Join Rick Steves for a colorful, musical celebration of Christmas across Europe. From England to Wales, France, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, you'll see the bright Christmas markets, hear local choirs, share holiday traditions with families...and even play in the snow.
The special collections of never-before seen clips brings art and history to life in Pisa; provides a thoughtful assessment of history from Europe's Nazi sights; and ponders Europe's direction for the century ahead.
In a fun collection of footage from the past 15 years, we watch Rick and Anne Steves' children, Andy and Jackie, grow up on-camera in Europe. From the Travel Skills DVD.
After 16 years and more than 100 travel shows, Rick and his crew take you behind the scenes to show you just how they produce this series. Joining the crew as they scamper through Milan and around Lake Como, you'll follow the creative process as the challenges and surprises that come with travel are shaped into a finished show. From the Travel Skills DVD.
In this feature, produced by Twin Cities Public Television, Rick gives his popular 75-minute Travel Skills lecture to a theater packed with enthusiastic Minnesotans who can't wait to get to Europe. From the Travel Skills DVD.
Usually you'll find Rick Steves touring the great destinations of Europe. Now you can join him on a different journey: a Symphonic Journey. Just as travel broadens one's perspectives, so can music. In this hour-long concert special — Rick Steves' Europe: A Symphonic Journey — Rick teams up with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra on a musical tour that begins in the USA, then touches down in seven different European countries. People of every nation have music that quickens their heartbeat and sets their patriotic spirit soaring. For each stop, Rick paints the cultural context in words, and then the orchestra plays stirring anthems — Strauss in Austria, Wagner in Germany, Smetana in the Czech Republic, Verdi in Italy, Elgar in England, Grieg in Norway, Berlioz in France — each accompanied by glorious video footage. While each piece celebrates a particular nationality, the finale, Beethoven's Ode to Joy (Europe's official national anthem), celebrates a continent whose motto is "united in diversity." This one-hour special debuts on public television in January 2013.
Eight years of bloopers!
Public television host, author and ELCA Lutheran Rick Steves takes you on a journey through Lutherland. Travel from Eisleben where Luther was born to the university town of Wittenberg where he taught and preached. After a pilgrimage south to the Vatican in Rome, the program follows the tumultuous events of the Reformation at Worms, Erfurt, Eisenach, Marburg and Augsburg.
In another of his popular lectures, Rick explains how thoughtful travel can expand our worldview and shape our actions at home.
This program is filled with dizzy alpine thrills, starting on the tip of a peak high above the French resort town of Chamonix, and ending in a cozy mountain hut in Switzerland.
This program brings more Alpine thrills: starting at 10,000 feet up on the Zugspitze on the Austrian border and ending in the rugged Dolomites mountains of Italy.
On the loose in France's countryside, we drive up Alsace's Route du Vin for miles of vineyards, half-timbered villages, and feudal fortresses. We head to Verdun to walk the trenches of World War I before visiting Reims Cathedral to marvel at Gothic splendor and Chagall's stained glass. Our final stop is Epernay, the bubbly birthplace of champagne.
This time we're in Spain to explore the delights of Granada and its famous Alhambra palace, then we'll unroll our beach towel in Europe's fun-in-the-sun headquarters: the Costa del Sol.
In Scandinavia, Sweden and Finland are separated by the Baltic Sea. From the stunning capital of Stockholm, we'll take a ferry across the Baltic to Russian-flavored Helsinki.
Norway in the far north of Europe stretches high into the Arctic and takes up the Western part of Scandinavian Peninsula. From its metropolis of Oslo, we catch the train to Sognefjord in the Fjord country, finishing in Bergen.
From Iron Bridge Gorge to the seaside amusements of Blackpool and from the pristine Lake District to Durham's magnificent cathedral, we'll see a great deal from England's fascinating past while enjoying its friendly present.
Using London as a starting point and base from which to explore, we'll first head West to the Cotswolds, then up to Straffords upon-Avon and Warwick, and finally we take a short side-trip to Cambridge.
The Greek Islands' sunny climate, great beaches, and relaxed culture attract travelers from all corners. Island-hopping on Aegean ferries, we visit touristy Santorini, ride a motorbike around Samos, and hang out on barely-known Lipsi. With tips from the tourist office, we find offbeat ways to enjoy the islands and our own picturesque places to stay.
We visit spectacular Greek ruins at Ephesus and Aphrodisias and ancient hot springs at Pamukkale before traveling up the Meander River and steaming in a Turkish bath. Rick provides tips on staying healthy in foreign countries, and makes exotic Turkey feel more familiar, showing its devout Muslim beliefs and compelling blend of ancient and modern nomadic life.
In central Turkey, we folk-dance through tea-soaked and hospitable ancient villages, seeing geological wonders, cliff dwellings, and the red pottery kilns of Avanos. Leaving the camel rides and carpets behind, we arrive at the modern city of Ankara to learn about Ataturk — the "father of the Turks" — who led this sultans' empire through to the 20th century.
Istanbul is one of the great cities on earth. Period. Few places on earth have witnessed more history than this sprawling metropolis on the Bosphorus. We'll cruise the golden horn, shop the grand bazarre, and check out a poor-man's Wall Street. We'll sample some Turkish delights, smoke a nardia, eat fish fresh off the boat, explore the harem in the Topkapi Palace, marvel at Byzantine domes, and lose ourselves in a sea of people in this vast and complex city.
Egypt offers a visual potpourri of high energy and ancient mystery — from chaotic Cairo to the silent temples and tombs near Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. We explore pharaohs' pyramids at Giza and gold treasures at Cairo's National Museum. Each stop on the route — including a trip down the Nile — leaves an unforgettable imprint.
The crossroads of three great religions, Jerusalem has been fought over for centuries. This is the Holy Land. Whether you're a pilgrim or a tourist or a little of both, Israel offers a world of memorable experiences.
Rick shares his expertise on how to travel smoothly and affordably. You'll learn practical tips for planning your trip, getting around, finding accommodations, staying safe, packing right, and more.
It takes 6 days to produce one of Rick Steves' 30-minute PBS episodes. One reason it takes so darn long is Rick’s screw-ups. Enjoy some of these embarassing moments. Learn your lines Rick!
In this episode, Rick shares tips about traveling in Europe with kids. He shares the best moments of his family travels throughout 20 years, getting around with two small kids and his wife.
Hear about the unexpected and fascinating trip Rick Steves' took to Iran in this behind-the-scenes discussion.
