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Tranquil Tomar is a break from Portugal's tourist tumult

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

With a rich culture, friendly people, affordable prices, and a salty setting on the edge of Europe, Portugal understandably makes a rewarding destination for travelers. Bustling Lisbon and the sunny Algarve coast are well known to tourists (for good reason), but quieter places also offer tantalizing tastes of Portuguese flavor.

About 90 miles ...Read more

Europe's dead still speak to the living

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

With Halloween and All Souls' Day approaching, I'd like to spook you with some of my favorite European cemeteries and crypts. Over the years, I've popped into a lot of burial grounds -- some peaceful and scenic, some eerie and evocative -- with all revealing compelling stories of the past. Some high-profile places -...Read more

Under the Tuscan fork: Florence for foodies

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Sampling Italian cuisine is sightseeing for your palate. The tour plan: Start with fresh ingredients and talented cooks, mix in a city's personality, and add a happy dining crowd. Experiencing Italy's cafés, cuisine, and wines is a joy, and in the heart of Tuscany, Florence offers a particularly satisfying spread.

Tuscan cuisine is hearty and ...Read more

Savoring Normandy's hospitality

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Picture this: Half-timbered towns with tall cathedral spires, thatched-roof cottages dotted among green rolling hills, fat happy cows, and drifts of gnarled apple trees. This is the beguiling Normandy coast of France.

Strategically positioned across from England, Normandy is the closest coastline to Paris. That prime location may attract urban ...Read more

St. Andrews: Hit the links, books, and beach

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Tiny St. Andrews has a huge reputation, known around the world as the birthplace and royal seat of golf. The chance to play on the world's oldest course -- or at least take in the iconic view of its 18th hole -- keeps the town perennially popular among golfing pilgrims. But any visitor to Scotland should consider at least a short stop in this ...Read more

Taking steps to see Europe from a fresh perspective

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

From church domes to bell towers, fanciful rooftops to sky-piercing monuments, Europe is full of climbable structures. While most lead to impressive views, the best also offer insights into the historical, artistic, and religious thinking of their times.

In Milan, a highlight is strolling the rooftop of the Duomo -- the city's cathedral and the...Read more

Cruise control: How to sail smartly in Europe

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I've spent the last several decades exploring Europe from every conceivable angle. And this includes checking out Europe the way millions of people do -- from a cruise ship.

I'm not out to promote or put down cruising. For some people it's a great choice, and for others it's not. On the plus side, cruising can be economical, with transportation...Read more

Stockholm's delightful, diverse day trips

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Stockholm is a highlight of any Scandinavian vacation, but don't discount the variety of fine day trips at the city's doorstep. Within an hour or so of the Swedish capital, you can bask in the opulence of a royal palace, swing through the home and garden of Sweden's greatest sculptor, see ancient rune stones in the country's oldest town, hang ...Read more

A short walk through Ireland's long history

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

A walk through the heart of north Dublin recalls Ireland's long fight for independence, and makes a fine introduction to the historical lay of the land.

Start at the O'Connell Bridge, which spans the River Liffey. The river has long divided the wealthy south side of town from the working-class north side. From the bridge, you can see modern ...Read more

Malta: A citadel of many cultures in the middle of the Mediterranean

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Sailing into the stony harbor of the island of Malta, surrounded by ramparts and turrets, you realize that this strategic and much fought-over rock midway between Sicily and Africa has had a long and difficult history. But its parade of foreign rulers (Phoenician, Roman, Greek, Arab, Norman, Sicilian and British -- to name a few) make it a ...Read more

Falling in love with rail passes all over again

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Once an economical and easy way to travel around Europe, rail passes over the years had become more of a headache-inducing puzzle. But in 2019, Europe's rail passes underwent some sweeping changes that have made them an affordable option again, and much less confusing to shop for -- and made me nostalgic for their glory days.

As of this year, "...Read more

Venetian crafts have deep roots

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Long a city of aristocrats, luxury goods, and trade, Venice has an amazing culture. Its fantasy-world atmosphere of elegant decay is like nowhere else in Europe. But with souvenir hawkers everywhere pushing cheap masks, glassy baubles, and lacy doilies, it can come across as a tacky tourist trap. Look behind those tired clichés, though, and you...Read more

Academic adventures: Visiting Europe's top university sights

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When touring any city, it's fun to drop in on the local university. But in Europe, universities can be essential sightseeing, as some are home to great architectural, artistic, and cultural treasures.

One of Europe's top university sights is the Book of Kells, tucked away in the library of the venerable homeandleisure/travel/ricksteves/s-2255362">Read more

Scotland's Orkney Islands: Remote rewards far from the madding crowd

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

On a recent trip to Great Britain, I decided at the last minute to snip two days off from my time in London and go somewhere I've never been before: the Orkney Islands. Perched just an hour's ferry ride north of the Scottish mainland, these islands are remote, historic, and -- for the right traveler -- well worth the effort.

Orkney has two ...Read more

Open doors to the past: Visiting Europe's time-warp homes

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Many of Europe's time-warp houses -- sights that bring you back to a bygone era -- get only a few thoughtful travelers, overshadowed by big-name museums. Some of the ones I highly recommend may make people say "Huh!?" But they're the sights that might just make your day.

For example, Glasgow's Tenement House offers a chance to drop into a ...Read more

Explore port wine in Portugal's Douro Valley

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

An endearing slice of Portugal is the Douro River Valley, the winding, terraced region that produces the country's beloved port wine. This is Portugal's answer to Germany's romantic Rhine River Valley. But unlike the Rhine, the Douro was never a strategic military location. So, rather than castles and stony ramparts, visitors encounter farms and...Read more

Checking out of Prague and into the Czech countryside

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Few cities can match Prague's over-the-top romance, evocative Old World charm ... and tourist crowds. To escape the masses and experience more of the real Czech Republic, take a bus or train ride outside of the city to see a rich medieval town, a sobering concentration camp memorial, or a grand Czech castle.

Kutna Hora, a beautifully preserved ...Read more

Best places for kidding around in Europe

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I'm often inspired by families on the road. Last summer, on a ferry between Oban and the Isle of Mull in Scotland, I met a family from Texas. The parents were taking their kids on a year-long adventure through Europe and told me how they've realized there's no better education or quality family time than traveling together -- and I ...Read more

 
 

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