Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, July 2019
At his villa in Tivoli, Emperor Hadrian re-created architectural styles and statuary from across his vast empire.

When travel dreams take people to Europe, Italy is often their first stop. There's something seductively charming about this country, its people, and "la dolce vita." I always feel at home in Italy, whether struggling onto a crowded bus in Rome, navigating the fun chaos of Naples, sipping a cocktail in a Venetian bar, or sitting on the banister of Florence's Ponte Vecchio for a midnight street-music concert.

But I also...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, July 2019
With their Greco-Roman themes and incomparable beauty, the gardens at Versailles were built to illustrate the immense power of the king.

Just like today, the royal families of the past were fond of their countryside getaways. These lavish retreats provided an escape from the city and the summer heat, a place for diversions like hunting and horseback riding, and enough land to build grand showpiece palaces and gardens. While Europe has many royal retreats, a few are remarkable for their sheer size, over-the-top opulence and the larger-than-life personalities who built them.

The granddaddy of European palaces...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, July 2019
Bratislava’s old town has come a long way since it was nearly a ghost town in the Communist era.

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and once a nearly desolate ghost town, is one of the big surprises of my recent travels. Its compact old town bursts with colorfully restored facades, lively outdoor cafes, and swanky boutiques. The ramshackle industrial quarter to the east is rapidly being redeveloped into a forest of skyscrapers. The hilltop castle gleams from a recent facelift. And even the glum communist-era suburb of Petrzalka has undergone a Technicolor makeover. It's...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, July 2019 -- Page 41
Driving the backroads (as here, in Dartmoor, England) yields surprises by the mile. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

It’s easy to travel through Europe without a car, but there are times when I enjoy the freedom of having my own wheels. I don’t drive in big cities, but having a car can be the best — and, sometimes, only — way to get off the beaten path. When exploring small towns or the countryside, I connect the dots with a rental car.

Last spring, for example, a great little car helped me get around the whitewashed hill towns of southern Spain and the beach towns of...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, June 2019
A short hike up to Bled Castle rewards visitors with sweeping views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Tiny, overlooked Slovenia is one of Europe's most unexpectedly charming destinations with spectacular natural beauty, a fascinating recent history, and a spirit of adventure -- yet much of it is still off the typical tourist path. Here, in the land where the Adriatic meets the Alps, lies a romantic getaway that once entertained emperors and presidents -- Lake Bled.

Nestled up against the northeast side of the rugged Julian Alps near the Austrian border, ...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, June 2019
Namafjall, along the Ring Road that circles Iceland, is one of the island’s most accessible and impressive geothermal areas.

Iceland, formed long ago by volcanoes, is known for its otherworldly landscape, with steaming fields and percolating mud. The volcanic activity produces naturally heated water, which Icelanders have cleverly harnessed for thermal baths and pools. Geothermal experiences -- visual and physical -- are worth seeking out on a visit here.

Wandering through the colorful terrain is a classic Icelandic treat. The most visited geothermal sight is Geysir, home to the world's first-known...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, June 2019
At Basque-style tapas bars, pintxos are already laid out, so you can simply point to or grab what you want.

When it comes to eating in Spain, I love gathering around the table or bar for tapas -- a parade of small dishes served family style. I never tire of them. The experience is like an edible scavenger hunt, where I collect small portions of seafood, salads, meat-filled pastries and deep-fried tasties and piece them together for a light evening meal.

My tapas memories are vivid: In the heart of Spain's Andalucía region, on a warm summer evening, I elbow up to a Granada...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, June 2019
A Sherman tank guards the approach to the Utah Beach Landing Museum in Normandy, France.

With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings coming this June, most Americans visiting France's D-Day sites will focus on Omaha Beach -- where thousands died on June 6, 1944. But if you're planning to visit Normandy this year, don't miss the other American landing site -- Utah.

Utah Beach, added as a landing site late in D-Day planning, proved critical. This was where two U.S. paratrooper units (the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions) dropped...

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