Join Rick as he travels through the Holy Land in this hour long special, weaving together both the Israeli and the Palestinian narratives. In Israel, we'll travel from the venerable ramparts of Jerusalem to the vibrant modern skyline of Tel Aviv. In Palestine, we'll harvest olives near Hebron, visit a home in Bethlehem, and pop into a university in Ramallah. We'll also learn about the persistent challenges facing the region today
Travel writer Rick Steves, host of the TV series Travels in Europe with Rick Steves, talks with host Jim Peck on I Remember series number 1022.
Travel guru Rick Steves tours three of Europe's most energetic capitals — Amsterdam, Prague, and Berlin. In each city, Rick shares his valuable insights on art, culture, and history, along with his practical, experience-enhancing travel advice.
When it comes to good eating, Europe is a food lover's wonderland: elegant cuisine, rustic delights, seasonal treats, beloved bakeries, a passion for wine, and slow food rather than fast food. However you slice it, Europeans take pride in their food: eating well is living well. In this tasty, half-hour pledge event, we dine with Rick Steves as he enjoys Europe's very best — from gourmet tapas in Galicia to the trattoria of your dreams in Rome, and from the catch of the day in Greece to the ancient vines and wines of Burgundy. For garlicky snails, creamy buffalo mozzarella, savory bouillabaisse, the best of the wurst, and much more, join Rick on this fun celebration of European cuisine — Delicious Europe.
As he's done with previous programs on Israel, Egypt, and Eastern Turkey, Rick takes us beyond Europe to a place that's rich with history...and mystery.
Taking you on a spring journey through Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece, "Rick Steves' European Easter" celebrates this 2,000-year-old story in a variety of cultures. You'll feel the emotion of this special time as the Passion of Christ unfolds during Holy Week. We'll join Andalusians carrying parade floats, Greek priests tossing showers of flower petals, and villagers blessing olive branches, plus feasting, fireworks, and more. Exploring a rich and fascinating mix of traditions
Join Rick Steves for a taste of what it's like to travel the Rick Steves way with his company's staff of personal tour guides, and see testimonials of satisfied patrons who had the trip of a lifetime.
Join Rick as he slurps seasonal raw herring in Holland and then savors a "zero kilometer," farm-to-table country feast with a noble family in Tuscany. We'll drink some local firewater during the salad course in Bulgaria. And then we'll enjoy the elegant simplicity of steak tartare and foie gras in the garden of a French château. From dining al fresco in Rome, to joining the locals on a Madrid pub crawl, to learning the secrets of a wine lover's enoteca in Verona, Rick learns that slowing down to truly appreciate what you eat is an essential part of any great travel experience.
In this one-hour special, it's party time in Europe. In addition to all its epic history and high culture, Europe also knows how to celebrate — and it does so with amazing gusto. Joining Rick, we drop in on the Continent's top 10 festivals, each one rich with tradition, great food, and fun with the locals. We run with the bulls at Pamplona, don a mask in Venice for Carnevale, dance with Spaniards at the April Fair, cheer on the horses at Siena's Palio, hoist a frothy stein at Munich's Oktoberfest, toss a caber at a Scottish Highland Games, and join European families for their traditional Easter and Christmas celebrations. No museums or galleries…just Europe at play. Filmed on location across Europe, this promises to be a very entertaining hour.
In this one-hour special, Rick travels back a century to learn how fascism rose and then fell in Europe — taking millions of people with it. We'll trace fascism's history from its roots in the turbulent aftermath of World War I, when masses of angry people rose up, to the rise of charismatic leaders who manipulated that anger, the totalitarian societies they built, and the brutal measures they used to enforce their ideology. We'll see the horrific consequences: genocide and total war. And we'll be inspired by the stories of those who resisted. Along the way, we'll visit poignant sights throughout Europe relating to fascism, and talk with Europeans whose families lived through those times. Our goal: to learn from the hard lessons of 20th-century Europe, and to recognize that ideology in the 21st century.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We discover that Dubrovnik is still the "jewel of the Adriatic" while nearby villages decorate their dreamy archipelago with small-town Venetian charm. Ljubljana is like Salzburg without tourists. The Julian Alps glisten with pristine lakes as Lipizzaner stallions are eager to strut their stuff.
After going fishing for anchovies off Cefalu, we land in rough-and-tumble Palermo. Marveling at the eerie skeletons in a Cappuccin crypt, airy mosaics of Monreale, enchanting ruins of Segesta, and the fiery rim of Mount Etna, we enjoy the best of Sicily.
Beautifully filmed on location, this 3-part, 90-minute special distills Rick's 25 years of travel experience into practical tips on: planning a trip, overcoming the language barrier, getting around, finding accommodations, staying safe, and more. In this first of three shows covering travel skills, we'll visit the Netherlands and Germany to learn about transportation by train and car within Europe, changing money, and settling in upon arrival. How well you're able to enjoy the delights of Europe depends upon how well you plan and how skillfully you travel.
Beautifully filmed on location, this 3-part, 90-minute special distills Rick's 25 years of travel experience into practical tips on: planning a trip, overcoming the language barrier, getting around, finding accommodations, staying safe, and more. In this second of three shows focusing on travel skills, we'll visit Venice, Siena, and the Cinque Terre in Italy to learn about trip planning, packing, safety, and — perhaps the most rewarding skill of all — connecting with the locals. Going beyond the sights, Rick shares some practical tips to help make European travel fun and hassle-free.
Beautifully filmed on location, this 3-part, 90-minute special distills Rick's 25 years of travel experience into practical tips on: planning a trip, overcoming the language barrier, getting around, finding accommodations, staying safe, and more. In this third of three shows focusing on travel skills, we'll visit the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London while covering tips for finding the best accommodations, getting around in big cities, and enjoying Europe's cuisine. This information is key to making the most of your travel time and, if you're on a budget, can help you cut the cost of your travels in half.
Sorting through the monuments of magical Venice, we trace its decline from Europe's most powerful city to its most hedonistic. We cruise its main street - the Grand Canal - then get lost in its back lanes. We drink-in the art of Titian, Bellini, Donatello, and the Doge's Palace. We luxuriate in a venerable café on St. Mark's Square, enjoy calamari with locals in a canal-side pub, then find our own private Venice - on a gondola, under the moonlight.
Pulling on hip boots, we settle into the muck of Venice, then take a speedboat tour of the lagoon. On the mainland, we head for Padua to tour a once-illegal anatomy theater and track the restoration of Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel. In Vicenza, we admire elegant Palladian-style streets and villas. In Verona, we climb the Roman colosseum, jostle with tourists to rub the brass breast of Juliet, and taste-test grappa before riding the train to Ravenna for its dazzling 1500-year-old mosaics.
