the best books on traveling Europe are Rick Steve's European Travel guides

Are you planning your first or maybe your 10th trip to Europe and want to make it your most epic trip yet? A trip full of instagram worthy sites and once in a lifetime memories

Do you like to have freedom of making your own schedule? Would you rather plan your own itinerary than join a tour group? 

If the answer to all of those questions is yes, then look no further than Rick Steves’ European Travel Guides: the essential guidebook for planning European travel. 

Why are Rick Steves European Travel Guides the single best books on Traveling Europe? 

Because Rick knows his stuff and he has earned a reputation as the most respected authority on European travel.  

Look on any “Best Sellers in European Travel Guides” list and you’ll find Rick’s books at the top of the list. Rick’s books have sound guidance and include all of the pertinent information you need to know to plan your best European trip

Rich throws in a bit of history, a bit of humor and a whole heaping helping of “everything you need to know.” He covers the big ticket attractions, but also includes “off the beaten path” adventures for those of us who prefer to take the road less traveled. 

These are just a few of the reasons why Rick Steves’ are some of the most popular travel guide books on traveling Europe on the market.  

BUT if I could tell you one thing, and one thing only about why Rick’s books are THE best travel guides for Europe it’s that in these books on traveling Europe, Rick “gives you all of the information & suggestions necessary for wringing the maximum value out of your limited time!” THAT my friends, is exactly what the goal should be.

rick steves travel quote travel intensified living

Best travel books for Europe on a budget

Good news if you are looking for ways to travel for less you have come to the right places. These books are one of the “best travel books for Europe on a Budget” options. Rick Steve’s guides cover everything from fancier hotel options to hostels and everything in between, 5-star dining options to budget dining, he has all of the insider info on money saving guest cards and transportation discounts. He covers money matters as well as travel insurance, the most economical times to travel and offers discounts on things like lodging and attractions! 

save money by using tips in Rick Steves best travel europe guides budget travel

These books are great for first timers

First time travelers to Europe rejoice! Arm yourselves with the guidance found in these “ best books on Europe Travel”  and you’ll feel totally confident as you set out on your grand adventure. If you are looking to plan your very first epic trip to Europe then these guides are a must!

Here’s why you should buy the book!

I needed focus

When my husband and I decided to plan our first European trip to Germany I didn’t know where to start. We needed direction and wanted to make the most of the little time we had available. 

I decided I needed to look into books on traveling Europe. I decided on Rick Steves’ guidebook and that purchase was kind of life changing!

I was able to seamlessly add France, Switzerland, and Austria into our Germany itinerary on that very first trip. After Germany came England, Ireland and Scotland. Next, a grand adventure through fantastic France. Then a mountainous adventure through Germany, Austria and Slovenia…and I’m still at it friends! 

I am now travel obsessed and I give all of the credit to travel book author Rick Steves.

I have at least one trip in the planning stages at all times. The trips that I’ve been able to plan with the Rick Steves’ Essential Europe Travel guides have been so outstanding that I’ve started a website where I can share our adventures. 

Can’t Travel Now? buy the book anyway! Here’s why:

Even if you can’t travel the act of planning a trip is actually good for your mental health. There are a number of reasons why planning travel is good for you, not the least of them being because it’s fun! It is also a great distraction from life’s stresses, you’ll get a mood boost and more! Want to know more about the health benefits of travel? find out what they are here: Can’t Travel? Plan Travel! 6 great reasons why travel planning is good for you.

You’ll probably want more than just one! 

A word of caution: Once you take your first trip you might become addicted. Here is my current collection of Rick’s guidebooks:

Internet question? What are good books to read while traveling around Europe for a few months? Rick’s travel guides! Keep on planning… never stop dreaming! Or how about Postcards from Europe by Rick Steves? 

Rick Steves European travel guides collection best Europe Travel guides

who is Rick Steves?

Rick Steves is a travel writer, author and Europe travel expert who writes and publishes Europe travel books. Rick started his travel business back in 1976 but he’s been traveling a lot longer than that! His bio states that some of his earliest and fondest memories were of traveling in Europe as a child. (watch out for that, Europe will make you fall in love! I left a big piece of my heart behind when I left there as a child.)

who am I and why does my opinion matter?

Speaking of ME, who am I and why on earth should you take my advice on anything???

In the grand scheme of things, I am no one special. I’m just the average person who has a full time 9 to 5, and wants to see the world! However, the trips I have been able to plan with the aid of these books have been extraordinary! 

Ladies and gentleman, fellow travelers and fellow daydreamers… I’m no one special but I PLAN EPIC TRIPS WITH THESE Europe Guidebooks!!!! 

What’s between the pages?

What are the most comprehensive European Travel Guidebooks on the market?

Rick Steves Europe travel guidebooks dig deeper than just museum opening times, and how to hail a taxi. He starts with an overview of the country and covers history at the current state of affairs. He then goes on to provide you with literally everything necessary to plan your best trip. Let’s take a look at what else you’ll find between the pages.

