Top European Guidebooks

best europe travel guide books

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European guidebooks like these cover a lot of ground and are pretty darn heavy to travel with. Consider ebook versions if you have a device and like to travel light. Several of these guidebooks come in a Kindle edition.

These guides are great for basic planning, but you might want to consider purchasing single country guides for the countries you finally decide on visiting to lug along on your trip. Here are some suggested books that cover Western Europe , including some specialty travel guides. These guidebooks make great gifts for the traveler planning a European vacation .

Let's Go Europe 2016: The Student Travel Guide

Let's Go Travel Guides have long been our favorite for budget travel , but they've recently changed focus toward student travel. Even if you're not traveling on a budget, they feature decent bus and train information and a good overview of each destination. And remember, high-end student travel info is perfect for middle-class travel in Europe. The 2016 edition weighs in at a whopping 916 pages.

Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring

This is the guide that budget travelers should search out, although it's not really a "shoestring" guide to the cheapest places: Europe has gotten expensive. 1328 pages.

Rick Steves' Best of Europe, 2015

Famous travel guru Rick Steves gives his recommendations for the best places to visit on a European trip, including hotels and restaurants for each destination. This book is not a complete guide to European countries, only the places recommended by Mr. Steves. 1488 pages.

The Rough Guide First-Time Europe

This highly rated guide to the basics of travel in Europe for the first time traveler (aimed at the budget conscious) is what you might need if you haven't been before. It's a slimmer guide than most of the others on this page, weighing in at 352 pages, so it's easier to carry around if you decide to do this. Not a lot of information on those out of the way places, this is a basic planning guide for the things a first-time traveler has to see and do, like packing, gathering the required documents, etc. If you're unsure of all the things you have to do before you go, this guide is for you.

Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2016

Another Rick Steves recommendation, he calls this "The Travel Skills Handbook for Independent Travelers". In this book, he recommends places somewhat off the beaten track or a little less touristy than in the previous book. It's 784 pages, but you can buy the Kindle edition.

The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget

The Rough Guides aren't for backpackers , but for the middle of the road folks who want to get the most value out of a vacation. It's not all about being cheap, you know. Readers like the maps, climate data, and extensive eating out and lodging recommendations.

Europe by Eurail 2016: Touring Europe by Train

Planning on riding the rails in Europe? Here's your guide to the destinations in Europe served by Europe's extensive rail network. A Kindle edition is available.

About Single Europe Train Tickets

France Travel Planner for Every Vacation

Vacation Timeline for Planning Your First Trip to Europe

Step-By-Step Budget Tips for a First European Vacation

Traveling by Train in Europe: Where, Why, and How

Guide to Bus and Train Travel in Spain

Plan Your Trip to Africa in 10 Easy Steps

5 Ways to Find the Cheapest Train Travel

France Guide: Planning Your Trip

Your Trip to Switzerland: The Complete Guide

Top Tips for Booking a Cheap Flight to Africa

Top Tips for Planning a European Cruise Vacation

How to Visit Dublin on a Budget

10 Questions to Answer When Planning a Cruise

Paris Guide: Planning Your Trip

The 17 Best Countries to Visit in Europe

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Best Travel Guides for Europe: Top European Guidebooks for 2020

February 10, 2020.

friends exploring Europe with a map and guidebook

Best Travel Guidebooks for Europe

With so many online travel blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at our disposal, I think it’s fair to wonder whether or not traditional print travel guidebooks are worthwhile to us anymore. 

I’d say the answer is a resounding, yes. Travel guidebooks are packed with expert information about a particular destination and this information has been edited by a team of employees whose job it is to fact-check the author’s words. 

Travel blogs, on the other hand, strike a great balance between fact and personal experience, when done right. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive a little more insight than the guidebooks can give you because the blogger hopefully expounds upon the guidebook’s recommendation. 

Travelers reading a guidebook in Barcelona

For example, let’s say “Wanderlust Wendy” follows the guidebook’s recommendation to buy a combined ticket for the Grand Master’s Palace and the Archaeological museum in Rhodes, Greece. But “Wanderlust Wendy” messed up and went to the museum the first day and the palace day two which is against the rules according to the small, barely visible sign at the ticket office. Wanderlust Wendy writes about this experience ensuring that you, future traveler, don’t make the same, easily-made error that she did. 

But, you can’t regulate what a person writes and there is that opportunity for misinformation from a blogger who is either uninformed or even worse, hasn’t even been to the destination they are writing about. 

In summation, all of these different mediums are valuable in their own right, and I for one don’t see guidebooks as competition, but instead, a complement to what I write on my site.

Consequently, I highly recommend that you purchase a travel guidebook for Europe as a Kindle e-book or hardcopy through Amazon.

travelers using guidebook in europe

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Best Europe Guidebooks 

If Rick Steves has a guidebook for your European destination, then I recommend his book. Rick — we’re not actually on a first name basis —  has spent 100 days in Europe every year since 1973 and is pretty much the guru of all things “cute, small towns.”

He has a couple of books out that cover Europe on a broad scale. The first details how to acquire the proper skills to travel Europe and the second is an overview of different European destinations which is great if you are doing a multi-country trip.

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook

best europe travel guide books

Rick Steves Best of Europe

best europe travel guide books

Destination-Based Travel Guidebooks for Europe

The more you can narrow down the region and/or countries you plan on visiting during your trip to Europe, the better you can find a guidebook more perfectly tailored to your upcoming travels.  

Once again, I’m going to award my guy, Rick, the top spot for destination-specific travel guides. He doesn’t cover everything, but what he does cover he writes extremely well. 

Take a look at the following guidebooks if you have an idea of where you’re headed. And if you don’t see your specific locale, click here to see all of the Rick Steve travel guidebooks available on Amazon. 

best europe travel guide books

Eastern Europe                

best europe travel guide books

  Croatia & Slovenia  

best europe travel guide books

  Switzerland

best europe travel guide books

L ondon                                                                 

best europe travel guide books

Germany  

best europe travel guide books

You’ll rarely ever read a bad review about the content in his guides. 

But, you will see complaints of people who bought a destination-specific guidebook and the cities that they plan on visiting aren’t in that particular book. Don’t be that person. Before you make your purchase, make sure that you know the specific cities detailed in the book. 

I went to Italy this past April with my two best girl friends and we purchased the Lonely Planet guidebook because they covered the Puglia region where my friends and I were visiting. Rick Steves did not. 

To that point…if Rick hasn’t visited and written about a particular destination, you’re going to be just fine! And that’s because there are plenty of other travel companies like Lonely Planet who have also written phenomenal content. 

For example, Rick Steves only has a book covering mainland Greece. If you’re planning a trip to the Greek Islands, this is the guidebook you’re going to want to purchase.

Lonely Planet Greek Islands (Travel Guide)

best europe travel guide books

Great Europe Guidebooks BESIDES Rick Steves

I am keenly aware that this entire post is more or less one long love letter to Rick Steves. But, what about the other travel guides out there? Who else is educating us on Europe well?

Here are some of my other favorite Europe travel guidebooks at the moment:

1. Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is a large guidebook publisher that started way back in the 70s when Maureen and Tony Wheeler embarked on a global adventure. If you enjoy podcasts, Maureen and Tony were featured on How I Built This with Guy Raz. I think you’ll be interested to listen to their journey from broke travelers to creating Lonely Planet, a massive travel company.  

2. Fodor’s Travel 

If you’re looking for multiple perspectives for your trip to Europe, check out Fodor’s travel guides as well. He has a Europe overview travel guide as well as city and region specific options for most parts of Europe.

3. DK Eyewitness Travel Guides

If you are more of a visual learner, then these guides might be better suited to your taste. The DK series really excels in their use of colorful maps, photos, diagrams, and illustrations. The series doesn’t always go into too much detail, but it does have a great balance between imagery and text. 

travel guidebooks Europe

Europe Guidebooks for Cruises

If you’re taking a European cruise to the Baltic or Mediterranean , you may not think you need to purchase a travel guide book. Everything is somewhat laid out for you already. And if you booked shore excursions through the cruise line or a private guide for every single port for the duration of your trip then you would be right. 

But hopefully, you have a healthy balance between planned excursions and days on your own to explore some of the smaller ports on your itinerary. Those are the days when a Europe travel guide book comes in extremely handy. 

Travel tip: At each port, rip out the pages for your current city.  That way, you won’t have to carry around a heavy book all day but you will still have restaurant recommendations, transportation tips, etc. accessible if you have no internet. I give major props to my mom for reading that somewhere and implementing on our Baltic Cruise. 

best europe travel guide books

Best Guidebook for Backpackers

Let’s Go Europe

best europe travel guide books

If you are a student or a budget backpacker, then Let’s Go Europe guidebook is the perfect option for you. This travel guide, written by Harvard alumni, was my holy grail book when I lived in Europe and traveled just about every weekend. The writing is incredibly witty and the options are catered to a younger, frugal audience who still likes to go out and have a good time. 

Couple looking at Europe Guidebook

Is there a travel guidebook for Europe that you are particularly partial to? Or did you buy a copy of a Rick Steves travel guide only to find that many of the cities you would be visiting weren’t listed? Please help out the community and let us know your findings in the comments below! 

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11 BEST Travel Guides for 2024 [Websites & Guidebooks]

A man in a wide brimmed hat leans against a stone wall and reads a travel guide book on an ancient stone street.

Published on: June 30, 2023

TL;DR: The two best travel guides are Rick Steves for first time travelers—especially anyone going to Europe—and Bradt Guides for off-the-beaten-path destinations and “Slow Travel.” Both are reliable, will give you ideas for what to do, and help you plan the best trip.

The way we travel has changed drastically in my lifetime. Information is more readily available in the digital age, a massive plus for traveling. 

Everyone, including myself, wants to make the most of every trip abroad. That’s why I love reading travel guide books or online guides. 

Some of these guide books help you get off the beaten path. Others give information on tours you can take on your own to learn the history of a certain destination you’re visiting. 

But which are the best?

After years of reading and doing research, I have found the best travel guides for you to use when planning your next trip abroad!

Note: this article contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

A smiling brown-haired woman wearing sunglasses and a backpack slung over her shoulder, holding an example of one of the best travel guides in the form of an open book, with an out of focus city square behind her.

Here’s a quick look at our recommendations

  • DK Eyewitness
  • Bradt Guides
  • Rick Steves
  • Lonely Planet
  • Blue Guides
  • Footprint Guides
  • Frommer Guides
  • Tripadvisor
  • Rough Guides
  • Moon Travel Guides
  • Insight Guides

Table of Contents

#1 DK Eyewitness

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of DK Eyewitness books.

DK Eyewitness is one of the best travel guide books on the market today. But they offer more than just travel information. 

After publishing books for over 45 years, DK Eyewitness Books cover everything from travel, science, history, pop culture, and children’s topics.

Their travel guides give the information you desperately need for travel– such as maps, itineraries, accommodations, where to eat, and more! 

I also love how easy their visuals are to look at. I sometimes get lost in their maps and start imagining myself there (I’m a big daydreamer if you can’t tell!).

DK Eyewitness Travel guide books might not be the most in-depth on a particular location, but they help with travel inspiration. 

If you want more information, DK Eyewitness has a podcast called ‘Where to Go,’ which is another excellent way to get your travel information on the go!

  • 100+ destinations
  • Heavy on history
  • It has both outdoor and city guides
  • Amazing visuals
  • Not as in-depth as other guides

#2 Bradt Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Bradt Guides Books.

A Bradt travel guide is perfect if you’re interested in visiting countries that are less traveled to— written by experienced travelers with fantastic insider tips. 

Bradt travel guide books has a reputation as the “World’s leading independent travel publisher.” They are also the best India travel guide company.

Some unique destinations include Iraq, Sri Lanka, Galapagos Islands, and Grenada. But don’t worry. Bradt Guides also has a British series for those interested! 

Lately, I’ve been striving to travel like a local. Bradt has a ‘Slow Travel’ guidebook series, which I love using these days because it helps me travel like a local. 

The trip ideas are great in detail but might not be for your preferred country to visit. 

Bradt Guides prides itself on being the most comprehensive on the market. Their authors give cultural insights and expressions of interest and knowledge.

You can support Bradt’s Guides even further by subscribing to their Patreon! Here you can pay monthly for a specific tier and earn different things like one free e-book a month.

  • More off-the-beaten-path destinations
  • Slow travel series
  • Has a Patreon page
  • Unique style of travel not for everyone

#3 Rick Steves

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Rick Steves Books.

Rick Steves books are the guide books your mom hands you when traveling to your dream destination in Europe. And that’s a good thing! They’re trusted by many for a reason.

These travel guide books are always up-to-date, thanks to Rick Steves’ research partners. 

Rick’s books will have you feeling like you’re on guided tours! He ensures you’ll have some fantastic cultural experiences. 

I love Europe, but there are many other cultures throughout the world that I’m even more interested in. So, since Rick Steves’ guidebooks are primarily Europe-focused, I’m not as drawn to them.

Also, traveling in Europe long-term can get expensive. His books cater to a more wealthy crowd. 

Pick any European country, and you will have high-quality content on that destination. Rick has visited Europe countless times, and other travel websites can’t compete. 

Rick’s bestseller is his Italy guide, which isn’t surprising. In that guide, he goes over the best places to eat and sleep and how to beat the crowds. 

It’s a good idea to grab a Rick Steves’ book simply for the detailed maps.

  • Best guides for Europe
  • It gives in-depth information for solo tours
  • Perfect for a beginner traveler.
  • Catered to upper and middle-class travelers

#4 Lonely Planet

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Lonely Planet Books.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Lonely Planet , as they’ve been a dominant force in the travel scene for quite some time now. Their goal is to make travel planning easy, and they’ve succeeded!  

I loved using Lonely Planet books when I first started traveling. These books helped me up my game as a budget traveler. 

Lonely Planet dominates the internet with a wealth of online resources. While the information they offer online is easy to access, it can be vague. 

You can subscribe to Lonely Planet on their website for free. I’ve done this, but I’ve found that there tends to be some destinations/articles that are low in detail. 

Considering Lonely Planet’s sheer amount of content, it’s not too surprising that they sometimes gloss over details. 

Their claim to fame is their numerous experts located worldwide. These experts cover adventure travel, family holidays, food and drink, and much more. 

Plus, a Lonely Planet magazine is an amazing coffee table piece, am I right?

  • Backpacker friendly
  • An extensive collection of guides for the entire world
  • Free information is available
  • Some of their content is outdated or not detailed

#5 Blue Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Blue Guides Books.

If you love the art and history of Italy, then Blue Guides is for you! People often plagiarize Blue Guide books due to the amount of accurate information each book has. 

With over 14 books on Italy alone, you won’t find more detailed information on a particular destination than with Blue Guides– they deliver it all! 