In the birthplace of the Renaissance, we look into the eyes of Michelangelo's David and Botticelli's Venus, learn tricks for touring the Uffizi art gallery, and climb the dome that kicked off the Renaissance. Then we delve into the Florentine good life: visiting a fragrant 400-year-old perfumery, sipping Campari on a rooftop, chasing the sunset on a Vespa, and sleeping serenely in a converted monastery.
In red-bricked Siena, we tour the town's innovative medieval hospital, lavish cathedral, and a bakery that makes panforte (like fruitcake, only delicious). Exploring the Chianti region, we sip Brunello di Montalcino — with its makers. Spending the night at a farmhouse, we meet the family and its sheep, learn of the Slow Food Movement, and enjoy a homegrown dinner. In Assisi, we follow the footsteps of St. Francis, from his humble chapel to the Giotto-frescoed basilica that holds his tomb.
In these five idyllic port towns, we sample village life: fishing for anchovies at midnight, savoring the best pesto, picking grapes, and cheering cliff divers as we hike the "walkway of love." Each pastel town is a delight, but my favorite is Vernazza - where Giovanni makes pasta and Granelli sells porcini mushrooms at the tiny street market. We side-trip to Carrara's historic quarries where Michelangelo selected his marble, then return to Vernazza to stroll its only street (with the entire village) as the sun sets.
Amsterdam stimulates all the senses, with Rembrandt's and stately architecture from its Golden Age, hidden churches and Holocaust memorials from its troubled times, and Van Gogh's and titillating street life from its modern age. Then, side-tripping into the countryside (and below sea-level), we hike dikes, climb windmills, tour the world's biggest flower market, and see how in Holland, "everything's just so Dutch!"
Newly energized Prague, slinky with sumptuous Art Nouveau facades, is perpetually playing Mozart and Vivaldi. Eastern Europe's top destination has Europe's best beer, biggest castle, liveliest pedestrian bridge, and most evocative Jewish Quarter. From Prague, we side-trip to Kutna Hora, once a silver-mining boomtown, to descend into its medieval mine and ponder its eerie chapel, decorated centuries ago with 40,000 bones.
Dublin's story is of feast and famine - from its 18th-century Golden Age to its 20th-century struggles for independence to its boomtime today. We explore the town's foreboding castle, patriotic jail, and Trinity College with its Book of Kells-a bright light in the Dark Ages. At night we party in Temple Bar, awash with Celtic music and frothy pints of Guinness. We side-trip to the prehistoric necropolis of Newgrange and the medieval monastery at Glendalough, tucked in the scenic Wicklow Mountains.
We find the icons of Ireland strewn along its fascinating south coast: Waterford's much-loved crystal factory; the Kennedy family homestead; the Dunbrody famine ship; and Kinsale's star-shaped fortresses. After learning why locals don't kiss the Blarney Stone, visit elegant Muckross House. Then savor the scenic charms of the Emerald Isle by driving the Ring of Kerry.
Deepest Ireland is best experienced on its west coast in Gaeltachts - where the people speak Gaelic and the rugged villages have changed little over the generations. After exploring the rugged and remote Aran Islands, we settle into Galway, chase a friendly dolphin, and delve into Ireland in the extreme, Dingle Peninsula. Ringing with traditional music from its rustic pubs, dotted with prehistoric "fairy forts," if you'll fall in love with Ireland, chances are it'll be right here.
Berlin is back, resuming its place as a great European capital. We climb the Reichstag's glass dome, sway at a modern-day cabaret, and pop a few chocolates in the now thriving eastern sector. Along with Germany's finest art, complicated Berlin also has hidden remnants of its fascist and communist past. In a city that's rebounding and rebuilding, we crane our necks at Potsdamer Platz, Europe's newest Times Square.
Cruising the Rhine River, we dodge riverboat traffic and the legendary Lorelei. After climbing castles and descending into dungeons, we relax with Rhine wine. We tour Burg Eltz-a lived-in castle where the noble lady still puts out fresh flowers. Then we enter the walled town of Rothenburg for Germany's best wood carving, a vivid dose of medieval punishment, and a tour with the night watchman of the town's lamp-lit ramparts.
In Munich, where locals specialize in good living, we visit boisterous markets and go-for-Baroque palaces. while office workers surf in the Isar River. Heading into the foothills of the Alps, we tour the fairy-tale castles of "Mad" King Ludwig, and climb to the highest point in Germany atop the Zugspitz. Then we cross into the Tirol to conquer a desolate ruined castle.
If Heidi is alive, she's in this sky-high corner of the Swiss Alps, with cowbells ringing on breathtaking ridges. After settling into a traditional village where locals scythe hay by hand, we hike and bike. We blast an alphorn, get sprayed by waterfalls raging deep inside a mountain, and munch muesli for breakfast at 10,000 feet. For a finale, we ride Europe's highest lift up the mighty Jungfrau for hot cocoa, glacier sledding, and oh-wow views.
Madrid is studded with riches from its glory days. We tour the lavish Royal Palace, enjoy art-packed museums, and look deep into Picasso's greatest masterpiece. Experiencing Madrid at its fun-loving best, we're mesmerized by flamenco dancers and munch on pigs' ears. Then, for a dose of Spain's dramatic history, we side-trip to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen.
Castile sparkles with Roman Segovia, walled Avila, student-filled Salamanca, and holy Toledo! We marvel at El Greco, pop some explosive pickles, and ramble Spain's most awe-inspiring medieval walls. Then, just for fun, we drop in on a bachelorette party with local troubadours, slice and savor tasty jamon, stroll with the crowd, and grab a front-row seat to enjoy Europe's most enchanting square.
After exploring the half-timbered charm of Rouen, we reflect on Monet's lily ponds, peek in on local artisans, and set up an easel at Honfleur's harbor. We venture into composer Eric Satie's eccentric world and feast on the finest of Normandy cuisine. After pondering sacrifice and celebrating freedom on the D-Day beaches, we hike with pilgrims to the enchanted island abbey of Mont St. Michel.
No trip to Emerald Isle is complete without a visit to Northern Ireland. We tour bustling Belfast, sneaking a peek at its politically charged neighborhoods. Then we head for the Antrim Coast and go wild in Portrush, Ulster's Coney Island. We taste-test Irish whiskey, scramble over six-sided rock columns, putter through a world-class golf course, and stomp our feet to Irish music in rough-and-tumble Derry.
