out Europe the way millions of people do: from a cruise ship.

I’m not out to promote or put down cruising. For some people it’s a great choice, and for others it’s not. On the plus side, cruising can be economical, with transportation, a room and meals all included in one price. It can be ideal for those who want their vacation logistics taken care of....