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Top tips for traveling light

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Sometimes I wonder why I lug my bag through airports, following my own recommendation to pack light enough to carry it on. It can be a drag, dragging your bag through airports. But once in a while I'm reminded of the joy of having everything with you -- like the time I avoided a long layover by hopping on an earlier flight from Copenhagen to ...Read more

Scotland's ultimate island getaways

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Years ago, I met a dear man on a deserted roadside in the Scottish Highlands. I was scrambling to make a TV show about the area, and as if placed there by heaven's Central Casting, this tender giant of a man was bagpiping to the birds, the passing clouds, and the occasional motorist. He had picked a spot that seemed intentionally miles from ...Read more

Easy riders: Taxis and ride-sharing in Europe

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I've always felt that taxis are underrated, scenic timesavers that can zip you effortlessly from one sight to the next -- except during rush-hour traffic, when they're stuck like everyone else. In the past, cabs were expensive for a lone budget traveler, but a good deal for a group of three or four. Now with the advent of ride-sharing services ...Read more

Europe's wide world of traditional sports

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When I need a break from dimly lit cathedrals and musty museums, I connect with European culture by watching local sports. I get double the pleasure when I join in -- and the great news is -- you don't need to be an athlete.

Several years ago in southern England, I joined a neighborhood gang for a lesson in cricket. The point, they told me, is ...Read more

Europe shines on summer evenings

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

As a guidebook author and TV host, I do most of my work in Europe during the day. But after hours, I love to get out and see what's happening, especially after dark. And I'm always impressed by how much travelers who hide away in their hotel rooms miss.

For example, each summer night when darkness falls in the Champagne-making town of Reims, ...Read more

England's castles and manors have a story to tell

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The English countryside is studded with all manner of manors, castles and palaces. Many of these stately homes, as the English call them, were built in Victorian times by ridiculously rich nobles and aristocrats. To maintain these lavish mansions and grounds, which have been crippled by taxes on both income and inheritances, many have opened ...Read more

Go underground to shine a light on Europe's past

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Europe is rich in history, but the splendid castles, antique churches and age-old ruins tell only part of the story. To dig even deeper in time -- much deeper -- visit a cave. Some of my favorites, in France and Slovenia, showcase 17-foot-long bulls drawn by our ancient forebears and 100-foot-high stalagmites sculpted by nature.

The world's ...Read more

Comfort and company in Europe's cafes and pubs

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

After a busy day in Vienna, I like to retreat to a striped velvet couch at the renowned Cafe Hawelka. The decor here is circa-1900, with smoke-and-coffee-stained furniture, walls adorned in paintings by struggling artists (who couldn't pay for coffee), and a phone that rings for regulars. This creaky Viennese institution, where intellectuals ...Read more

On the cusp of Euro Cup, succumb to soccer fever

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

Appreciating Dutch cliches

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

Ancient Rome: The things that were Caesar's

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

The Riviera beyond the beaches

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

"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

Europe's best island getaways

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

In Britain, The Kids Are All Right

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

In Europe, say cheese

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

Seeing Provence through Van Gogh's eyes

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

Historic encounters

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

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

 
 

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