Best Travel Guides for Europe: Top European Guidebooks for 2020

December 1, 2019
friends exploring Europe with a map and guidebook

Best Travel Guidebooks for Europe

With so many online travel blogs, vlogs, and podcasts at our disposal, I think it’s fair to wonder whether or not traditional print travel guidebooks are worthwhile to us anymore. 

I’d say the answer is a resounding, yes. Travel guidebooks are packed with expert information about a particular destination and this information has been edited by a team of employees whose job it is to fact-check the author’s words. 

Travel blogs, on the other hand, strike a great balance between fact and personal experience, when done right. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive a little more insight than the guidebooks can give you because the blogger hopefully expounds upon the guidebook’s recommendation. 

Travelers reading a guidebook in Barcelona

For example, let’s say “Wanderlust Wendy” follows the guidebook’s recommendation to buy a combined ticket for the Grand Master’s Palace and the Archaeological museum in Rhodes, Greece. But “Wanderlust Wendy” messed up and went to the museum the first day and the palace day two which is against the rules according to the small, barely visible sign at the ticket office. Wanderlust Wendy writes about this experience ensuring that you, future traveler, don’t make the same, easily-made error that she did. 

But, you can’t regulate what a person writes and there is that opportunity for misinformation from a blogger who is either uninformed or even worse, hasn’t even been to the destination they are writing about. 

In summation, all of these different mediums are valuable in their own right, and I for one don’t see guidebooks as competition, but instead, a complement to what I write on my site.

Consequently, I highly recommend that you purchase a travel guidebook for Europe as a Kindle e-book or hardcopy through Amazon.

travelers using guidebook in europe

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Best Europe Guidebooks 

If Rick Steves has a guidebook for your European destination, then I recommend his book. Rick — we’re not actually on a first name basis —  has spent 100 days in Europe every year since 1973 and is pretty much the guru of all things “cute, small towns.”

He has a couple of books out that cover Europe on a broad scale. The first details how to acquire the proper skills to travel Europe and the second is an overview of different European destinations which is great if you are doing a multi-country trip.

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door: The Travel Skills Handbook

Rick Steves Best of Europe

Destination-Based Travel Guidebooks for Europe

The more you can narrow down the region and/or countries you plan on visiting during your trip to Europe, the better you can find a guidebook more perfectly tailored to your upcoming travels.  

Once again, I’m going to award my guy, Rick, the top spot for destination-specific travel guides. He doesn’t cover everything, but what he does cover he writes extremely well. 

Take a look at the following guidebooks if you have an idea of where you’re headed. And if you don’t see your specific locale, click here to see all of the Rick Steve travel guidebooks available on Amazon. 

 Spain 
           

Italy

France                

Eastern Europe               

    

 Croatia & Slovenia 

              

 Switzerland

London                                                                

           

Germany 

                    

You’ll rarely ever read a bad review about the content in his guides. 

But, you will see complaints of people who bought a destination-specific guidebook and the cities that they plan on visiting aren’t in that particular book. Don’t be that person. Before you make your purchase, make sure that you know the specific cities detailed in the book. 

I went to Italy this past April with my two best girl friends and we purchased the Lonely Planet guidebook because they covered the Puglia region where my friends and I were visiting. Rick Steves did not. 

To that point…if Rick hasn’t visited and written about a particular destination, you’re going to be just fine! And that’s because there are plenty of other travel companies like Lonely Planet who have also written phenomenal content. 

For example, Rick Steves only has a book covering mainland Greece. If you’re planning a trip to the Greek Islands, this is the guidebook you’re going to want to purchase.

Lonely Planet Greek Islands (Travel Guide)

 

Great Europe Guidebooks BESIDES Rick Steves

I am keenly aware that this entire post is more or less one long love letter to Rick Steves. But, what about the other travel guides out there? Who else is educating us on Europe well?

Here are some of my other favorite Europe travel guidebooks at the moment:

1. Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is a large guidebook publisher that started way back in the 70s when Maureen and Tony Wheeler embarked on a global adventure. If you enjoy podcasts, Maureen and Tony were featured on How I Built This with Guy Raz. I think you’ll be interested to listen to their journey from broke travelers to creating Lonely Planet, a massive travel company.  

2. Fodor’s Travel 

If you’re looking for multiple perspectives for your trip to Europe, check out Fodor’s travel guides as well. He has a Europe overview travel guide as well as city and region specific options for most parts of Europe.

3. DK Eyewitness Travel Guides

If you are more of a visual learner, then these guides might be better suited to your taste. The DK series really excels in their use of colorful maps, photos, diagrams, and illustrations. The series doesn’t always go into too much detail, but it does have a great balance between imagery and text. 

travel guidebooks Europe

Europe Guidebooks for Cruises

If you’re taking a European cruise to the Baltic or Mediterranean, you may not think you need to purchase a travel guide book. Everything is somewhat laid out for you already. And if you booked shore excursions through the cruise line or a private guide for every single port for the duration of your trip then you would be right. 

But hopefully, you have a healthy balance between planned excursions and days on your own to explore some of the smaller ports on your itinerary. Those are the days when a Europe travel guide book comes in extremely handy. 

Travel tip: At each port, rip out the pages for your current city.  That way, you won’t have to carry around a heavy book all day but you will still have restaurant recommendations, transportation tips, etc. accessible if you have no internet. I give major props to my mom for reading that somewhere and implementing on our Baltic Cruise. 

          

 

Best Guidebook for Backpackers

Let’s Go Europe

 

If you are a student or a budget backpacker, then Let’s Go Europe guidebook is the perfect option for you. This travel guide, written by Harvard alumni, was my holy grail book when I lived in Europe and traveled just about every weekend. The writing is incredibly witty and the options are catered to a younger, frugal audience who still likes to go out and have a good time. 

Couple looking at Europe Guidebook

Is there a travel guidebook for Europe that you are particularly partial to? Or did you buy a copy of a Rick Steves travel guide only to find that many of the cities you would be visiting weren’t listed? Please help out the community and let us know your findings in the comments below! 

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Europe Travel Planning

Are you traveling to Europe in 2020? Join the FREE Europe Travel Planning Facebook Group! If you're starting to plan your trip and have questions about your itinerary, need flight hacks, or pre-deoarture checklists, then come join us! You'll also get insider tips from me!

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