I'm about halfway through my spring trip to Europe, updating my Italy guidebooks — an intense process filled with great people, wine, and art. A theme for this visit has been finding peace and cultural tranquility in cities that, in many ways, can feel overrun with tourists, especially as peak travel season picks up. Just as voters tend to vote for whoever's up in the polls, many tourists visit the same famous sights. Of course, I love the biggies, from the dreamy Neuschwanstein Castle to Michelangelo's magnificent David; they're must-sees for a reason — and we can't imagine leading a tour without visiting these. But the lines and crowd sizes can often seem daunting.
On a Rick Steves tour, visiting these places is a breeze — we've got reservations and can zip right in, so you can make the most out of every minute of your trip. We do what we can to skirt the crowds. For example, our Best of Paris tour takes full advantage of the Louvre's special late-night hours, so you don't need to fight the masses to see Mona. And we love the underrated sights: Our Best of Rome tour includes the ancient seaport of Ostia Antica, which is much more intact than other Roman ruins…and has a fraction of the crowds.
Sharing these insights and helpful tips is what I've done ever since I led my first group of travelers to Europe in 1982 — and it's an ethos that's still at the heart of every single Rick Steves tour.
In this issue of Tour News, you'll find a list of our "early release" tours — 21 of our 2020 itineraries — and each tour will provide "back door" experiences, whether in Italy, France, Scandinavia, and beyond. I'm also happy to announce that our Best of Istanbul in 7 Days tour is back, giving you a deep dive into this vibrant city. Our remaining tours will be released in early July, so be sure to check back.
And there's more to help stoke your 2020 travel dreams: You can browse through a fun slideshow of our returning Best of Istanbul tour, watch a video on Norway's spectacular Sognefjord, and meet some of our great guides. And if you're itching to travel before next year, check out the savings on more than 30 of our 2019 itineraries.
With so many adventures to choose from, there are endless opportunities for you to take the trip of a lifetime. I've been here for the last month, and — in so many ways — Europe's never been better.