London is quintessentially English, yet cosmopolitan. We check out the new — the Millennium Bridge and the British Museum's Great Court, and admire the old — well-wrapped mummies and a rare Leonardo. After bantering with Beefeaters at the Tower of London, we do some riverside beach-combing. Strolling the trendy South Bank of the Thames takes us from the Tate Modern to the dizzying London Eye.
Packing the best of Paris into one episode, we scale the Eiffel Tower, then savor classic treats - from steak tartare to crème brulée. We marvel at Monet, Manet and company in the stunning Orsay Gallery. Tracing the sad steps of Marie Antoinette, we relive French history from its bloody revolution to its extravagant belle epoche.
Belgium is a land of contrasts. From the powerhouse headquarters of the European Union and Europe's grandest square in big-city Brussels, we go quaint with delicate lace and back lane bike rides in small-town Bruges. We check into a medieval hospital, savor the exquisite art of Memling, and climb a bell tower to get up close and fortissimo at a carillon concert. Then passionate chefs - creators of French fries and Europe's finest chocolate - give us a taste of their art.
Provence, known for its soft light and fierce wind, is as loved by Americans as it is by the sun. We climb Roman ruins in Nimes, explore a papal palace in Avignon, and savor vivid views immortalized by van Gogh in Arles. Crossing acres of lavender and wispy vineyards, we explore the Côtes du Rhone and more wonders of the South of France.
A longtime favorite escape of Europe's elite, the Riviera coastline still sparkles with yachts. In fairytale Monaco we listen to the graceful reshuffling of personal fortunes at the casino. Then we follow in the footsteps of 19th century aristocrats along Nice's promenade des Anglais, and visit the picturesque, artist hangouts of Chagall, Matisse and Picasso.
Poland is ready to be rediscovered as the old "east" transforms itself into the new heart of Europe. Krakow, with its bubbly Baroque and cobbled charm, is emerging as the exciting "next Prague. " Nearby, a visit to Auschwitz teaches us a timeless, soul-searching lesson. Systematically destroyed during World War II, Warsaw is a lively, thriving capital once again.
Budapest, once Vienna's partner in ruling the Austro-Hungarian empire, feels like the capital of Eastern Europe. It's actually two cities — busy Pest and noble Buda — straddling the Danube and laced together by mighty bridges. Capitalism has taken hold with gusto as shopping boulevards thrive and stone Lenins and cast iron Stalins litter a theme park at the edge of town. Today Roma (Gypsy) orchestras feature smoking violins, venerable mineral baths are the rage, and 19th century coffeehouses enjoy a renaissance.
Experiencing the best of Portugal, we start in Lisbon, a ramshackle mix of glorious old and fun-loving new. Salty sailors' quarters and wistful Fado singers mix with ornate architecture to recall the glory days when Vasco da Gama and Magellan made Portugal a world power. Then we head for the south coast of your travel dreams-the Algarve. We explore the Land's End of Europe-windy and historic Cape Sagres before savoring pristine beaches and arm-wrestling octopi in the sleepy fishing village of Salema.
From a stroll along the South Bank of the Thames to bike riding through Belgium, Rick Steves shares his extensive knowledge of three quintessentially European cities: London, Brussels, and Paris.
Sevilla, Spain, is the flamboyant city of Carmen and Don Juan. It's where bullfighting is still politically correct and where little girls dream of growing up to become flamenco dancers. Sevilla has soul-and we feel it in its lacy Moorish palace, massive cathedral, lavish royal tombs, labyrinthine Jewish quarter, and its people-filled streets. After munching tasty tapas, we head south for Andalusia's ultimate whitewashed hilltown, Arcos de la Frontera.
Rick Steves shares his extensive knowledge of the Iberian Peninsula.
On the loose in France's countryside, we drive up Alsace's Route du Vin for miles of vineyards, half-timbered villages, and feudal fortresses. We head to Verdun to walk the trenches of World War I before visiting Reims Cathedral to marvel at Gothic splendor and Chagall's stained glass. Our final stop is Epernay, the bubbly birthplace of champagne.
Medieval York and Georgian Bath — easy side trips from London — pack an exciting pair of sightseeing punches. We'll explore Roman hot springs, cruise quiet canals, marvel at England's finest Gothic church, and get a surprising dose of Viking history as we enjoy England's easy urban delights.
From towering Mount Snowdon and evocative medieval castles to grand Victorian promenades, North Wales is a poem written in landscape. We'll climb a mountain aboard a steam train, learn some Welsh, follow a miner deep into a slate mine, herd sheep with a very clever dog, and work in a pop pilgrimage to the Beatles' Liverpool.
Edinburgh is the historical and cultural heart of Scotland. We'll explore the city's castle, peek at the new parliament, dabble in the local literature, sip a little Scotch, get wrapped up in a kilt, and then stow away on Her Majesty's yacht Britannia.
Naples is Italy in the extreme. We'll prowl backstreet fish markets, dodge fast-moving Vespas, and dine on pizza where it was invented. We'll climb to the top of nearby Mount Vesuvius, then wander through the amazing ruins of Pompeii, the Roman town it destroyed.
Just south of Naples, we'll experience the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, the trendy resort of Positano, the limoncello charms of Sorrento, the ancient Greek temples at Paestum, and the iridescent Blue Grotto hidden beneath the enchanting Isle of Capri.
No trip to Italy is complete without Milan and Lake Como. In Milan we'll take a peek at Italy's highest fashion, fanciest delis, grandest cemetery, and greatest opera house...not to mention Leonardo's Last Supper. Then we'll cruise along Lake Como, settling down in the lakeside village of Varenna...classic honeymoon country, where Italy meets the Alps.
The small towns and rural charms of Tuscany give us a healthy dose of the "sweet life" as we hunt for truffles in an oak forest, nibble our way through an artichoke festival, share a farmhouse feast, and ride a classic convertible through the cypress groves of Mona Lisa's backyard.
Connoisseurs of Italy find that its quintessential charms survive in its classic hill towns. From San Gimignano's medieval towers, to Cortona's charming lanes, to Orvieto's papal intrigue, to Civita di Bagnoregio's cliff-hanging vistas...all sit on lofty stone perches that now protect them only from the modern world.
In Europe's classiest capital, we'll tiptoe through the palace of Maria Theresa and be dazzled by the Hapsburg crown jewels. Then we'll picnic on the Danube, nibble strudel in an Old World café, blush at slinky Art Nouveau, and waltz to the three-four beat of Johann Strauss.