Italy was the first country that I visited outside of the United States, and I’m so glad that I had a Blue Guide book with me. 

Their award-winning maps and exceptional attention to detail made it feel like I was on a private tour! 

Be aware: there aren’t a lot of online articles from Blue Guides or many countries to choose from, which could be an issue if you like to visit more unusual locations.

Blue Guides’ first publication date was in the early 1900s, so it’s undoubtedly a top guidebook for a travel junkie!

  • Helps travelers understand art and history
  • Multiple guides on Italy
  • Extremely thorough in their research
  • Not a lot of destinations

#6 Footprint Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Footprint Guides Books.

Footprint Guides is the go-to source for Latin American travel tips for all budgets! My love for this region of the world has only grown since I started using their books.

Even if Latin America isn’t one of your top destinations, they do offer other print books. All Footprint Guides are written by experts who have lived in that destination. 

Unfortunately, for North American travelers looking to plan a dream road trip, you won’t find much helpful information here, as their focus is decidedly on the south. 

Alongside their practical information, Footprint adds a layer of imagination to their guidebooks, giving them an edge that makes them one of the best travel guide series available today!

  • Wide range of budgets
  • Specializes in Latin America
  • Practical information
  • Not much content on the United States

#7 Frommer Guides

Frommer Guides

Does traveling on $5 per day sound appealing to you? Arthur Frommer thought so when he set out to create his Frommer travel guides . 

Alongside some of the best guidebooks, Frommer also offers other forms of information, including podcasts, online articles, and hotel deals!

I love using Frommer guides on road trips because they help me in many different situations. 

I usually like to have a podcast for when I’m driving , a guidebook on specific destinations while I’m in a hotel room, and online sources when on the go. 

Having Frommer guides in all their varied forms is essential since each one typically doesn’t go into heavy detail. 

If purchasing travel guide books doesn’t interest you, then keeping up to date with Frommer’s online travel guides is the way to go.

  • Many styles of information are available
  • Updates information frequently
  • Offer hotel deals
  • It covers only the main details

#8 Tripadvisor

Screenshot of the of the Tripadvisor website homepage.

Tripadvisor is an online source that most travelers have heard about. It’s unique on this list of travel guides because you interact with other travelers!

If you’re looking for help with trip planning, look no further than the Tripadvisor forum . Here you can talk with fellow travelers about your upcoming trip! 

When I have a specific question that needs answering, I always check Tripadvisor first. They have information on most countries, but some info on the forums can be outdated. 

Tripadvisor is great because it’s free! But they’re more than just a review and forum-based platform; you can also book different travel deals and tours through their website.

Sometimes the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming to click through.  If that sounds relatable, you might want to purchase some guidebooks instead. 

Tripadvisor started the wave of online travel planning. They’re worth browsing, even if you just want to write down a few travel tips!

  • Multiple reviews from other travelers
  • Travel deals available
  • Forum can be out of date
  • The massive amount of information can be overwhelming

#9 Rough Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Rough Guides Books.

Rough Guides has grown into a leader in the travel industry with its amazing travel guidebooks and online travel guides. 

What I love about these books is their authenticity. Their recommendations from locals helped to grow them into who they are today.

It all started with their Greece travel guide, and it quickly blew up. Demand increased for more and more Rough Guide content; they released a guidebook series for people who were eager for more. In 2017, Rough Guides expanded even further.

Today Rough Guides are more than just a travel guide company that sells books. They offer tours, custom-made itineraries, and more! I love using their website when planning my next trip. 

These custom-made itineraries and tours are expensive but for a reason. Rough Guides’ experts are located worldwide to give you the best travel experience ever. 

Rough Guides best selling guides offer a ton of background information and local tips, making them worth the high price!

  • Detailed itineraries
  • Personal recommendations from locals
  • An extensive list of countries
  • High prices for tours and custom itineraries

#10 Moon Travel Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Moon Travel Guides Books.

Moon Guides are my favorite guidebooks for traveling around the United States. Planning that perfect road trip is challenging but Moon Guides makes it easier.

Moon’s travel guidebooks are all about traveling sustainably. I’ve used them countless times in the Americas and have found them super helpful.

But Moon Guides don’t focus on the Americas only– they also offer some of the best travel guides for Japan in particular.

I’ve learned to use these books more for research instead of bringing them on my travels– they don’t always hold up with how rugged traveling can get for me.

Moon’s detailed maps are so good in their guidebooks that I fill my phone library with them. They are easy to read and use, which is what I think makes a good map. 

The best travel tips are from locals, and that’s what Moon’s travel guidebooks bring. They don’t have a fancy touring app or anything, but they don’t need it. 

If you want one of the best travel guides for families, then there’s no better choice than making Moon Guides your tour guide when traveling. 

Find your dream destination, get travel inspiration from their maps, and book that plane ticket.

  • Emphasis on the Americas and the Pacific
  • Easy-to-understand maps
  • Many pages of information solely for hotels/accommodations
  • Guidebooks aren’t durable

#11 Insight Guides

Screenshot of a search result page showing a selection of Insight Guides Books.

Insight is one of the best travel guidebooks on the market for a reason. The beautiful photographs in these travel guidebooks will have you daydreaming for days.

Insight guides are perfect for those history buffs out there like me. They combine great information with also some off-the-beaten-track activities. 

Insight has produced over 200 guidebooks and language books. Their books provide information on nearly any country you can think of (besides Mexico).

I love their books because they also have a mini-series.

During the Covid years, I was in the mood to read a lot. I picked a different destination each week and bought a new e-book. 

I could do this because they only cost five to ten dollars! Most of the best travel guidebooks are double this.   

Besides its guidebook series, Insight offers a handmade trip planned by experts to the destination of your choice. What more could you ask for?!

  • Multiple countries in each continent
  • Has language guides
  • Sells hand-picked vacation packages put together by locals
  • Offers mini versions of guides to sell for cheap
  • No Mexico guide

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Travel Guide

A man wearing a red and black checkered shirt reading an open guide book holds hands with woman in a black and white striped tank top, jeans, and a wide-brimmed hat while walking down a European-looking cobblestone street.

What to Look for in Travel Guides

Is the information up to date.

Picking the best travel guidebooks can be an overwhelming process. But the most important thing to watch out for is making sure the information is up-to-date.

Compared to online sources, guidebook information tends not to get updated as quickly for obvious reasons. 

You don’t want a travel guide taking you to a restaurant that doesn’t exist anymore, do you? No. You want to get off the beaten track but not THAT off that it gets you lost.

Pick Locally-Based Travel Guides

My ideal travel style is meeting locals, living, and eating like a local. I have the best travel experiences when I dive deep into the culture.

The best information about a destination comes from locals. When you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, wouldn’t you want to consult someone who has lived there for many years?

When you rely on locals’ recommendations, you’ll truly have an experience of a lifetime. 

Know What Type of Traveler You Are

A young woman in a peach tank top and sunglasses holds a travel guide book under one arm, and checks her phone.

This next tip can be difficult for some, and it can change from year to year. I have gone from being a true budget traveler to somewhere in the middle. 

I used to love history (I still do) and would base my travels around that. Now I seek adventure activities. 

Different types of guides will focus on different things, such as budget travel, adventure, expensive tours, food, or history. 

Finding the travel guide that fits your style will be more beneficial in the long run.

Know Which Destination You Want to Visit the Most

The best world travel guidebooks are often better for certain locations than others. For example, Rick Steves has a reputation for being the best travel guide for Europe and, specifically, the best travel guide for Italy. 

So, choose your travel guide based on which one specializes in the area you’re curious about.

Other Helpful Travel Guides

Travel is a huge industry which means there are more guides than you could ever possibly use. 

If you prefer your travel content in video form, one of the best travel guide Youtube channels is Ryan Shirley . 

His videos showcase the top places to visit in different countries with some of the best drone shots you’ll ever see. 

FAQs About Travel Guides

A woman with short brown hair wearing a black and white striped tank top squints as she opens a Lonely Planet book on Myanmar in front of a blurred background.

Should You Even Buy a Travel Guide?

A travel guide has its place. It may seem outdated to use one, but you can find some of the best information in them. 

Some guides take years to make and are very specific in the details they write for certain locations. The maps tend to be better and easier to read in these types of guides as well.  

Which is better: Lonely Planet or Rough Guide?

It depends on the style of travel you prefer. I prefer budget travel and tend to take fewer tours, so I like Lonely Planet. Rough Guide also has amazing tours if you’re interested in those.

What is the difference between Fodor’s and Frommer’s travel guides?

Frommer travel guides are excellent for those who want an easy read. Fodor is typically the better choice if you want more details about your activities. 

Fodor also has one of the best travel guides for Ireland, so check out Fodor if that’s your destination.

Is it better to travel with a tour guide or alone with a travel guide?

The answer differs from person to person! If you want your trip planned, then a tour guide is perfect. Going alone with a travel guide is nice because you can go at your own pace. 

Do people still buy travel guides?

Absolutely! There’s something different about having a travel guidebook to look at rather than scrolling through a website. 

Rick Steves and Bradt are my favorite travel guides.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Phillip Anderson

Phillip Anderson is a freelance travel writer, personal trainer, and adventure enthusiast from Virginia Beach. Growing up, he spent most of his days either hiking in the Shenandoah, going to the beach, or working out. He is currently traveling through Latin America while working on projects to share his adventures with the world.

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Best travel books for Europe on a budget

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Best travel books for Europe on a budget

If you are looking for the best travel books for Europe on a budget then we have put together the best list that will help you travel Europe cheaper and smarter. These Europe travel guides will provide you with everything from, tips, best things to do, where to eat, transport, culture, history, best beaches and so much more.

There are so many beautiful places in Europe and it would be a shame to miss out by not planning your trip properly in advance. From the beauty of Paris and the Amalfi Coast to the stunning beaches of Greece and the history of Rome. Every destination is unique and hold its own charms, so it’s important to plan your trip to its full potential and make the most out of your European adventure.

We have hand picked and reviewed our 10 best travel books for Europe on a budget, enjoy!

Quick Answer:

Here are our top 3 best travel books for Europe on a budget, if you don't have time to read the whole post:

Lonely Planet Europe Travel Guide

  • Lonely Planet - Europe on a shoe string

Rick Steves Best of Europe

Our 10 best travel books for europe on a budget.

If you are looking for the best travel books for Europe on a budget, then we have hand picked and reviewed the best Europe travel guides to buy for 2018.

Simply click on the product for more information and to check prices below:

Europe Travel Book Reviews

If you are still unsure of what are the best travel books for Europe on a budget, then carry on reading our Europe travel book review and buyers guide. We have hand picked and selected the best travel book for Europe out there. Simply click on the links below for more information and latest prices:

DK Eyewitness Europe Travel Guide

The DK Eyewitness Europe travel guide will lead you straight to the best attractions and give you the best itinerary for each country so you can get the very best out of your trip. The book is packed with stunning photography, detailed maps and illustrations providing you with all the information you need. You will be sure to find insider tips for the best places to eat, how to get there, what to see and essential information saving you money, time and effort. So travel Europe the easy way with the detailed travel guide, from the stunning Roman architecture, beautiful blue beaches of Greece to the never ending green landscapes of Ireland.

You can count on Rick Steves to give you the very best travel information and how to experience the best of Europe. Rick spends about 4 months a year traveling through Europe, so you are guaranteed to be getting the very best and latest tips. In his guide Rick covers the best of England, France, Germany, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. He covers best things to do, places to eat, transport, plotting maps and routes so you are fully organised to see the best things in the time you have saving you money in the process. Check out this book on Amazon for more information and read over 158 reviews.

The Lonely Planet Europe Travel Guide is your one way ticket to the most relevant, up-to-date travel information for Europe. This is Lonely Planets most comprehensive guide to Europe, perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled. It features colourful maps and images throughout the book, highlights and itineraries to help you plan trips to your personal needs and interests. This book has insider tips and ticks to save money and explore countries in Europe like the locals, avoiding crowds and trouble areas. You have everything at your finger tips from phone numbers, help lines, websites, prices and honest reviews for all budgets. This includes, places to eat, where to stay, shopping and sight seeing. So if you’re looking for one of the best travel books for Europe on a budget then this should be high up on your list!

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door tells you exactly what you need to know when traveling through Europe, including how to plan your itinerary and maximise your time, packing tips, finding good hotels and places to eat, all of which helps you save money and travel correctly seeing the best things in the time you have. This book also features money saving tips for transport by train, bus, car and plane which is really important especially if you are hopping to different countries on your travels. Rick also tackles language barriers, cultural differences, how to avoid scams and all the crowds. With this guidebook, you’ll experience the culture like a local, spend less money and most importantly have so much more fun!

Let’s Go Europe 2018: The Student Travel Guide

The Let’s Go Europe Student Travel Guide has been quoted by the New York Times as  “The granddaddy of budget guides” and  “The Bible of the budget traveler”  by the Boston Globe. So it’s safe to say this guide is pretty awesome, especially if you are seriously budgeting. Learn how to travel through Europe cheap, saving money on accommodation, eating, transport and so much more. However, this is a ‘students’ guide so it may not be for everyone. Personally sleeping on someones floor to save some money isn’t for me. However there are lots of great tips in this book that will save you money so it’s still worth a read as there maybe some hidden gems in there that other travel guides may not have covered or even considered.

Fodor’s Essential Europe Top 25

Fodor’s Essential Europe Travel Guide features the top 25 essential countries to visit in Europe. Fodor’s travel guides are written by locals offering first hand experience and expert advice for all budgets, ages and tastes for more than 80 years. This book features lots of details maps and stunning photography that captures the top experiences and attractions throughout Europe. There are hundreds of recommendations for hotels and restaurants  complete with the ‘top picks’ saving you the hard work of trying to narrow it down. Fodor’s have put together multiple itineraries to explore the top attractions in 25 countries and what’s off the beaten path, allowing you to explore for less and avoid the crowds.

Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring Travel Guide

The Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring Travel Guide is one of the best travel books for Europe on a budget if not the best. It is purely budget-oriented featuring recommendations with honest reviews for eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping and hidden gems that most guidebooks simply don’t cover. It features insider tips to save you time and money, and get around like a local avoiding the crowds, troublesome spots and scams. This book provides highlights and itineraries which help you tailor your trip to your needs and your budget. So, if you’re after saving money when traveling Europe then Lonely Planet are the best travel books for Europe on a budget.

Savvy Backpackers Guide to Europe on a Budget

The Guide to Europe on a Budget by the Savvy Backpacker pretty much covers everything you need to know about planning a trip to Europe. This guide is for people wanting to travel Europe on a budget and contains a lot of information about saving money. However with that in mind, it isn’t exclusively focused on doing everything as cheap as possible, it also concentrates on getting the most value for money as well. This book features great money saving tips on accommodation, hostels, transportation, budget airlines, solo travel, itinerary tips, packing lists, travel strategies, eating on the cheap and a lot more.

