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If booking same-day tickets to Dublin’s Book of Kells, you’ll find few crowds at the side-entrance ticket kiosks. Photo by Rick Steves

Ireland is more than an “Emerald Isle.” It’s an isle filled with cultural and historic wonders and, lately, lots of tourists too. 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 Storehouse,...

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What is now known as the Pond Garden was a fish farm in medieval times — Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, England. Photos by Yvonne Michie Horn

Every year, thousands of people from all over the world make their way to England’s Hampton Court Palace. So it has been since Queen Victoria threw open the palace’s gilded gates to the general public in 1838.

With the palace located just a short train ride from central London, today’s visitors come to traipse through the 500 years of English history embedded in the some-1,000-room royal abode.

Built by Cardinal Wolsey in the early 16th century, Hampton Court...

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The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania as seen from Gediminas Tower in the Upper Castle on Gediminas/Castle Hill. Photos by Julie Skurdenis

The story of the Palace of the Grand Dukes in Vilnius, Lithuania, and its rebirth began for me many years ago.

I traveled to Lithuania for the first time in the mid-1970s during the bleak years of the Soviet occupation of the country (1940-41, 1944-90). There was no palace visible then, only a park next to Vilnius’ Cathedral (which the Soviets had turned into an art museum). The park covered the site where a palace had stood for centuries until it was destroyed by the Russians...

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In my January 2020 column, I invited readers to send me their favorite On-the-Road Travel Tips, applying to anything that makes your travel experience work better for you while actually traveling.

The response has been excellent, and the first selection of tips is presented below (with my own comments added where appropriate). Hopefully, you will find some of the offerings in this series to be applicable to your own travels.

Karen Gifford (Raleigh, NC) — After arriving in...

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Built in the 12th century, the St. Benezet Bridge lasted until 1668 when a devastating flood took out most of the half-mile-long span. Tourists can pay to walk out on the bridge for a sweeping view of Avignon.

Clinging to a bend in the Rhone River in the south of France, Avignon looks and feels like it stepped out of a medieval fairy tale. While it's largely famous for its 14th-century heyday as a papal capital and its even older 12th-century bridge, Avignon has plenty to offer beyond history. Today this walled Provençal town is a youthful place full of atmospheric cafes, fun shops, and numerous hide-and-seek squares ideal for postcard-writing and people-watching.

An easy...

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It’s easy to find Wi-Fi at cafés, transit hubs, tourist offices, and public squares throughout Europe.

When I took my first solo trip to Europe in 1973, I must have kept my parents on the edge of their seats.

The day after my high school graduation, I headed to the airport, accompanied only by a good friend, a rucksack, and a youthful sense of adventure. Throughout the months-long trip, the only way of communicating with my folks back home was through postcards, since paying for international calls was beyond my Europe-Through-the-Gutter budget. Still, I managed to send a...

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One of Lucca’s surviving towers is the Torre Guinigi, with 227 steps leading up to a small garden of fragrant trees.

On a sunny summer evening in Lucca, Italy, I was inspired by the simple joy of watching an old man bicycling with his granddaughter atop the wide, fortified wall that once protected this proud city from its enemies -- and now seems to corral its Old World charm. Then, on rented bikes, a group of chatty tourists frolicked by. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Squinting at the energy in their smiles, surrounded by dazzling sunshine, it struck me that the sun in Italy seems to...

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A clear view of the spectacular Matterhorn isn’t guaranteed, especially if your Zermatt visit is a quick one.

On my two previous trips to Switzerland's tiny-but-touristy Zermatt, I failed to catch a glimpse of the glorious Matterhorn mountain that draws so many to the burg at its base for a peek at the peak.

My third try was the charm, and now I have a confession: I'm in love with the Matterhorn. Now I get why this mountain town of 5,800 people is so popular.

There's just something about the Matterhorn, the most recognizable mountain on the planet. Just seeing the...

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