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Rick Steves’ Europe: Helsinki and Tallinn are Pearls of the Baltic

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Helsinki and Tallinn are two great capitals in Northern Europe. Just 50 miles and a two-hour ferry ride apart, these two cities – facing each other across the Baltic Sea from their respective countries of Finland and Estonia – are not only neighbors, but soul sisters.

Finns and Estonians share a similar history – first Swedish domination,...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Athens on the rise

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I used to think of Athens as a big ugly city with obligatory ancient sights, fine museums, the Plaka (an extremely touristy old quarter), and not much else. “The joy of Greece is outside of Athens,” I wrote. “See Athens’ museums and scram.”

But while updating my guidebook one summer, I enjoyed the city more than ever before. I ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Saints and sustenance in Spain’s Santiago de Compostela

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Whenever I’m in Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest corner of Spain, I have a three-part agenda: See pilgrims reach their goal in front of the cathedral, explore the market, and buy some barnacles in the seafood section – then have them cooked for me, on the spot, in a café.

I make a point to be on the town square facing the towering ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Tangier, Morocco - A cultural kaleidoscope

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I can't think of any big city in Europe where you wake up literally at "cock crow." In Tangier, Morocco — right across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain — the roosters, even more than the minaret's call to prayer, make sure the city wakes up early. I spent a recent birthday in Tangier, and started my special day with the roosters.

I ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Rome's ancient superhighway

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The Appian Way, begun in 312 BC, was the engineering wonder of its day. It connected Rome with Capua (near Naples), ignoring natural contours and running in a straight line for much of the way. Eventually it stretched 430 miles to Brindisi – gateway to the East – where Roman ships sailed for Greece and Egypt.

While our modern roads seem to ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Embrace Hygge and Save Cash in Copenhagen

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Copenhagen is known for happy people and hygge (pronounced HEW-geh), which means enjoying the cozy simplicity of everyday life, like walking along the beach, or sharing a picnic of smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) with a friend. Where else would Hans Christian Andersen, a mermaid statue, and lovingly decorated open-face ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: In the Swiss Alps, nature rules

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I learned to respect the power of nature in the shadow of the Switzerland's towering Jungfrau, just south of Interlaken in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.

Avalanches are a part of life here – where humble yet tough mountain huts are built on the downhill side of giant and protective boulders. Hikers, hearing rivers of falling snow rumble in the ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: History lives in Prague

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Prague is one of Europe’s best-preserved cities, having been spared from last century’s bombs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the hilltop Castle Quarter, which looms above the city and dominates the skyline. Filled with high art and grand buildings from the past 1,200 years, this area is packed with history. Even today, you feel like ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Cold War memories in today’s Berlin

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Whenever I travel to Berlin I can’t help remembering my spooky Cold War visit back in 1971. I vividly recall how, after we’d toured East Berlin, our tour bus was stopped and emptied at the border so mirrors could be rolled under the bus before we returned to West Berlin. They wanted to see if anyone was trying to hitch a ride to freedom with...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Buoyant Bratislava

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Bratislava, capital of Slovakia and just an hour by train from Vienna, is the comeback kid among European capitals. A generation ago, the city was virtually a ghost town. Today, Bratislava is not only thriving – bursting with colorfully restored facades, lively outdoor cafés, and swanky boutiques – but it’s also growing at an incredible ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Choose your own adventure in eclectic Amsterdam

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I have a little ritual every time I step off the train in big, bold Amsterdam: I look over my shoulder to the lions of the city seal atop Amsterdam Centraal train station. They seem to roar, "Just do it."

One side of the station faces the harbor. From there, buses come and go, the free shuttle ferries are jammed with bikers, and the Amsterdam-...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: The Peloponnese: A peninsula of Greek surprises

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

If you want to get away from it all when traveling in Greece, head for the Peloponnesian Peninsula. Driving about an hour west of Athens, you cross over the Corinth Canal – a four-mile-long shipping lane neatly sliced through the isthmus that connects the Peloponnese with the rest of Greece – and pass the ruins of ancient Corinth to enter ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Norway’s fjord country blends serenity with grandeur

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Though I initially visited Norway to see relatives — three of my grandparents grew up there — nature is the real draw here, even for those with family ties. It's a land of intense beauty, with famously steep mountains and deep fjords carved out and shaped by an ancient ice age.

Traveling through fjord country, I find myself spending lots of...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: A taste of high culture in Vienna

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

If any European capital knows how to enjoy the good life, it’s Vienna. Compared to most modern urban centers, the pace of life here is slow. Locals linger over pastry and coffee at cafés. Concerts and classical music abound. And chatting with friends at a wine garden is not a special event but a way of life.

For many Viennese, the living ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Tuscany’s day-trip darlings: Pisa and Lucca

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

As everyone knows, Pisa has the famous tilted tower you can climb, but lesser-known Lucca is encircled by an unspoiled Renaissance wall you can bike. These two Tuscan towns, near Florence and each other, make for an easy day trip from Florence. But if you have time for more than a touristy quickie, each offers great Italian city scenes – ...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Secret Slovenia

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

With just two million people, tiny Slovenia is one of Europe's most overlooked yet unexpectedly delightful destinations. Located where the Germanic, Mediterranean, and Slavic worlds come together, Slovenia has an intimate capital city, eerie caverns, breathtaking mountains, historic villas, and a unique tradition at a lake that prompts grooms to...Read more

Rick Steves’ Europe: Stadiums, theaters, and tombs - Walking in the footsteps of ancient Greeks

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When traveling in a country as old as Greece, ancient ruins can quickly go from magnificent to mind-numbing. Great – yet another nameless hill with more stony remnants of people from centuries past. Just because something dates from BC doesn’t mean it has to be seen. Be selective about your ancient sightseeing. Three of my favorite Greek ...Read more

 

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