Lonely Planet Western Europe Travel Guide

If you are looking to explore Western Europe then you should check out Lonely Planet Western Europe Travel Guide . The New York Times describes their guides as  ‘Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.’   It features insider tips to save money on accommodation, transport and activities. How explore like a local, save time and plan itineraries for your trip to get the very best experience at the best value. Lonely Planet is your passport to the most relevant and up-to-date advice and tips. This guide also features detailed colourful maps and photography. Get to the heart of Western Europe   and begin your journey now with Lonely Planet.

Rick Steves Eastern Europe

Explore Eastern Europe’s top cities with Rick Steves Eastern Europe Travel Guide , covering the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia. Rick’s candid, humorous advice will guide you to get best value hotels and restaurants. This book will provide you with all the information you need to see all the sights saving you money and time. It covers everything from transportation, culture, history, places to eat, best things to do and more. This book is more than just reviews and directions, it is the ultimate Eastern Europe tour guide in your pocket.

Best Travel Book for Europe on a Budget

Recommended Europe Travel Guide …

Thanks for reading our guide on the best travel books for Europe on a budget. We hope you find the ideal European travel guide which will save you money, travel smarter and enable you to make the most our of your travels in Europe.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

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5 of the Best Travel Guidebooks for Europe 2024

Europe is a dream destination for many people across the world. Potential travelers spend hours pouring over glossy online images and reading online reviews. However, for a true impression of Europe’s diverse culture and language, nothing compares to following the steps of genuine travelers. With this in mind, we have listed the best travel guidebooks for Europe. 

Most adults only have 2-4 weeks of vacation time per year. Therefore answering questions such as where should I go and what should I do? Before arriving will help you save valuable time. 

Guide the way

Best Travel Guidebfor Europe 2023

#1 – Lonely Planet Europe

Lonely Planet Europe - 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe

Lonely Planet Europe – 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe

#2 – Rick Steves – Best of Europe Guidebook

Rick Steves Best of Europe - 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe

Rick Steves Best of Europe – 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe 

#3 – Fodor’s Essential Europe

Fodor's Essential Europe - 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe

Fodor’s Essential Europe – 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe 

#4 – DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Europe

DK Eyewitness Travel Europe - 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Europe – 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe 

#5 – Frommer’s Europe

Frommer's Europe - 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe

Frommer’s Europe – 5 Best Travel Guidebooks Europe 

In summary…

Best Travel Guidebooks for Europe 2023

Printed guidebooks are trustworthy. Why? They are written by experienced travelers and are reviewed and edited for accuracy and quality. Most guidebooks have an e-book version available, which is great when minimizing weight while  packing .

  While guidebooks are helpful, we also luckily live in the ‘age of the Internet’ and can check online and use  travel apps.  But ultimately, we are all different people with different desires. Your travel dreams are your own, and there is no need to feel ashamed for wanting to go to a ‘super touristy’ sight. In any case, these places are often well-known for a good reason.

The best travel guide is the one that suits you and your planning style. Then you will be prepared and ready to visit your  travel agent  and  book your flights!

Do you have any travel book recommendations? Do you use them pre-trip, during your trip, or not at all? Comment below and let us know!

If you are interested in how  travel agents  can get the best flight deals, read more about  unpublished airfares . In addition, if you are planning a  vacation to Europe , call out experts on  844-300-7983  for discounted flight deals.

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Welcome to Europe by Rail

Exploring Europe by train is easy, economical and enjoyable. Europe by Rail is a guidebook featuring fifty great routes, country information and off-beat diversions. It'll inspire you to explore Europe in a way you've probably never done before.

The 17th edition of Europe by Rail was published on 12 April 2022. The book was reprinted in September 2022 and July 2023.

17th edition Europe by Rail

What people have said about recent editions of the book

The continent of Europe is a vast land that is rich in diversity, history and culture. There are borders of course, yet Europe by Rail teaches us to see borders not as obstacles, but instead as open doors to new and different experiences.

Europe by Rail has been in existence for over a quarter of a century, but with each new edition Nicky and Susanne have continued to refine what is not only the finest guidebook to rail travel across this continent of ours, but also one of the best guides to travel in Europe full stop.

This guide most certainly lives up to its name: it is a most definitive guide, and is packed with all the information that you will need to plan your rail travel across the continent. Do not leave home without it.

Europe by Rail is a book of sheer possibility, a love letter to a continent that also tells you where to buy the ring and how to get to the jeweller's.

Whether you use it vicariously, imagining trips from the comfort of home, or as an essential part of your travelling kit, Europe by Rail is a wonderful publication, proving that we don't have to fly thousands of miles to find adventure when there's so much to see at our doorstep.

If you’re planning to travel by train in Europe, “Europe By Rail” is your one-stop-shop resource that’s filled with everything you need to know.

This fifteenth edition is not just a guide to European train journeys (50 of them) but it’s a cornucopia of useful information about rail travel in general. Even if you don’t intend to travel by rail regularly, there is plenty of in-depth writing to whet your appetite from your armchair.

Gardner and Kries have packed this new edition with invaluable information on European train travel. But they have also managed to capture the joy, excitement, and even romance of train travel in what could have been an otherwise dry reference guide.

If you love train travel as much as we do, this book is more than just a guide for your bookshelf. Snuggle down with it on the sofa, or pull it out of your bag on a crowded commute home–then promise yourself you’ll use it to discover just how magical train travel can be.

Whether you are planning on taking just one or two rail journeys in Europe or will be covering much of the continent onboard a train, Europe by Rail is a must-read. Both rail novices and experienced train travellers will appreciate the tips and information included in the book.

This new edition should appeal in particular to members of the engineering profession, always defined by the two parameters of precision and creativity (or passion if you wish). Europe by Rail is resplendent with both. While brimming with the latest thoroughly verified bits of information, it is written with genuine gusto by the people who are not only extremely fond of travelling, but also happen to be accomplished stylists and writers.

Can you lose yourself happily within the book’s pages, much in the same way that you would lose yourself in a town or a landscape that you are exploring for the first time? With Europe by Rail , the answer is a resounding yes: not only will you get new ideas of where to go, you will also find stuff to make you see familiar places in a fresh perspective.

For anyone planning to embark on a rail holiday in Europe, this guide is an invaluable companion. Even if you’ve travelled extensively by rail across the continent, things change regularly and it’s an easy way to bring yourself up to date. Don’t wait until you leave to buy it. The suggestions for stopovers and detours will help with your planning and you’ll have information at your fingertips about rail passes, supplements, connections and the like.

What comes across more than anything is a genuine love of Europe and a huge enthusiasm for exploring different countries and cultures. Living in Berlin, the authors are at the very heart of Europe, and the routes and diversions they suggest give everyone the chance to sample the excitement of having a whole continent spread out before us.

It’s a wonderful book – I love the idea of arranging a travel guide around rail journeys, rather than rail journeys merely being included as a means of getting from A to B. Over its 512 pages, it includes some 50 rail routes, which between them do an impressive job of covering the wealth of landscapes, cities, cultures and languages this continent has to offer.

Beautifully written, the book is both practical and inspirational.

The book is an alluring combination of evocative writing (“Speed soaks up detail as poppies in the fields of Flanders become a red haze”) and practical advice. Subtitled The Definitive Guide for Independent Travellers , it is also a history of Europe in 50 train routes.

Wenn es ein Buch in die 15. Auflage schafft, dann ist das schon ein großes Lob. Umso mehr, wenn es sich um einen Ratgeber handelt. Und ganz besonders, wenn der sich um etwas so – vermeintlich – Altmodisches wie Bahnreisen dreht.

The most comprehensive European railway guide, this book serves two separate purposes: As an inspiring book to read before you leave on your travels - and an essential guide to constantly refer to when you are actually travelling on the most beautiful trains and railway lines that Europe has to offer.

Last month, Nicky and Susanne’s latest project hit the shelves: the 15th edition of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide . As both editors and now publishers of the guidebook, Nicky and Susanne have brought their trademark attention to detail to all aspects of the new publication, and as always it is an absolute pleasure to read.

Each chapter is peppered with insights into culture and heritage, and practical information for making the most out of a journey. [...] Europe by Rail is a guidebook that proves both inspirational and informative.

Inside the book

A detailed guide for planning your rail journeys

The guidebook is packed with information you’ll need for planning your train journeys around Europe – be it a meandering trip using Eurail or InterRail or a quick break to just one destination. Detailed route descriptions and tips on fares and ticketing help you navigate your way around Europe’s rail network.

Our passion for rail travel

The authors of Europe by Rail are travel writers and slow travel aficionados. And they are passionate about rail travel. The book captures the essence of each journey. You’ll find facts, ideas and inspiration aplenty in well-penned prose which invites you to hop aboard and discover another side of Europe.

A good read

Whether you are planning a long journey by rail or are an armchair traveller, Europe by Rail has something for everybody. The book records the sheer variety of European life and landscapes – join us as we watch lakes, mountains and townscapes slip by beyond the carriage window.

Take time to explore

Most journeys within Europe are of a length where flying hardly makes sense. Modern and efficient rail services criss-cross the continent. Take time to stop off and explore places along the way. Rediscover the joy of being flexible. If a station looks inviting, why not hop off the train and see what the town has to offer?

The authors

Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner know their way around Europe by train. The two women, both based in Berlin, are the editors of hidden europe magazine. In their work for Europe by Rail , Nicky and Susanne perpetuate a tradition of writing about rail travel which goes back to Victorian England and the work of Thomas Cook.

European Rail News

Keep up to date with new services with the latest edition of the European Rail Timetable . And see our own European Rail News & Notes, which highlights what’s new around the railways of Europe. European Rail News & Notes is published by the authors of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Guide .

Get occasional updates about the brand-new 16th edition of Europe by Rail which was published in mid-October 2019.

By registering you agree with our privacy policy . By default, our e-Newsletter is in html format. If you should prefer to receive a simple text version, just tick the box below.

Get updates on train services, the announcement of new routes and other rail travel related snippets in our European Rail News & Notes section.

best europe travel guide books

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The Ultimate Guide: Best Books for European Travel

Discover the ultimate guide to the best books for European travel and embark on an immersive literary journey across the continent. Whether you’re seeking inspiration, practical advice, or a deeper understanding of European cultures, these carefully curated books will transport you to breathtaking landscapes, reveal hidden gems, and offer a glimpse into the rich history and vibrant traditions that make Europe so captivating. From timeless classics to modern travel memoirs, our selection caters to all tastes and wanderlust-filled souls. Join us as we explore the pages that will accompany you on your own unforgettable European adventure.

Best Books For European Travel

Key Takeaways: Best Books for European Travel

“Flights” by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), “Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland” by Sarah Moss (Iceland), “The Bridge on the Drina” by Ivo Andrić (Bosnia & Hercegovina), “City of the Mind” by Penelope Lively (England), “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” by José Saramago (Portugal), “The Museum of Abandoned Secrets” by Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine), and “The Black Book” by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) are among the recommended books to inspire European travel.

Lonely Planet offers excellent travel books for all European regions and specific countries. They can be found at lonelyplanet.com.

Other sources for travel book recommendations include goaciu.com, thetravelrunner.com, and europeupclose.com.

The popularity of travel books has increased during the pandemic, as people have more time to read and plan their trips.

Recommended travel guidebooks for Europe include “Lonely Planet Europe,” “Rick Steves – Best of Europe,” “Fodor’s Travel Essential Europe,” “Rick Steves – Europe Through the Back Door,” and “Lonely Planet – Europe on a Shoestring.”

“The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe” is a travel book targeted towards younger audiences and budget travel.

Thetravelrunner.com provides a list of books to read before traveling to Europe, including “Neither Here Nor There” by Bill Bryson, “Walking the Woods and the Water” by Nick Hunt, “Europe: A History” by Norman Davies, “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway.

The bestseller in European travel guides on Amazon is “Rick Steves Italy.”

Table of Contents

Best Books for European Travel

When it comes to planning a trip to Europe, there’s nothing quite like finding the perfect book to ignite your wanderlust and get you dreaming of all the adventures that await. Whether you’re looking for a captivating novel set in a European destination or a practical guidebook to help you navigate the continent, the right book can transport you to the heart of Europe’s vibrant cultures and storied history.

1. “Flights” by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland)

If you’re looking for a unique perspective on European travel, “Flights” by Olga Tokarczuk is a must-read. This award-winning novel takes you on a journey across the continent, exploring themes of mobility, displacement, and the interconnectedness of cultures. With its poetic prose and thought-provoking insights, “Flights” offers a rich and immersive reading experience that will inspire your own European adventures.

2. “Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland” by Sarah Moss (Iceland)

For those seeking a book that delves into the essence of a specific European destination, “Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland” by Sarah Moss is a fantastic choice. Moss recounts her experiences living and working in Iceland, providing a fascinating insight into the country’s culture, landscapes, and people. This book offers a personal and intimate perspective on Iceland, making it a valuable resource for travelers looking to connect with the soul of the country.

3. “The Bridge on the Drina” by Ivo Andrić (Bosnia & Hercegovina)

Step back in time with “The Bridge on the Drina” by Ivo Andrić, a Nobel Prize-winning novel set in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This captivating book traces the history of a stone bridge and its impact on the local community over the span of several centuries. Through Andrić’s masterful storytelling, readers gain a deeper understanding of the region’s complex history and the resilience of its people.

4. “City of the Mind” by Penelope Lively (England)

If you’re drawn to the charm and history of England, “City of the Mind” by Penelope Lively is a captivating read. Set in the vibrant city of London, this novel weaves together past and present, drawing readers into the magical essence of the city. Lively’s vivid descriptions and rich characters bring London to life, making “City of the Mind” an engaging companion for your European journey.

5. “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” by José Saramago (Portugal)

For those venturing to Portugal, “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” by José Saramago offers a literary escape to 20th-century Lisbon. This masterful novel combines history, romance, and philosophy, immersing readers in the sights, sounds, and emotions of the city. Saramago’s lyrical prose and introspective narrative make this book a compelling choice for travelers looking to uncover the soul of Portugal.

6. “The Museum of Abandoned Secrets” by Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine)

For a glimpse into Ukraine’s tumultuous past and its enduring spirit, “The Museum of Abandoned Secrets” by Oksana Zabuzhko is a powerful read. This novel intertwines the stories of two women living in different eras, shedding light on the country’s complex history and the resilience of its people. Through Zabuzhko’s evocative storytelling, readers are transported to Ukraine, gaining a deeper appreciation for its culture and heritage.

7. “The Black Book” by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

No journey through European literature is complete without a stop in Turkey. “The Black Book” by Orhan Pamuk is a mesmerizing tale that takes readers on a journey through Istanbul in search of a missing manuscript. This intricately crafted novel explores themes of love, identity, and the power of storytelling, all against the backdrop of Turkey’s vibrant and enchanting capital city.