The birthplace of Mozart — and everyone's Sound of Music fantasies — Salzburg is a Baroque jewel of a town. It's also the springboard for lots of alpine fun — from thrilling summer bobsledding, to idyllic boat rides in the Salzkammergut lake district, to exploring the delightful romantic town of Hallstatt.
After 16 years and seventy travel shows, Rick and his crew take you behind the scenes to show you just how they produce this series. Joining the crew as they scamper through Milan and around Lake Como, you’ll follow the creative process as the challenges and surprises (and the need for a good sense of humor) that come with travel are shaped into a finished show.
Burgundy is a calm and cultivated corner of France, where fine living is intimately tied to nature and traditions run strong. We'll slow down to enjoy the region's edible, drinkable, scenic, and floatable delights. We'll travel on a canal barge, visit a medieval hospice and a modern monastery, build a barrel, appreciate fine Burgundy wine, slurp escargot, and eat very, very well. If you're looking for quintessential French culture, you'll find it in Burgundy.
The Dordogne River Valley — with its dramatic castles, evocative cave paintings, and prized cuisine — is an unforgettable blend of man-made and natural beauty. We'll take an idyllic canoe ride, and then visit a goose farm and savor the foie gras. We'll also wander through a lamp-lit castle, enjoy a country market, and visit the Sistine Chapel of the prehistoric world. Then we head south to Albi, home of Toulouse Lautrec, and the imposing fortress city of Carcassonne.
The creative spirit of Spain's Catalunya — the land of Picasso, Gaudi, and Salvador Dali — is on a roll. We'll get caught up in the festivity of Barcelona, enjoying the vibrant street scenes, tasty tapas, and pedestrian-friendly Gothic Quarter. Then we'll take a scenic side trip to mountaintop Montserrat, and finish with an artist's pilgrimage along the Costa Brava to Salvador Dali country. In seaside Cadaques, we'll visit Dali's home, and in nearby Figures, we'll experience his playfully surreal mausoleum/museum.
Don't blink as we blitz through Europe's tiniest countries: Vatican City, the world's smallest country, comes with the planet's biggest church. The fairytale princedom of Monaco lures visitors with its fancy casino and glamorous views. Italy's last independent hill town of San Marino still looks formidable, as does the castle-guarded principality of Liechtenstein. And tiny Andorra entertains shoppers and hikers alike, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Pyrenees.
In this episode, we'll focus on an often-overlooked side of Switzerland — Luzern, Bern, Zurich, and Lausanne. Enjoying the country's urban charms, we'll get some exercise, from ringing a very big bell to doing a little river rafting — without the raft. We'll also enjoy a variety of eye-opening art, from Chagall and Klee to pieces created by inmates of an asylum. Then we'll ponder a few Swiss innovations, from their open-minded drug policies to their hush-hush underground arsenals. And it's all before a backdrop of Switzerland's stunning natural beauty.
For centuries, Vienna was the crown jewel of the rich and powerful Habsburg Empire. A century after that empire's fall, the Viennese appreciate their imperial legacy as a cultural wellspring — and an excuse to live in style. We'll take in the city's wealth of elegant gardens, great art and fine music. Then we'll explore the city's surroundings, with a trip along the romantic Danube River and a hike through the breathtakingly Baroque Melk Abbey.
Few travelers venture beyond Prague to experience the Czech Republic's many cultural riches and offbeat delights. We'll get you started with a whirlwind of Art Nouveau, local pub music, stinky cheese-tasting, river-rafting, and peat-bathing in places like Olomouc, Moravsky Krumlov, Trebon, and Konopiste. We'll also tour a remarkable memorial to the Holocaust in Terezen, and the charming castle town of Cesky Krumlov.
The thriving capital of Greece sprawls out from the foot of its magnificent Acropolis. We'll tour the must-sees of ancient Athens: the Parthenon, Agora, and amazing National Archaeological Museum. We'll take the fast-paced pulse of the modern city, but waste no time getting to my favorite side-trip destinations: the ruins of the mystical oracle at Delphi and a fast boat to the romantic, traffic-free Isle of Hydra.
Island getaways are fun, but the real heart of Greece is found in the Peloponnese Peninsula. After enjoying the charming old port town of Nafplio, we'll time-trip through the ruins of Olympia, take center stage at the remarkably preserved theater at Epidauros, and explore the ancient capital of Mycenae. Then we'll wander off the beaten path along the rustic, rough-and-tumble Mani Peninsula, relax in the idyllic beach town of Kardymli, and marvel at Greece's Rock of Gibraltar: the fortress town of Monemvasia.
Denmark's capital is the most fun-loving in Scandinavia. As we get to know Copenhagen, we'll discover reminders of its Viking history and see reflections today of its proudly independent ways. We'll stroll down Europe's first great pedestrian boulevard, ogle crown jewels in the palace treasury, and take a bike ride through an inspirational hippie squatter community, finishing at Copenhagen's full-time carnival, Tivoli Gardens.
Using Copenhagen as a springboard, we'll visit the very best of Denmark. Aarhus welcomes us with its ruddy affluence, charming open-air museum, and eerily well-preserved, ancient bog man. Roskilde impresses visitors with its royal burial church and the best Viking ship museum anywhere. And the delightfully quaint Isle of Aerø comes with half-timbered cottages, ships in bottles, and cobbled alleyways that remind us of the world of Hans Christian Andersen.
Where Europe comes face to face with Asia, we'll explore the fascinating, multilayered city of Istanbul. We'll lose our way in the Grand Bazaar and munch our way through the famously fragrant Spice Market. We'll follow the fall of the ancient capital of Byzantium and the rise of Islam at the city's ancient wall, and wander among the treasures of the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. To escape the city bustle, we'll cruise the churning waters of the Bosphorus, make friends over backgammon, and try a traditional Turkish bath.
As he's done with previous programs on Israel, Egypt, and Eastern Turkey, Rick takes us beyond Europe to a place that's rich with history...and mystery. Visiting Tehran, Shiraz, Persepolis, and a small village, we'll get a rare present-day look at of some of civilization's most important historical sites, and a sense of Iran's 21st-century culture. From architecture and art to faith and everyday living, "Iran, Yesterday and Today" offers a rare, candid, and humanizing look at a great if perplexing nation.
As he's done with previous programs on Israel, Egypt, and Eastern Turkey, Rick takes us beyond Europe to a place that's rich with history...and mystery. In this first of two half-hour shows on Iran, Rick dodges traffic in Tehran, enjoys the tranquility of a nearby village, and encounters both anti-American propaganda and a warm welcome from everyday Iranians.
