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Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  5,235 ratings  ·  189 reviews
You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling through Europe, including how to:

- Plan your itinerary and maximize your time
- Pack light-and right
- Find good-value hotels and restaurants
- Travel smoothly by train, bus, car, and plane
- Avoid crowds and tourist scams
- Hurdle the language barrier
- Understand cultural differences and conne
Paperback, 37th, 808 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Avalon Travel (first published January 1982)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  5,235 ratings  ·  189 reviews

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Jun 03, 2016 added it
Can't afford to travel, so I enjoyed reading this in time for summer... and watching others' vacation pics on my FB feed. I find that Steves' books are excellently satisfying for this armchair tourist, and this one was no exception. ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have to say this is by far the best book I have read when it comes to trip planning. With the decline of the American dollar, a trip to Europe can seem a little intimidating, especially to young travelers or people on a tight budget. Rick Steves provides great tips and insights on how to find affordable accomodations and transportation in this guide, as well as cheap ways to enjoy sightseeing in Europe. After reading this book, Europe seems a lot more accessible to me, even in these rough eco ...more
Leslie Rock
I chose this book for my informational text in my reading writing odyssey because this is one of my favorite travel books! Rick Steve uses an informal and friendly approach with his readers to invite them in and show them what will make their trip the best experience they can have. This book was recommended to me when I was planning my trip to Europe and I remember thinking how clever it was to write a travel book with a personality. People who read these books are adventure seekers and they nee ...more
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's a bit unfair of me to be rating this edition when it's not the one I read and counted on while traveling abroad, yet Steves was so helpful for me who is phobic about being an Ugly American that I had to add him to my list. Read him before you go. ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: junk
I admit it: I have picked up the book simply for the title. The back door innuendo seemed interesting. This seems to be something different from the regular Hotel and Restaurant Index kind of book. That is a plus. That I started reading it and it became boring. Sure, it's nice to know that there are alternatives to the expensive accommodation in Europe. But than in turns into another "how alternative I can be" with tips like:

> I go for safe, central, friendly, local-style hotels, shunning swimm
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
I haven't been to Europe in over 10 years, and this was a really helpful guide to the practical things one needs to know: advice on money, accomodations, travel within Europe and trip planning, as well as some good ideas on where to go.

I wish I had read this before I had booked a flight and hotels; there is a lot of information here on how to save money on accomodations and flights. I'm glad I read the book before I packed - I've scaled down my luggage for a two week trip to a single carryon ba
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great reference with anything you need to know!
Fred Landis
Jun 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
Rick Steves is a French caricature of Americans.He has no style,no class,never had an idea in his life,after a career visting Europe he understands less about the subject that I did when I was ten,but he occupies space.
Oscar Wild's description of a cynic is a person who knows the price of everything but the value of none.By this description Rick Steves is a cynic.He tells people how to save money on a pointless trip because he has not give a clue why they should go.
The default position during PB
Terri Lynn
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, nonfiction
This is a book mostly telling you in a rather pompous way at times how you should act while traveling in Europe. He goes into detail about why staying in a cheap dump where you may be sleeping on an air mattress on the floor after climbing 6 flights of stairs and having no air conditioning no matter how hot it is is so superior (to him) than sleeping in luxury and comfort. He even takes up for those loud German schoolkids who regularly make people miserable in hostels and other cheap dumps (sayi ...more
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Traveling the Rick Steves way is not for everyone. If you enjoy (and insist upon) room service, concierges, and other amenities of American-style hotels, you won't like traveling this way.

This is about traveling like a European... staying in small locally-owned and run inns, guesthouses, and even private homes. It is much less expensive and much more authentic than staying at the Best Western.