While these books are sure to enhance your European travel experience, it’s always great to have additional resources at your disposal. Lonely Planet is known for its comprehensive travel guides, offering valuable insights into all European regions and specific countries. Their website, lonelyplanet.com, is a treasure trove of travel book recommendations that cater to different interests and needs.

Other websites like goaciu.com, thetravelrunner.com, and europeupclose.com also provide excellent suggestions for travel books that will ignite your passion for European exploration. From guidebooks tailored to budget travel to memoirs that capture the essence of European destinations, these websites offer a wealth of options to help you plan your dream trip.

Before concluding, it’s worth mentioning some popular travel guidebooks for Europe that are highly recommended by various sources. These include “Lonely Planet Europe,” “Rick Steves – Best of Europe,” “Fodor’s Travel Essential Europe,” “Rick Steves – Europe Through the Back Door,” and “Lonely Planet – Europe on a Shoestring.” Each of these guidebooks offers valuable information, insider tips, and detailed itineraries to ensure a memorable and enriching European adventure.

As you embark on your European travels, consider picking up a few of these books. Whether you choose to immerse yourself in captivating novels or seek practical advice from travel guidebooks, these literary companions will enhance your journey, provide cultural insights, and connect you with the soul of Europe. Happy reading and bon voyage!

Are you a traveler in need of some reading recommendations? Check out our curated list of books to enhance your travel experience: Reading Recommendations for Travelers . Whether you’re heading to Spain or England, or even navigating through a difficult time like a divorce, we have the best books for you! Explore the best books to read before going to Spain , best books to read before traveling to Spain , best books to read before visiting England , and best books to read when going through a divorce . Start your literary journey now!

Historical and Cultural Insights Provided by the Recommended Books

Europe is a continent teeming with rich history and diverse cultures. Exploring its fascinating past and vibrant present is an essential part of any European journey. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the historical and cultural tapestry of Europe is through the power of books. In this article, we will explore a curated selection of books that offer historical and cultural insights provided by the recommended books , taking you on a journey through Europe’s captivating past.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Bloodlands” by Timothy Snyder delves into the tragic history of Eastern Europe during World War II, providing a comprehensive understanding of the atrocities committed in this region.
  • “Gates of Europe” by Serhii Plokhy explores the complex history of Ukraine, shedding light on its political struggles and the geopolitical dynamics that have shaped Europe.
  • Ian Kershaw’s “To Hell and Back” offers a gripping account of Europe’s tumultuous journey through World War I, the interwar period, and World War II.
  • “The Silk Roads” by Peter Frankopan uncovers the crucial role Central Asia played in connecting Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, offering fresh perspectives on European history.
  • For a more personal narrative, Ian Kershaw’s “Roller Coaster Europe” takes readers on a journey across the continent, exploring both historical events and cultural aspects.
  • John Hirst’s “The Shortest History of Europe” provides a concise overview of European history, making it an ideal starting point for those seeking a broad understanding of the continent.
  • Norman Davies takes readers on a captivating journey through Europe’s forgotten realms in “Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe,” shedding light on lost empires and forgotten histories.
  • “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe” by Anne Applebaum offers a chilling exploration of the Soviet occupation in Eastern Europe and its lasting impact.

Citation: Alone with Books Citation: Dreams in Heels

These books not only provide historical context but also delve into the cultural and societal factors that have shaped Europe. They offer profound insights into the events that have shaped the continent’s present, fostering a deeper understanding of European traditions, languages, conflicts, and relationships.

By immersing ourselves in these captivating narratives, we can gain a more profound appreciation for Europe’s diverse cultures and unlock a deeper connection with the places we visit. Whether you’re planning a trip or simply eager to expand your knowledge, these books are a gateway to a world of historical and cultural treasures.

So grab a copy, embark on a literary journey through Europe, and let these books become your trusted companions, opening doors to the historical and cultural insights provided by the recommended books that make this magnificent continent come alive.

Remember, as you plan your European adventure, a good travel guidebook is essential. Check out reputable sources like Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s for practical information, itineraries, maps, and insider tips that will enhance your travel experience.

Safe travels and happy reading!

Exploration of the Various Genres and Topics Covered in the Recommended Books

  • The world of books for European travel is vast, with over 100 different categories and numerous subgenres to explore.
  • Some of the most popular book genres for European travel include fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thriller, autobiography, and more.
  • Lonely Planet travel books are highly recommended for Europe, offering great resources for specific regions within the continent.
  • Fiction books provide a broad and diverse range of stories, allowing readers to immerse themselves in different European settings and cultures.
  • Urban fantasy books offer a unique blend of the mundane and the magical, bringing to life captivating European cities.
  • Travel guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s provide practical information, itineraries, maps, and insider tips for exploring Europe.

When it comes to exploring the various genres and topics covered in the recommended books for European travel, the options are nearly endless. With over 100 different categories and numerous subgenres, you can dive into a world of captivating stories, cultural insights, and historical narratives.

Fiction books are a popular choice for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in different European settings. These books provide a window into the soul of Europe, capturing its charm, history, and unique cultural aspects. From novels set in bustling European cities like London to tales that transport readers to the remote landscapes of Iceland, there is something for everyone.

One genre that offers a broad and diverse range of stories is fantasy . Fantasy books can take readers on fantastical journeys through magical realms inspired by European folklore and mythology. These stories allow you to escape reality and embark on adventures filled with mythical creatures, epic quests, and enchanting landscapes.

If you prefer something more grounded in reality, autobiographies and biographies provide a glimpse into the lives and experiences of notable individuals who have traversed Europe. These books offer personal accounts that can inspire and inform your own travels, shedding light on the historical and cultural significance of various European destinations.

Mystery and thriller novels are perfect for those who enjoy gripping narratives with a dose of suspense. From captivating whodunits set in picturesque European villages to thrilling espionage stories in cosmopolitan cities, these books will keep you on the edge of your seat as you uncover hidden secrets and unravel intricate plots.

For those seeking a touch of the supernatural, urban fantasy books blend the mundane with the magical. These stories often take place in European cities, where mythical creatures and supernatural beings coexist with everyday life. Get ready to explore hidden realms and discover the extraordinary lurking beneath the surface of familiar urban landscapes.

In addition to fiction, travel guidebooks are invaluable resources for European exploration. Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s are highly recommended for their practical information, itineraries, maps, and insider tips. Whether you’re planning a trip to a specific European region or embarking on a multi-country adventure, these guidebooks will enhance your travel experience and help you make the most of your journey.

Key Takeaways: – The world of books for European travel is vast, with over 100 different categories and numerous subgenres to explore. – Some of the most popular book genres for European travel include fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thriller, autobiography, and more. – Lonely Planet travel books are highly recommended for Europe, offering great resources for specific regions within the continent. – Fiction books provide a broad and diverse range of stories, allowing readers to immerse themselves in different European settings and cultures. – Urban fantasy books offer a unique blend of the mundane and the magical, bringing to life captivating European cities. – Travel guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, and Fodor’s provide practical information, itineraries, maps, and insider tips for exploring Europe.

Sources: – Best Travel Books for Europe | Guidebooks for Planning 2023 – Aciu – The Ultimate List of Book Genres: 35 Popular Genres – Reedsy

Consideration of Individual Travel Interests and Needs for Selecting the Best Book

When it comes to planning a trip to Europe, one of the most important aspects to consider is the selection of the right travel guidebook or book that aligns with your individual travel interests and needs. With countless options available, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect companion for your European adventure. That’s why it’s crucial to consider your own preferences and requirements before making a decision.

Understanding Your Travel Interests and Needs

The first step in selecting the best book for European travel is understanding your own travel interests and needs. Are you a history enthusiast eager to delve into the rich past of European countries? Or perhaps you’re a food lover looking for culinary experiences in different regions? By identifying your interests, you can narrow down your search and find books that cater to your specific preferences.

Consider the type of information you’re looking for as well. Do you need practical travel advice, such as itineraries, maps, and insider tips? Or are you seeking books that provide a more immersive and cultural perspective? Determining the level of detail and the type of content you desire will help you find a book that suits your needs.

Reviewing the Best European Travel Guidebooks

A valuable resource for European travel is the wide range of travel guidebooks available. These books offer comprehensive information on various destinations, including attractions, accommodations, transportation, and local customs. Several highly regarded guidebook publishers such as Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, Fodor’s, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, Bradt Guides, Blue Guides, Footprint Travel Guides, and Insight Guides offer books specifically tailored for European travel.

Lonely Planet is widely recognized for its Europe Travel Guide, which is perfect for first-time travelers or those planning a multi-country trip. It provides an extensive overview of different European regions and countries, catering to travelers of all budgets. Similarly, Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door offers detailed information and insider tips for exploring Europe.

Fodor’s Travel, with its book Essential Europe, is a reliable resource that covers the essentials of planning a trip to Europe. Furthermore, Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring is a budget-friendly guidebook for those looking to explore Europe without breaking the bank.

Book Recommendations Based on Interests

Beyond travel guidebooks, there are numerous other books that can enhance your European travel experience. If you’re seeking inspiration, books like “The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories” or “The Portrait of a Lady” can spark your wanderlust and immerse you in European settings.

To get a taste of specific European cultures or regions, consider books that delve into the history, traditions, and people. For example, if you’re interested in Iceland, Sarah Moss’s “Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland” provides a personal and intimate exploration of the country’s culture and landscapes.

  • Consider your individual travel interests and needs when selecting a book for European travel.
  • Identify your travel preferences and requirements, such as history, food, or practical advice.
  • Review reputable travel guidebook publishers such as Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, Fodor’s, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, Bradt Guides, Blue Guides, Footprint Travel Guides, and Insight Guides.
  • Lonely Planet Europe Travel Guide, Rick Steves – Best of Europe, Fodor’s Travel Essential Europe, Rick Steves – Europe Through the Back Door, and Lonely Planet – Europe on a Shoestring are some of the top-rated travel guidebooks for Europe.
  • Explore books beyond guidebooks that offer cultural insights and storytelling, such as “The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories” or “The Portrait of a Lady.”
  • Take advantage of resources like book recommendations from reputable sources like Aciu, Book Riot, and Condé Nast Traveler.
  • Condé Nast Traveler

Best Books For European Travel

Q1: What are some recommended books for European travel?

A1: Some recommended books for European travel include “Flights” by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland), “Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland” by Sarah Moss (Iceland), “The Bridge on the Drina” by Ivo Andrić (Bosnia & Hercegovina), “City of the Mind” by Penelope Lively (England), “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” by José Saramago (Portugal), “The Museum of Abandoned Secrets” by Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukraine), and “The Black Book” by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey). These books offer immersive accounts of various European destinations and cultural experiences, providing readers with inspiration and insights for their own travels.

Q2: Where can I find travel book recommendations for Europe?

A2: There are several sources where you can find travel book recommendations for Europe. Lonely Planet (lonelyplanet.com) offers great travel books for all European regions and specific countries. Other relevant sources include goaciu.com, thetravelrunner.com, and europeupclose.com. These sources provide curated lists of books that cover a wide range of European destinations and travel experiences, helping readers find the perfect companions for their own memorable journeys.

Q3: What are some popular travel guidebooks for Europe?

A3: Some popular travel guidebooks for Europe include “Lonely Planet Europe,” “Rick Steves – Best of Europe,” “Fodor’s Travel Essential Europe,” “Rick Steves – Europe Through the Back Door,” and “Lonely Planet – Europe on a Shoestring.” These guidebooks offer practical information, maps, itineraries, and insider tips for exploring various European countries and regions. They are valuable resources for travelers seeking cultural, historical, and practical insights to enhance their European travel experiences.

Q4: Are there any travel books specifically geared towards younger audiences or budget travel in Europe?

A4: Yes, “The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe” is a travel book geared towards younger audiences and budget travel. This book provides practical advice, tips, and recommendations for exploring Europe on a budget, making it ideal for young travelers or those seeking affordable travel options. It covers a wide range of European destinations and offers insights into budget-friendly accommodations, transportation options, and attractions.

Q5: Are there any books I should read before traveling to Europe to enhance my experience?

A5: Yes, there are several books that can enhance your experience before traveling to Europe. “Neither Here Nor There” by Bill Bryson, “Walking the Woods and the Water” by Nick Hunt, “Europe: A History” by Norman Davies, “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway are just a few examples. These books provide cultural, historical, and personal perspectives on European destinations, helping readers develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the places they plan to visit.

best europe travel guide books

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How to Pick the Best Travel Guide Books

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Ann-Marie Cahill

Ann-Marie Cahill will read anything and everything. From novels to trading cards to the inside of CD covers (they’re still a thing, right?). A good day is when her kids bring notes home from school. A bad day is when she has to pry a book from her kids’ hands. And then realizes where they get it from. The only thing Ann-Marie loves more than reading is travelling. She has expensive hobbies.

View All posts by Ann-Marie Cahill

Travel. I love it. I live it. I breathe it . In my view, it all starts with the rush of exhilaration when I choose the magical destination for my next trip…only to come crashing down when I have to choose a damn travel guide to start my research. Because you don’t want to be lugging around every travel guide. You need to narrow it down to the best travel guide books. And I mean, really narrow it down. 

I hate that part.

We’re not talking the travel-inspiring books . We’re talking the more practical side of travel planning. And seriously, there are so many travel guides on the market, it is a nightmare of global proportions to choose only one. Add to that how q uickly the information can date, and you are left wondering if this really is such a good idea.

The thing is, each travel guide has its pros and cons. Some are perfect for the USA, some have a better understanding of the winding roads of New Zealand. There are guides perfect for your architectural adventures through Rome while others take you on a culinary tour of Paris. But unless you have nine months to read up on every travel guide, it’s really hard to know which is the best travel guide books. 

How to pick out the best travel guide books, along with 11 of our personal favorites. book lists | travel guides | how to pick a travel guide | best travel guide books

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So I did the hard work for you. I narrowed it down to 11 of the best travel guide books and the reasons why (just so you know I didn’t simply accept whichever book was left on the library shelf). And how did I choose the best? Well, I read each of their editions for a city or country I am already VERY familiar with. Now, usually, we would only be reading travel guides of places we want to learn more about, right? What better way to ‘test’ a travel guide than to see if they know it as well as a local!

Before you start buying up on guidebooks, here are a few tips to help you choose your own:

The Best Travel Guide Books

Lonely planet guide.

best travel guide books

Great for: Big picture travel across a whole country for most regions but especially Oceania, Asia, and the “Shoestring” range. New Zealand is the best ever.

Not so great : They need to update their South America collection. The most recent edition for Ecuador was lacking in detail and encouragement to try new things, especially for the Galapagos Islands. Really felt like at least two of the white male writers phoned it in from their NY base.

best travel guide books

Great for: The best highlights of any city, especially in Europe (e.g.  Paris ). 

