Non Rick Steves Guidebook Assessment: 2007
There are a lot of guidebooks other than Rick's. What are some of your experiences using different guidebooks, positive and negative?
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Non Rick Steves Guidebook Assessment
Rick's museum tours are unique and invaluable. I wish they were available for domestic museums such as the Smithsonians, or the Chicago Art Institute. Lonely Planet has a little more restaurant info, especially in the budget category. This is especially useful when the euro is worth $1.50.
Saint Louis, MO USA Thu 12/13/2007
Non-Rick Steves Guides
I like the Michelin Green Guides.
Washington, DC USA Tue 11/13/2007
Guide books by category
I always bring a number of guidebooks with me and I seem to read many more of them before I go. Here are my preferences:
For lodging, restaurants and logistics: Rick Steves
For history and art: Blue Guides (a must for nerds like me!)
For contemporary culture: Time Out
For inspiration beforehand: DK Eyewitness, National Geographic or Insights
For tips & inspiration: read Rick's Graffiti Wall.
Minneapolis, MN USA Sat 11/03/2007
Maps that are as good as mini-guidebooks
When I went to Krakow and Budapest last year, my hostels had these free maps called City Spy Maps:
They are somewhat cartoonish and give a lot of excellent information, when it comes to places to eat and other fun things like bike tours. I wish more cities had them...Best of all, they are free and you can print them from the internet (not sure how that comes out but at least you can read up on things and make notes to cross-reference with your guidebooks).
Other similar maps:
MapEasy Guide Maps:
You can usually buy these in a large bookstore (I know I've seen them @ Barnes and Noble) - while the country maps are rather general, the city maps will give you some great tips (I've used the Montreal and Philadelphia ones).
charlotte, nc USA Mon 10/29/2007
Frommer's London walks
I will second Tim's earlier recommendation for the Frommer's London walk book. What a great find. My family and I have gone through the book cover to cover on a couple of trips through London. It was so good that it even kept my teenage daughter interested, hiking through the city and anxious to go on more walks. I am so thankful that we were able to learn about some areas that we would have missed.
We tried the Frommer's Paris walking tours but it wasn't as interesting for us.
I may not remember all the information about places that were influential to literary classics that my wife does but I tell the stories about finding the little place where John met Yoko and a having a pint in pub referred to as the "bucket of blood".
Chandler, az USA Tue 10/23/2007
online resources and language books
I found the Rick Steves' language books barely adequate. Everything I looked up, wasn't there! You need something a little more comprehensive, but not for a college French class.
However, the regular guide book was great. It was great to read before, during, and after the trip.
I also use many of the online travel sites, including Frommers and TripAdvisor.
chelsea, mi USA Mon 10/08/2007
Don't waste your money or time on the "Insider" guidebooks. Much of the information in the latest issue available at the major bookstores was as much as 22 years out of date--such as saying the National Finals Rodeo is held in Oklahoma City ever year when it moved to Vegas 22 years ago. You know in all that time SOMEONE has informed them of the mistake, but they don't care because they'll sell to people who are more interested in the nice photos than the important info. It is an expensive guide and neither the publishers nor the bookstores would refund my money.(I had purchased Texas, Montreal and Alaska and found them all frought with misinformation.)From now on I will follow my own previous advice and stick with guides which have never let me down: "Lonely Planet"
CA USA Wed 09/26/2007
Non Rick Steves Guidebooks
For some reason, I find the writing style of the Lonely Planet books easier to follow and more informative than the Rough Guides. The Lonely Planet often has sections that you can actually design your own walking tour around a city with. I found this worked quite well for the Rome entry in the Italy book.
Also, I don't think Rick Steves is readily available outside of the US, for those looking abroad. I don't think he has an international publisher. I looked in a rather large Borders in Oxford, England and could only find Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.
Oxford, UK Thu 09/20/2007
I like to read from the "Culture Shock" series before traveling overseas. These books provide more insight into different cultures than do usual guidebooks - what to do, how to do it, what not to do, etc. Also, the "Dummies" series has a lot of basic but useful background information if read before traveling; They may not be worth carrying around on the trip, though.
