About Rick Steves

Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves is America's most respected authority on European travel. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. As an 18-year-old, Rick began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started his business, Rick Steves' Europe, which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a staff of 80 full-time, well-travelled employees at his headquarters in Washington state. There he produces more than 50 guidebooks on European travel, America's most popular travel series on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, a weekly syndicated column, and free travel information available through his travel center and website. Rick Steves' Europe also runs a successful European tour program. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington. His office window overlooks his old junior high school.

Email Rick at rick@ricksteves.com, or write to him c/o 130 4th Ave N, Edmonds, WA 98020.

Complete Biography

Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of over 50 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of US markets. Rick has also created two award-winning specials for public television: Rick Steves' European Christmas and the ground-breaking Rick Steves' Iran. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his media company, Back Door Productions.

Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel experts, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country and has spawned a popular podcast. Rick has also created a series of audio walking tours for museums and neighborhoods in Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, London, and Athens.

Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 50 other guidebooks, phrase books, and "pocket" guides. For several years, Rick Steves' Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the US. In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

In addition to his guidebooks, TV and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel. He is also an active blogger on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. By the time he reached 18, Rick jokes, "I realized I didn't need my parents to travel!" He began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started Rick Steves's Europe (RSE), a business that has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 90 full-time employees. RSE offers free travel information through its Travel Center, website (www.ricksteves.com), and travel newsletters. RSE also runs a successful European tour program that attracts around 18,000 travelers annually.

Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening our perspectives through travel. He is also committed to his own neighborhood. He's an active member of the Lutheran church (and has hosted the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's national video productions). He's a board member of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). And Rick has provided his local YWCA with a 24-unit apartment building with which to house homeless mothers.

Rick Steves spends about a third of every year in Europe, researching guidebooks, filming TV shows, and making new discoveries for travelers. Rick was divorced in March 2010. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

In the News

Rick and His Business

Time Magazine

Rick Steves: The Traveler's Aid

60 Minutes

CBS followed Rick while he researched his guidebook series in 2005

The New York Times Magazine

A profile of Rick conducting guidebook research in Europe

USA Today

Rick Steves has the inside track to Europe

Puget Sound Business Journal

Rick Steves' travel empire is moving as fast as a Europe-bound 747

The Associated Press

Rick Steves built his travel business through the back door

Vancouver Sun / Victoria Times

If it's Europe it must be Rick

Updating a Rick Steves Guidebook (4-minute video clip)

Rick gives us a peek at what it takes to update his guidebooks.

The Weekly Herald

Travel guru roams far, but his roots are in Edmonds

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Outspoken Travel Guru Rooted in Edmonds


Travel as a Political Act

Gonzaga University

Rick's 2-hour talk on Travel as a Political Act

Chicago Tribune

Rick Steves: One of the most thoughtful travel writers today

Writer's Digest

Write Like Rick Steves: Travel Writer Extraordinaire

USA Today

Rick writes an op-ed about how travel helps gain global perspective

The Seattle Times

Rick comments on recent elections in Iran

The Costco Connection

Travel guru Rick Steves says travel with an open mind and think globally

Book Slut

G is for Geopolitical: Rick Steves Revealed

Wisconsin Public Radio

Rick Steves talks about his new book with Here on Earth

The Salt Lake Tribune

Travel reading: Rick Steves gets philosophical in new book


Interview with Rick Steves: 'Travel as a Political Act'

Seattle Times

The World According to Rick Steves

Faithful Travel with Rick Steves (10-minute TV interview)

Learn why Rick is dedicated to thoughtful travel

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Rick talks about how Europe perceives the United States

The Seattle Times

Rick writes an op-ed about what he sees as the real threat to U.S. security

The Seattle Times

Rick writes an op-ed about global warming

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Outspoken Travel Guru Rooted in Edmonds

The Seattle Times

Rick writes an op-ed about what he sees as the real threat to U.S. security


Drug Policy Reform

The Seattle Times

A coalition that includes Rick Steves to launch an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Washington State

Houston Chronicle

Rick Steves offers a European take on America’s drug war

Seattle Hempfest

Rick sums up his drug policy views in this 8-min video

New York Times

Fresh ideas on a tired crusade

Los Angeles Times

Rick’s op-ed on “Europe: Curing, Not Punishing Addicts”

University of Washington

Listen to Rick’s speech on drug policy

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Rick Steves’ writes on “We need to get smart about marijuana”

Huffington Post

Rick's LA Times op-ed listed as one of the "Top 10 Reasons for Optimism"

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Travel guru stands firm on war and weed

Seattle Times

Pulling the Lid off Pot


Rick's Products & Travel Advice


Rick's guidebooks endorsed

USA Today

Rick writes an op-ed about why a weaker dollar can actually give you a richer travel experience

Washington Post

Rick Steves, Through the Front Door

SFGate.com (20-minute radio podcast interview)

What's New in Travel

The Weekly Herald

Steves is good, so is Symphonic Journey

Social Activism & Philanthropy

Travel as a Political Act

Discover how travel has shaped Rick's outspoken social activism, advocacy of drug policy reform, and other political work.

Developing a Global Perspective Through Travel

In this collection of articles, Rick shares how travel (as Thomas Jefferson put it) makes a person "wiser, if less happy."

Affordable Housing

Concerned about homelessness in his own community, Rick purchased a 24-unit apartment complex to house homeless mothers and their children (administered by the YWCA).

Drug Policy Reform and Decriminalizing Marijuana

Bringing a European perspective to the issue, Rick believes rather than "soft on drugs" or "hard on drugs," America can be "smart on drugs." Rick explains why he supports ending the current prohibition on marijuana.

The American Flag is Not a Logo for War

Rick explains how taking down the flag can actually be a patriotic act when a "tyranny of the majority" cheapens Old Glory by turning it into a logo for a political agenda.

Rick's Business Supports Global Causes

Beneficiaries include Bread for the World (lobbying our government to be mindful of the needs of homeless and hungry people both at home and abroad).

Mixing Business with Politics

Rick Steves doesn’t worry about his provocative politics creating unwanted baggage.