Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, February 2020
If booking same-day tickets to Dublin’s Book of Kells, you’ll find few crowds at the side-entrance ticket kiosks.

Ireland is more than an "Emerald Isle." It's an isle filled with cultural and historic wonders...and lately with lots of tourists, too. And at many of its top sights, reservations are now either required or highly recommended.

In Dublin, it's more important than ever to buy advance tickets for the most popular sights. These include Kilmainham Gaol, a museum housed in a former prison for political prisoners (visits are by guided tour only), and the Guinness...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, February 2020
Canterbury Cathedral, a masterpiece of English Gothic architecture, will soon have a new welcome center.

Britain, while engulfed in Brexit politics, is constantly investing in first-class projects to share its heritage -- and, in so many ways, Britain's heritage is linked to our heritage.

While many travelers are understandably curious about how Brexit is affecting tourists, from my experience it isn't. The only impact I've found is that the tourism industry seems to respect visitors more than ever. (And, for those who like to talk politics, the topic is a fascinating...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, February 2020
Consider skipping the Colosseum’s crowded interior and just enjoying it from the outside.

Rome is nicknamed "The Eternal City" and nowadays it could also be referring to the lines you'll wait in. The city (along with Naples) is better organized than ever for the huge crowds that descend on it each year -- but only for those who equip themselves with good information and use it. These tips may be wonky, but for smart travelers in 2020, they will translate into many precious hours saved -- and lots of sweat avoided.

Rome's big sights continue...

CONTINUE READING »
Rick Steves' Europe Supplemental
This article appears in our Online Edition, February 2020
A jubilant pilgrim on Spain’s Camino de Santiago marks the end of her journey in front of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

To travel as a pilgrim is to experience "travel with a purpose"--to go beyond tourism and connect more deeply with a place, a culture, or a faith. Travelers considering pilgrimages in Europe have the opportunity to follow centuries-old routes or trace new paths in a search for perspective on their own culture -- or the culture of others.

"The Camino de Santiago -- the "Way of St. James" -- is Europe's ultimate pilgrimage route. Since the Middle Ages,...

CONTINUE READING »
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 entry...

CONTINUE READING »
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 particular...

CONTINUE READING »
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 downtown...

CONTINUE READING »
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 Carol --...

CONTINUE READING »