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Alsace blends the best of France and Germany

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The French province of Alsace stands like a flower-child referee between Germany and France. Bounded by the Rhine River on the east and the Vosges Mountains on the west, this is a green region of Hansel-and-Gretel villages, ambitious vineyards, and vibrant cities. Food and wine are the primary industry, topic of conversation, and perfect excuse ...Read more

How travel pried open my hometown blinders

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

I'll never forget my first trip to Europe. I was a gangly 14-year-old, dragged to the old country by a conspiracy of grandparents and parents solely to visit Norwegian relatives. I didn't want to go. It just didn't make sense.

Jet lag wasn't the problem. It was teen culture-shock: No Fanta. No hamburgers. But after a few days I was wild about ...Read more

Finding urban getaways in Europe's top cities

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The grandeur of a big European city can get drowned out quickly by the hubbub of humanity and cacophony of cars. Happily, you'll find places to stroll, bike, and people-watch in parks and gardens all over Europe. Here are a few of my favorite urban spaces in Paris, London, and Barcelona.

PARIS: On my trip to Paris this summer, I was struck by ...Read more

Traveling against the crowd

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Several years ago at Versailles, just outside of Paris, I was unable to avoid lumbering through the palace on one of the most crowded days of the year -- a Tuesday in July. A steady crush of visitors shuffled through the muggy one-way route leading to the payoff: the magnificent Hall of Mirrors. Sights like these are a thrill and worth every ...Read more

Alpine escapes

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The Alps, Europe's highest mountain range, arc from Vienna, Austria to Marseilles, France. They include stretches in eight countries, each with a unique taste of alpine culture.

Of the 750 miles of peaks, the Swiss Alps are a traveler's alpine dream come true. With majestic snow-capped summits, waterfall-laced cliffs, and picturesque lakes, ...Read more

The queen stays at Windsor -- why not you?

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

British royalty has been calling Windsor Castle home since the days of William the Conqueror -- almost a thousand years ago -- and it's still a favored castle of the current Queen Elizabeth. And while commoners can't stay at her digs, the town of Windsor is a cozy spot for a peaceful and charming last night in England before flying out of London...Read more

At Siena's Palio, 500 years of history in 90 seconds

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

In the gorgeously preserved Tuscan hill town of Siena, Italy, the Middle Ages seem to survive in the architecture and in the civic spirit. The city is known both for its pride and for its independent attitude. And twice a year, that spirit shows itself in a crazy horse race, as it has for five centuries.

That world-famous race, the Palio di ...Read more

How to survive a European road trip

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Horror stories about driving in Europe abound. They're fun to tell, but driving is really only a problem for those who make it one. If you know what to expect, your drive can be a highlight rather than harrowing. Here are a few tips to know before you get behind the wheel.

RESEARCH YOUR RENTAL. Most European rental cars use stick shift (...Read more

Chartres Cathedral: The age of faith in stone and stained glass

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

For a chance to experience the mystery of the medieval church through statues, glass, and relics, France's Chartres Cathedral, just an hour from Paris by train, is ideal. The towering Gothic cathedral, marking the center of the town of Chartres, somehow captures the spirit of the 13th century -- the so-called Age of Faith -- in the 21st century....Read more

Time-traveling at Europe's open-air museums

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

One of the great joys of European travel is to journey back in time thanks to its many open-air folk museums. You'll find these sprawling collections of historic buildings mostly north of the Alps, from Britain to Finland, and from Switzerland to Romania.

Usually located in spacious parks near big cities, open-air museums imitate a historic ...Read more

A dazzling Dublin day trip

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

While Dublin beckons with reminders of its stirring modern history on nearly every street corner, the best place to commune with the ancient soul of Ireland is its lush countryside. Iron Age monuments pepper the landscape, and while most sights are little more than rock piles, just standing next to a megalith that predates the pharaohs is ...Read more

Tuscany for beginners

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Wedged between Florence and Rome, Tuscany offers the quintessential Italian experience: sun-soaked hill towns, green and rolling screensaver hills, romantically fortified farms and cypress trees marching single file up lonely ridges. We go to Italy to experience the finesse of Florence, the splish-splash of Venice and the grandeur of Rome, but ...Read more

Car-free Hydra is a Greek island idyll

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

The island of Hydra -- less than two hours south of Athens by ferry -- offers the ideal Greek island experience, without a long journey across the Aegean.

It has one real town, no real roads, no cars and not even any bikes. Water taxis whisk travelers from the quaint little harbor to isolated beaches and tavernas. Donkeys are the main way to ...Read more

A Burgundy Blend of Bikes and wine

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Biking and wine tasting may not seem like natural partners when traveling through France. But if you like biking and wine, mixing the two can actually be a highlight of your next French journey. One of the best places to bike and imbibe is Burgundy, which is famous for its peaceful lanes lacing together cute towns and venerable vineyards.

Start...Read more

Tips for traveling with teens

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

Imagine being a teenager forced to spend your summer vacation with robo-tourist Rick Steves (a.k.a. "Dad"). My kids, Jackie and Andy, now in their 20s, did that a while ago. I had to think hard about what would make our trip to England educational and fun for travel partners who dubbed the Beatles tour in Liverpool the "most boring" one on our ...Read more

A Grecian Easter: Lamb and gusto

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

A few years ago in Greece, I noticed flags flying at half-staff, and wondered who had died. Then I remembered it was Good Friday -- marking the day of Jesus' crucifixion.

I was initially disoriented because I had actually celebrated Easter before arriving in Greece. The date for Easter depends in part on phases of the moon, but ...Read more

A tale of two castles

Travel / Rick Steves' Europe /

When I was 18, I took my first independent trip to Europe. During that trip, I toured "Mad" King Ludwig's Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany -- a medieval castle dream. Then, just over the border in Austria, I found the Ehrenberg ruins -- a medieval castle reality. Decades later, I'm still enthralled by the striking contrast between these two ...Read more

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