Let’s take a look at what else you can expect.

Europe on a Budget (or not!)

  • You’ll get good advice on travel budgeting and money saving tips, because who doesn’t like to save money! One of the things I appreciate about Rick is that he believes that you don’t have to spend yourself in to the poorhouse to get your best experience. 
  • The books cover money saving sightseeing passes that may be available at your destination. These are a good deal if you plan to see several of the covered sites but the books break down the savings for you.
  • Discounts can often be found throughout the book on lodging and sightseeing experiences.
  • The guides aren’t just for Budget travelers though. They cover it all from fine dining (because some people like that!) to picnic lunches, five-star hotels to hostel accommodations. Rick’s got everyone covered!

Pre Trip planning

Get to know the locals:

Get to know the locals. The people are what really make a destination unique. Rick will introduce you to them, their customs, their language and clue you in on how to get and stay in their good graces.

When should you take that trip?:

Advice on the best time to travel or visit attractions such as time of year, time of day, and less crowded times, plus information about any wintertime interests. Dreaming of Christmas Markets in Germany? Snow Skiing in the Alps? Rick has insight!

The  best attractions, with a rating system:

  • You’ll get an in depth view of the best attractions with a handy rating system. Must see sites get a rating from 1-3. Worthwhile (1) try hard to see (2) and must see sites (3.) 
  • The books have everything you need to know to visit an attraction like pening/closing information, cost, parking, etc, literally EVERYTHING

Free maps and getting oriented in your destination:

  • The books have maps…lots of maps! a full size pull out country map, city center maps, walking tour maps, and more!
  • Get yourself oriented in a new place. Rick breaks down the different areas of town for you and the ins and outs of each.

Suggested itineraries

If you’re struggling to find direction of your own, Rick offers up some very good itineraries.

  • Transportation. A comprehensive guide on all types of transportation, including information on driving, as well as public transport.

Traveling with kids in Europe

Rick doesn’t leave out the smallest members of the family. His guides include pertinent information for parents planning European travel with children. 


  • Getting to your destination: your guide has you covered from arriving by train, bus, plane or car. 
  • Driving tips: be in the know about how to drive the one lane Irish country roads, or the wisdom to use public transportation, taxi or other rather than jumping into the fray in downtown London or Paris. 
  • Getting around once you arrive: bike and rental car information, Hop-on-hop off bus tour information (when applicable,) boat cruises (one of my favorite! I planned a Rhine River Cruise and a boat ride in York England with these guides)

When you get where you’re going

Tour information

Walking tours. history tours, ghost tours, local guides, you name it!

Audio guides

Rick Steves Travel has audio guides available at many attractions, as well as his self guided walking tour audio guides. Just pop in those earbuds, and let him take you around!

Festival and special events

The books have complete information about festivals and events. While you may be more “festive” than me, I appreciate this information because I like to AVOID crowds and it helps me to plan my trips around more crowded festival times.

Self guided walking tours

The guides contain detailed walking tours, including maps. I use them to plan out my itinerary, hitting attractions along the way.

Restaurants and hotels

Where to stay, where to eat, what to eat and drink, local dishes, and tipping your server.

Smart travel tips, so you can travel confidently

Rick’s guides will school you in smarter European travel and the smarter you travel the better your experience will be. 

  • Theft alerts. important for those of us who don’t spend a lot of time in the city. Watch for pickpockets, and people who make a living taking advantage of tourists.
  • Pedestrian safety. They are pretty serious about not allowing crossing against lights, or jaywalking, in Europe.
  • Wi-Fi, where to find it.
  • Emergency services
  • Time zone info
  • What you need to know to keep your electronics charged and ready to go.
  • Using your cellular device. (SIM card tips) 
  • How to make a call.
  • Money Matters. ATM’s, information on using your debit and credit cards.
  • Laundry services (PERSONAL FAVORITE!! If you have ever had to drag around a couple of weeks worth of clothes around Europe on planes and trains then you are going to love this tip! Pack lighter, drop off your dirty things, and pick them up the next day, washed, dried, neatly folded…GENIUS!)


Entertainment, shopping, day trips, and night life. These guides contain much much more! They are the most comprehensive and complete books on traveling Europe that you can buy. If it isn’t in the guide, you probably don’t need to know it!

Which Counties do Rick Steves Europe Travel Guides cover?

From Western Europe to Eastern Europe, and from Finland to Spain, Rick has you covered so all you have to do is pick your Europe Guidebook.  Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

Destination based Travel Guidebooks for Europe

These books go into detail and depth covering not just the big highlights but backdoor travel as well for those of us who like to stay a little ways off of the beaten path. 

