Ireland is more than an "Emerald Isle." It's an isle filled with cultural and historic wonders...and lately with lots of tourists, too. And at many of its top sights, reservations are now either required or highly recommended.
In Dublin, it's more important than ever to buy advance tickets for the most popular sights. These include Kilmainham ...Read more
Britain, while engulfed in Brexit politics, is constantly investing in first-class projects to share its heritage -- and, in so many ways, Britain's heritage is linked to our heritage. While many travelers are understandably curious about how Brexit is affecting tourists, from my experience it isn't. The only impact I've found is that the ...Read more
Rome is nicknamed "The Eternal City" and nowadays it could also be referring to the lines you'll wait in. The city (along with Naples) is better organized than ever for the huge crowds that descend on it each year -- but only for those who equip themselves with good information and use it. These tips may be wonky, but for smart travelers in 2020...Read more
Nighttime's the right time -- and reservations are smart any time -- when it comes to seeing the great sights in Northern Italy. With all the crowds heading for the same few attractions, popular sights and destinations are packed, and ticket lines are long. For 2020, officials thankfully have promised longer hours and easier opportunities to ...Read more
Though visiting Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral won't be possible for the foreseeable future following a devastating fire, there are plenty of fine examples of Gothic cathedrals -- and other Notre-Dames even -- that you can see in France.
When traveling in France, I can't help but marvel at the towering Gothic cathedrals that mark the centers of ...Read more
Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital city, is perhaps best known for the sectarian strife that took place here during the era of the "Troubles," and as the birthplace of the Titanic (and many other ships that didn't sink). While these two claims to fame are hardly uplifting, Belfast's story is hardly a downer. This unsinkable city, just two hours...Read more
For scenes straight out of a box of old-fashioned Christmas cards, head to England. Many classic Christmas trappings, from caroling to mince pie and wassail, have been part of English tradition for centuries.
Other holiday customs have their roots in the 19th century. Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert, popularized the decorating of...Read more
Europe is a surprisingly creative place when it comes to travel scams. Many of the most successful gambits require a naively trusting tourist, but seasoned travelers can be taken in, too. We should all be wary of the numerous subtle scams -- a cabbie pads your fare, a hotel business center computer records your password, or a waiter offers a ...Read more
With its romantic coastline, inviting beaches, and reliable sunshine, southern France's Riviera region has been a tourist destination since the 1860s. A hundred years ago, aristocrats from London to Moscow flocked here to socialize, gamble, and escape the dreary weather at home. But the area also attracted a who's who of 20th-century artists, ...Read more
Seeing the top sights in Europe's big cities can be intense. It's hot, it's crowded, and your dream of having a quiet moment with the Mona Lisa is shared by around six million people every year.
The mission of my most recent trip to Europe was finding peace and tranquility in big cities that, in many ways, feel overrun with tourists. And it's ...Read more
Every time I travel to Europe in the off-season, I find myself enjoying a cool and comfy tranquility -- and not missing the heat and crowds that so often come with peak season. But even more than that, I enjoy catching Europe by surprise -- at its candid best, living everyday life. When I travel outside of the tourist season, Europe seems even ...Read more
When I first came to the Cinque Terre, then an isolated stretch of the Italian Riviera south of Genoa, it was a classic "back door": a string of five pastel-hued hamlets, gently and steadily carving a good life out of difficult seaside terrain. It was authentic, romantic, and without a tourist in sight. Fast forward several decades ... and the ...Read more
Strung along the Danube River, three capital cities -- Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest -- make up a triangle of enjoyable urbanity at the heart of central Europe. Each of these capital cities shares a common Habsburg history, and thanks to their proximity -- only one or two hours apart by train -- combining all three into one trip is a breeze. ...Read more
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
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
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
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
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