Fairfield, OH USA Tue 08/28/2007
Frommer's Memorable Walks
I found this book to be useful for a London trip upon which I had little money for the "big" attractions. I feel I got to see a side of the city that is probably missed by those out for a greatest hits type of tour. Plus, I had more a chance to interact with the locals. The walk around "The City" was particularly fun. A lot of quirky historical facts there too. However, reading the book before you go then checking additional sources on some of the sights and historical events mentioned proved useful.
Kinnelon, NJ USA Fri 08/17/2007
Anyone know where I can pick up Rick Steves Best of Eastern Europe in Krakow or Budapest?
I couldn't get a copy of Best of Eastern Europe before I left (this was a last minute jaunt from Germany) and I am missing it. My Lonely Planet does a good enough job for hostels and eating, but I miss Rick's guide to the sights - both the rating and the commentary.
When traveling with my hostel-phobic friend, Rick's suggestions for B&B's have been spot on everywhere we have visited.
For clubs and nightlife (not really RS's focus) I rely on the local maps that one can pick up at the hostel or the In Your Pocket guides.
Kaiserslautern, Germany Thu 08/16/2007
I copy pertinent sections from several guides for the areas that I plan to visit. Rather than carrying several guidebooks, I paste the copied sections into a spiral notebook. As I complete each part of my journey, I toss the sections no longer needed.
Denver, Co USA Tue 08/07/2007
In Your Pocket
For Central and Eastern Europe (and oddly enough Northern Ireland) the In Your Pocket Guides are great. You can download guides for free or you can purchase them from their website. I bought mine at new stands for less than 5 Euro. They offer a distinctive rundown on events, history, and comentary for hotels. They tell which places offer good service, and those that don't. They really do offer good advice for locations not otherwise covered in guide books. For me they are a good city supplement. Plus their thin. Think Readers Digest, except not quite so thick.
Denver, CO USA Tue 07/31/2007
I found Frommers quite inadequate for detailed information about specific places. it gives about one or two sights in a town or destination and that is about all, I find Lonley Planet, even Lets Go to be much more informative for really planning out a trip
Livermore, CA USA Sun 07/29/2007
Local German tourist Info
The local tourist information offices (in Germany anyway) are excellent. i found websites for areas in which we wanted to travel and requested information for sights, hotels listings etc and within a very short time I recieved a thick envelope stuffed with brochures. Granted some are in German yet they do have good photos of local sights so even these help making my plans, and my contact person has always encouraged me to respond if I have any questions or need help. Every place I have contacted has responded quickly and given me tons of information. Dont forget to use the local tourist offices. You would be surprised that even the small towns have websites and tourist information with contact info.
Livermore, CA USA Sun 07/29/2007
Other Guide Books for Sicily
We are planning a trip to Italy, that will include Sicily and Sardinia. For Sicily, my favorite guides are the Rough Guide and Blue Guide. They are both informative and give some information that the other Sicily guides don't seem to have, and the Blue Guide includes towns that are skipped by the other guides.
For Sardinia, the only guide that we have is the Lonely Planet guide. It seems quite good. The only issue that I have with it is that the author seems like she tries to find items on restaurant menus that many people will find unsavory, such as donkey. Maybe that is just so people will know to expect items that they are not used to.
Enterprise, OR USA Thu 07/26/2007
I love the Rough Guide, as it has at the end of each chapter, approximate train and bus schedules from one place to another. This is great for planning an itinerary as it gives you an idea how long it takes and how often the train/bus runs from point A to Point B
Livermore, Ca USA Thu 07/26/2007
London Travel Books
While I would ALWAYS use Rick Steves when planning a trip, for practical getting around within a big city, nothing quite beats Time Out.
When I first moved to London and wanted to do some sightseeing, Time Out gave me everything I needed. All the sights are conveniently grouped together along with restaraunts and shopping in that area in case you want to do something else while you are there. There's a section of street map for that area with tube stations marked making it easy to get around.
At the very back of the book is a fold out map. One side is a street map and the other is the tube map. I've found it absolutely brilliant for getting around in London.
