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Other guidebooks

I've ordered my Rick Steves guidebooks to help plan my European trip, and am looking for other guidebooks to supplement the info. Lonely Planet seems aimed for a younger, much hipper crowd. Rudy Maxa is out of my budget in most things.

Any other guides aimed at a moderate/low budget (not bare bones), variety of interests (too many to list as everyone in the household has their own special area of hobby) and my daughter is in college so nothing in the realm of Disney/young children. And nothing too mature in nature as my fiance is a dozen years younger than myself.

Thanks for any suggestions!
Lane

Posted by
37 posts

It has grown into a 7-week bonding experience -- from Spain, Southern France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, with a brief stop in Prague and Krakow, Germany and the Netherlands.

Posted by
4132 posts

I am also a budget traveler, but I find that almost any guidebook, as long as it is well executed, can be a source of useful information.

For instance, the prestigious Micheline Red guides, famous for the stars they give to Europe's top restaurants, also indicate "good value" establishments.

It can be helpful to separate a book's information from its personality, and use the former in ways that are right for you.

It is not very convenient to have to consult many sources for ideas, but it really is the best way, especially if no one guidebook seems right for you.

Posted by
3313 posts

The best guidebook series have their particular culture so if you like Rick Steves' but think Lonely Planet is too young and hip, I'd suggest the Rough Guide series. Also budget oriented, but more comprehensive than Rick's. Be aware they are not updated annually. Fodors and Frommers do OK for budget suggestions.

In France, the absolutely best guide for budget accomodations is the English translation of the Guide Routard - Hotels and Restaurants of France. It's dense compilation of affordable hotels and restaurants throughout the country.

Posted by
3621 posts

If there is a Cadogan guide for the area we are visiting, that's what I buy. They have very detailed information on many smaller places that are ignored in most other guides. They are very comprehensive, including information on culture, nightlife, shopping, sports and other attractions. Their food and lodging recommendations have been very reliable, and they give a range of choices from budget to luxury. For lodgings only, I look to Alistair Sawday's "Special Places to Stay" series or Karen Brown's. Both of them have their listings available online, and both have a wide price range listed.

Posted by
3313 posts

Thanks, Rosalyn. Cadogan Guides are terrific as well, and distinctive because they reflect the personalities of their writers. Kind of like the Moon guides in that respect.

Posted by
32264 posts

Lane,

Some of the Guidebooks you might have a look at...

Rick Steves (my favourite, of course!)

Lonely Planet (more for the young Backpacking crowd, but lots of good info. Not sure how often they're updated?)

Frommer's (likely a bit more for the "high end" traveller)

Rough Guides (again, not sure how often they're updated?)

Let's Go (written by "budget travellers)

You also might want to have a look at the "Other Guidebook Assessment" section on Rick's Graffiti Wall.

Cheers!

Posted by
4 posts

I always check out guidebooks from the library to do my initial research. Then I buy the most recent edition of the one(s) I liked the best. I also skim through guidebooks with a cup of coffee at a bookstore to help me choose what to buy. I found used guidebooks on Amazon that, even with shipping, cost less than in the stores.

Posted by
7710 posts

It depends a bit what you want the guide for. As an example, several have mentioned the DK Eyewitness series, they are great for info on a limited number of sights (lots of color pics); but really are worthless for hotels and restaurants. Lonely Planet is great for giving a little info about nearly everyplace, including towns no other guide mentions, has good hotel and restaurant info, but reads like an abridged encyclopedia. For Hotel/Restaurant/Transport info, I regularly consult Lonely Planet, Lets Go, Frommers, and Roughguides, pretty much in that order. If I were to have to pick one Guide for an area that Rick does not cover, or to supplement one he does, I would probably go to Lets Go as the best mix of info and narrative. Bu6t in reality, when I travel, I probably have info from all in my folder.

Posted by
440 posts

LP are certainly not just aimed at the younger traveller...I was born before the War of the Roses and still prefer them, so more hips I don't need!! Visit your local library or bookshop and peruse the shelves. And use your preferred online search engine.

Posted by
319 posts

I think Frommers is a great suplement to Rick Steves. Frommers has great info on sites that Rick doesn't cover, but it still has the big sites. As for accomidations and food, I still stick with Rick.

Posted by
1574 posts

I am a Lonely Planet guy. I tend to go off the beaten path and have found the LP books the best for transportation information and how to get from point A to B which I find lacking in most other guidebooks. Their lodging recommendations too are neatly broken out between budget, mid-range and top end.

I like RS books for their opinions but don't carry them since due to the limited cities/places and bare-bones travel info.

