Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, March 2018
To avoid the worst cruise ship crowds, use amenities such as swimming pools during off-peak hours.

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...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, March 2018
Estonians enjoy a collective culture — and that includes sharing food and drink.

On my last visit to Tallinn, while I was admiring the view from the terrace atop the city walls, a kindly middle-aged man approached. From a satchel on his shoulder, he pulled out a stack of music CDs, all recordings of Tallinn's famous Song Festivals. While he was eager to make a sale, my friend was even more intent that I learn the story of how singing helped lead his country to independence.

In 2018, the scrappy Republic of Estoniamarks the 100th...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, March 2018 -- Page 54
Oslo’s redeveloped waterfront includes a 5-mile-long promenade and stunning architecture. Photo by Cameron Hewitt

Anyone traveling in Scandinavia this year will find a region that’s investing productively in itself. Numerous urban, cultural and transit projects are underway, continuing the Scandinavian devotion to quality of life for residents and visitors alike. Here are some newsworthy notes to keep in mind as you travel in the region in 2018.

• In DENMARK’s capital city, a massive subway project is creating havoc aboveground, but when completed in 2019, a new circular...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, January 2018
Hiking is a relaxing way to experience the Cinque Terre.

Italy bubbles with emotion, corruption, traffic jams, strikes, religious holidays and crowds. Irate ranters shake their fists at each other one minute and walk arm-in-arm the next. It's bella chaos, and if you're up-to-date on your sightseeing and transit info, you'll love it. Here's the latest, gleaned from research done for the 2018 edition of my Italy guidebook, to help you enjoy Europe's richest, craziest culture.

Rome has been improving its tourist infrastructure and...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, January 2018 -- Page 53
A money belt tucked underneath your clothes keeps your essentials on you as securely as your underwear. Photo by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

I don’t give much thought to petty crime when I travel abroad. I’m well aware that it happens; I’ve been preaching about the importance of wearing a money belt for decades. And for decades — probably about a total of 4,000 days of travel — I’ve never been hit by a thief. Well, my happy streak finally ended. I was pickpocketed in Paris last summer.

It was my own fault. I wasn’t wearing my money belt — a small pouch worn at the...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2017
In the tangle of downtown Rome, convents can provide a restful oasis for weary travelers.

Once, while traveling in the '70s, the youth hostel where I had planned to stay was full, and the staff directed me to a nearby convent instead. As I walked there, I wondered if I was signing myself up for draconian curfews, spartan accommodations, and Mass at dawn.

Without funds for much else, I was resigned. But I shouldn't have worried -- it turned out to be a beautiful experience, warmly welcoming and deeply restful. Yes, it was austere compared to any local hotel, but it...

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Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, December 2017
Traditional “rabelo” boats, which were once used to deliver port wine from the Douro Valley, line Porto’s harbor at sunset.

I'm really into "second cities" these days. For generations, Industrial Age powerhouses in Europe turned into what we would call "the rust belt," while their elegant "first city" counterparts enjoyed the luster of the Information Age. But over the last decade or so, the rust has become a trendy accessory and industrial ruins have turned bohemian chic.

A prime example is Porto -- the hub of Portugal's north and the country's second city. Just three hours from Lisbon by train,...

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Rick Steves' Europe
This article appears in our Print Edition, November 2017 -- Page 53
Hallstatt is a peaceful and perfectly Austrian alternative to the tourist hustle of Salzburg. Photo by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

A fundamental part of enjoying travel in Europe is finding places that I call “back doors.” 

When I first started traveling, back doors, to me, were Europe’s undiscovered corners and untrampled towns that had, for various reasons, missed the modern parade (like Dingle in Ireland or Salema in Portugal). But now, with more sophisticated travelers, worthwhile places rarely go undiscovered, and certain destinations that I raved about now suffer from back-door...

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