Not so great: Personal local touch, or if you plan to stay in one place for longer than a week at a time.

best travel guide books

Recently, they have been changed their focus to a more budget-friendly approach, but I don’t think it is coming through with their local writers.

Great for: Mainstream Travel with an upmarket touch, especially Western Europe (see Frommer’s Europe ).

Not so great: “One block over” travel, stepping away from the regular, e.g. the Melbourne guide did little to entice me into exploring the city’s famous laneways of culture, coffee, and bookshops.

DK Eyewitness

best travel guide books

Great for : visually inspiring your holidays. Beautiful for places like Rome or London. Great guide for Italy . 

Not so great: Day-to-day travel details. Once I stepped out of the Vatican Museum, it was pretty much useless.

Rick Steves

best travel guide books

Great for: First-timers travellers visiting one of the major cities of the world, like London or  Paris

Not so great: Anyone looking for a little more depth, e.g. do not use for Venice—that’s a city you need to be lost in at least once.

Rough Guides

best travel guide books

Great for : Historic or off-the-beaten-track adventures, like SE Asia, NZ, South America

Not so great: Big cities or glossy photos for visual cues. It was of no help in Kuala Lumpur.

Bradt Guides

best travel guide books

Good for: Cultural highlights of countries and regions, especially Macedonia .

Not so great : Asia. The Borneo guide was lacking in details about the various cultures and land issues for the locals.

Blue Guides

best travel guide books

Great for : Book Riot, history and literary buffs, that big cultural holiday you were taking through the Romantic History of Europe. The Blue Guide: Greece (The Mainland) is especially lovely to read!

Not so great: The rave scene in Berlin. Not really the Blue Guide style.

Footprint Travel Guides

best europe travel guide books

Great for : transport. Really useful in busy, stretched out places like Bangkok and Thailand

Not so great : Budget details.

Insight Guides

best travel guide books

Great for: Giving you an idea in your mind of where you want to go. The Insight Guides Turkey  is especially memorable

Not so great: Actual travel. Don’t rely on these books to get you around a city like Naples and the Amalfi Coast.

This is… by Miroslava Saska

best travel guide books

As always, I’m open to suggestion and we LOVE suggestions here at Book Riot. So, if I have missed your favourite, please tell us all about it in the comments. Or if you are looking for a suggestion for your dream destination, ask us!

Bon Voyage!

[Ed.’s Note: This article originally incorrectly stated that The Insight Guides is produced by the Discovery Channel; they’re produced by APA Publications, which is not affiliated with the Discovery Channel.]

best europe travel guide books

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Take a trip without leaving home with these adventurous reads from this year

Laura Kiniry

Laura Kiniry

Travel Correspondent

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It’s often said that travel is all about the journey, whether it’s planning a remote island holiday or setting out on the adventure of a lifetime across the Arctic Ocean. But it can be almost as thrilling to roam the world from the comfort of our homes. Just take our pick of 2023 travel books, which include everything from humor-fueled essay collections and thought-provoking narratives to tomes brimming with full-page colorful photographs and tips on finding the most welcoming LGBTQ+ spots around the globe. They all share the uncanny ability to transport readers through time and space without ever having to open the front door.

Whether it’s a deep delve into a Balkan landscape of healing plants and foraging, or a more than 2,000-mile road trip through America’s racial history, here are ten travel books that are more than worthy of this year’s holiday wish lists.

Driving the Green Book: A Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance by Alvin Hall

From 1936 to 1967, the Green Book served as an annual travel guide for African Americans, helping them to identify welcoming hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses across the United States during the Jim Crow era. Compiled by Black New York City postman Victor Hugo Green , this essential reference publication included places like Manhattan’s Hotel Theresa , once considered the “Waldorf of Harlem,” and the Moulin Rouge Hotel in Las Vegas, frequented by celebrities like Harry Belafonte and Ella Fitzgerald during its five-month stint in 1955.

Award-winning broadcaster Alvin Hall first learned about the Green Book in 2015, and he was immediately intrigued. Several years later, he and a friend, activist Janée Woods Weber , set out on a 2,000-plus-mile cross-country road trip from Detroit to New Orleans, visiting many of the establishments once featured in the guide’s pages. (Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has a nearly complete collection of the Green Book , which Hall utilized.) Along the way, Hall also gathered memories from some of the guide’s last surviving users.

The result, Driving the Green Book: a Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance , is a poignant 288-page journey along America’s open roads, delving into the country’s racial past, detailing the Green Book ’s life-saving history and bringing it all together in one remarkable read.

Preview thumbnail for 'Driving the Green Book: A Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance

Driving the Green Book: A Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance

Join award-winning broadcaster Alvin Hall on a journey through America’s haunted racial past, with the legendary Green Book as your guide.

The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-Mile Horseback Journey Into the Old West by Will Grant

In 2019, American journalist Will Grant embarked on a five-month, 2,000 mile journey on horseback from Missouri to California. His goal: to follow the historic route of the Pony Express , a legendary frontier mail system operating between April 1860 and October 1861, which used a series of horse-mounted riders and relay stations to deliver mail from one end to the other in just ten days. Although the express service went bankrupt after only 18 months, it remains an iconic symbol of America’s Old West.

Grant chronicles his 142-day adventure in The Last Ride of the Pony Express , a first-person narrative describing his trip across the Great Plains of Nebraska and the sagebrush steppe of Wyoming in the company of his two horses, Badger and Chicken Fry. While Grant reflects on the West’s modernization over time, it’s his vivid descriptions of the communities and local residents—including ranchers, farmers and migrant sheep herders—along the way that make the book a real page-turner.

Preview thumbnail for 'The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-mile Horseback Journey into the Old West

The Last Ride of the Pony Express: My 2,000-mile Horseback Journey into the Old West

The Last Ride of the Pony Express is a tale of adventure by a horseman who defies most modern conveniences, and is an unforgettable narrative that will forever change how you see the West, the Pony Express, and America as a whole.

Unforgettable Journeys Europe: Discover the Joys of Slow Travel

The latest in the Unforgettable Journeys series by DK Eyewitness, a publisher of nonfiction books known for its visual travel guides, Unforgettable Journeys Europe highlights the notion that travel really is all about the “getting there.” This inspirational tome details 150 of Europe’s best slow adventures, such as kayaking through Lithuania and crossing the Arctic Circle by train.

The bucket list is organized by modes of transportation, with sections titled “By Bike” and “By Rail,” for example. Illustrations, photos, maps and plenty of practical information (including start and end points for trails, difficulty ratings and website links) are then spread throughout the text, making the book as much colorful reference as it is inspiring read. In the “On Foot” chapter, there’s a description of Scotland’s Fife Pilgrim Way , a 56-mile trek along an ancient pilgrim route with cathedral and countryside views. Along with details on what to see during the multiday hike, the book features a selection of highlighted tips, like what to do (pick wild berries while passing through Clatto Reservoir ) and how to splurge (dinner and an overnight stay at the cozy, Michelin-starred Peat Inn ) en route.

Preview thumbnail for 'Unforgettable Journeys Europe: Discover the Joys of Slow Travel (Dk Eyewitness)

Unforgettable Journeys Europe: Discover the Joys of Slow Travel (Dk Eyewitness)

Inspirational travel book covering 150 of Europe's most incredible journeys, including routes on foot and by bike, road, rail and water.

Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time by Kapka Kassabova

After a decade of living in the Scottish Highlands, native Bulgarian Kapka Kassabova returned to her roots in southwestern Bulgaria’s remote Mesta Valley, a rural region known for its array of wild crops and their vast medicinal properties. Over several seasons (Kassabova’s move occurred at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic), the poet and writer set out to study the deep relationship between the area’s people and plants, as well as with the land itself. Her resulting text—with chapters like “Pine Syrup,” “Honey Sellers” and “Shepherd’s Superfood”—is an autobiographical exploration of one of the globe’s lesser-known corners, one brimming with forages, healers and a wealth of folk traditions.

“ Elixir is the vibrant, beautiful story of a singular, remarkable place,” writes Foreword book reviewer Catherine Thureson. “It issues a call to reclaim the physical, emotional and spiritual connection between humanity and the natural world.”

Preview thumbnail for 'Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time

Elixir: In the Valley at the End of Time

In Elixir , in a wild river valley and amid the three mountains that define it, Kapka Kassabova seeks out the deep connection between people, plants, and place.

The Life Cycle by Kate Rawles

British writer and cyclist Kate Rawles has a penchant for raising awareness about environmental challenges through her own adventures—and inspiring action in the process. In 2006, Rawles cycled 4,553 miles from Texas to Alaska , interviewing Americans about climate change along the way. Her latest endeavor—an 8,288-mile, 13-month journey across the length of the Andes Mountains on a self-built bamboo bicycle she nicknamed “Woody”—is the basis for her new book, The Life Cycle .

During this largely solo endeavor in 2017 and 2018, the author crossed some of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems, including South America’s Atacama Desert and the Bolivian salt flats. Simultaneously, she found herself witnessing the devastating effects of extreme biodiversity loss caused by industries such as logging and gold mining, and met with activists and communities working to regenerate these habitats—sharing their concerns and insight throughout the narrative.

Preview thumbnail for 'The Life Cycle: 8,000 Miles in the Andes by Bamboo Bike

The Life Cycle: 8,000 Miles in the Andes by Bamboo Bike

Pedalling hard for thirteen months, eco adventurer Kate Rawles cycled the length of the Andes on an eccentric bicycle she built herself. The Life Cycle charts her mission to find out why biodiversity is so important, what's happening to it, and what can be done to protect it.

Unravelling the Silk Road by Chris Aslan

An extremely well-researched story of three ancient trade routes that helped define a continent, Chris Aslan’s Unravelling the Silk Road “merges trauma with textiles to track the past and present experiences of the people of Central Asia,” writes author Clare Hunter . He explores the roles played by wool, a textile used by the region’s nomads for both yurts and clothing; silk, a commodity that was once more valuable than gold; and cotton, the cause of Russian and then Soviet colonization, since it provided cheap material for the global superpower.

Turkish-born Aslan interweaves his own personal experiences (the author once picked cotton with locals and worked with nomadic yak herders in Central Asia’s Pamir Mountains) with the history of each route and its impact on the lives of local residents ​​ —as well as the region itself. Aslan also examines how political and cultural changes are affecting new trade routes and the people who depend on them.

Preview thumbnail for 'Unravelling the Silk Road: Travels and Textiles in Central Asia

Unravelling the Silk Road: Travels and Textiles in Central Asia

Veteran traveler and textile expert Chris Aslan explores the Silk, Wool and Cotton Roads of Central Asia.

The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise​​ by Pico Iyer

British-born essayist and acclaimed writer Pico Iyer is no stranger to travel journalism. The author—whose childhood was divided among English, Indian and U.S. cultures—is known for works like 1989’s Video Night in Kathmandu , a stark look at modern Asia, and The Global Soul , a 2001 collection of essays on finding home in a world of international airports and shopping malls. For more than 40 years, Iyer has traveled the globe, reflecting on the planet and our role within it.

“After years of travel, I’d begun to wonder what kind of paradise can ever be found in a world of unceasing conflict,” writes Iyer in his latest book, The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise , “and whether the very search for it might not simply aggravate our differences.” The result is a retrospective look at his own travels and encounters—from North Korea’s capital city of Pyongyang to Jerusalem’s Ethiopian chapels—through the idea of “paradise,” what it means and whether it exists.

Preview thumbnail for 'The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise

The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise

Traveling from Iran to North Korea, from the Dalai Lama’s Himalayas to the ghostly temples of Japan, Pico Iyer brings together a lifetime of explorations to upend our ideas of utopia and ask how we might find peace in the midst of difficulty and suffering.

The Pride Atlas: 500 Iconic Destinations for Queer Travelers by Maartje Hensen

Big, bold and colorful, The Pride Atlas is a valuable resource for LGBTQ+ folks and their allies, as well as a perfect coffee table topper. Compiled by queer author and photographer Maartje Hensen , its 400 pages are brimming with eye-catching photos and practical information, such as websites like Meetup and Couchsurfing that are useful for connecting with similarly minded locals and travelers, and resources regarding laws and cultural attitudes worldwide.

At the heart of the book are 500 destinations from around the globe, each one of them highlighting a way of engaging with LGBTQ+ culture. You’ll find drag shows, Pride parades, campsites, microbrew pubs and other places, from San Francisco’s Transgender District to Haircuts for Anyone , an inclusive and affirmative hair salon in Montreal that charges by sliding scale.

“Hopefully,” writes Hensen, “ The Pride Atlas expands your horizons and inspires you to go out into the world, to (un)learn from others … because, like gender, the world doesn’t fit into binary.” Indeed.

Preview thumbnail for 'The Pride Atlas: 500 Iconic Destinations for Queer Travelers

The Pride Atlas: 500 Iconic Destinations for Queer Travelers

Combining immersive photography with expertly researched travel writing, this is the ultimate guidebook for LGBTQ+ travelers—whether you're planning your next getaway, daydreaming from the comfort of your armchair, or seeking to learn about queer culture in other parts of the world.

Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel by Shahnaz Habib

An enlightening and entertaining debut essay collection by a U.S.-based Indian Muslim author, Airplane Mode brings a unique and under-represented perspective to the world of travel. Shahnaz Habib approaches such topics as the origins of passports, colonial modes of thinking about travel—like safaris and pilgrimages—and terms like “pseudiscovery,” which she uses to describe an explorer’s claim of discovering something that’s existed for thousands of years, with both wit and curiosity, incorporating her own personal narratives to boot.

Perhaps Annabel Abbs, author of Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women , says it best in her praise for Airplane Mode, which has been long-listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence . She calls it “a fascinating, wide-ranging and insightful travelogue that poses some of the biggest questions of all: Who gets to travel, and what is it that makes us so keen to travel in the first place?”

Preview thumbnail for 'Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel

Airplane Mode: An Irreverent History of Travel

This witty personal and cultural history of travel from the perspective of a Third World-raised woman of color, Airplane Mode , asks: what does it mean to be a joyous traveler when we live in the ruins of colonialism, capitalism and climate change?

Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures by Connie Wang

The closest Chinese expression to “Oh, my god” is wode ma ya , which literally translates to “Oh, my mother.” It’s a declaration of astonishment, as well as the title for journalist Connie Wang ’s humorous and heartfelt book, Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures . Wang details the complicated relationship between herself and her stubborn and “wildly opinionated” mother, Qing Li, across nine essays, taking readers from time-share properties in Cancun and Aruba to a Magic Mike strip show in Las Vegas. “This is our memoir—a long personal essay, if you will—and it was forged through shared fact-checking,” Wang writes in the book. “Qing was the first person to read each chapter as it was written, and she is this book’s first editor.” According to Kirkus Reviews , the author “drives to the heart of how a daughter comes to know her mother as someone with a life beyond motherhood.”

