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A local's review of Rick Steves' Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol travel guide

I just ordered a copy of the book and will have a look next week. I'll post a review here and comments (additions, edits) as soon as I can. I know that a lot of the material is subjective, so please take my feedback with a grain of salt.

On Amazon, you can "look inside" a good part of the book already. I thumbed through what is available to read for free. A few initial comments - 1) it drives me crazy when anyone refers to the First District or Innere Stadt as the "Old Town" as no one here would ever refer to this area in that way - no local would know what you are talking about, especially as this district isn't particularly old; and 2) the public transportation maps are misleading (the U2 purple line hasn't and won't be running between Schottentor and Karlsplatz for a long time; the O tram line is referred to as the 0 tram line, which is a thing I think as locals will have no idea about a "zero" tram line). I recognize that these two points are negative, but I am sure I will have plenty of positive things to say soon.

Stay tuned...

Posted by
2774 posts

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts, especially on the Vienna portion of the book.

Posted by
195 posts

I will be rechecking this thread. I plan to read through a good portion of this book today, and I would prefer to have the correct information! Thank you.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for doing this - important public service! I have ordered the book already as I have an older version and like a lot of the detailed observations. I will pencil in any notes you have forthcoming.

In the meantime, what Amazon site are you using that has “look inside”? The US site (at least on the app) no longer offers this for the majority of books.

Posted by
195 posts

Rick Steves states the Sisi Ticket (which includes the Schönbrunn Palace - Grand Tour, Sisi Museum · Imperial Apartments (Hofburg Vienna), and the Vienna Furniture Museum) is 40 euro. The website states it is 44 euro. https://www.imperialtickets.com/en/schoenbrunn-palace/sisi-ticket/53

Rick Steves states the Hofburg Treasury and the Kunsthistorisches combination ticket is 24 euro, but it looks like this combo ticket is 27 euro:
https://shop.khm.at/en/tickets/detail?shop%5BshowItem%5D=200000000009019-T013-01&cHash=29f472808b1ddce4eee0909c94bcf9fd

This information was found on page 48 of the current guidebook. I think this should be accurate. I really doubt they raised the prices after the current guidebook was sent to the printer for publication.

Posted by
5 posts

Re “look inside” I see you need to switch over to kindle version - the print version doesn’t have this feature. Useful!

Posted by
27352 posts

I don't expect entry fees in guidebooks to be correct. They seem to increase every year. If I don't pay more than the guidebook price, I count myself very lucky.

Posted by
1116 posts

This is interesting. We all should all do one for our home areas.

I wouldn’t be concerned about the prices. They rise all the time and are unlikely to be accurate in any guidebook. The figures are in the same ball park so you still have an idea of approximate costs.

Posted by
195 posts

Nick, I would expect prices to be more accurately reported in a book that was released two days ago. The editors would generally have time up until they send the manuscript for printing to make corrections, and I believe that because it is a guidebook, there is a responsibility to be diligent in checking for last-minute changes, which would include checking for the updated prices of admission tickets for at least the most important tourist destinations, like important museums. This is their job.

Posted by
8516 posts

I would never get info on pricing from a guidebook. I have found that when updating, what they are really doing is checking out hotels by walking into them and perhaps looking at a site or two. The general information seems to rarely get updated or checked for accuracy. That said, many people love these guide books and find them helpful.

I imagine writing and updating guidebooks comes with various challenges we may not fully understand.

Posted by
5450 posts

For what it’s worth, I’m not going to get hung up on prices differences in the new book. That’s what websites are for.

Posted by
4427 posts

I agree with others. The research for guidebooks is done months before the guidebook is released. It's not reasonable to expect the prices to be accurate. However, Emily's corrections about public transportation are much appreciated and the ones she mentioned significantly impact the usefulness of the guidebook.

Posted by
115 posts

I just don’t get it. A person supplies a free website to share great travel information and. now let’s create a thread dealing with mistakes from the books he earns profit to pay to run this website. LOL
Get real. Why not just send the webmaster the information and have them deal with it.

Posted by
1426 posts

If you look at the RS guidebook webpage there's a link for "Guidebook Updates" https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/guidebook-updates. All the country guidebooks are listed and you can click on the country in which you are interested and see if there are updates. The site specifically states:

"While the pages below list the key changes we've learned about since returning to travel, it's likely that other details listed in our guidebooks and audio tours will change by the time you take your trip. We'll continue posting major updates as we become aware of them — but, more than ever, we strongly recommend verifying key information ahead of time and while on the road."

Thank you Emily for taking the time and having the interest to read through the latest guidebook. As a PP mentioned, please send corrections and updates to the RS guidebook folks, https://www.ricksteves.com/forms/guidebook-feedback-form.

Posted by
6823 posts

I'm another one who would not rely on guidebook prices. There is absolutely no way that they can be accurate. There is a long period of time between the final proof and publication, and if they went back and reviewed every single price in the book, they might as well write a new book. As Trotter pointed out, even the writers know this, hence the disclaimer.

Emily, I look forward to your review!