Iran's rich history goes back millennia, to the days when Persepolis was home to the "king of kings." In this episode, we explore three historic capitals of Iran: Persepolis, with its splendid monuments; Shiraz, with the tombs of Iran's most beloved poets; and Isfahan, with its extraordinary mosques and endearing people.
Exploring Andalucía, we experience the quintessence of Spanish culture. Starting up high, in Spain's whitewashed hill towns, we roll down to the coast to enjoy the windsurfing mecca of Tarifa. Then we catch a bit of Britain on the Rock of Gibraltar, and sail to Africa for a Moroccan finale in Tangier.
Sampling the very best of Croatia, we explore the fabled Dalmatian Coast, take a hike through Plitvice Lakes National Park, zip into Zagreb, and end with the Istrian Peninsula and its enchanting port town of Rovinj.
Starting in the medieval fortress city of Dubrovnik, we venture to less-touristed corners of the former Yugoslavia. in Bosnia, we visit once war-torn Mostar. In Montenegro, we sail the Bat of Kotor and explore the mountainous interior.
From Slovenia's prosperous capital of Ljubljana, we enjoy the mountain resort of Lake Bled, venture into the Julian Alps for natural thrills and World War I history, go spelunking in an gigantic cave, ans swin in a charming Adriatic port.
Andalucia's Moorish heritage sparkles in the historic capitals of Granada and Cordoba. Tasting the smooth sherry and marveling at prancing stallions, we find the passion in Andalucian culture, the top it off with some fun on the costa del Sol.
Starting up high, in Spain's whitewashed Andalucian hill towns, we roll down to the coast to enjoy windsurfing in Tarifa. Then we catch a bit of Britain on the Rock of Gibraltar, and sail to Africa for a Moroccan finale in Tangier.
From once-fearsome Viking ships to a sleek new Opera House, and from tales of World War II heroism to Vigeland's statues and Monch's scream, we see how Norway's proud spirit permeates Oslo. Local friends take us sailing too.
For Scandinavia's most thrilling sightseeing, we sail under towering fjord cliffs and hike on icy glaciers. We'll also find traditions surviving in the remote farm hamlets, and enjoy the salty hospitality of Norway's historic capital Bergen.
Sweden's capital glitters with souvenirs from the time when it ruled as a superpower. From pondering gilded royal staterooms to sampling gourmet reindeer and sipping vodka in an ice bar, we experience Stockholm's cultural highlights.
We roam through Helsinki, Finland's Neoclassical old town, with its flair for design and steamy saunas. Then it's just a two hour boat ride to the medieval charms, independent pride and post-Soviet prosperity of Tallinn, Estonia.
We follow the trail pilgrims have trod for centuries, from the French Pyrenees to Spain's Santiago de Campostela. Along the way we stop off in Pamplona to run with the bulls, and dive into the unique culture of Galicia.
The homeland of the proud and resilient Basque people is split between France and Spain. From our San Sebastián home base, we tour the ancient Basque capital of Guernica, the dazzling Guggenheim Bilbao, and then cross into France for more Basque Country charms. From yummy tapa bars to lightning-fast jai alai games, we'll experience Basque culture at its most vivid.
Part one of three on the Eternal City, this episode resurrects the rubble and brings back to life the capital of the ancient world. Focusing on the grandeur of classical Rome, we'll marvel at the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the empire's exquisite art. Then we'll go offbeat by bicycle to see the Appian Way and marvels of Roman engineering.
This second of three shows on Rome reveals a city busy with life and bursting with Baroque. We'll ramble through the venerable heart of Rome, admire breathtaking Bernini statues, ponder sunbeams inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, and mix and mingle with the Romans during an early-evening stroll. Following an exquisite Roman dinner, we'll join locals after dark, lacing together the Eternal City's most romantic nightspots.
In this third of three shows on the Eternal City, we'll explore this grand metropolis — so rich in art and culture — on a more intimate scale, delving into its back lanes and unheralded corners. Venturing through the crusty Trastevere district, visiting the historic Jewish Ghetto, and enjoying art treasures in a string of rarely visited churches, we uncover charms of hidden Rome that compete with its marquee sights.
Fifteenth-century Florence was the home of the Renaissance and the birthplace of our modern world. In this first of two episodes, we'll gaze into the self-assured eyes of Michelangelo's David, enjoy Botticelli's Birth of Venus, delve into the 3-D wonders of Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, appreciate Fra Angelico's serene beauty, and climb the dome that kicked off the Renaissance. Then we'll cross the Arno to where Florentine artisans live, work, and eat...very well.
In this second of a two episodes on Florence, we'll enjoy more of the exquisite artistic treasures of the city that propelled Europe out of the Middle Ages. Then we'll side-trip to a couple of rival cities and cultural capitals in their own right, Pisa and Lucca, where we'll marvel at a tipsy tower, circle a city on its ramparts, and enjoy some Puccini in his hometown.
In Paris, amidst all of its grandeur, the little joys of life are still embraced. In this first of two episodes on Paris, we'll cruise the Seine River, visit Napoleon's tomb, and take in the Louvre. Then we'll feel the pulse of Paris — shopping in village-like neighborhoods, attending church in a grand pipe organ loft, and celebrating the mother of all revolutions with a big, patriotic Bastille Day bang.
In this second of two episodes on Europe's "City of Light," we'll ride a unicorn into the Middle Ages at the Cluny Museum, take a midnight Paris joyride in a classic car, get an extremely close-up look at heavenly stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle, go on a tombstone pilgrimage at Père Lachaise Cemetery, and savor the Parisian café scene. Few cites are so confident in their expertise in good living — and as travelers, we get to share in that uniquely Parisian "joie de vivre."
In many-faceted London, we'll ponder royal tombs in Westminster Abbey, discover treasures in the British Library, enjoy the vibrant evening scene in Soho, uncover Churchill's secret WWII headquarters, join the 9-to-5 crowd in the new London, shop where the queen shops, and straddle the Prime Meridian in Greenwich.
Hiking through the Cumbrian Lake District — England's green and pristine mountain playground — we'll admire idyllic lakes, discover misty waterfalls, tour a slate mine, and conquer stony summits. And we'll meet the locals — and their beloved dogs and sheep — everywhere. Then we play a little cricket, hike Hadrian's Wall, and get dazzled by Durham's Norman cathedral.
After sorting through the monuments of Venice's powerful past, we'll trace its decline from Europe's most powerful city to its most hedonistic one. We'll cruise the Grand Canal, luxuriate in a venerable café, and savor fresh fish canal-side with Venetian friends. Becoming as anonymous as possible in this city of masks, we'll be dazzled by masterpieces of the Venetian Renaissance and get intimate with the city of Casanova...on a gondola in the moonlight.