Posted by
37 posts

Thanks so much for the great ideas. I'm putting a "hold" on each of the guidebooks listed at the library -- when I find a series that suits me, I'll order the 2009 edition at Amazon.

Cheers,
Lane

Posted by
2297 posts

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned DK Eyewitness Travel, yet.

They give very detailed information on a variety of sites. It really helps understanding all there is to see in a particular place. And then I narrow down my choices.

And the graphics are fantastic (RS weak point IMHO). If you're standing, for example, inside a cathedral and want to understand the architecture and art presented this is the best guidebook to have along as you can easily compare the graphic with the real thing.

RS may be a bit better on practical information and we use them especially to prepare for a trip. But the DK are definitely the ones we keep around at all times.

Posted by
207 posts

I agree with Beatrix. We always buy the Eyewitness Travel and the Rick Steve's books.

Posted by
655 posts

Everyone has their favorites.

In addition to the RS books, when planning for Europe we always use the Michelin Green Guides. They are particularly helpful to evaluate the most important places to visit given the time available. They are weakest in accommodations and restaurants.

Posted by
2297 posts

Paul is right, DK is not strong on recommending hotels. But in our case Rick Steve doesn't help much either as his recommendations are not that family friendly. I tried dozens of his recommendations in the Italy book and NONE worked out. Tripadvisor has been much more helpful for us in that regard.

However, I don't understand why you'd think that DK Eywitness has a limited range of sites mentioned. My feeling was that there was way more listed AND well described than in most others I've seen. That might be the reason they don't have that many pages devoted to hotel/restaurant reommendations. Especially true with the Switzerland book - which was the one that got me hooked on this series of guide books. RS doesn't even mention Basel and it is a great place to visit (the museum capital of the entire country!) and gets 10 pages in DK.

Posted by
36 posts

I have checked out a bunch of travel guide from my local and graduate school libraries. Anything RS, DK, Frommer's, etc. I suggest you try to do that if you aren't sure what you really like. A much better way to try them before you buy.

Posted by
485 posts

A number are good with each having its virtues and failings. With one exception, I like the DK books. They are weak on hotels and restaurants, but the Internet provides more information on hotels and restaurants than any guidebooks. However, the DK books provide much more information on cities and countries than other books so that those planning a trip can better decide what thay would like to see. The one problem with the DK books for me--the one exception--is that their print is too small.

The Rick Steves books are good--they are concise and offer strong opinions on what to do and see.

And I also like Frommer's, which discusses a number of hotels and restaurants that are on a level higher than those Rick's books recommend.

Posted by
796 posts

I do like the RS guides best. I also like the MTV guide, I believe it is published by Frommers. It has a lots of useful info for a more budget traveller. I used the library to look through a variety of guides and took notes to take with me. The Rough Guides also work for me. While the DK Eyewitness guides are great for pics, I wouldn't travel with them due to their weight and I find them weak on details. Happy Travels.

Posted by
356 posts

I also like Lonely Planet and the Rough Guides. If I am going to a city I will always try and get the Time Out guidebook for that city. I love the design of the Time Out guidebooks. I usually go to the library and get every guidebook out and make notes of items of interest in a notebook.

Posted by
12040 posts

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Insight Guides. There not that useful for in-depth planning, but have wonderful photographs, and offer extensive, if brief, coverage of entire countries.

Rick is my go-to for the well-established tourists spots because his hotel recommendations have never steered me wrong. Also, I enjoy his witty writing about art, history and culture. But his biggest weakness is that his guides leave too many huge gaps. Great books for planning Grand Tours, but not very good for "Hmm, I find myself in -insert name of random town- I wonder what's here? Also, Rick's books barely even acknowledge Europe in the winter.

For the latter situations, I rely on Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide. Although their information is not always current, and sometimes their "recommendations" seem more like random selections, between the two of them, there's hardly a city, region or large town in Europe that they don't cover.

Posted by
7710 posts

My comment regarding the limitations of DK mainly centers around the fact that you pick up any of their books, you get good coverage of the main sights and maybe a neighborhood or two, but information gets sparse pretty fast for minor sights and other areas of a city or region. I find that Rough Guides, Let's Go, and Lonely Planet have much more info, just not all the pretty pictures. Basically, the cost for having pictures is leaving other stuff out. The same can be said for the RS books, he covers a limited scope well, but little outside that scope.

Posted by
5685 posts

Another series worth mentioning is the Time Out series. Their Time Out "Shortlist" series is good if you are going to spend a lot of time in one city. They have great lists of restaurants (not just the usual tourist fare), shops, decent maps, interesting cultural articles, day trips, etc.

Updates to the books are posted on their website.