London, UK Wed 07/25/2007
Wonderful B&B outside Bath, UK
I arrived in Bath,England just about 5:00, as if the traffic is better any other time of day. I called a B&B mentioned in one of his books, but parking was a problem, then I called the Travelodge, also fairly reasonable, but another 10 pounds for parking, so I drove for about 3 miles and came upon "Prospect Villa Guest House" B&B, which was a haven! 570 Bath Road, Saltford, Briston BS31 #JN Tel# 012250873211 website: www.prospectvilla.co.uk. The owners, Tess & Brian Ahearne are so accomidating, you can park your car in their garage if you like, there's also a bus that stops almost in front of their door that goes into Bath, which I took one night. The rooms are beautiful, breakfast is cooked to order, and there are several pubs and restaurants within walking distance. Going solo for a room en-suite I paid $40 pounds in June, but they only take cash or check. Enjoy!
Prospect Villa Guest House B&B
Bristol / Bath, UK Tue 07/17/2007
After looking at Rick Steeves in the store, I found they were not practical for their larger size to carry & didn't have decent maps or concise info.
I went w/ Knopf, TimeOut & PopUp Maps.
Oakland, CA USA Tue 07/17/2007
National Geographic Rome
I found the combination of Steves' Rome and the National Geographic Traveler Rome, ISBN 0-7922-7566-7, to be a great pair of travel guides for Rome. Steves is more opinionated and better on the practical aspects of travel. The NGT is packed with more historical information and has clearer drawings and color photos.
Springfield , OR USA Sun 07/15/2007
Other Book Choices
I would say that Frommers Guides, AAA Sprial Guides, Fodors, maybe Lonely Planet,Disney Guides, and I kind of do like Let's Go Guides.
Lawrence, KS USA Tue 07/03/2007
I have purchased/used Rick's guidebooks when traveling to Ireland, Great Britain and, soon to leave for, Italy. I find the information on lodging, sights, history, eating & safety very good, and right in line with my fairly laid-back style of travel. I also like to make a trip to the library and select several other guidebooks to compare itineraries, cities & lodgings. The two guidebooks I use & trust the most are Rick's and Karen Brown's. If I find a consistently high rating from these two guides (plus any others) I don't hesitate to book. For Italy, I have also used "Hidden Treasure's of Italy" with Mariella Ray, as an excellent travel specialist; Mariella assisted with travel hints, suggestions, & reservations. That said, I don't leave without my R.S. books.
Cincinnati, Ohio USA Mon 07/02/2007
Let's Go is a MUST for anyone looking at either "off the beaten path" or budget travel. good maps, good hostel recommendations, it has it all. i wouldnt travel without one.
South Milwaukee, Wi USA Sun 07/01/2007
When we traveled to the Canadian Maritimes last summer, we enjoyed the MOON Handbook the most. It had lots of helpful tips to prioritize among the choices. FODOR's Guide was good too, but their lodging advice was much too fond of bed & breakfast places.
Santa Maria, CA USA Thu 06/21/2007
Any good British bitter, Guiness and my wifes favorite was kreik(cherry Beer) in Brugge
Clovis , CA USA Tue 06/19/2007
Eyewitness Top Ten Guides
We have used the Rick Steves Guides and the Michelin Green Guides for a long time. Recently we have found that the Eyewitness Top Ten Guides are also useful for a quick visit to a European city. We just put the Top Ten Guides to work in Prague and Vienna with good results. They includes sites, restaurants, hotels, and very useful maps of the cities and the transit systems.
Philadelphia, USA Thu 06/14/2007
Lodging in Venice, IT
We stayed at the Residenza Goldoni on Venice island. It's in a great location and recently remodeled. It even has air conditioning (European-style. Continental breakfast included. Strongly recommended.
Marietta, GA USA Wed 06/13/2007
my favorite list of other books
So my list of other writers/and their books would be Arthur Frommer,Pauline Frommer/Frommers, Eugene Fodor/Fodor's Steve Birunbaum books AAA travel books, AAA sprial guides and others. Mostly i like a bunch of books.
Lawrence, KS USA Wed 06/06/2007
Residencza Cellini Rome
We had a terrific week in January, 2007 at Resicena Cellini in Rome. Great Breakfast, beautiful rooms, great service. Highly recommend this place. Central location and elegant at a very reasonable price.