  • Amsterdam and the Netherlands Guidebook
  • Barcelona Guidebook
  • Belgium Guidebook
  • Berlin Guidebook
  • Budapest Guidebook
  • Croatia and Slovenia Guidebook
  • Eastern Europe Guidebook (The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, and more) 
  • England Guidebook
  • Florence and Tuscany
  • Great Britain Guidebook (England, Scotland and Wales)
  • Greece Guidebook
  • Iceland Guidebook
  • Ireland Guidebook (Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland) 
  • Istanbul Guidebook
  • London Guidebook
  • Mediterranean Cruise Ports Guidebook
  • Portugal Guidebook
  • Prague and the Czech Republic Guidebooks
  • Scandinavia and Iceland Guidebook
  • Scandinavian and Northern European Cruise Ports Guidebook
  • Scotland Guidebook
  • Sicily Guidebook
  • Spain Guidebook
  • Switzerland Guidebook
  • Venice Guidebook
  • Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol Guidebook

Rick’s “Best of” guide books

These are my Favorite Europewide Travel guidebooks. They are condensed version of the full guidebooks. They are more geared to whirlwind tours, hitting the highlights and moving on to the next big destination. 

  • England Guidebook
  • Europe Guidebook covers Europe’s top destinations all in one book and is Rick’s best Europewide guidebook. included: England, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands
  • France Guidebook
  • Germany Guidebook
  • Ireland Guidebook
  • Italy Guidebook
  • Scotland Guidebook
  • Spain Guidebook

Snapshot Guides

These cover more specific areas like Ryekavik and the Scottish Highlands.

Phrase books and dictionaries

Phrasebooks and dictionaries are on offer but when it comes to navigating a different language I love to use Google Translate. If you aren’t familiar with Google Translate here’s a step-by-step-guide on how you can use it to get around when you don’t speak the language. Want to go further? Check out this complete guide to overcoming travel language barriers. 

Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door

Rick’s Europe Travel book titled “Through the Back Door” is 

“Packed with lessons gleaned from more than 30 years of budget travel, Rick answers the questions you have now — and those you wouldn’t have asked until faced with them on your trip.”

The book covers travel documents, packing light, driving, navigation, travel insurance, and SO much more!

The best way to get the most out using Rick Steves’ travel guidebooks:

DEVOUR them, every word; read them cover to cover. I write in the margins, highlight text, pull out the generously sized map and make myself a copy because I’m about to mark all over it! when I come across something of interest in the book, I make a mark on my map. After you’ve finished the book, look at your map and start building your itinerary.

Where can you buy Rick’s books on traveling Europe?

Rick’s travel books about Europe can be found on Amazon or almost anywhere you shop for books, or you can purchase Rick Steve’s travel guides on his official webpage. 

Purchase other travel related items

Rick sells the best electrical power adapters for continental Europe and the best electrical power adapters for Great Britain! BIG Bonus…they are super cheap too!

In addition you can find the money belts that he touts for keeping your belongings secure, travel packs, travel pillows and more.

Tip: often the website has a good sale around the Christmas shopping season so you can stock up on travel guide books!

Rick Steves Best of Europe Tours

Travel planning is work and maybe you would rather let someone else do the work. No worries! Rick Steves has tours! They offer small group tours of 24-28 people, max! 

“Often quaint (sometimes creaky), and full of personality, they are run by Europeans who are also our friends.” how fun! They go on to say “be prepared for stairs — hundreds of them. Many of our hotels don’t have elevators…one more reason to pack light and be in good shape.” 

“ whether you’re dreaming of vineyards in France, sheepdogs in Scotland, art in Italy, alps in Switzerland, history in Greece ─ or connecting with friendly people all across Europe ─ we have an itinerary that can turn that wish into smooth and affordable reality” 

These tours are very popular and book up well in advance. For a full rundown on current tours being offered see the tours page here. 

Looking for other options?

Need more options: Looking for Great Europe Guidebooks besides Rick Steves?

Lonely Planet Europe Travel Guide

Lonely Planet Europe guides are good. Rick even sells some of them on his website. They kind of take over where his books end, for instance you’ll find the Lonely Planet Russian travel guide on his website.

Final Thoughts

If you were wondering, I hope I’ve been able to answer that question “are Rick’s Guides worth it.” Rick produces the best Europe Travel guides on the market. Use them to plan your best trip yet! 

There you have it! I covered the bulk of it. What more could you possibly need to know? and what are you waiting for? Go buy the book, and start planning  that dream vacation today!!! Happy Travels!

More trip planning resources

A little nervous about using trains and buses? You may find this Public Transportation for beginners. article helpful

Vacations cost money! What if I told you that you could fly for free? learn how in this Fly Free with points article!

Read here for my best methods for finding hidden gems to add to your trip!

I have my trip planning down to a sciences and my resources go beyond Rick’s travel guides. Get simple step by step instructions on Planning Your Dream Vacation here!

Travel obsessed? Want to hear more about my travels around our amazing planet and get more travel tips? Be sure to submit your email address to my subscriber sign up at the end of the page to be the first to know when a new blog publishes!

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