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A turret-studded meander along the Rhine

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Visiting the Rhine River Valley never gets old. It's storybook Germany, a fairy-tale world of legends, rugged cliffs, half-timbered towns and robber-baron castles. One of Europe's great thrills is zipping along the Rhine River on a fast train, or gliding slowly on a relaxing old steamer boat.

The Rhine flows north from Switzerland to Holland, ...Read more

Europe's Jewish quarters

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I like to take in European history by strolling a neighborhood, as if beachcombing. Picking up shards of a place's distant past, it's possible to piece together unexpected stories. Europe's venerable Jewish quarters are ideal places for this.

European Jewish history is dominated by the Holocaust and the brutal persecution and murder of Jews by ...Read more

Everyday errands are windows into European culture

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I often preach that travel is more rewarding when you get beyond the blockbuster sights and touristy cliches and get intimate with a culture and its people. One way to do that is to pass time like a local rather than like a tourist. From relaxing with Europeans in a park to munching on fresh seafood alongside workers at a market hall, taking ...Read more

Musical bridges to European culture

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Music has always been an important part of my life. My dad was a musician who also sold and tuned pianos, and I spent my high school years as a piano teacher. I was known among parents in my community for taking boys with tear-stained cheeks to my piano bench, starting them out with boogies and pop songs, and eventually getting them turned on to...Read more

Wandering Dubrovnik's city walls

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Croatia, with thousands of miles of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, is Eastern Europe's Riviera. Holiday-makers love its pebbly beaches, predictably balmy summer weather and dramatic mountains. Croatia's top tourist town, Dubrovnik, is deservedly known as the "Pearl of the Adriatic," jutting confidently into the sea on the southern tip.

While ...Read more

Strange food: Europe's offbeat delicacies

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

My palate has come a long way from my "Europe through the gutter" days, when my travel diet consisted of peanut butter and strawberry jam on cheap baguettes. Now one of my favorite parts of travel is sampling local specialties. From horse meat in France to pig's ears in Spain, I make it a point to try dishes that make a place unique -- no matter...Read more

Biking in Europe's boonies

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Europe is a treasure chest of great cultural monuments. But it's also a continent filled with natural beauty -- often overlooked by tourists sprinting from sight to sight, or searching for the perfect souvenir. I've found that a day biking in the great outdoors can be just as culturally fulfilling as time spent in a great church or art gallery. ...Read more

Florence discoveries

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Geographically small but culturally rich, Florence is home to some of the greatest art and architecture in the world. I've been there more times than I can count, and with each visit, I'm reminded that I've barely scratched the surface of all it has to offer.

In this city of noble and elegant facades, inspirational sights are everywhere you ...Read more

Edinburgh's Royal Mile

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

There's no better introduction to Edinburgh -- the historical, cultural and political capital of Scotland -- than a walk straight down the spine of the old town. Stretching from a hill-topping castle to a queen's palace, this ramble is appropriately called the Royal Mile. Despite being crammed with tourists, it's one of Europe's best sightseeing...Read more

Budapest: City of Paradox

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Most Americans choose Prague as their first foray into Eastern Europe, but the true powerhouse of the region is Budapest, capital of Hungary. Budapest can be challenging and complicated -- but it's a cosmopolitan place of unexpected elegance, fascinating and rewarding.

Sprawling across the banks of the Danube River, the city is really two towns...Read more

Volterra: Tuscany's Top Hill Town

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Just a two-hour drive from jammed-with-tourists Florence, you'll find what is perhaps Italy's most underrated hill town -- Volterra. With rustic vitality and surprising depth, its out-of-the-way location keeps it from being trampled by visitors.

Unlike other famous Tuscan towns, Volterra feels real, vibrant and almost oblivious to the allure of...Read more

Europe Far From the Madding Crowd

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Crowds are becoming an increasing nuisance at top European attractions. There's almost no way to experience places like the Sistine Chapel or the Palace of Versailles without a constant and raging commotion of tourists. It's not uncommon to find hour-or-more waits in ticket-buying lines and rooms packed shoulder-to-shoulder with visitors and ...Read more

Basque Country: Europe's premium blend

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The land of the Basque people, split between Spain and France, is a "nation without a state" -- left off the map when they drew Europe's national borders. Basque Country is often left out of travel itineraries too, and that's a mistake. With sunny beaches, spectacular modern architecture, tasty tapas, and feisty, free-spirited people, this ...Read more

Warsaw reborn

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, doesn't appear at the top of many European travelers' wish lists. But that's just one reason you may want to visit. With evocative sights, an epic history, and low prices, Warsaw is a diamond in the rough.

If you're looking for Old World quaintness, head for Krakow. If you're tickled by spires and domes, get to ...Read more

The Easy Streets of Copenhagen

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is an improbable combination of corny Danish cliches, well-dressed executives having a business lunch amid cutting-edge contemporary architecture and some of the funkiest counterculture in Europe. And yet, it all just works so tidily together.

I like tuning in to the little details of everyday life here. Along ...Read more

Rome after dark

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

In Rome, sunset brings unexpected magic. A stroll in the cool of the evening is made memorable by the romance of the Eternal City. The tourist who retreats at night to an air-conditioned hotel room is missing the best time to plunge into Rome. Once the museums close and the crowds thin, Rome relaxes. The city -- so grand and monumental by day --...Read more

Go outside when you're inside Europe

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

After spending the last 30 springs and summers in Europe, it seems to me that, more and more, the culture is celebrated outdoors. Cities and towns everywhere are competing to attract tourists; there is more than enough music, drink, theater, and fun to keep these concerts and festivals going and growing. Make a point in your travels to enjoy the...Read more

Tracking Napoleon's rise and fall in Paris

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Working on my TV shows and guidebooks in Europe, I try to get the straight story on history, but it can be tricky. I keep remembering Napoleon's quote: "What is history but a myth agreed upon?" With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, there are a lot of people quoting Napoleon these days.

Napoleon's life ...Read more

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