Venice, more than any other European city, has an endlessly seductive charm. For centuries, it was nicknamed La Serenissima, "The Most Serenely Beautiful One" — and for good reason. Along with sampling the sumptuous art treasures of Venice and exploring its back-street wonders, we'll cruise its lagoon, stopping in fiery Murano for glass, pastel Burano for lace, and murky Torcello for a sense of where Venice was born.
In this first of three shows covering travel skills, we'll visit the Netherlands and Germany to learn about transportation by train and car within Europe, changing money, and settling in upon arrival. How well you're able to enjoy the delights of Europe depends upon how well you plan and how skillfully you travel.
In this second of three shows focusing on travel skills, we'll visit Venice, Siena, and the Cinque Terre in Italy to learn about trip planning, packing, safety, and — perhaps the most rewarding skill of all — connecting with the locals. Going beyond the sights, Rick shares some practical tips to help make European travel fun and hassle-free.
In this third of three shows focusing on travel skills, we'll visit the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London while covering tips for finding the best accommodations, getting around in big cities, and enjoying Europe's cuisine. This information is key to making the most of your travel time and, if you're on a budget, can help you cut the cost of your travels in half.
From the port of Kusadasi, we wander the streets of ancient Ephesus, soak in a natural spa at Pamukkale, learn why the dervishes whirl at Konya, munch lunch in a Turkish pizzeria, and cruise the Mediterranean on a traditional Turkish gulet from Antalya. Turkey is a mighty nation whose ancient heritage, Muslim faith, and western ways are coming together...and we'll see how.
We marvel at the fascinating landscape of Cappadocia from high above in a balloon...and from deep below, prowling an underground city where Christians once hid out. We'll join a circumcision party, explore troglodyte ghost towns, shop for sheep at the market, and chat with an imam. Then we enjoy the modern capital, Ankara, and pay our respects to the father of modern Turkey, Atatürk.
Along the Loire River Valley, the beautiful French countryside is studded with evocative châteaux. Home-basing in Amboise, we visit four unique castles: elegant Chenonceau, massive Chambord, stately Cheverny, and fragrant Villandry. Along the way, we tour Leonardo's home, feed hunting dogs, enjoy the local cuisine, and savor a princely garden.
Side-tripping from Paris into the Ile-de-France, we indulge in the world of royal and aristocratic extravagance in the pre-Revolutionary playground of France's elite. We explore Versailles, Europe's palace of palaces; exquisite Vaux le Vicomte; and extravagant Fontainebleau, home to centuries of French rulers. We'll also marvel at the glass and statuary of Chartres cathedral and dine like kings.
We start in Jerusalem, alive with religious tradition and passion — Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. We then visit cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, with its in-love-with-life beaches; ponder the sad fortress of Masada; and join pilgrims at biblical sights around the Sea of Galilee. We'll also pay our respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, drop into an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and savor the local cuisine.
Palestine is the Muslim and Arab half of the Holy Land. After visiting Jerusalem, we harvest olives near Ramallah, follow pilgrims to the place of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, approach Abraham's tomb — as both Jews and Muslims do — in Hebron, drop in on friends for dinner, and bob in the Dead Sea. We'll also learn about walls, Israeli settlements, and the challenges facing this region.
Exploring Italy's most remote and romantic stretch of Riviera, we visit five tiny port towns: dramatic Vernazza, surrounded by vineyards; reclusive Corniglia, high on its bluff; pastel Manarola; hardscrabble Riomaggiore; and the pint-sized resort of Monterosso. Fishing for anchovies, sipping wine out of rustic barrels, and savoring twinkling Mediterranean vistas, we enjoy the ultimate Riviera adventure.
In the shadow of Venice, we visit three great cities. Padua is famed for its venerable university, precious Giotto frescoes, and pilgrim-packed Basilica. Verona is a hit with aficionados of Roman ruins and Romeo and Juliet fans. And Ravenna, with its shimmering mosaics, was once the western bastion of the Byzantine Empire. We enliven each stop with a tasty dose of Italian dolce vita.
Europe's best-preserved 17th-century city, Amsterdam is quaint and jarring, traditional and modern. Filled with history and happy-go-lucky, it's a delight to explore. Uniquely entertaining Amsterdam shows us Rembrandts and Van Goghs, more bikes than cars, flirting prostitutes, and pot-filled coffeeshops — all under tall, skinny facades leaning out below quaint church towers.
By train, bike, and boat, we visit the top Dutch sights outside of Amsterdam: from Haarlem to Rotterdam, and from Delft to the Zuiderzee. Along the way, we enjoy charming towns with fragrant cheese markets, soggy polderland, mighty dikes, and windmills both new and old. Rolling through the Netherlands and connecting with its people, you can't help but think, "Everything's so... Dutch!"
The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is the best-preserved Baroque city in Central Europe. We experience its massive castle, beloved statue-lined bridge, evocative Jewish Quarter, and thrilling 20th-century history while enjoying its infectious love of music and perhaps the best beer in Europe. With a beautifully preserved Old Town, Prague deserves its nickname: the Golden City of a Hundred Spires.
A tumultuous 20th century left Berlin filled with powerful sights — from evocative memorials, to surviving bits of its communist and fascist days, to its glass-domed Reichstag. We enjoy its now-trendy east side, its people-friendly riverfront, and its vibrant social scene. Reunited Berlin — perhaps the fastest changing and most happening city in Europe — is entertaining more visitors than ever.
Join host Rick Steves as he explores Hamburg, the largest port in Germany both historically and today. Then he travels south through central Germany, exploring the history and culture of the region that created Martin Luther and changed the world.
Saxony, part of the former East Germany, remains a secret to most travelers. We'll visit the two great cities of the region: the capital city of Dresden, with the opulent palaces and art treasures of the Wettin dynasty, and Leipzig, with its Bach heritage, a massive monument to the day Europe beat Napoleon, and museums remembering its communist heritage.
Skyscraper-studded Frankfurt — with so much commerce it's nicknamed "Bankfurt" — has a delightful-to-explore old center. We'll also visit Nürnberg, a capital for both the First Reich (the Holy Roman Empire) and the Third. From its towering castle and playful fountains to its Nazi Documentation Center and maze of underground bomb shelters, Nürnberg is a fascinating study in contrasts.
