I'd always wanted to go to a soccer ("football" to Europeans) game in Europe, and a few years ago I finally did it ... courtesy of local hotelier I knew in Rome. The game pitted the home team Roma against Fiorentina (Florence's team).
Converging on the stadium, Stefano parked on a curb (tipping a couple of thugs to watch -- or maybe just not ...Read more
When you consider Dutch culture, you can't help but think about dikes, windmills, wooden shoes and tulips. They seem cliche, but these classic icons intertwine with the region's geography and history.
Much of the country is below sea level, reclaimed with great effort over many generations from the North Sea. That's why the Dutch people like to...Read more
Rome is a magnificent, tangled urban forest, rich in art, culture and history. The city has many layers -- modern, Baroque, Renaissance, Christian. But let's face it: For most of us, Rome is Caesar, gladiators, chariots and thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Ancient Rome is the one we come to see.
Luckily, it's possible to knock off the top symbols of ...Read more
"French Riviera" often conjures up images of France's glamorous (and packed) cities -- Monaco, Cannes and Nice. But for some of the Riviera's best scenery -- and occasional relief from the touristic crush -- visit the less-familiar stops in the interior.
An easy 45-minute bus ride inland from Nice, St-Paul-de-Vence is part cozy hill town and ...Read more
There's nothing like an island break in the middle of your travels to really make you feel like you're on vacation. Some of my most vivid travel memories are recharging on an island, where time seems to slow down, and the only thing on the agenda is finding the perfect perch for watching the sunset.
Denmark's Aero Island is one of my favorite ...Read more
Imagine being a kid forced to spend a big part of your summer vacation with robo-tourist Rick Steves (alias Dad). My kids Jackie and Andy did that a lot when they were young. I always considered it a great education for them, but they also had a lot of fun. One of their favorite destinations, Great Britain, enthralled them with colorful ...Read more
When I'm traveling, I become a cultural chameleon. I love a cup of Earl Grey tea when I'm in England, and I love a cheese course when I'm in France. For a cheese-lover, savoring Europe means savoring its cheeses -- they're not only part of the cuisine, they're part of the culture. Here are just a few tips on how to be cheesy in Europe.
FRANCE: ...Read more
Visiting the French city of Arles, it's easy to absorb Vincent van Gogh's story. In February 1888, the Dutch artist left Paris for Provence. Coming from the gray skies and flat lands of the north, he was bowled over by the sun, bright colors, rugged landscape and raw people in southern France. He painted furiously for the next two...Read more
It's exciting to find remnants of Europe's Old World that somehow missed the 21st-century bus. But much of what we see touted as the "real thing" is actually a cultural cliche kept alive for the tourists. To really feel the touch of history, when I'm traveling I like to find a guide (or a friend who functions as a guide) who actually lived ...Read more
Eating in Europe is about more than just the food. The best dining experiences are sensory, where you're not only eating tasty cuisine; you're also enjoying the patina of age, the colorful clientele and their chatter, and the crunchy sound of knives cutting through freshly baked loaves of bread. After years of travel, I've found that just as ...Read more
It's a funny thing about aristocracies. They always seem to get the best vacation properties: the French kings and queens had Versailles near Paris, the Habsburgs retreated to Vienna's Schoenbrunn Palace and the British monarchs still have too many castles to count.
Less well known are Portugal's imperial retreats. But within an hour or so from...Read more
Once, while riding the train into Dresden, Germany, I got off where most other passengers did -- at Dresden Neustadt. After 20 minutes of walking in a confused fog, my denial that I had gotten off at the wrong station slowly faded. Embarrassed by my mistake, I hopped on the next train. Five minutes later, I got off at Dresden Mitte. As I stepped...Read more
It's impressive to me that, even in the 21st century, sacred traditions -- rich with symbolism -- still thrive in Europe's more remote corners. For example, last year while exploring European Easter rituals for my upcoming TV special, I headed to the rugged, mountainous Marche region in central Italy. Among Italy's small towns, Gubbio and ...Read more
On the rocky peninsula at the southwest tip of England is a gorgeous slice of Britain: Cornwall. Harboring an endangered Celtic culture (Cornish), quaint coastal villages, a gaggle of visit-worthy sights and a thought-provoking stone circle, it's one of England's most popular vacation regions -- especially among the English.
This past summer, ...Read more
To connect with the rural charm that defines Tuscany, consider exploring by car and staying not in towns but in farmhouses. Savvy travelers can slow down and get a taste of Italian rural life in the traditional-yet-cozy lodgings of a countryside B-and-B or an "agriturismo" -- a working farm that takes in guests.
As the names imply, these ...Read more
Pretty, pristine, and lakeside, with a striking mountain panorama as a backdrop, Lucerne has long been Switzerland's tourism capital. Since the Romantic era in the 19th century, it's been a regular stop on the "Grand Tour" of Europe for the likes of Mark Twain and Queen Victoria. And with a charming old town, a pair of picture-perfect wooden ...Read more
The original 12/29/15 Rick Steves column included an incorrect photo caption for the first photo slugged 20151229msrse-a. For accuracy's sake, we have revised that caption and reposted the column to our delivery site.
When you visit Madrid, take a vacation from your vacation with some side trips that help illuminate Spain's rich history. Four key sights lie within an easy travel distance: El Escorial, Valley of the Fallen, Segovia and Avila -- all convenient by car, bus, or train.
A short drive from Madrid is the giant palace/monastery/mausoleum called ...Read more
To see Europe at its craziest, join the wild party that kicks off the reverent Easter season. Carnival is a boisterous time before the traditional period of abstinence and piety of Lent. Its finale -- what we call Mardi Gras -- is held this year on Feb. 9. Here are a few of the most colorful events.
Spread Your ...Read more
In the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, Croatia and Turkey remain popular with tourists and present some important transportation and sightseeing changes for 2016.
Greece is one of Europe's great destinations, but concern about its financial crisis and the thousands of Syrian refugees entering the country is impacting travelers' vacation plans. ...Read more