Preview thumbnail for 'Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures

Oh My Mother!: A Memoir in Nine Adventures

A dazzling mother-daughter adventure around the world in pursuit of self-discovery, a family reckoning, and Asian American defiance

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Laura Kiniry

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Laura Kiniry is a San Francisco-based freelance writer specializing in food, drink, and travel. She contributes to a variety of outlets including American Way , O-The Oprah Magazine , BBC.com , and numerous AAA pubs.

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10 Best Travel Books and Guides

London Guide Book Tea Sugar Reading Expert

Guidebooks are a great way to get the most out of your trip. They help you find hidden hot spots around town, save cash, and narrow in on cultural experiences that will let you live like a local, even if just for a few days.

Plus there is the added benefit of getting excited to learn about your upcoming trip. Truly, a guidebook helps you pass the weeks and months between when you book your trip and when you board your plane.

So, why isn’t everyone reading guidebooks? The overriding reason is likely that they’re overwhelmed. A quick trip to the library and you’ll see that the guidebook section is huge and intimidating. Finding the perfect guide doesn’t have to be a headache, though. Here’s a look at a few tried and trusted brands and authors that deliver a big punch when it comes to guides books for almost anywhere; but especially in Europe.

Lonely Planet

This series is often the first line of defense in choosing your guidebook. Offering an edition for almost everywhere on Earth, the Lonely Planet Series offers quick, nonsense facts that make it a straightforward read. Inside readers will find dining, hotel, and attractions that range from low to midrange budget levels. You can also expect to pick up some interesting facts, history, and ground transportation information here.

Rick Steves

Educated and opinionated, the Rick Steves Europe series is a must-have for the traveler who wants to get off of the beaten path. Focusing more on opinion-based offerings, this series helps a traveler maximize their time abroad by focusing on what the author deems the most “worthwhile” things to see, do, and taste in each major area. He also only does travel research in peak tourist season, which means you’re getting an accurate look at crowd levels during that time.

Trying to see Europe on a college kid’s budget? This is the guide for you. Let’s Go is authored by Harvard students with an emphasis on tight wire budgets. Focusing almost entirely on how to have the most experiences on the smallest budget possible, this guide offers a look at the popular European Hostel (vs Hotel) and trendy alternative nightlife options. It’s opinionated and spirited in tone and a favorite for other young travelers.

Frommer's Guides

In stark comparison to the Let’s Go series, the well-respected Frommer's guides are targeted to the more mature traveler. Once the encyclopedia of travel guides, Frommer's has spent considerable time in recent years trimming their articles and gearing content towards a more budget conscience point of view. While the detailed approach can offer peace of mind to the detail-oriented and timid traveler base, it can leave free spirits feeling a bit caged and managed.

Rough Guides

Written by Europeans for would-be Europeans, this guide series offers a unique look at, “living like a local.” The real benefit here is that the authors have their finger on the pulse of the current social atmosphere and understand daily interactions with Europeans on a level that most American authors simply can’t grasp based on research alone. The result is that this series, while perhaps lacking in hotel information, offers superior insight into cultural and historical insight surrounding many of the things and places tourists want to see the most.

Fodor’s Guides

The big dog in the travel and tourism publishing industry, Fodor’s guides are the largest English language guidebooks out there. Launched in the 1930s by Random House publishing, this series had one main goal; make travel interesting. Offering tips on travel behaviors, like appropriate tipping, as well as points of interest, the series also highlights the standard hotel and dining entries. With more than 440 guides across 300 destinations, many still consider Fodor’s the gold standard of what a guidebook should be.

Eyewitness Guides

Some learners are visually based. For these travelers, we present the Eyewitness Guide series. Focused on showcasing the beauty of the places you intend to travel, this series is light on text and rich in imagery. While it can help you get excited about the places on your itinerary, it’s not likely to offer you travel tips or much insight. One place this guide really shines though is for young travelers. Getting young children excited about a long flight is difficult; consider this the perfect picture book to help get early readers excited about their upcoming travels.

While many traveling to Europe are entrenched in history and culture, some are seeking a lifestyle experience that transcends the millennia. For the young at heart looking for an immersive, current experience, we present Time Out. This series, written for the British market specifically, focuses on entertainment and dining primarily, with secondary emphasis on lodging and sightseeing. Again focusing on the youthful, trendy market, this guidebook pairs nicely with your smartphone to create an interactive experience that allows you to purchase event tickets directly from your phone.

Michelin Green Guides

As the name suggests, these guides are bound in a green cover and are easily identified at the bookstore. But they offer more than an identifiable spine. Inside you’ll find loads of maps, photos, and an all-encompassing look at lifestyle, history, art, and culture in each of your destinations. What makes these titles interesting is how they rank attractions on a map. Instead of big cities getting bold typeface, points of interest to travelers are presented with prominence. This makes it visually simple to plan a trip based on proximity and interest. This inclusive guide has branched out in recent years to include reviews of favorite restaurants and hotels as well, but if this is the keystone of your travel research, consider also purchasing the Michelin Red Guides as a compliment.

Blue Guides

For those who consider themselves scholarly readers, the Blue Guides may be the place to start. They’re often considered dry material, but when it comes to an in-depth look at where you’re headed, these guides can’t be beaten. The series focuses on history, art, and architecture.

One more thing to keep in mind—make sure you’re getting a current guidebook. Restaurants close, hotels change management, things change and guidebooks can go from poignant to pointless pretty quickly. Ensuring that you’re getting the most current information possible is the best way to make sure you’re actually preparing for the trip you’re about to take.

The above-listed brands and authors typically produce updated versions once a year or so, but not all authors do. Before you buy, check the publication date. It should be within a year of the current date, and if you have to look too hard to find it, it’s probably not updated regularly.

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Plan, Ready, Go

The Best Travel Guides (Online and Books)

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Even in the digital age, travel guide books are an important part of my travel planning journey. I have read and tried many different travel books and online travel guides. And I pulled together a list of what I think are the best travel guides (books and online resources). 

couple using a map while planning a trip

I return to my favorite travel guides again and again with each trip that we plan. Once you find a travel guide series that you know and trust, it can really speed up the travel planning process.  

But which travel guides are the best? Keep reading for the full list!  

Need help with planning your trip? Check out our guide to the best travel planning resources .  

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  See disclaimer.

Are travel guidebooks still used now? 

Absolutely! Although you can find a wealth of travel planning help online, the good old-fashioned travel guidebooks are still very much available and in use. 

Some people prefer to use paper travel guidebooks. You can flag important sections and highlight things you want to remember. We’ve even ripped our books up (they’re meant to be used!) and traveled only with the sections covering the cities and sites we visited. 

E-books are also a great option for travel guides. If you use e-books, you can easily travel with several guides without adding a single ounce to your luggage. It’s a perfect option for those who travel carry-on only .

Rick Steves: best travel guides for Europe 

Rick steves guidebooks .

Some seasoned travelers look down their noses a bit at Rick Steves guide books . There’s no reason for that. Rick Steves knows Europe inside and out from decades of traveling, leading tours, writing books, and producing episodes of his wonderful series  Rick Steves’ Europe.  

Rick Steves books are excellent guides and well worth the money. I highly recommend them, especially for travel planning beginners or for anxious travelers who are looking for an expert to tell them where to visit and how. 

His books are kept up to date and quite detailed, even to the point of including full guided walking tours (often several) and detailed guided tours through major sites. 

cover image of Rick Steves Rome travel guide book

  • Steves, Rick (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 604 Pages – 09/06/2022 (Publication Date) – Rick Steves (Publisher)

Rick Steves online 

You can also get a lot of good free travel tips and help on the Rick Steves website, including the forums . There are forums specifically for countries, reviews, and several forums about general travel tips topics. 

They’re a great way to get insight and tips from other experienced travelers…even those who disagree with Rick Steves itinerary suggestions. (Shocked face.)

Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App 

I also highly recommend the Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App . It’s loaded with audio guides for walking tours and top travel destination sites like the Colosseum in Rome and The Louvre Museum in Paris.  

Download the audio tours for your destination so you can listen to them on your mobile device as you explore your destination. 

Rough Guides: my favorite travel guidebooks overall 

Super practical and easy to read, Rough Guides are my top choice for any destination that isn’t in Europe (for which I prefer Rick Steves guide books ). 

The UK-based company was founded in 1982 with the  Rough Guide to Greece . Since then, they have published travel guidebooks for well over 100 destinations all over the world. 

In addition to their main guidebook series, they also offer Pocket Rough Guides, On a Budget, Snapshots, phrasebooks, and inspirational guides like “Make the Most of Your Time on Earth.” 

cover image for The Rough Guide to Greece guide book

  • Guides, Rough (Author)
  • 840 Pages – 10/18/2022 (Publication Date) – Rough Guides (Publisher)

Rough Guides website 

Rough Guides isn’t just a guidebook publisher though. Since 2017 they have offered tailor-made trips to over 70 destinations. created by local travel experts. 

Their website provides some basic itineraries, travel recommendations, and basic destination information for free that can help get you started on planning your travel itinerary . 

Fodor’s 

The great travel writer Eugene Fodor once said “You don’t need to be rich to travel well.” And that’s been kind of my mantra for the last several years. 

In 1936 Fodor wrote the first modern travel guide book . It was for British audiences and he wrote all 1200 pages himself. The book was O n the Continent: An Entertaining Travel Annual .

According to Fodors.com , “The guide went beyond reporting on the sights and for the first time included information about Europe’s culture and people, practical information like how to tip, and was the first to be annually updated.” 

Since  On the Continent  was first published, Fodor’s has been a trusted name in travel guides. They now claim that their travel writers have covered more than 8,000 destinations around the world . 

In addition to the Signature Guides, their other series include Fodor’s Inside, In Focus, and 25 Best. Fodor’s says that  Fodor’s   Italy  is the company’s top-selling guide book. 

cover image of Fodor's Italy travel guide

  • Fodor’s Travel Guides (Author)
  • 896 Pages – 12/20/2022 (Publication Date) – Fodor’s Travel (Publisher)

Fodor’s website 

Fodors.com was one of the first travel websites when it launched in 1996 . Today the site offers destination guides, general travel content, and forums about specific destinations or general travel topics such as air travel. 

Frommer’s 

The venerated Frommer’s travel guides were launched by Arthur Frommer in 1957 with a guide to visiting Europe on $5 a day (yup. $5.). That guide followed his book about how to travel Europe as a GI (Frommer was in the Army at the time). 

Frommer’s quickly grew to become one of the most trusted names in travel guidebooks. 

Several years ago, Frommer’s was acquired by Google, which pulled the plug on their print books in the spring of 2013.

Arthur Frommer reacquired the company shortly thereafter and then quickly made a deal to get the books back in distribution. Frommer’s then started emphasizing their Easy Guides and Day by Day series, which were smaller and easier to read and carry than the typical large guidebooks they saw on the market. 

cover image for Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks travel guide book

  • Gordon, Yvonne (Author)
  • 602 Pages – 08/23/2022 (Publication Date) – FrommerMedia (Publisher)

Frommer’s website 

Frommers.com is a fine place to start planning for a trip for free. Destination information includes city layouts, how to get around, and their top picks for hotels and dining. 

They also provide other general travel content and feature articles plus trip ideas for honeymoons, arts and cultural travel, national parks, family travel, road trips, and more. 

The Frommer’s Travel Show (podcast) 

Pauline Frommer, daughter of Frommer’s founder Arthur Frommer, hosts The Frommer’s Travel Show podcast . New episodes come out approximately once per week or several times a month. 

Bradt Guides 

Known for publishing guides for lesser-traveled destinations (though certainly not less deserving), Bradt bills itself as “the world’s leading independent travel publisher.”  

Bradt guides are the go-to for destinations not covered by other publishers. They say that “over two-thirds of Bradt guides still have no direct competition from other publishers.” 

The Bradts’ first book,  Backpacking Along Ancient Ways Peru & Bolivia , was the first to detail the Inca Trail.

Later they became known for writing guides to destinations “post-conflict.” These included Rwanda, Kosovo, and the Baltic States after the fall of the Iron Curtain. 

In addition to their destination guidebooks, Bradt also publishes a Slow Travel series of UK destinations, a Wildlife series, and general travel literature. 

cover image for Bradt travel guide

  • McIntyre, Chris (Author)
  • 456 Pages – 06/01/2022 (Publication Date) – Bradt Travel Guides (Publisher)

Bradt Guides Travel Club 

Avid travelers can support Bradt by joining their Travel Club through Patreon. There are three tiers: Bradtpacker, Globetrotter, and First-Class Traveller. Each tier offers differing levels of subscriber benefits including things like e-books and access to their bespoke travel planning service. 

Lonely Planet  

Lonely Planet books for a long time were quite popular especially with younger backpackers looking to travel on a budget. The books can be light on the details that certain travelers (beginners, anxious travelers) might wish for when making good decisions about where to spend their travel dollars. 

Lonely Planet books are good for independent and adventurous travelers . Or for those who just want some recommendations but not a prescribed itinerary with a ton of detail.  

In addition to their popular guidebooks, Lonely Planet also publishes phrasebooks, general travel books, food books, and children’s books. 

cover image for Lonely Planet travel guide

  • Mayhew, Bradley (Author)
  • 288 Pages – 03/16/2021 (Publication Date) – Lonely Planet (Publisher)

Lonely Planet website  

You can get some basic, inspirational travel information to start your travel planning from the Lonely Planet website . Sadly, they set their forums to “read-only” some time ago. In my opinion, the forums were the best (and most valuable) part of the website. 

Marco Polo 

Marco Polo is best known for its compact and colorful pocket travel guides. They also offer spiral-bound itinerary-based guides, phrasebooks, folding maps, travel handbooks, travel journals, city maps, and road atlases. 

Cover image for Marco Polo guide to Santorini

  • Marco Polo Travel Publishing Marco Polo Travel Publishing (Author)
  • 136 Pages – 10/15/2022 (Publication Date) – Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Ltd. (Publisher)

Marco Polo Discovery Tours App 

The free Marco Polo Discovery Tours app offers travelers a variety of guided itineraries through many destinations. For example, you can download a 23-day driving tour of New Zealand with a step-by-step driving tour over both islands. 

DK Eyewitness: among best travel books for visuals 

I enjoy reading DK Eyewitness guides, especially when I’m looking for information about the history and culture of my destination.  The glossy full-color books feature beautiful photographs and illustrations perfect for inspiring your travel itinerary. They cover more than 100 destinations. 

DK was founded in 1974 by Christopher Dorling and Peter Kindersley. They published their first travel book in the early 1990’s promising to show you “what others only tell you.”