Studio City , CA USA Thu 05/31/2007
We have always liked Moon publications guides -- sort of the alternative version of Lonely Planet -- for more "exotic" destinations. We started using them when traveling the South Pacific about 20 years ago, and I would recommend them, even if the edition available for your destination isn't entirely up-to-date. Another thing I do is search the archives of National Geographic Traveler magazine for any issues on my forthcoming destination. I have some older issues at home, but sometimes get them from the library or order them from the NG website. Even if the information is old, their itineraries still work and you can use them as a good starting point.
San Diego, CA USA Wed 05/30/2007
There is no Rick Steves book on Greece, but go to Greece anyway. The very best travel guide book on Greece is : GREECE, written by Dana Facaros and Linda Theodorou, from CADOGAN guides (copyright 2003). If there is a newer addition of that book, written by the same authors, buy that. That book is distributed in the U.S.A. by the Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut. Beautifully written, well organized, thorough (844 pages, plus index, and color maps at the back of the book. The "Getting There and Around", and "Where to Stay and Eat" are printed on a gray background, thus that information is easy to find. If you can not find this book, the book Rough Guide to Greece is the same kind of book. The Cadogans guide book is more enjoyable to read, and the pages are more pleasant to look at : larger print, print that is a plainer font style and therefore easier to read. And I did not like the dreary colors on the pages in the book Rough Guide to Greece. The book Lonely Planet Greece has slightly more detail in directions for finding the beginning of a trail on the island Naxos, but that is not necessary. You can get that kind of information at the tourist information office at Naxos town. If you plan to walk on a trail on the island Naxos, you should go to the tourist information office anyway, to get a map of the trail. The Cadogans guide book on Greece is a good book to read, even for people who do not plan to go to Greece. If you read the Frommers book on Greece, beware !: I do not agree with the Frommers writers' opinions of the best islands to go to in Greece. The Cadogans book on Greece has recommended accomodations and eateries that cover a range of prices. For planning a trip to Greece, the Lonely Planet book is good enough. (I like the chapter on the Cyclades islands), but the Cadogans guides book on Greece is the best.
Springfield, MO USA Sat 05/26/2007
I recently returned from a vacation trip to Norway and the other Scandinavian countries. Norway is now my favorite country in Europe. I read several travel guide books on Norway, and I think the best travel guide book on Norway is THE ROUGH GUIDE to Norway, written and researched by Phil Lee. (Fourth edition, July 2006). The book Rick Steves' SCANDINAVIA is good enough to be the only book to use for planning a first trip to Norway or any of the Scandinavian countries. The Frommers book on Norway is very inferior : it does not even give a good description of the "Norway in a nutshell" trip. The Lonely Planet book on Norway (3rd Edition, April 2005) was written by good writers : Anthony Ham and Miles Roddis, but that book is inferior compared to the book ROUGH GUIDE to Norway. For a book of very many color photographs from Norway, the INSIGHT GUIDES book on Norway is wonderful !!! Its photographs are bigger and better than the color photographs in the DK eywitness book on Norway. The INSIGHT GUIDES book has many full page photographs, and several two page photographs.
Springfield, MO USA Sat 05/26/2007
For lodgings, we like Karen Brown and Alistair Sawday's Special Places to Stay. Both list many moderately priced places, as well as some at the high end. We've never had a bad experience at any of their listings. (Sorry Rick, but the same is not true of your listings.)
For touring, we like Cadogan and Insight guides. Both are very comprehensive and have led us to some small gems overlooked by other guides.The restaurant and hotel listings in Cadogan that we've tried have also been highly satisfactory.
USA Sat 05/26/2007
RE: Travel in Chile and Argentina
I've been to Europe several times using Rick's books, and they're first rate. I've been to Argentina twice and found Lonely Planet to be a good fit. It tends to cater to lower to mid-budget travelers, and as such you're more likely to have an authentic experience.
