I just regreted that I didn't buy any Lonely Planet book at that time...
Rating: 4/5 from 1 reviews
I Compare and Rate Six Western Europe Travel Guides.
I have chosen to rate 6 guides for Europe. I think there are a variety of guides. In general there are four "layers" of detail in the books on the market. There are the (1) Europe guides (reviewed here), (2) the single country guides, (3) the city guides and then (4) a variety of specialty guides such as Eurail rail guides, hiking, budget Europe, camping, restaurants, wine country, mountains, gay and lesbian guides, etc. At my bookstore there are 3 large racks of books on Europe. I have selected 6 of what seems to be the best selling guides or guides that I thought might be of general interest, and gave them my own personal ranking - just for category (1) - Europe overview. Five are very popular, one less so.
What I am looking for is a quick overview - not every tiny detail. Europe is too big and you should by a guide on France if you are going mainly to France. I think the books with photos are better since they allow you to get a better idea of the places that you might want to visit - while you plan the trip. A picture is worth 1000 words. So one might want to buy the guide before calling a travel agent.
First Choice - Good Pick
Eyewitness Europe by DK - $21.
It is 800 pages long and ranks about 11,400 on the Amazon.com sales ranking. It has all the basic stuff such as maps, food guides, accommodations, places to see, travel tips, culture, museums, history, etc. plus it has outstanding visuals. Many excellent color photos and maps. It is a good introduction and overview and makes for a beautiful souvenir. Just an outstanding and beautiful book.
Second Choice - Good Pick.
Michelin The Green Guide - Europe, 2e - $14.
This is not a popular book on Amazon.com. It rates a distant 344,544 on the sales rank and is just 540 pages long. But is very much like the DK guide. It gives an excellent overview and introduction with many photos. It is excellent for planning a trip and it is not a big book. It is a well made book with a tough and durable cover, easy to carry 5 x 9" x 0.9" thick and with lots of detail, many maps and photos. Some of the other guides are 1.85" thick.
Tied For Third - Okay Not Great
Lonely Planet Western Europe Sixth Edition ($19.59) and Lets Go 2004:Europe ($17.49)
These two are more general books with lots of text and maps. In many ways these books are similar but the latter book covers more countries. The first is 1150 pages and ranks 7,246 in Amazon.com sales, while the second book is just under 1100 pages and ranks 3,173 in sales, and is one of the more popular guides. These books include lots of detail - but unfortunately with just a limited number of photos. These two books have more detail than the first two books - but almost no photos in comparison. For myself I would like to have more photos, and even with 1100 pages one will have to buy a country book so skip these thick heavy books - I would buy one of the shorter books above (DK or Michelin) plus a country book such as Eyewitness France or Michelin Guide France etc. Lonely Planet has a series including the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe similar to this western Europe version. Both books are very thick close to 2" thick. In theory you could buy three Europe guides from Lonely Planet.
Fourth Place - Skip This Book
Rick Steve's Best of Europe 2004 - $17.47
This book uses an informal approach written by one person - Rick Steve - to take you through some of the more interesting places in Europe. The way I view this book is that it is like sitting down with a friend and he lays out the key things to see and do and then makes hand sketches of different cities etc. Having said that, the book is detailed and long - being 1200 pages long and ranks 5,352. on theAmazon.com sales ranking.
The book contains a lot of text description of interesting things to see with hand sketches and hand drawn maps to give a friendly feel - all in black and white. It includes walking tours with comments plus places to eat and hotels. It does not contain a lot of maps or any photos. He does not present lists of accommodations and restaurants. He pre-screens those and gives just a limited selection on where to stay and where to dine. There is definitely some novelty factor in the presentation. Also it is another thick book.
Fifth and Last - Does Not Compete
Frommer Europe 2004 - $16.09
This is a "conventional" travel book that covers most of Europe in 1070 pages and ranks 8,361 on the Amazon.com sales ranking. As a bonus it includes a Eurail map that detached from the back cover. The book is written by a team of authors (committee).
It is a guide to Europe. It does not plan your trip but rather goes from places to places in a formula approach giving a summary of things to see, a local map, and it lists places of interest, some history, restaurants, entertainment, and accommodations. It is a comprehensive approach - somewhat - formal and lacks any photos, i.e.: no photos, just text and some maps. That is why I rate it last. Thick but mainly just text. It is similar but not as good as the third ranking pair.
My humble opinion. Jack in Toronto
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2004: The Travel Skills Handbook
Europe Through the Back Door is an invaluable book for travelers who want to experience the real Europe with real Europeans, instead of the sanitized versions offered by tour companies and big hotels.