They also cover all the usual grounds for travel guidebooks: itineraries, maps, dining and accommodations recommendations, top sites, etc. 

cover image for DK Eyewitness travel book

  • DK Eyewitness (Author)
  • 592 Pages – 04/26/2022 (Publication Date) – DK Eyewitness Travel (Publisher)

Where to Go podcast 

Produced by the team behind the DK Eyewitness books, each episode of the Where to Go podcast dives deep into a particular destination. New episodes come out every two weeks or so. 

Insight Guides 

For more than 40 years, Insight Guides have published guidebooks covering more than 200 destinations. 

In my experience, they’re quite a bit heavier on destination history and culture than any other travel guide I’ve encountered. So, if that’s not something you enjoy, then these guidebooks might not be your top choice. 

Insight Guides series include: Explore Guides, City Breaks, Pocket Guides, City Guides, and Experience Guides. 

Insight Guides Explore New Zealand (Travel Guide with Free eBook) (Insight Explore Guides)

  • Guides, Insight (Author)
  • 144 Pages – 04/01/2018 (Publication Date) – Insight Guides (Publisher)

Insight Guides website

You will find some travel information on the Insight Guides website , making it a decent place to start if you’re unsure of your destination.

The emphasis of their website seems to be on advertising their Insight Guides trip offerings…not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

Atlas Obscura 

Atlas obscura book .

Unlike all of the other travel guidebooks listed above, Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders is not a series of guidebooks but rather one book that details an incredible array of oddities and wonders around the world. 

Here’s how the authors describe their book and website (more on that below): 

“The site, and this book, are a kind of wunderkammer of places, a cabinet of curiosities that is meant to inspire wonderlust as much as wanderlust. In fact, many of the places in this book are in no way ‘tourist sites’ and should not be treated as such. Others are so out of the way, so treacherously situated, or (in at least one case) so deep beneath the surface, that few readers will ever be able to visit them. But here they are, sharing this marvelously strange planet with us.  Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton,  Atlas Obscura , revised second edition, (New York: Workman Publishing, 2019) vii

The revised second edition (published in 2019) added more than 100 new sites to the 2016 first edition. The book is delightful reading if you’re into oddities around the world. I definitely recommend picking up a copy. 

Atlas Obscura

  • Hardcover Book
  • Foer, Joshua (Author)

Atlas Obscura website 

Make sure you stop by the Atlas Obscura website  during your travel planning if you like finding out-of-the-way sites, or unusual places to visit, or want to make it a priority to get off the beaten path. 

You can even take Atlas Obscura trips to some pretty unusual places and even with some unusual activities…such as assisting biologists with bee research at Redwood National Park. 

Atlas Obscura podcast 

Atlas Obscura launched a podcast in March 2021, which I’ve really enjoyed listening to. Early episodes covered sites such as the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan, the Museum of Bad Art in Massachusetts, and the old Widow Jane cement mine in Rosendale, New York. 

Final thoughts on the best travel guidebooks 

The best travel guides will be the ones that you use and that help you plan a trip that you truly love. I personally like to use a combination of travel guidebooks and online travel planning resources. 

But don’t just follow my advice. Try these guidebook series and online travel guides for yourself and find the ones that you will like and use for your trip planning. 

What are your favorite travel guidebooks?

More articles related to travel guides 

  • Travel planning resources  
  • The top books about travel and self-discovery 
  • Best books to read before you travel to Paris  
  • The best books about the South 

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the best travel guide books

Darcy Vierow is a busy professional and travel planning expert with years of experience maximizing travel with limited time and on a less-than-average salary. Her tips have been published by Forbes, MSN.com, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Aol, Newsbreak and GOBankingRates. Read more about Darcy Vierow .

Michelin guides (the green books) are great!

I used to use the “Let’s Go: Europe” guides, which were great. They were targeting college age students mostly, but they had lots of good information re: trip planning for everyone.

Which guidebooks (and/or websites) are best for planning train/plane travel while in Europe? Any standouts?

Thanks for your very helpful information!

You’re welcome, Wayne. The Man in Seat 61 is THE expert in European train travel. His website is: https://www.seat61.com/ . He’s also pretty active on Twitter. I’d also recommend checking out https://www.rome2rio.com/ for helping with planning transportation for any trip. Thanks for reading!

My family had a great time in Paris. We had a wonderful time there and enjoyed the culture of the region. The nightlife was fantastic, and the city’s elegance is indescribable. We are in love with the place and explore so many places like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, Cruise on the Seine, etc. After reading your blog I would like to revisit there.

Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip. Thanks for reading!

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.

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8 things to know before going to Sicily

Jamie Ditaranto

Mar 1, 2024 • 5 min read

Multigenerational group of tourists  standing in front of panoramic view of Mediterranean Sea

Sicily has a ton of personality and a few unique quirks – here's what you need to know © Jimena Roquero / Stocksy

Sicily is an island of mythic proportions, highly regarded for its natural beauty and the deep well of history it embodies in its ancient archaeological sites and luxe palazzos. A proud triangle, the island has three coastlines and two island chains and is home to the most active volcano in Europe, the indomitable Mount Etna .

In pursuit of claiming my Italian citizenship, I spent five summery months living in the Sicilian heartland, exploring the coast and ruins and immersing myself in the daily life of small-town Sicily. Preceded by its mafia history (both the fictional and the real), it is often misunderstood by visitors coming to the island with Godfather-inspired expectations, but there is a lot more to discover in Sicily beyond the stereotypes.

Here’s what you need to know before visiting.

1. Fly in and out of two different airports

The most efficient way to plan a tour through Sicily is to fly into Palermo and leave from Catania , or vice versa. Palermo and Catania are the island’s two largest cities and are located at opposite ends of the island. Each has its own airport with direct flights to the mainland and other European cities. There is also a small airport in Trapani, on the west coast – ideal if you want to visit the Egadi Islands – but here you’ll only find flights to and from mainland Italian airports.

A man and woman sit in a car while driving in Sicily. The camera is looking out the front windshield to reveal a historic town ahead

2. Public transport in Sicily is not for the weak

Traveling by train through Sicily is convenient if you stick to the coasts and plan to travel out of main hubs like Palermo, Messina or Catania. However, the schedules are not always reliable, so you should plan plenty of buffer time into your itinerary if you choose to do Sicily without a car. Many of Sicily’s major destinations, like beachy San Vito Lo Capo and the historical hilltop town of Erice , are inaccessible by train, but you can get there by bus. Forgoing a car rental in Sicily is doable, but your trip will be much easier with a set of wheels.

3. Plan to move around

Sicily’s major attractions are dispersed throughout the island, so you will feel limited if you choose one city as your base for the whole trip. There are so many wonderful towns and islands, beautiful hotels, charming bed-and-breakfasts and a vast array of sights – from the ruins of Agrigento to the volcanoes of the Aeolian Islands , and all the historical villages and sunny vineyards in between. 

4. Understand the real history of the mafia

Sure, you can buy plenty of Godfather merchandise when you get to Sicily, but you will have a deeper appreciation of the reality of the island’s mafia history if you take the time to understand it as a tragic story, not one to be idealized. 

In Palermo, there is a free museum at the No Mafia Memorial , which details the history of organized crime in Sicily and tells the story of Falcone and Borsellino, two heroic judges who were assassinated during the mafia wars of the 1990s. In Corleone – not actually where the movie was filmed – you can also visit CIDMA , a documentation and education center that dives deeper into the saga of the Maxi Trial, a three-year criminal trial that convicted over 300 people involved in organized crime.

A close up of Sicilian granita ice creatm with a brioche bun blurred in front

5. Italy’s dining dogmas still apply, but one popular breakfast will surprise you

If this isn’t your first time in Italy, you probably already know where Italians stand when it comes to pineapple on pizza, cappuccinos after lunch and chicken in pasta – they will not hear of it. Sicily follows these same rules, but one tradition is likely to delight your inner child: ice cream for breakfast. Italian breakfasts are always sweet, but Sicilians take it to the next level by enjoying either gelato or granita, a type of shaved ice, sandwiched between a fluffy brioche bun first thing in the morning.

6. Sicily’s multicultural history makes it a unique destination

Separated from the mainland by the Strait of Messina, this region of southern Italy has its own cultural identity thanks to its long history of being conquered and influenced by rulers from all over the world. Each culture, from the Greeks and Romans to the Arabs and Crown of Aragon, left its mark in some way. These influences can be found in food – like Sicily's love of couscous – and urban planning and architecture. Whether you’re walking in a city with ancient Greek foundations like Ortigia or delighting in the Baroque streets of Noto , you’ll feel the difference in style but an overall ambiance that is still distinctly Sicilian.

GettyImages-1280430989.jpg

7. You can drink the tap water

Like the rest of Italy, you’ll find many public fountains with free water that is safe to drink unless otherwise marked as “non-potable.” Unless you're advised otherwise, tap water in Sicily is good to drink, but you will find many locals prefer the taste of bottled water. Like elsewhere in Italy and Europe, if you ask for water at a restaurant, they will bring you a bottle and charge you for it. However, if you order an espresso at a cafe bar, it usually comes with a small cup of water on the side to cleanse your palette before you sip.

8. Sicily is the frontier of Europe’s migrant crisis

Ever the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily is one of the main arrival points for refugees seeking asylum in Europe. This is a particularly large issue for the distant Italian island of Lampedusa , which is closer to the coast of Africa than it is to Sicily. The high number of arrivals has at times overwhelmed select areas of Sicily, but in my experience, the effect on the tourism industry has been minimal. Still, it’s wise to educate yourself about these current events before you arrive.

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Thomas Kingston Has Died at Age 45, Buckingham Palace Announces

His death comes as a shock to the British royal family.

the wedding of lady gabriella windsor and mr thomas kingston

Thomas Kingston has passed away at age 45, Buckingham Palace just announced.

Kingston was found in Gloucestershire on Sunday evening, and emergency services were called to the scene, where he was pronounced dead. An inquest will be held, but there are no suspicious circumstances, T&C understands. It is also understood that Prince William's absence from King Constantine's memorial service today was unconnected to the news of Kingston's passing; Prince and Princess of Michael were in attendance at the service.

According to a Buckingham Palace spokesperson, "The King and The Queen have been informed of Thomas’s death and join Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and all those who knew him in grieving a much-loved member of the family. In particular, Their Majesties send their most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to Gabriella and to all the Kingston family." At this point, details of the funeral will not be shared.

Kingston is the son-in-law of Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Michael of Kent , having married Lady Gabriella Windsor in a royal wedding in 2019 .

He is survived by his wife, Lady Gabriella, his parents Martin and Jill Kingston, and his sisters, Joanna Connolly and Emma Murray.

Headshot of Emily Burack

Emily Burack (she/her) is the Senior News Editor for Town & Country, where she covers entertainment, culture, the royals, and a range of other subjects. Before joining T&C, she was the deputy managing editor at Hey Alma , a Jewish culture site. Follow her @emburack on Twitter and Instagram .

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Find your perfect river cruise: 10 best river cruise lines of 2024

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Best River Cruise Line (2024) February 16, 2024

River cruising has been exploding in popularity in recent years, and it's easy to see why. You check in, unpack your bag, and let your floating hotel take you on a journey of discovery down some of the world's great waterways, with experiential guided excursions along the way. 

These 10 river cruise lines have been selected by a panel of cruise industry experts and voted as the best by readers because they offer stellar experiences — both on the ship and off — from comfy staterooms and top-notch cuisine to outings that are expertly led and culturally immersive.

Amadeus River Cruises

No. 10: Amadeus River Cruises

Amadeus River Cruises takes passengers on river journeys in Europe aboard a relatively young fleet. Vessels offer complimentary bicycles for passengers to use while ashore, as well as free-flowing wine to wash down elegant five-course dinners. Shore excursions can be booked as a package or a la carte, making Amadeus one of Europe's more affordable river lines.

American Queen Voyages

No. 9: American Queen Voyages

American Queen Voyages specializes in river cruising across the United States. These all-inclusive itineraries include pre-cruise hotel stays, open bars, regional cuisine, and shore excursions in each port of call. Cruisers can ply the waterways of the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, Cumberland, Tennessee, Columbia, or Snake rivers.

Riviera River Cruises

No. 8: Riviera River Cruises

U.K.-based Riviera River Cruises offers more than 20 itineraries throughout Europe that appeal to value-conscious travelers. The fleet of young ships features extras like tea- and coffee-making facilities in all cabins, free Wi-Fi, and Juliet balconies in some cabins, as well as fares inclusive of meals, excursions, and entertainment.

American Cruise Lines

No. 7: American Cruise Lines

Guests plying America’s waterways with American Cruise Lines enjoy some of the most environmentally-friendly small ships and riverboats on the continent. Professional chefs cook up delectable meals from locally sourced ingredients, while musicians, naturalists, and historians come aboard to enhance the cruising experience. Spacious staterooms feature private balconies for stellar views no matter the destination, and there are more than 50 itineraries to choose from throughout the United States.

CroisiEurope Cruises

No. 6: CroisiEurope Cruises

CroisiEurope operates 50 exclusive ships for its creative itineraries along the waterways of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Not only can passengers cruise major rivers and European coastlines, but they can also experience more intimate French canals aboard one of CroisiEurope’s fleet of 11-cabin barges.

Pandaw Cruises

No. 5: Pandaw Cruises

Adventurous travelers hop aboard any of Pandaw’s fleet of riverboats to cruise the waterways of Myanmar, India, Borneo, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Pandaw’s 17 boats, handcrafted in brass and teak, offer spacious promenade and observation decks for outdoor viewing, as well as expansive staterooms where every window can be opened. Local cuisine is prepared from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Grand Circle Cruise Line

No. 4: Grand Circle Cruise Line

A river cruise offers a unique opportunity to spend a week or more getting immersed in local culture, and Grand Circle assigns a knowledgeable guide to every one of its cruises to show guests the way to unique experiences across Europe. Special Christmas Market itineraries in Germany and Austria make Grand Circle a great off-season choice, too.

Abercrombie & Kent

No. 3: Abercrombie & Kent

Abercrombie & Kent's canal and river cruising itineraries are almost totally all-inclusive, with things like gratuities, alcohol, and shore excursions coming at no extra cost. The company specializes in luxury European cruises and barging with small groups of no more than 24 guests and resident tour directors on board the chartered vessels. Abercrombie & Kent also cruises the Yangtze and the Nile.

Avalon Waterways

No. 2: Avalon Waterways

River cruisers with Avalon Waterways enjoy spacious standard staterooms and suites aboard Avalon’s fleet of luxurious ships, cruising the waterways of Europe, South America, Egypt, and Southeast Asia. Onboard amenities include a fitness center, a Sky Deck with a whirlpool and shade system, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and a self-serve beverage station.

Viking River Cruises

No. 1: Viking River Cruises

Founded in 1997, Viking River Cruises plies the waterways of Europe, Asia, the U.S., and Egypt with its fleet of more than 60 vessels. While Viking has also launched an award-winning ocean cruise line, the company built its reputation in river cruising. These all-inclusive cruises feature outside staterooms, Wi-Fi, wine and beer with meals, shore excursions in every port, and cultural enrichment programs.

