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Which GuideBooks to buy?

My husband and I, along with another couple are planning a trip to Europe for 2008. This site has been great, but I'm not sure which guidebooks we should get to help us out. It seems like there are so many.

If it helps, none of us have been to Europe before, we're going for 16 days and we definitely want to go to London, Paris, Munich and we're trying to pick one more location (maybe Bruges).


Posted by
9363 posts

The D-K books (the ones with the black border on top) are the best for background information (like history), diagrams, walking maps, beautiful pictures. They also have a "survival" section in the back that shows the local emergency vehicles, traffic signs, information about hospitals and medical care, local currency, how to use the payphones, etc. The only place where they are limited is in listings of hotels and restaurants. A Michelin guide is better for that. And, of course, the Rick Steves books are good for itinerary and sightseeing information.

Posted by
2788 posts

Get a Rick Steves "Europe Thru the Back Door - 2007" and a RS "Europe Planning Map" either at your local book store or by e-mailing his office thru this web site. We found them priceless in planning our first trip to Europe. You could instead/also pruchase individual books and maps for Great Britain, France, and Germany. As has been said many times, spending one or two hundred dollars for pre-trip planning for a multiple thousands of dollars trip is a very good investment.

Posted by
1568 posts

In my opinion, I would suggest you buy Rick's guidebook on Paris. It was a tremendous help for us during our 5 days there. BTW, don't miss Versailles.

I have not been to London but when I do go a guidebook would be necessary.

As far as Munich is concerned, you can print information from this link that will give you all you need. Scroll about 1/2 down the page.

Brugges go this link:

Hope this helps.

Posted by
4125 posts

It's great that you are starting to plan your trip now! You have lots of time and can create a really rich experience for yourselves.

I'd suggest visiting a public library with a good travel section and reading widely. This will let you assess the quality and personality of the different travel books, will give you and your husband concrete things to talk over before you go, and will inevitably give you some new ideas for how to spend your time.

That is just preliminary. Next spring, you should buy the 2008 editions of whatever guidebooks you plan to actually use. You can bring them, or just cut up or copy the relevent pages, but up-to-date-information is essential.

We've used this approach to plan really memorable trips. Now I've got the travel-planning bug almost as bad as the travel bug!

Posted by
31465 posts


everyone seems to have favourites with respect to Guidebooks. Some prefer Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guides or whatever and of course on this Forum I'm sure Rick's books are preferred!

I use Rick's books EXTENSIVELY when planning,as the format is excellent and they are a wealth of information! They fit my travel style well, and have great info on lodgings, dining, etc. As someone else mentioned, "Europe Through The Back Door" is an ESSENTIAL pre-read, especially since this is your first trip to Europe. Check this web site for details.

A trip of 16 days is not a long time, so you'll need to plan your transport carefully. I'd highly recommend "open jaw" flights for best efficiency.

Four cities is workable in that time frame, and Bruges is a good choice. You could also consider Rothenburg (on the way to Munich), as it's a favourite. Plan for at least 4-5 days in London and Paris, as there's LOTS to see! Italy is always fantastic, but I doubt you'll have time.

Happy planning!

Posted by
769 posts

My choices: Ricks book of course for one, then go for Lonely Planet and/or Rough Guide - which ever is "newer" (sometimes both if they are both recent! With these 2 or three - you cant go wrong for most places!

Specific types of travel may require some extra special guides - like architecture or hiking - lots of experts out there - but in general travel - I go for Ricks, LP and RG books! Exacto-knif cut out the chapters you dont need and make 3 books into one! (discard or leave used chapter behind as you go!)

Posted by
138 posts

I love the DK guides, they are so beautiful and full of photos! But because they are so beautifully printed on good paper, they are maddeningly heavy! I can't take them with me, and I don't want to butcher them, either. So I use them at home for preparation, but take RS books with me.

Posted by
10 posts

I vote for Lonely Planet as well. They have maps in them that are "area" specific but have a good number of streets labeled and it's quite easy to take the book apart and use the smaller maps and the larger foldout map that also comes in the books. I do read several other guide books from the library as I like to have lots of restaurant recommendations.


Posted by
8700 posts

For a general guidebook on traveling independently in Europe, you can't beat Rick's Europe Through the Back Door. It's especially good for first-timers. You can probsbly find the 2007 edition in a bookstore. FYI, much of the information in that book is contained in the "Travel Tips" section of this Web site, either in full or in summary fashion.

Posted by
283 posts

Spend the money on the Rick Steves guides that are available for your destinations. You won't be sorry. The Blue Guides provide sometimes dense but often interesting and useful historical and cultural information. Don't rely on those for travel information, though.