Rick Steves is a popular public television host, a best-selling guidebook author, and an outspoken activist who encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel.
Lisbon, built with the riches of Portugal's New World discoveries, has a rustic charm. Great navigators are remembered. Rick eats lots of cod, enjoys pastries hot out of the oven, strolls the city's back lanes and its reinvigorated waterfront, marvels at an exquisite church built with spice taxes, and listens to some soulful fado music. Then he takes a side-trip to Sintra to explore the fanciful castles of Portuguese royalty and climbs hilltop ramparts with grand views.
Portugal has an oversized history, fascinating culture, and boatloads of sardines. Saving the capital city of Lisbon for another episode, Rick dances on the beach at Nazare, marvels at a medieval abbey in Batalha, visits a royal library and revels with university students in Coimbra, savors port wine with the people who made it along the Douro River, and gets to know Portugal's gritty and fascinating second city, Porto.
Travel Skills: Cruising
Setting sail on the Mediterranean, Rick explores the ins and outs and pros and cons of cruising. He learns how to get the most out of a cruise, and exercises his independence to make smart use of limited time on shore by planning well, avoiding lines, and eating quick-but-local meals on the go. Along with the joys and efficiencies of cruising, Rick considers the downsides, including the inevitable congestion and commercialism that comes with mass tourism.
Greek Islands: Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes
Rick island-hops through the Aegean, sampling three classic Greek getaways - Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes - and basking in their dramatic beauty. He tours ancient ruins, traces the vestiges of the Crusaders, samples rustic cuisine, savors classic Greek-island views, and compares beaches - from the ultimate party beach to idyllic quiet hideaways. And he shows how a cruise ship can be an efficient way to link up great island stopovers.
European Festivals I
In this first of two episodes on Europe's greatest festivals, Rick cheers with the masses at Siena's crazy Palio horse race, tosses a caber at a Scottish Highland Games, dons a mask for Carnevale in Venice, and celebrates Easter in Greece. Dropping in on some of the Continent's top parties, he discovers that each one is a celebration of traditional culture, and all of them are full of opportunities to sing and dance, feast on traditional food, and party with locals.
European Festivals II
In this second of two episodes on Europe's greatest festivals, Rick dances with Spaniards at Sevilla's April Fair, celebrates Bastille Day in Paris, runs with the bulls at Pamplona, and hoists a frothy stein at Munich's Oktoberfest. And he celebrates a traditional family Christmas, browsing the holiday market in Nurnberg and sledding down alpine slopes by torchlight in Switzerland. With the entire Continent as his playground, fun is his mission.
The Best of Sicily
This tour of Sicilian highlights starts in Palermo, where Rick sings with the merchants in the markets, joins locals in their passeggiata, drops in on a contessa, and marvels at the Romanesque cathedral of Monreale. Then he sips wine on the slopes of Mount Etna, munches cannoli, ponders Greek temples at Agrigento, admires Roman mosaics at the Villa of Casale, and marvel at the view from the Greek theater in Taormina.
Sicily serves up a full-bodied and tasty travel experience. Rick dines on fresh seafood at the fisherman's harbor in Cefalý, ponders ancient Greek greatness in Siracusa, communes with monks - alive and departed - in a Capuchin crypt, sleeps in an olive orchard at an agriturismo, and eats his way through a classic Sicilian banquet with a famous chef.
The Highlands stoke kilted dreams of Scotland...where legends of Bonnie Prince Charlie swirl around lonely castles. Rick visits the "Weeping Glen" of Glencoe, bustling Inverness, and the battlefield at Culloden. Then he makes a pilgrimage to the spiritual capital of a major clan, and goes prehistoric at Stone Age burial grounds and Iron Age island forts. Venturing along the Caledonian Canal and watching for Nessie at Loch Ness, Rick watches a sheepdog demonstration and enjoys traditional folk music.
Rick begins on the tranquil Isle of Iona, where Christianity first reached the shores of Scotland, and nearby Staffa, with a lovable puffin colony. Then he visits another of the Inner Hebrides, road-tripping across the Isle of Skye, where he explores Iron Age forts, thatched crofter huts, and the dramatic Trotternish Peninsula. Finally, he sails to Orkney - more Nordic than Celtic - with its stony remnants of a thriving Iron Age civilization and evocative reminders of the 20th-century wartime harbor at Scapa Flow.
Glasgow and Scottish Passions
Glasgow, once an industrial powerhouse, offers a fun look at Scotland's vibrantly gritty urban side - full of edgy street art, trendy dining, and the striking architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Leaving town, Rick taps into Scottish passions as he tours historic Stirling Castle, enjoys a bagpiping lesson, samples a dram at the land's most beloved distilleries on the Speyside Whisky Trail, and struggles to lift the Manhood Stone at a Highland Games.
Leaving Lisbon for the countryside, we eat barnacles in a salty old fishing town, march with pilgrims on the anniversary of a miracle, ponder the local Romeo and Juliet, sample university life, and rummage through the riches of Portugal's Golden Age.
Paris: Grand & Intimate
After marveling at masterpieces in the Louvre and strolling the Champs-Elysees, we explore a delightful Parisian neighborhood. We meet a pipe organist, drop by a butcher shop, design our own perfume, and cruise the Seine.
South England; Dover to Lands' End
From the white cliffs of Dover to Land's End, we ponder Roman, Norman, and Nazi invasions. After exploring Admiral Nelson's flagship, we chase wild ponies across the moors and discover an ancient stone circle. For refreshment, it's cream tea and Cornish pasties.