About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

The Experts

Ben Souza

Ben Souza is a world traveler who has visited 40+...   Read More

Ben Souza is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70  cruises, and flown nearly one million miles. He serves as the editor of  Cruise Fever .

Ben Souza

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo are the husband and wife team...   Read More

Don and Heidi Bucolo are the husband and wife team behind EatSleepCruise.com . Their love for cruising began after taking their first cruise together back in 2007. Having spent over 180 days at sea on more than 30 cruises with various cruise brands, they have learned a thing or two about planning and executing the perfect cruise vacation. The couple was voted as one of Porthole Cruise 's Top 10 Cruise Influencers and is featured in the new book  Cruising Interrupted . You can find them on the web and social media sharing detailed cruise ship reviews, port guides, packing tips and planning tips to help travelers "sea the world, one port at a time."

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based cruising expert...   Read More

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based cruising expert with more than 140 sailings under his belt and a fresh, millennial perspective on the industry. He has been cruising since before he was two years old, thanks to his parents' shared passion for traveling and their desire to experience all journeys together as a family. Now, he regularly sails and writes "he said, she said" cruise columns with his wife Heidi. He is the founding editor of Popular Cruising , producer of the successful Popular Cruising YouTube channel  and Cruise Editor for TravelAge West.

Jason Leppert

John Shallo

John Shallo

John Shallo is the founder and editor of  Cruise...   Read More

John Shallo is the founder and editor of  Cruise Addicts , a premier online community for cruise travelers. His love for cruising began after his first cruise in 1989. He later established Cruise Addicts in 1999 to share his passion for cruise travel with others, and it has become an award-winning destination for self-professed Cruise Addicts looking for the latest cruise industry news, forums, ship reviews, and travel tips. You can find him on the web and social media, sharing his latest cruise ship review,  video , travel tips, and port guides. He hopes to continue sharing his experiences and inspiring others to enjoy cruise travel to its fullest. 

John Shallo

Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin

Residing in New Brunswick, Canada, Ming has been...   Read More

Residing in New Brunswick, Canada, Ming has been in the cruise industry since 1994. Ming spent over 20 years in the retail travel sector, working with travel agencies in marketing initiatives, cruise training, and promoting cruise vacations to their clients. In 2015, Ming created  Your Cruise Coach  and transitioned into travel writing, preaching the merits of cruising via her partnerships with Canadian and American travel trade publications as well as consumer media outlets. An avid cruiser since 1991, Ming has sailed on over 70 cruises and has experienced over 25 ocean, river, and expedition cruise lines combined.

Ming Tappin

Paul Thornton

Paul Thornton

Paul’s just completed book,  The Joy of Cruising...   Read More

Paul’s just completed book,  The Joy of Cruising Again ,  is his fourth and follow-up to the fun, upbeat, award-winning Amazon bestseller  The Joy of Cruising ,   and   Cruising Interrupted .   The books are anthologies of passionate cruisers with fascinating stories and have included a TV star, Grammy winners/nominees, a Poker Hall of Famer, entrepreneurs, and global cruise personalities, but mostly “ordinary” cruisers with extraordinary stories. Readers can learn more about  The Joy of Cruising  trilogy here. Besides continuing to cruise as much as possible, Paul hosts  The Joy of Cruising Podcast , a weekly conversation with one of the dozens of passionate cruisers featured in the books as well as other global cruise personalities.  Paul is originally from Brooklyn and Long Island, New York. After serving in the US Army and simultaneously earning a bachelor's degree in business, he attained his MBA and then spent concurrently, 17 years in corporate management, and 23 years in small business ownership. After leaving corporate, he started a career in higher ed. He earned a doctorate, attained tenure as a business professor, and subsequently moved into administration in Dean or Executive Director positions before retiring in 2021. Paul lives in Mooresville, North Carolina with his wife Cheryl and considers cruising with their children and grandchildren life’s ultimate escape. Paul longs to cruise as much as the people he writes about in  The Joy of Cruising   Trilogy .

Paul Thornton

Sarah Christie and Donna Christie of Cruising Kids UK

Sarah Christie and Donna Christie of Cruising Kids UK

Sarah Christie and Donna Vallance are experienced...   Read More

Sarah Christie and Donna Vallance are experienced cruise and travel writers and cruise enthusiasts specializing in cruising. They have a passion for exploring new destinations and have dedicated themselves to sharing their knowledge and insights with fellow travelers. They provide valuable information, tips, and recommendations for all cruisers. They strive to make cruising accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their interests, budgets, or accessibility needs. Their articles and reviews are well-researched, comprehensive, and written to help readers make informed decisions and have unforgettable cruise adventures. Find them over at  Cruising For All.

Sarah Christie and Donna Christie of Cruising Kids UK

Sherry Laskin

Sherry Laskin

Sherry hasn’t set foot on an airplane in more than...   Read More

Sherry hasn’t set foot on an airplane in more than 25 years.  Instead, she relies on cruise ships, river ships, trains and road trips to travel the world.  In that time, she’s been on more cruises than she can count and includes her solo cruise and travel adventures on her website,  CruiseMaven.com .  Her articles have been published in major newspapers and magazines - in print and online.  During a year and a half of living in Alaska, Sherry has cruised and spent time at every port in the Last Frontier except for Nome.  She’s become an avid transatlantic cruiser since 2005, as that is the only way for her to get to Europe without flying. Sherry hopes to inspire and encourage her readers to travel slow and travel solo, experience new cuisines and cultures. 

Sherry Laskin

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original,...   Read More

USA TODAY 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

10Best Editors

Best Small Town in the Northeast

Best Small Town Food Scene

Best Small Town Food Scene

Best Small Town Cultural Scene

Best Small Town Cultural Scene

Best Small Town in the South

Best Small Town in the South

Best Small Town in the Midwest

Best Small Town in the Midwest

Browse the best.

Best Boutique Cruise Line (2024)

Best Boutique Cruise Line (2024)

Best Cruise Ship for Dining (2024)

Best Cruise Ship for Dining (2024)

Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers (2024)

Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers (2024)

Best Ocean Cruise Line (2024)

Best Ocean Cruise Line (2024)

Best Adults Only Cruise (2024)

Best Adults Only Cruise (2024)

Back to readers' choice.

IMAGES

  1. The Best Berlin Travel Guide Books [2020 Update]

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COMMENTS

  1. 6 Best Travel Guidebooks for Europe [Plan Your Perfect Trip]

    4. The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget. The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget. $25.98. Rough Guides Europe on a Budget: Unlock Europe's wonders without breaking the bank. Discover budget-friendly travel tips, hidden gems, and unforgettable experiences for the savvy adventurer. Buy Now.

  2. Comparing Guidebook Series

    When I travel in Europe and beyond — to areas I don't cover in my books — I routinely use guidebooks from these publishers, and find them helpful. Lonely Planet: The worldwide standard for a solid guidebook, Lonely Planet covers most countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The Lonely Planet series offers comprehensive, no ...

  3. Amazon Best Sellers: Best European Travel Guides

    Best Sellers in European Travel Guides. #1. Rick Steves Italy (Travel Guide) Rick Steves. 736. Paperback. 48 offers from $16.84. #2. Rick Steves Portugal (Travel Guide)

  4. Amazon Best Sellers: Best General Europe Travel Guides

    Best Sellers in General Europe Travel Guides. #1. Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands (Travel Guide) Rick Steves. 142. Paperback. 50 offers from $13.65. #2. Rick Steves Best of Europe.

  5. Best of Europe Guidebook for 2024

    Best of Europe Guidebook. Share. $29.99. Just the best of Europe's top destinations. Vivid full-color photos and easy-to-scan layout. Rick's selected picks for sights, eating, sleeping. Great self-guided neighborhood walks and museum tours. Perfect for a whirlwind Europe trip. Shipping & Returns.

  6. Guidebooks for Europe

    Get the most out of every day and dollar with Rick Steves Europe guidebook and read-before-you-go travel books. Go! 0; My Account. Tour ... Best of Europe Guidebook. $29.99. Europe Through the Back Doo... $29.99. Mediterranean Cruise Ports ... $27.99. Scandinavian & Northern Eur... $27.99. Central Europe Guidebook.

  7. Best books to get you dreaming of European travel

    The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago. Set against the backdrop of the rise of fascism in 1930s Portugal, the titular Doctor Reis returns from Brazil and finds himself in a state of aimlessness. He roams from ship to tram to city, street by winding street, contemplating (and attempting to write) poetry and losing his time in ...

  8. Rick Steves Best of Europe: Steves, Rick: 9781641713085: Amazon.com: Books

    Frequently bought together. This item: Rick Steves Best of Europe. $1899. +. Rick Steves Europe Planning Map: Including London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam, Vienna & Prague City Maps. $999. +. Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook (Rick Steves Travel Guide) $2699.

  9. Top European Travel Guidebooks

    Rick Steves' Best of Europe, 2015. Famous travel guru Rick Steves gives his recommendations for the best places to visit on a European trip, including hotels and restaurants for each destination. This book is not a complete guide to European countries, only the places recommended by Mr. Steves. 1488 pages. 04 of 07.

  10. Best Travel Guides for Europe: Top European Guidebooks for 2020

    Here are some of my other favorite Europe travel guidebooks at the moment: 1. Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet is a large guidebook publisher that started way back in the 70s when Maureen and Tony Wheeler embarked on a global adventure. If you enjoy podcasts, Maureen and Tony were featured on How I Built This with Guy Raz.

  11. 12 Books to Read Before Traveling to Europe (The Best Ones)

    2. Walking the Woods and the Water — Nick Hunt. In 2011, a young man named Nick Hunt caught a ferry to the Hook of Holland. He had his mind set on one thing. Walking and backpacking across the European continent, the same way Patrick Leigh Fermor had done nearly 80 years before.

  12. 11 BEST Travel Guides for 2024 [Websites & Guidebooks]

    Published on: June 30, 2023. TL;DR: The two best travel guides are Rick Steves for first time travelers—especially anyone going to Europe—and Bradt Guides for off-the-beaten-path destinations and "Slow Travel." Both are reliable, will give you ideas for what to do, and help you plan the best trip. The way we travel has changed drastically in my lifetime.

  13. Best Travel Books for Europe

    Travelling on a Limited Time or Budget. Full Reviews of the Best Travel Books for Europe. Lonely Planet Europe Travel Guide. Rick Steves - Best of Europe. Fodor's Travel Essential Europe. Rick Steves - Europe Through the Back Door. Lonely Planet - Europe on a Shoestring. The Rough Guide to First-Time Europe.

  14. Best travel books for Europe on a budget

    Our 10 Best travel books for Europe on a budget. If you are looking for the best travel books for Europe on a budget, then we have hand picked and reviewed the best Europe travel guides to buy for 2018. Simply click on the product for more information and to check prices below: Product details. DK Eyewitness Europe Travel Guide. 1325 photographs.

  15. 5 of the Best Travel Guidebooks for Europe 2024

    The Lonely Planet books are definitely considered by many to be the best travel guidebooks for Europe. The publishers describe Lonely Planet Europe as a travel guide for mid-range travelers.The book includes fully researched and up-to-date suggestions from their travel experts, planning, and itinerary help, local secrets, tips, and more. Amazon ...

  16. Europe Travel Guide

    Travel information for Europe's best destinations across 25+ countries. Explore Europe with Rick Steves' travel guide to the best destinations and recommended sights, things to do, tips, and videos along with much more travel information.

  17. Europe by Rail

    Europe by Rail is a guidebook featuring fifty great routes, country information and off-beat diversions. It'll inspire you to explore Europe in a way you've probably never done before. New edition. The 17th edition of Europe by Rail was published on 12 April 2022. The book was reprinted in September 2022 and July 2023.

  18. Fodor's Essential Europe: The Best... by Fodor's Travel Guides

    Fodor's Essential Europe: The Best of 25 Exceptional Countries (Travel Guide, 3) Paperback - January 31, 2017. Fodor's Essential Europe: The Best of 25 Exceptional Countries (Travel Guide, 3) Paperback - January 31, 2017. by Fodor's Travel Guides (Author) 4.4 126 ratings. Part of: Travel Guide (5 books)

  19. The Ultimate Guide: Best Books for European Travel

    - Travel guidebooks such as Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, DK Eyewitness, Rough Guides, and Fodor's provide practical information, itineraries, maps, and insider tips for exploring Europe. Sources: - Best Travel Books for Europe | Guidebooks for Planning 2023 - Aciu - The Ultimate List of Book Genres: 35 Popular Genres - Reedsy

  20. How to Pick the Best Travel Guide Books And 11 Of Our Favorites

    Bonus note: LP has a whole extra range of books like The Not-For-Parents Travel Book and The Solo Travel Handbook. But that's a whole other series. Great for: Big picture travel across a whole country for most regions but especially Oceania, Asia, and the "Shoestring" range. New Zealand is the best ever.

  21. The Ten Best Books About Travel of 2023

    Laura Kiniry. Travel Correspondent. December 5, 2023. This year's top titles include The Last Ride of the Pony Express, Elixir, Airplane Mode, and more. Illustration by Emily Lankiewicz. It's ...

  22. Best Travel Books & Guides

    The big dog in the travel and tourism publishing industry, Fodor's guides are the largest English language guidebooks out there. Launched in the 1930s by Random House publishing, this series had one main goal; make travel interesting. Offering tips on travel behaviors, like appropriate tipping, as well as points of interest, the series also ...

  23. The Best Travel Guides (Online and Books)

    The Rough Guide to Greece (Travel Guide with Free eBook) (Rough Guides) Guides, Rough (Author) English (Publication Language) 840 Pages - 10/18/2022 (Publication Date) - Rough Guides (Publisher) $28.99 −$5.50 $23.49. Read reviews on Amazon.

  24. 8 things to know before going to Sicily

    8. Sicily is the frontier of Europe's migrant crisis. Ever the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Sicily is one of the main arrival points for refugees seeking asylum in Europe. This is a particularly large issue for the distant Italian island of Lampedusa, which is closer to the coast of Africa than it is to Sicily. The high number of arrivals ...

  25. Thomas Kingston Has Died at Age 45, Buckingham Palace Announces

    Thomas Kingston has passed away at age 45, Buckingham Palace just announced. In a statement on behalf of Lady Gabriella Kingston, Martin and Jill Kingston, Joanna Connolly, and Emma Murray, the ...

  26. 10 best river cruise lines for 2024

    Ming spent over 20 years in the retail travel sector, working with travel agencies in marketing initiatives, cruise training, and promoting cruise vacations to their clients. In 2015, Ming created Your Cruise Coach and transitioned into travel writing, preaching the merits of cruising via her partnerships with Canadian and American travel trade ...