Bulgaria is a fascinating, rapidly changing corner of Europe, where shiny BMWs compete for lane space with horse-drawn carts. This nation’s European dream is still taking shape from its roots in a custom-blend of Ottoman, Orthodox, and Soviet soil. Explore Bulgaria’s modern capital of Sofia, and its trendy second city of Plovdiv, then stroll through rustic mountain villages with the tang of wood smoke in the air. Relax in valleys of vineyards and sleek seaside resorts. Be pleasantly surprised by the rich local cuisine — an offbeat blend of Slavic and Mediterranean — and taste wines that are the toast of the Balkans. Throughout, marvel at Bulgaria’s ancient Tracian tombs, impressive Roman ruins, mystical medieval monasteries, and traditional mosques — nowhere in Europe will you see such colorful, perfectly preserved treasures of iconic religious art.
We'll tour Romania's vibrant capital, Bucharest, with its "Little Paris of the East" architecture and lingering reminders of a brutal communist dictator. Then we'll head into Transylvania, where we'll visit fortified churches, cobbled merchant towns like Sighișoara, and castles made famous by an imported German king and the real-life Dracula. Finally we'll explore Maramureș, where everyday life still feels like an open-air folk museum.
In the Italian countryside, we'll connect with rustic, traditional culture: enjoying an agriturismo (farmhouse inn), seeing how prosciutto and pecorino cheese are made, and hiking to the bottom of deep and ancient wine cellars. We'll end in Assisi — the hometown of St. Francis — which retains its spiritual aura to this day. Like pilgrims, we'll explore its stony center before trekking to its awe-inspiring basilica, built on the tomb of the beloved saint.
Siena, once a proud and independent city-state, retains its confidence and unique traditions. We'll enjoy a front-row seat at its wild horse race — the venerable Palio — and marvel at cultural treasures from the days when it rivaled Florence for leadership of Tuscany. Then we'll head into wine country for a little dolce vita under the Tuscan sun.
The quintessence of charming England is the "West Country": quaint Cotswold villages with their fine churches, manor homes, and gastropubs; Wells, England's smallest cathedral town; and the New Age capital of Glastonbury, with its legends of the Holy Grail and King Arthur. We'll finish by pondering the dramatic prehistoric stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury.
Arcing along the southeast coast of England, we'll travel from Canterbury (with its famous cathedral) to Dover (stoutly fortified from Roman times to the Battle of Britain). Then we'll hike the trails that top the towering chalk cliffs of the South Downs, wander into the beachy resort of Brighton (England's Coney Island), and push on to Portsmouth, whose naval heritage has left it with the best collection of historic sailing ships anywhere.
The far southwest of England is a world unto itself, with a persistent Cornish culture. We'll explore a world of flowers springing from towering hedges, a tin-mining heritage going back to biblical times, salty pirates' towns and fishing villages, and the Land's End of England. Then, side-tripping deep into the vast and mysterious Dartmoor National Park, we'll hike to forgotten stone circles and chase wild ponies.
At Oxford and Cambridge, we'll see where kings and prime ministers studied. Then we'll wander through Blenheim Palace and visit the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge Gorge.
Lisbon, built with the riches of Portugal's New World discoveries, has a rustic charm. We'll remember great navigators, eat lots of cod, enjoy pastries hot out of the oven, stroll the city's back lanes and its reinvigorated waterfront, marvel at an exquisite church built with spice taxes, and enjoy some soulful fado music. Then we'll side-trip to Sintra to explore the fanciful castles of Portuguese royalty and climb hilltop ramparts with grand views.
Let's dance on the beach at Nazar, marvel Batalha's abbey, revel with students in Coimbra, savor port wine, and get to know Portugal's fascinating second city of Porto.
Setting sail on the Mediterranean, we'll explore the ins and outs and pros and cons of cruising. We'll learn how to get the most out of a cruise and exercise our 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, we'll consider the downsides, including the inevitable congestion and commercialism that comes with mass tourism.
We'll island-hop through the Aegean, sampling three classic Greek getaways — Santorini, Mykonos, and Rhodes — and basking in their dramatic beauty. We'll tour ancient ruins, trace the vestiges of the Crusaders, sample rustic cuisine, savor classic Greek-island views, and compare beaches — from the ultimate party beach to idyllic quiet hideaways. And we'll see how a cruise ship can be an efficient way to link up great island stopovers.
In this first of two episodes on Europe's greatest festivals, we'll cheer with the masses at Siena's crazy Palio horse race, toss a caber at a Scottish Highland Games, don a mask for Carnevale in Venice, and celebrate Easter in Greece. Dropping in on some of the Continent's top parties, we discover 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.
In this second of two episodes on Europe's greatest festivals, we'll dance with Spaniards at Sevilla's April Fair, celebrate Bastille Day in Paris, run with the bulls at Pamplona, and hoist a frothy stein at Munich's Oktoberfest. And we'll celebrate a traditional family Christmas, browsing the holiday market in Nürnberg and sledding down alpine slopes by torchlight in Switzerland. With the entire Continent as our playground, fun is our mission.
This tour of Sicilian highlights starts in Palermo, where we'll sing with the merchants in the markets, join locals in their passeggiata, drop in on a contessa, and marvel at the Romanesque cathedral of Monreale. Then we'll sip wine on the slopes of Mount Etna, munch cannoli, ponder Greek temples at Agrigento, admire 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. We'll dine on fresh seafood at the fisherman's harbor in Cefalù, ponder ancient Greek greatness in Siracusa, commune with monks — alive and departed — in a Capuchin crypt, sleep in an olive orchard at an agriturismo, and eat our 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. We visit the "Weeping Glen" of Glencoe, bustling Inverness, and the battlefield at Culloden. Then we'll make a pilgrimage to the spiritual capital of a major clan, and go prehistoric at Stone Age burial grounds and Iron Age island forts. Venturing along the Caledonian Canal and watching for Nessie at Loch Ness, we work up an appetite for modern Scottish cuisine and enjoy traditional folk music.
We'll begin on the tranquil Isle of Iona, where Christianity first reached the shores of Scotland. Then we'll visit another of the Inner Hebrides, road-tripping across the Isle of Skye, where we'll explore Iron Age forts, peat fields, a venerable distillery, thatched crofter huts, and the dramatic Trotternish Peninsula. Finally, we'll sail 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, 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, we'll tap into Scottish passions as we tour historic Stirling Castle and nearby battlefields, sample a dram at the land's most beloved distilleries on the Speyside Whisky Trail, watch a sheepdog demonstration, and struggle to lift the Manhood Stone at a Highland Games.