Rick shows you how to enjoy your trip more by spending less money, by getting closer to the locals. You won't be disappointed. In my trips to Europe, Rick's advice led to life-changing experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life.
This book is also economically packed full of the kind of useful, practical advice honed through 19 editions. (Trust me, the guy knows his stuff).
Thanks, Rick, and keep up the good work!
A Revolutionary And Liberating travel Philosopy
This book makes you want to go to Europe.Now.Just get on the plane and GO! I wish I had read this eleven years ago on our first trip to Italy.Since that time I have travelled to Europe on business many times and I have to agree with Rick Steves that no one ever says " every time I go to Europe I pack more". His travel philosopy addresses peoples fears and insecurities when they are travel..."I won't have a certain piece of clothing,object when I might want it...better take it just in case" or "a less expensive hotel may be dirty ,unsafe...I know this luxury hotel will bust the bank, but its worth it for piece of mind." That kind of thing.Rick Steeves describes clean,charming hotels and pensiones which are centrally located and much less expensive than "luxury" properties. his restaurants are not dives, but great trattorias,atmospheric ristorantes popular with the locals.He is wonderfully opinionated about what to see,when to go...like having a best friend who lives there. No guidebook( and I have read them all) combines such practical advice with a travel philosophy which is positively liberating.This is especially true for older travellers who do not want to backpack,hostel, and who thought they had to stay in the "best" places, and wear a different outfit everyday. Our next trip to Italy will be with one carry-on bag each, staying in Rick Steves suggested family run pensiones and hopping on and off trains between destinations. We feel 20 years younger(and we will be 20 pounds lighter,too)
A book for getting the most out of Europe
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door presents a philosophy that many tourists seem to lack: When in Europe, ACT like you're in Europe! This book is aimed towards those travelers that just can't quite seem to ever escape the U.S. no matter where they travel.
Rick presents a whole host of tips for seeing a Europe beyond the standard guided bus tours and airline deals. His years of experience go into his writing, giving often insightful and funny tips from sleeping overnight in the train station (he reccomends sleeping in the first-class lounge to be among a higher class of hobo) to the best way to wash your clothes in the hotel sink.
This book is not all about travelers caught in a pinch, however. There's also great advice for finding accomodations in during busy season, picking the right hotel/room, and finally finding those gems--great spots in Europe that no other traveler seems to know about.
This book is not so much a guide to specifics as it is a guide to travel philosophy. Steves encourages the reader to immerse themselves in the local culture, and offers advice for the reader not sure how to do so.
Those looking for a country-specific guidebook should look somewhere else, but they should also keep this book handy to really get a feel for what Europe truly is and was.
Catholic Shrines of Western Europe: A Pilgrim's Travel Guide
The number of travel books about Western Europe can be dizzying. Until Kevin Wright's book on Catholic shrines in Western Europe, however, these popular pilgrimage destinations--visited by hundreds of thousands each year--have gone essentially uncatalogued. Previous books on the subject were largely idiosyncratic and not terribly helpful to the traveler. Perhaps fortunately they are nearly all out-of-print. Not only has Wright thoroughly gathered information about the shrines but he has also written a thouroughly captivating book that is at once inspiring and helpful (with maps, transportation information, and loads of contact addresses and phone and fax information). And while the best known places such as Rome, Lourdes and Fatima are covered thoroughly, there are scores of others, treated with the same care and devotion. For those who will not actually travel to the pilgrimage sites, this book is a fascinating and stirring vicarious tour. For those planning a trip it is the indispensible handbook. It is no surprise that the author won the "Best Book by a New Author" award from the Catholic Press Association. It deserves not only sectarian honors. Catholic Shrines of Western Europe is not only a must for religious travelers, it is a gem worthy of any serious European traveler's booklist. Don't pass it up.
It has been a great help in planning my pilgrimage.
I found Catholic Shrines of Western Europe to be a great help in planning my pilgrimage. If I hadn't read this book, I might of missed some really wonderful sites. I would recommend this book to any pilgrim.
Easy to Use; Full of good info.
My brother and I both lived in Europe (in different places) and we both used this book extensively. The book unabled us to visit shrines that otherwise we would not have known existed. The book was easy to use and included the history of each shrine, directions on how to get there, where to stay and how to contact the shrine. There is also a picture of each shrine, with made it easy to choose which shrines we wanted to see. Our stay in Europe was greatly enriched by the use of this book.