Rick Steves' Europe / Travel & Leisure

Top 10 European tourist traps

I love Europe, but my responsibility as a travel writer is not to just rave about everything, but to also help overwhelmed travelers sort through the superlatives and smartly allocate their limited vacation time.

Sensory Amsterdam

Good travelers travel with all their senses, taking in a place's sights, sounds, and flavors to get the full experience. A key for really enjoying Amsterdam is to go local -- feeling the bricks and pavement beneath two wheels.

History comes alive in modern Athens

Once famous for its sprawl, noise, graffiti and pollution, Athens has been cleaning up its act. But the city's big draw remains its ancient sites. The Acropolis is lassoed by a delightful pedestrian boulevard.

Playful Padua

I'm in Padua, and I really like this town. Nicknamed "The Brain of Veneto," Padua is home to a prestigious university that hosted Galileo, Copernicus, Dante and Petrarch. When I come here, I like to ramble around Padua's old town center.

When to Splurge in Europe

I've always been a fan of budget travel tips. If you stay in a B-and-B rather than a fancy hotel, you'll enjoy twice the cultural experience and intimacy for half the cost. That said, there are some characteristic hotels that are worth the splurge.