Heart of England and South Wales
After King Arthur country at Glastonbury, we go back in time to prehistoric Stonehenge. We sample hard apple cider in Wells, meet an eccentric lord in the Cotswolds, and visit an evocative ruined abbey in South Wales.
Rome welcomes the new millennium spiffed up as never before. We tour Rome's ancient sights from the Forum and Colosseum to the glorious Pantheon. Then, after exploring the catacombs and a cat hospice, we track down the best ice cream in Rome.
Germany's Black Forest and Cologne
Rick teams up with his wife and kids to enjoy the good life, dipping into a classy mineral spa, trying our luck at a fancy casino, devouring chocolate-cherry cake, and exploring Germany's most romantic forest.
Scotland's Islands and Highlands
In Scotland, legends of Bonnie Prince Charlie swirl with pipers and kilts around crumbling castles. After tossing a caber (log) at a Scottish clan gathering, we remember Highland massacres. We play hide-and-seek with the Loch Ness Monster, tour a whiskey distillery, and take a ferry to sacred Iona.
Bulgaria is a time warp of old and new_from chic shops in the city to donkey cars in the country. We hike to a mountain monastery, meet two sculptors (dad does Stalin, son does nudes), and enjoy a traditional dinner feast at a local home.
Rome: Baroque, After Dark
After a pilgrimage to Michelangelo's Pieta, we climb to the top of St. Peter's Basilica. We seek out tucked-away Renaissance paintings and a cleverly-painted false dome. At the Borghese Gallery, it's exquisite sculptures by the master of marble, Bernini. Then we join the locals on an after-dark stroll, lacing together Rome's Baroque and bubbly nightspots.
Austrian and Italian Alps
In the Alps of Austria and Italy, we celebrate both nature and culture. After conquering the Zugspitze, we tour Innsbruck, visit a remote farm in Austria, and join in a Tirolean village festival. Then we cross the Alps into Italy and tour a uniquely well-preserved medieval castle before joyriding deep into the rugged Dolomite Mountains. After an unforgettable hike, we catch our breath in Europe's largest high-altitude meadow, then enjoy some more alpine folk music.
Switzerland draws travelers from around the world for its legendary mountains. From the Matterhorn to the Jungfrau to Appenzell, we savor both the country's jaw-dropping alpine beauty and the rich and resilient culture of its people. As we lace together that dramatic mountain wonder with scenic train rides, breathtaking lifts, and unforgettable hikes, we also enjoy alpine life - from exploring glaciers to making cheese the old-fashioned way.
French Alps and Lyon
After exploring the proud cuisine capital of Lyon - which, at least in its own mind, rivals Paris - we head for Chamonix, in the shadow of Europe's tallest peak: Mont Blanc. With the classic alpine resort as our springboard, we make some high-altitude cheese, then ride the lift up to Aiguille du Midi and over to the border of Italy. And we hike the Tour du Mont Blanc - the trail that circles that iconic mountain.
Germany's Fascist Story
Traveling across Germany, we learn how fascism rose and then fell, taking millions of people with it. Visiting actual locations - from Munich to Nurnberg to Berlin - we trace the roots of Nazism in the aftermath of World War I, when masses of angry people were enchanted by Hitler. We explore the totalitarian society Hitler built, and see the consequences: genocide and total war. Learning from Germany's fascist story, we can recognize that hateful ideology as well as the tricks of wannabe dictators in our own age.
Teeming Cairo, straddling the Nile, is the capital of Egypt and one of the leading cities of the Muslim world. With 20 million people, greater Cairo pulses with energy. We explore the back streets on a tuk-tuk, drop in on a mosque, haggle with a gauntlet of eager merchants, bake some pita bread, help chisel a tombstone, marvel at King Tut's gold, greet the ancient Sphinx, and climb into the center of the greatest pyramid.
Egypt's Nile, Alexandria, and Luxor
Exploring the Nile Valley from north to south, we see the highlights of Egypt. In the fabled city of Alexandria, we venture through a market wonderland, smoke a shisha, and stroll a Mediterranean promenade. In Luxor, we explore the pharaohs' tombs and temples before sailing on a timeless felucca. Then we kick back on a riverboat cruise, enjoying iconic views of palm trees, minarets, and rustic villages. Our finale: Ramesses II's magnificent temple at Abu Simbel.
Ethiopia: A Development Story
Venturing beyond Europe, and with local experts as his guides, Rick uses Ethiopia as a classroom for understanding global hunger and extreme poverty - and how to beat it. Together, we witness the importance of water, education, empowering women, and nutrition during a child's first thousand days. And we see firsthand the impact of globalization and climate change. Our souvenir: A vivid appreciation of how ending hunger is possible - and how smart and modern development aid is the key.
Why We Travel
In times of crisis and challenge, we ask ourselves: What is the true value of travel? Is it just hedonism...or something more powerful? After a lifetime of exploring Europe - and inspiring Americans to see Europe as the springboard for world exploration - Rick Steves shares his reasons why. This special episode is a sonnet to travel - an introspective love story, set in Europe, that vividly celebrates the rewards of exploring our world and the joy that awaits those who travel.a
After a Mount Ararat sunrise, we visit Abraham's 4000-year-old home town, tour one of the world's biggest dams, cheer on grease wrestlers, meet the gods atop Mount Nemrut, and dance with new friends in a village.
London: Royal and Rambunctious
We whisper secrets across the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral and eat our way through Soho. Then we check out the treasures of the new British Library, roll with the drums at the Changing of the Guard, and cruise the Thames to Kew Gardens.