Reno, NV USA Tue 05/22/2007
Start with DK and Rick
I always start with the DK Eyewitness guides for a gorgeous visual overview; their great fault is that they make every square inch of Europe look fantastic. This is where Rick's style is uniquely useful, trimming down to a personal heirarchy of manageable itineraries. But he might cut out places you'd love (and he hasn't been to *every* town yet!), so I like using libraries to find books and videos with broader coverage of specific interests. For me, that includes cathedrals & castles (which the guidebooks also cover pretty well), and scenic drives: mountains, lakes, gorges, dramatic rocky coasts, villas... (which they don't, except the most popular spots).
Santa Cruz, CA USA Sun 05/13/2007
Used a Fodors France and ended up leaving it in a hotel. Too big and bulky with not enough information. Ended up getting info from local TI offices. Previous time used Rick Steves and a Green Guide. Will do the same next time.
USA Fri 05/11/2007
Travel in Chile and Argentina
RS travel books are all we need for Europe. However, we are venturing to South America in the fall. What books are recommended for our "south of the border" adventure?
Seattle, WA USA Thu 04/19/2007
I will use Rick's books for trip planning, but will use other books to select accomodation as we prefer somewhat more upscale acccomodation.
BC USA Sun 04/08/2007
The one book to have
I'm sorry, but if we can't find a Rick Steves book on our targeted destination we simply change our destination. The other books aren't remotely as helpful, easy to understand, offer as many options, etc.
Trappe, MD USA Mon 03/26/2007
Non Rick Steves Guidebooks
I like the Time Out Guides. I too find Rick's food and hotel choices in Paris, a city I know very well to be suspect. I also do not care for the emphasis he places on the Rue Cler district. There are many more areas that are much more authentic Parisian vibe than an area where half the shoppers are clutching Rick's guidebooks. I also do not care for some of his tours of various museums. I think that he goes for the mainstream person who is comfortable going where tourists go. I prefer off the beaten track where the French go. We use a combination of Zagat, Time Out, Patricia Wells, and also Cadogans which I find to be the best written and most historical content of the guides with no fluff. They are English guides and are just the best. Ricks guide to Pere La Chaise is very good however.
San Francisco, Ca USA Mon 03/19/2007
I always supplement my Rick books with Lonely Planet. They are very informative, cover a wide spread of topics, and tend to have more listings for restuarants, bars, and the like. But best of all are their very infomative maps. What I dislike about them is that they tend to be written from a very ethnocentric, better-than-thou viewpoint. That said there are a lot of times I don't even buy my guidebooks - For shorter trips, I just go to the library, check my guidebooks out once to plan the trip, check them out again when I go on the trip, and simply return them after the trip is over. Often you can get more guidebooks than you'll ever need at no cost to you. (just don't lose them while you're in Europe!)
Chicago, IL USA Thu 03/15/2007
I don't think anyone in the business comes close to Rick's books when it comes to logistical trip planning. However, when you want to see things that are not on Rick's preferred itinerary for a country, you have to rely on other sources.
As a starting point, it's hard to beat the Eyewitness Guides for deciding what you want to see. They do not help you that much with detailed logistical information, but when you're simply trying to put together an intinerary and don't have a lot of ideas going into the planning process as to what you shoud see, a glossy, comprehenive overview with lots of pictures, well organized regional chapters, and some background and history is a good starting point.
Wichita Falls, TX USA Thu 03/08/2007
I chopped up Rick Steves books and Let's Go books, then organized them by country (and only the cities I was planning to visit) for my three-week solo journey to Europe. Then I got them spiral bound. It cost about $15 for all three and I had all the advice a (pretty cheap) backpacker could need. However, with a couple hostel and sights exceptions, I think I could have gotten by with Rick Steves alone.
Kennewick, WA USA Thu 03/08/2007
Non Rick Guidbooks
In London last year we carried RS and National Geographic guides, after looking at many others. RS is everything NG isn't, and NG is everythinbg RS isn't. We quickly learned which to consult for any question, and one or the other had everything we wanted to know.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Wed 03/07/2007
I love Rick's guidebooks when travelling to Europe. What guidebooks can you recommend for Mexico, specifically Mazatlan?
USA Mon 02/26/2007
When considering a Euro-destination, I typically turn to Rick Steves' guidebooks for candid, comprehensive travel information, yet I'm not averse to supplemental guidance.
