Guidebook FAQ: Which Rick Steves Guidebook Is Best for My Trip?

Get tips on how to decide which Rick Steves guidebook (or books) best suit your trip.

To get a sneak peek into what's covered in each book, check its page in the Shop Online section of our site, where we've listed its key content.

Do I need to get both a city-specific guidebook and a whole-country guidebook?

Probably not. If you're only spending a few days in a city, as part of a longer trip elsewhere in the same country, the larger guidebook for the whole country is all you're likely to need. For example: If you're planning on spending a few days in Paris, as part of a more extensive trip to France, the Paris chapter of Rick Steves France should be sufficient for your stay. The same goes for our guidebooks to Barcelona (well-covered in Rick Steves Spain), London (well-covered in both Rick Steves England and Rick Steves Great Britain), and Rome and Venice (both well-covered in Rick Steves Italy).

If, however, you're spending at least four days in the same city, the extra information in a full-size single-city guidebook is nice to have along. Our full-size city guides (as opposed to our much smaller Pocket Guides, described below) offer much more in-depth sightseeing information, self-guided city walks and museum tours, detail on day-trip options, and advice for travelers specifically interested in the city's shopping, nightlife, or activities for kids. Other information is generally the same — for example, the Rome chapter of the Rick Steves Italy guidebook has all the hotels, restaurants, and nitty-gritty practical advice for Rome that you'll find in the Rick Steves Rome guidebook.

Should I get your Florence & Tuscany guidebook as well as your Italy guidebook?

If Florence and/or other Tuscan destinations are a small part of a more extensive trip to Italy, the information in Rick Steves Italy should be plenty sufficient for your stay. The Italy guidebook includes coverage of the same Tuscan towns, and all of the same practical advice and hotel and restaurant listings. Rick Steves Florence & Tuscany, however, has more in-depth sightseeing information for Florence, Siena, and Pisa, as well as extra information on Florence's shopping, nightlife, and kids' activities. If you plan to spend at least four days in Florence or at least a week in Tuscany as a whole, Rick Steves Florence & Tuscany makes sense to have along.

Should I get your Provence & French Riviera guidebook as well as your France guidebook?

If Provence and/or the French Riviera are a small part of a more extensive trip to France, the information in Rick Steves France should be plenty sufficient for your stay. The France guidebook includes coverage of the most popular destinations in these two regions, and all of the same practical advice and hotel and restaurant listings. Rick Steves Provence & French Riviera, however, really delves into the region, covering significantly more destinations there, and with more in-depth sightseeing information for Nice, as well as extra background on the region's culture, history, and cuisine. If you plan to spend at least a week in Provence and/or the French Riviera, Rick Steves Provence & the French Riviera makes sense to have along.

Should I get your England guidebook as well as your Great Britain guidebook?

If you don't plan to travel outside England, Rick Steves England is all you're likely to need. Rick Steves Great Britain covers most of the same English destinations, plus our favorite places in Scotland and Wales.

If you're going to Scotland as well as some of the destinations that are covered in our England book but not covered in the bigger Great Britain book (Canterbury, Dover and Southeast England, Brighton and nearby, Portsmouth, Dartmoor, Cornwall, Oxford, Blackpool, and some of North Yorkshire), you could opt for getting both Rick Steves England and Rick Steves Snapshot: Scotland (cheaper and lighter than bringing along both the England and full-length Great Britain guidebooks).

What's the difference between your Pocket guides and your full-size city guidebooks?

Our Pocket guides (to Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Florence, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, and Vienna) work best for people taking a short trip, or perhaps a return trip, to the city in question. The upside to these guides: They're smaller and full-color, but still offer our best sightseeing advice and a handful of self-guided city walks and museum tours. But for travelers who want to delve deep into one of these cities (whether it's because they're staying longer, are visiting for the first time, and/or appreciate more thorough information), the full-size guidebooks are a better option, as they offer more substantial advice on every front: more information on practicalities, sightseeing, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, shopping, kids' activities, and the city's history and culture.

Should I get both a Snapshot guide as well as a bigger book that covers the same area?

Nope! Our Snapshot guides offer no additional information beyond what's in the larger guidebooks — they're simply excerpted chapters from our full-size guidebooks. Our Snapshot: Lisbon, for example, covers the same topics as the Lisbon and Sintra chapters of Rick Steves Portugal (same hotels, restaurants, sightseeing information, and bad puns). However, our Snapshot guides are updated less frequently than our full-size guidebooks.

What's the difference between Europe Through the Back Door, Europe 101, and Best of Europe?

  • Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door: Our essential handbook for how to plan and enjoy a trip to Europe, designed to be read before you go — with in-depth advice on planning, packing, saving money, avoiding lines, staying healthy, leaping the language barrier, finding a bathroom…and lots more
  • Rick Steves Europe 101: Our fun, informative, full-color survey of Europe's art and history — also designed to be read before your trip
  • Rick Steves Best of Europe: An honest-to-goodness guidebook, with all the specifics on sights, hotels, and restaurants for travelers on a whirlwind trip around western Europe (who don't want to buy — or lug — separate guidebooks for every stop on the way)

I'm taking a whirlwind European trip to a bunch of places not covered in your Best of Europe guidebook. Should I pack a suitcase full of separate books?

If you're going to even just a handful of places included in Rick Steves Best of Europe, that guidebook's still a smart buy (remember, you can always tear out the chapters you don't think you'll need). You can supplement your copy of Best of Europe with a combination of Snapshot guides, city-specific guidebooks, Pocket guides, and — lightest of all — ebook versions of the guidebooks for your extra destinations.

Do you have any books for armchair travelers?

Sure do!

Not to mention Rick's…