Posted by
195 posts

In this thread are a lot of people who did not like that I pointed out inaccuracies in a guidebook I paid for. Many said it did not matter that the prices of tickets had not been updated. You of course can think what you wish. However, inaccuracies extend beyond the non-updated ticket prices. Page 175 says that Landtmann's Jausen Station, which is a restaurant inside Schloss Schonbrunn, is closed from October until February. Google reviews and TripAdvisor reviews from last winter indicate it was open. Pages 82-87 discuss Belvedere Palace, but it was not mentioned that Belvedere Palace is actually having its 300th birthday this year. I get it - there are a lot of people who like Rick Steves in this forum. Do you also like the idea of purchasing a guidebook that is not as accurate as it could have been? I don't. And nobody should be expected to submit corrections to the editing team when these mistakes should not even be in the book. There is no excuse for this many inaccuracies.

Posted by
5636 posts

In this thread are a lot of people who did not like that I pointed out inaccuracies in a guidebook I paid for.

I think most people just think it is unrealistic to expect prices and opening times in a guidebook to be 100% accurate. I’ve never bought any guidebook from any company that is completely accurate on times, dates, and prices.

Posted by
6823 posts

I never have either, Laura. In fact, I don't think I've ever read a book that didn't have some typos or inaccuracies. But especially guidebooks. As everyone has noted, guidebooks have disclaimers urging readers to check with the business or check online to verify facts that may possibly have changed.

If someone wants accurate opening times, prices, closures and so forth, it would probably be better to stick with the internet. Guidebooks are more than this. They provide organized references for listings of sights and museums; descriptions of local customs; historical and geographical information; walking tours; easy to read maps; and so on. It's not just about the minute details--it's about a curated look at a place we want to visit by writers who have been there and and done that.

I'd rather have a well-written guidebook that gives me the tools and imagination to plan a wonderful trip, than worry about whether it contains accurate opening and closing times. YMMV.

Posted by
2774 posts

In this thread are a lot of people who did not like that I pointed out
inaccuracies in a guidebook I paid for.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for someone to expect information in a guidebook to be accurate. Adrienne, I’m sorry for all the negativity directed your way. Hopefully, everyone can try to be a little kinder while they wait for emily’s review.

Posted by
70 posts

There is a a publishing lead time, no matter how "updated".
This company at least provides online guidebook updates, to the best of their ability/manpower. If you know of a correction/update, then please let them know so they can confirm and update on this website.
Post tourism pause because of we all know what, and now labor shortages and inflation, it's no surprise that sites, restaurants, hotels, local tour companies/guides, etc have (potentially frequently) changing hours/prices/etc as they try to provide their services while staying financially viable. Always check their own websites for latest info!
Guidebooks are a guide, not the final be all end all word; again, see the sites (or hotel, restaurant, transportation system, etc) own websites for most accurate info!

(I just used a 2006 RS guidebook (I already had it and am a bit of a hoarder :-) Munich/Salzburg/Vienna this April, and it was good enough for me in describing the major sites (of course not hours/prices/even directions, which I looked up online!) Not recommending people use outdated guidebooks, just making a point that there is "unchanging" info (even these can change such as exhibits out on loan) vs "changeable" info, so have realistic expectations of your use of any travel resource. Peace and happy travels!

Posted by
4232 posts

I'd rather have a well-written guidebook that gives me the tools and
imagination to plan a wonderful trip, than worry about whether it
contains accurate opening and closing times.

Me too. To me a guidebook is painting a picture with broad strokes of what to do and in the RS guidebook case, suggestions of how to get there. The internet is for the fine details such as cost and opening hours.

Posted by
115 posts

I would expect the days of the guidebook are short and sweet. There are two Paris vloggers who have online books out about Paris that do out shine many guidebooks and can be fixed and updated without having to go to a publisher. One even does a short review of each arrondissements. Learn a lot more seeing and reading then just reading. No as I think about the issues of wrong or lacking information you are right you pay a good dollar for information and you deserve the right answers or close to it.

Posted by
771 posts

Lifetime travel, could you please post the Paris resources here or in the France section? Thanks.

Posted by
5450 posts

I haven’t forgotten! I’ve actually marked it up, just need to find the time.

Posted by
454 posts

I think this sounds really helpful

But no, I don’t expect prices and other minutia to stay the same between publishing cycles. Those “corrections” aren’t particularly helpful to me

Posted by
12 posts

1000000 percent nearly all prices are outdated already. speaking from experiences in vienna, salzburg, hallstatt, and the salzkammergut sites.

Posted by
5450 posts

I’m still here. Just a lot going on personally. I’ve marked up the book, just need to write it up.

Posted by
1853 posts

Regarding prices and guidebooks, of course with inflation things end up a couple of euros more expensive. And not everything is going to be perfectly in sync with a local's perspective and understanding. And it shouldn't be. Long time local people are often not great and writing guidebooks to their own areas. Look at the examples above for what are reportedly excellent Paris guidebooks. They are written by relatively recent expats, mostly for people who come from the countries from which they expatriated.

Locals writing guidebooks often come off a bit like engineers writing end user operation manuals - better to have someone with a foot in each understanding build the bridge.

One thing many locals do love is criticizing guidebooks. I reflexively do it when I read guide material of my own area. It's a strengthening of identity for the person issuing the criticism - I am of X, and understand it in ways that those not of X can't. We all want to feel incorporated.

Anyway though, for me the most important thing a guidebook can relate is not necessarily perfectly accurate specifics, nor a road map to the city as locals live it. It's a qualitative assessment of what I might find interesting there as a foreigner, with enough context (as romanticized, incomplete, or under-complicated as that might be) to activate my mind as I experience these interesting things and places.

If the guidebook also recommends objectively good restaurants, I'm happy, two thumbs up :)