Rick Steves advocates smart, independent travel. As host, writer and producer of the popular series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of more than 50 European travel books, he encourages Americans to delve deep into travel and become "temporary locals."
The Alps of France and Switzerland
We base ourselves in Chamonix, France's original alpine resort town. Mont Blanc is easy to conquer with a lift ticket. The Glacier Express loops us down to Appenzell in Switzerland's yodel-happy cow country.
The Alps of Austria and Italy
Tirolean Innsbruck offers a towering Olympic ski jump and a dirndl-clad world of alpine thrills. Follow the Brenner Pass to Italy's rugged Dolomites for Alps with pasta.
After village-hopping and wine-shopping along the Alsatian wine road, we savor the world-class cuisine and art of Colmar and visit the birthplace of Champagne.
Spain's Costa Del Sol
Granada's Alhambra echoes with Moorish intrigue. After some fun in the Costa del Sol sun, we climb the Rock of Gibraltar and take a plunge into exotic Morocco.
Copenhagen and Ærø
We'll tour historic Copenhagen - with its fine palaces, colorful maritime culture and fun-loving Tivoli amusement park - then wind up exploring the thatch-happy isle of Ærø.
Stockholm and Helsinki
We eat up Stockholm - a smörgåsbord of lakes, islands, art and culture. After exploring the Versailles-like Drottningholm Palace and unlucky 17th-century Vasa warship, we cruise the Baltic Archipelago to dashingly modern Helsinki.
Oslo, Bergen and the Fjords
Oslo surprises us with the Nazi Resistance Museum, Vigeland statues, Viking ships, Thor Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki boat and sky-high ski jump. The most scenic train in northern Europe gives us "Norway in a Nutshell": mountains, fjords and historic Bergen.
England's Lake District shimmers with images of Wordsworth's poetry. We'll explore Durham's heavenly Norman cathedral, Blackpool (Britain's Coney Island) and more.
Great Side Trips from London
Day-tripping from London, we ponder Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford, the ultimate medieval castle at Warwick, a walk with Newton through Cambridge, ghost stories, a pub visit-all with the Steves' children and other colorful sights.
Athens and the Peloponnese
In Athens, we explore the majestic Acropolis and ancient market and kick up our heels in the Plaka. Then we head south to tour the ancient theater at Epidavros and the mystical ruins of Mycenae.
Island-hopping, we visit touristy and exotic Santorini, get familiar with the Aegean ferries, ride a motorbike around Sámos, pop into a remote monastery and catch some rays on the Back Door island of Lipsi.
We visit the ancient sites of Ephesus and Aphrodisias, meander up the Meander River, eat Turkish pizza and discover a blend of ancient and modern: nomadic life, whirling dervishes and strong Muslim beliefs.
From historic cliff hideaways in Cappadocia to the unspoiled town of Güzelyurt, we ride camels, ponder luxurious carpets, and are welcomed by friendly locals. In the modern capital of Ankara, we learn about Atatürk, the "father of modern Turkey."
Exploring the 2,000-year-old city of Istanbul, we get lost in the Grand Bazaar and enjoy the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. Then we sail the churning and historic Bosporus.
After the urban jungle of Cairo, we climb into a Giza Pyramid. In Luxor, we ramble with Ramses through the temple of Karnac and the Valley of the Kings and bicycle into today's village Egypt.
Jerusalem is home to the ancient holy sites of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Armenians. We visit the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, Jericho and the desert mountain fortress of Masada.