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Sicilian surprises in Palermo

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

One thing I enjoy about my work is getting my outdated impressions back up to date. Europe is always changing -- and recently I discovered that Sicily's capital of Palermo has become a whole new city since my last visit. It's cleaner, safer and more efficient than it was in years past. But it still retains its colorful edge -- and that's why I ...Read more

Specialized tours enrich travel

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When I arrive in a new city, I book a private guide straightaway -- someone who can bring the architecture, history and culture to life. Lately, in the spirit of experiential sightseeing, I've been taking specialized tours that highlight unique, local experiences or historical themes. Particularly in big cities, I've found all kinds of focused ...Read more

Experiencing the soul of Spain in Andalucía's hill towns

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When my travel dreams drift off to Spain, they often include visions of Andalucía, the southern part of the country that feels so quintessentially Spanish. With a string of whitewashed hill towns, sunny skies, vibrant festivals and tempting tapas, Andalucía is the soul of Spain -- almost stereotypically so.

Most tourists hit Andalucía's ...Read more

Bath's easy urban delights

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

England's best city within easy striking distance of London is Bath -- just a 90-minute train ride from the city center. Bath is popular and expensive, but it's a joy to visit. And rather than deal with London's intensity right off the bat, I like to take the train from the airport to London's Paddington Station and then hop on a connection to ...Read more

The lessons of Verdun

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I -- "the war to end all wars," which cost an estimated 40 million lives. While there are no more survivors to tell us their stories, WWI sights and memorials scattered across Europe do their best to keep the devastation from fading from memory.

Perhaps the most ...Read more

German cuisine is a treat for travelers

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Eating in Germany is a big part of the fun of traveling there. Ingredients are wonderful (especially if you eat with the season), traditions are prized, "modern German cuisine" is giving old dishes tasty and entertaining new twists, and small, creative foodie places are thriving in every city. And here's even more good news: Eating well in ...Read more

Nature and romance in Italy's Lakes District

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Northern Italy's seductively beautiful lakes district -- in the shadow of the Alps -- seems heaven-sent for communing with nature. Though just an hour north of Milan, this area feels a world away from the business and bustle of Italy's second city.

In this romantic region, wistful 19th-century villas are overgrown with old vines that seem to ...Read more

House calls: Inside the homes of Europe's top artists

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

As a traveler, I find myself visiting the homes of lots of dead people. Some are over the top (Louis XIV's Versailles near Paris); some are haunting (Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam); others inspire you to write a poem (William Wordsworth's Dove Cottage in England's Lake District).

Many of my favorites are the home studios of artists -- ...Read more

Book smart when looking for lodging in Europe

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I used to travel with absolutely no hotel reservations. Europe 30 years ago was relatively ramshackle, things were cheaper and because fewer people could afford to travel for fun, there was much less competition for budget rooms. I could make decisions on the go, show up in a new town and improvise my accommodations. But the tourism boom and ...Read more

Helsinki highlights

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Helsinki -- Europe's youngest and northernmost capital city -- feels like an outpost of Europe. While it lacks the cutesy cobbles of Copenhagen, the aristocratic setting of Stockholm, or the futuristic vibe of Oslo, Helsinki holds its own among Nordic capitals with its creative spirit, zest for architecture and design and a steamy love of saunas...Read more

Europe's famous walls

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I'm so glad borders and walls are out of fashion in Europe. The continent's many proud nations don't always get along, but they have learned to respect each other -- making it possible for peace to flourish.

Historically, though, Europe has a rich past when it comes to wall building. At one point or another, most of Europe's great cities -- ...Read more

Off the beaten track in Switzerland

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Mountainous Switzerland is well-known for its cows, chocolate, and stunning scenery -- but there's more to enjoy. Here are some lesser-known Swiss travel treats.

Experience Swiss military readiness. To protect its prized neutrality in the tumultuous 20th century, Switzerland wired its roads, bridges, and tunnels so they could be destroyed with ...Read more

Italy's Riviera: Beyond the Cinque Terre

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When it comes to basking in the beauty of Italy's Riviera, the Cinque Terre is tops for me. But there's much more to this region on the Mediterranean coast than those famous five villages.

A handful of charming towns lie within an hour of the Cinque Terre, with posh ports set against rugged mountain backdrops that have drawn poets, authors and ...Read more

10 ways Iceland can kill you

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Gazing into a volcanic crater lake, leaping across a tectonic fissure in the earth's crust, descending into the magma chamber of an extinct volcano ... Iceland is filled with unforgettable experiences. This beautiful country is packed with tourist-attracting natural wonders: waterfalls, glaciers, rivers, fjords, cliffs, thermal springs and ...Read more

Ireland's culinary delights

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Irish cuisine has long been the fodder of jokes -- a kind of penance to suffer through in order to enjoy the people, music and lush scenery of the Emerald Isle. But that's an outdated notion: Travelers today find fresh, inventive, flavorful meals there -- and many Irish towns are working to establish themselves as foodie destinations.

Long ...Read more

Pomp and consequence: Visiting 20th-century fascist sites

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The sweeping impact of fascism in the 20th century can be felt to this day in the many monuments and memorials across Europe that remind us of those horrific years.

You can trace fascism's roots to the turbulent aftermath of World War I, where masses of angry people rose up, and their charismatic leaders manipulated that anger. Both Benito ...Read more

France's serene abbeys

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The French countryside is littered with medieval monasteries -- stony, quiet and atmospheric. Some are in a state of ruin; others are still home to peaceful monks or sisters going about their religious work. Still others are intact but now open only as museums. A little history can help visitors breathe life into these serenely remote monuments....Read more

Playing around in Shakespeare's Stratford

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

To see or not to see? Nonliterary types might find England's Stratford-upon-Avon to be much ado about nothing, but Shakespeare's hometown is blanketed with opportunities for bardolatry. It's an easy side-trip from London, but an overnight stay is best to take in a performance of the world's best Shakespeare ensemble.

Within Stratford's compact ...Read more

 

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