Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, September 2018 -- Page 47
To avoid the worst crowds on a cruise ship, use amenities such as swimming pools during off-peak hours. Photo by Rick Steves

Last year I spent two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise, filming a one-hour TV show* that will present an honest look at the pros and cons of cruising and will equip travelers with the knowledge they need to be smart cruisers.

You might not think of it as budget travel, but cruising can be extremely affordable. When you consider that the price includes accommodations, food and transportation to far-flung destinations, it's simply a steal. But reckless spending on a cruise...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, August 2018
The thatched roof of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where Shakespeare’s wife grew up, seems to drip over the 500-year-old building.

To see or not to see? Nonliterary types might find England's Stratford-upon-Avon to be much ado about nothing, but Shakespeare's hometown is blanketed with opportunities for bardolatry. It's an easy side-trip from London, but an overnight stay is best to take in a performance of the world's best Shakespeare ensemble.

Within Stratford's compact old town, you can walk easily to most sights. The River Avon, which flows right through town, has an idyllic...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, August 2018
At Leault Working Sheepdogs near Inverness, Scotland, a shepherd and his well-trained dogs show how to bring in the sheep from the pastures.

Despite a lifetime of European travel, there is a world of firsts still out there for me. And recently, I had my first falconry experience.

It was at the Ireland School of Falconry (just outside of Cong, north of Galway), where a great guide took our tour group on a "hawk walk." For about an hour, we wandered through the enchanting grounds of Ashford Castle, with our guide sporting a Harris hawk on his forearm. After learning about falconry, each person in our...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, August 2018
Taking an educational tour often means you’ll visit a struggling part of the world and engage with the locals — like these schoolchildren in El Salvador.

Honolulu or Havana? The world is full of travel opportunities that are more than enjoyable -- they can be transformational. By getting out of your comfort zone, you realize that different people find different truths to be self-evident and God-given. You gain empathy for the other 96 percent of humanity -- and in many ways you can learn a lot about your own country by viewing it from afar.

While many extremely rewarding destinations are not on the typical bucket list, they...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, August 2018
Bastille Day block parties throughout Paris (and all of France) bring locals and tourists together for music, dancing, and patriotic celebration.

For the ultimate summer party in France, visit during Bastille Day, the country's Independence Day. This July 14 holiday is celebrated with gusto, with all-night parties, picnics and fireworks. And the fun permeates the country, from tiny towns to Paris.

The day marks the symbolic start of the French Revolution that brought down the monarchy. In 1789, France was under the tyranny of its king, bishops and nobles. The corrupt monarchy spent...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, August 2018 -- Page 45
Less than an hour from London, Windsor Castle is the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II and was the site of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

Chances are you weren’t invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which took place at Windsor Castle (neither was I), but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit the place where it happened or other royal residences in Great Britain.

In addition to Windsor Castle, there are London’s Kensington, Buckingham and Hampton Court palaces and the more remote Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands — great places to put yourself in royal shoes for a...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, July 2018
On the colorful streets of Dingle, you’ll hear a steady beat of Irish folk music ringing out through vibrant pubs like Dick Mack’s.

When someone asks me about visiting Ireland, I tell them not to miss the southwest coast. This is the place to experience the wonders of the Gaelic language and old Irish civilization, as well as the country's contemporary charms. It's the most mystical, Celtic, spiritual and rugged region of Ireland -- and the towns along the way are just plain cute. There's even a competition for the best-kept town.

Every year, the Irish government holds a ...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, July 2018
Workers at Scotland’s Speyside Cooperage fashion oak casks for aging Scotch whisky.

When I was in Scotland recently updating my guidebook, I came to a sobering conclusion -- this is a land of booze geeks. Some of my favorite discoveries have been inviting whisky bars and historic distilleries, run by people evangelical about Scotland's favorite beverage. When it rains -- as it often does, the showers elicit a cheery "That's tomorrow's whisky!" from the locals.

Scotch whiskies come in two broad types: "single malt...

CONTINUE READING »