Unlike Rick's guides, Rough Guides tend to take-on an entire nation, north to south, east to west, and all points in between. Of course, a thicker guide isn't always a better guide, and this series often suffers from over-writing, in serious need of an agressive editor who would do well to trim dry, lengthy entries. RG, like Fodors, is to be commended for its dedication to historical background, yet the writing could withstand a bit more, snap, crackle, and you know what.
DK's Eyewitness guides, while visually appealing, are hardly worth the extra weight while traveling. These guides - at least the country-wide versions - have precious little practical value. Still, I'm currently enjoying the DK "Top Ten" guide to Tuscany, and its pocket format might prove useful during my upcoming trip to Italy.
A final note about Fodors: While always worth a peek, these guides have more format changes than Katie Couric has hairstyles. Is this identity crisis a result of the popularity of Rick's guides?
Speaking of Rick's guides, I noticed the 2006 guide to Italy was quite a stout fellow, looking more like a Russian novel than a practical, tag-along tool. While I remain a RS Italy guide enthusiast, the country-wide book from this day onward will have to pay for its own airfare. Hmmm...so that's why we can turn to such books as "Florence & Tuscany 2007."
Westford, MA USA Thu 02/22/2007
Guidebooks other than Rick Steves
Before I travel *anywhere,* and that includes major cities in the U.S., I buy the Insight Guide to that place. These books are short on practical information, but long on cultural information and especially, splendid photographs.
The Insight Guide gives me an idea of what I want to see, while Rick Steves and other guidebooks tell me about the practicalities.
Minneapolis, MN USA Fri 02/16/2007
RS-Books + LP or RG (whichever is newer)
Id agree with many of the RS-fans and Rick himself - take the RS book AND add either Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. Since these two other books update every 2-3 years - I take which ever of the two are NEWEST. Together with Ricks current issue you should have great and accurate info. Ive read Rick also recommends a "Blue Guide" for places with lots of architecture and/or history - really indepth (Perhaps I will get one for Greece). I used a frommers/fodors in the past which was also ok - guess its preference as to HOW you like to travel. Most all have good info - but the diff. lies in restaurant and hotel suggestions - some books are more budget others less... Lets Go is great for more budget. Id also recomend not skimping on the books - buy 2-3 maybe 4 - well in advance and take either 2 (or just the chapters relavant and binder-clip them).
Newport Beach, CA USA Wed 02/14/2007
Critical Non-Rick Guidebooks
I have been reading Rick's guides for many years, and I love them, but the one thing I always need to supplement with another guide is... FOOD. And WINE. Enjoying the local cuisine is a huge part of all my trips, and I like to know a lot about all the specialties of whatever area I'm in. I always buy at least one for each trip. Here are some favorites:
Passport's Food and Wine Guides (lots of countries - they're small and portable but pretty thorough)
Food Lover's Guide to France by Patricia Wells
The Italian Food Guide: The Ultimate Guide to the Regional Foods of Italy
A Taste of Tuscany (Eyewitness Guides)
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 02/14/2007
Non Rick Steves Guidebooks
Since this is my first time to venture on my own without the help of professional tour companies, guides and friends who live in Europe...I bought books to help me plan my trip. For books with beautiful pictures buy National Geographic. Found a bit of info not in Rick Steves books from Frommer's and Fodor's, but not much. AAA travel guides are good: slim, light, sturdy, easy to open, informative - but not on saving money.To me Rick Steves books rank number one: saving money, how to be an independent traveller, and really valuable information about Europe! Thanks Rick!
San Diego, CA USA Fri 02/09/2007
I love the info in Ricks but I also love the pics in DK Eyewitness Guides. Gives you a picture (worth a thousand words) and brief description. I use that one to figure out if I want to see it and Rick's to tell me what it is.
San Antonio, TX USA Fri 01/26/2007
I always buy a Rick Steves guide to wherever I'm traveling. I've found that the AAA Sprial Guildes are a good back-up.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 01/21/2007
Rick's guides are nice, but at his preferred hotels and restaurants, you run into too many folks carrying the same guide, and speaking American !! Complement Rick's guides with Let's Go and Rough Guide
New York, NY USA Tue 01/02/2007