Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, January 2020
Explore the sectarian neighborhoods of Belfast with a local guide who can offer insights and commentary on the area’s political murals.

Belfast, Northern Ireland's capital city, is perhaps best known for the sectarian strife that took place here during the era of the "Troubles," and as the birthplace of the Titanic (and many other ships that didn't sink). While these two claims to fame are hardly uplifting, Belfast's story is hardly a downer. This unsinkable city, just two hours away from Dublin by train, makes for a fascinating day trip.

Wandering through cheery...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, January 2020
In London, the courtyard at Somerset House transforms into an ice-skating rink every year from mid-November to January.

For scenes straight out of a box of old-fashioned Christmas cards, head to England. Many classic Christmas trappings, from caroling to mince pie and wassail, have been part of English tradition for centuries.

Other holiday customs have their roots in the 19th century. Queen Victoria's German husband, Prince Albert, popularized the decorating of Christmas trees and the sending of Christmas cards. Around the same time, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, January 2020
ATMs are a frequent target for travel scams in Europe — if anyone’s around, cover the keypad when entering your PIN.

Europe is a surprisingly creative place when it comes to travel scams. Many of the most successful gambits require a naively trusting tourist, but seasoned travelers can be taken in, too. We should all be wary of the numerous subtle scams -- a cabbie pads your fare, a hotel business center computer records your password, or a waiter offers a special with a "special" increased price. But if you're cautious and not overly trusting, you should have no problem. Here...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, January 2020
Travelers in Venice can now enjoy a visit to the Doge’s Palace at night, when crowds are smaller.

Nighttime's the right time -- and reservations are smart any time -- when it comes to seeing the great sights in Northern Italy. With all the crowds heading for the same few attractions, popular sights and destinations are packed, and ticket lines are long. For 2020, officials thankfully have promised longer hours and easier opportunities to book entries in advance. Here's the latest:

At Venice's St. Mark's Basilica, it is now easy to reserve an...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, January 2020
The pointed arches of Gothic cathedrals allow for dramatic stained-glass windows, such as the ones in Chartres’ cathedral.

Though visiting Paris' Notre-Dame cathedral won't be possible for the foreseeable future following a devastating fire, there are plenty of fine examples of Gothic cathedrals -- and other Notre-Dames even -- that you can see in France.

When traveling in France, I can't help but marvel at the towering Gothic cathedrals that mark the centers of many towns. I like to imagine what it was like to be a pilgrim 600 years ago, hiking for days to a...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, January 2020 -- Page 49
A cruise ship offers memorably fantastic views of the classic whitewashed villages of Santorini. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

I’ve spent the last several decades exploring Europe from every conceivable angle. And this includes checking out Europe the way millions of people do: from a cruise ship.

I’m not out to promote or put down cruising. For some people it’s a great choice, and for others it’s not. On the plus side, cruising can be economical, with transportation, a room and meals all included in one price. It can be ideal for those who want their vacation logistics taken...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2019
The essential elements of the French Riviera — azure water, blue sky, and endless sunshine — appeal to vacationers and artists alike in places like Nice.

With its romantic coastline, inviting beaches, and reliable sunshine, southern France's Riviera region has been a tourist destination since the 1860s. A hundred years ago, aristocrats from London to Moscow flocked here to socialize, gamble, and escape the dreary weather at home. But the area also attracted a who's who of 20th-century artists, who were drawn by the Mediterranean's bohemian atmosphere, luminous light, and contrasting colors of sea, sand, and sky...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2019
Hiding in a distant wing of Vienna's crowded Hofburg Palace, the Albertina Museum's 19th-century state rooms are usually empty.

Seeing the top sights in Europe's big cities can be intense. It's hot, it's crowded, and your dream of having a quiet moment with the Mona Lisa is shared by around six million people every year.

The mission of my most recent trip to Europe was finding peace and tranquility in big cities that, in many ways, feel overrun with tourists. And it's surprisingly easy to do.

Many travelers stick to the most famous sights -- and I don't...

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