This book introduces Rick Steves style of traveling like a temporary European. He also has separate guid
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great travel resource, especially if you're a European travel novice. Rick covers all the topics you have questions about and topics you didn't know you had questions about. After reading Europe Through the Back Door we felt prepared to travel smart. Rick's advice really did make our trip go smoother. Thanks to Rick Steves for providing such a thorough, practical, up-to-date guide. ...more
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read the 2010 version. For anyone going to Europe for the first time or looking to book a trip on their own but may have taken smaller trips with one home base city or guided tours in the past, this book provides a good overview and a lot of background information. I thought it was a helpful read before going more in depth with my planning.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Every year, I read the latest update of Europe Through the Back Door. Although a well seasoned traveler, I always find some new tidbit to take with me on travels.

This is an excellent book for basic European travel skills for the novice.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent travel tips and fairly in-depth, from what to pack, how to get from place to place, what to look for in a place to eat, aspects where you can economize if you're on a tight budget, and tips on specific countries. Definitely take a look before traveling to Europe. ...more
Carolyn Page
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent volume of travel advice and recommendations, vividly illustrated by Rick Steve's anecdotes and examples. Highly recommend, my favorite travel book I've read so far. Updated and current, striking the right balance in between the importance of both efficiency and finding local experiences. ...more
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm counting this as a book read, even though I skimmed some chunks of it and hence wouldn't usually count it as read. I'm moving to Germany soon and have been trying to read some guidebooks on Europe and/or Germany. This one caught my eye because it was the only 2017 edition of a Europe guidebook in my library's very small Europe travel section.

I've heard good things about Rick Steves recently; this is my first book of his (I've already checked out his Germany guidebook and plan to read that ne
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door teaches a person how to be a traveler rather than a tourist. I read an earlier version of this guide in 2008 and was glad I took the time to read a more recent version before my upcoming trip to Europe. Steves gives extensive advice on how to use today's technology to your benefit in Europe, including a plethora of helpful internet resources. I have already downloaded several of the free audio walking tours from his website for my trip. The book discusse ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book offers little new or earth-shattering information to those who have visited Europe, it's an EXCELLENT resource for anyone planning their first European trip. The first half of the book focuses on logistics, and covers literally everything from how to get to Europe and how much to budget, to what to do should an emergency arise during the trip. The second half of the book breaks down each of the countries, and focuses on top places to see, suggested time to spend at each place, to ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There is some insightful advice in this book, such as use the toilet on the train rather than at the station (you'll probably have to pay at the station), but there is also some bunk advice, such as second class train cars are preferable (the logic being they are more lively) and to force yourself to be an extrovert. I would have liked more specific advice about local buses and trains (where you you buy the ticket-- kiosk or driver?), areas to avoid (specific streets/districts), and where to buy ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Pro - Steves demystifies Europe for the reader, dispensing TONS of practical advice for the first time European traveler. He tries to mix in the historical Europe with the continent as it is today, and does a good job with it. Although he has some well known favourite places (Rothenburg, Germany, Bruges, the Oslo-Bergen train ride etc.) he covers a good portion of Europe and offers his own opinions on various places.

Con - Sadly, Steves has recently felt the need to inject his liberal political o
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Love, love, love this book. Rick Steves covers a lot of travel aspects for a conscientious traveler in this entertaining textbook of travel tips. Covering packing tips, flights, hotels, money tips and solo travel, he is thorough, brutally honest and funny. It is a book for those who are patient enough to be educated before traveling, and it's not for you if you're looking for a quick fix "what to do in Europe" book. There is a section on major cities at the end (excerpts from his guide books) fr ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read this book in preparation to traveling to Europe. It was a good "prep" book that helped us plan for 2 weeks of travel in Europe. The MOST helpful advice was probably about packing. Used his advice to pack what we really needed and not what we may need. I read the electronic version which had links to other areas of the book. Those were useful to get to specific information, but in the electronic world, it was hard to get back to your original location in the book. Learned to use an electroni ...more
Cheryl Campbell
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While I was a frequent traveler 10-30 years ago, things have changed. I gathered a lot of good notes from this book. Things as varied as how to download offline city maps, using an inexpensive SIM chip, buying quick-dry cloth washcloths for countries that don't usually have them, suggestions to buy tickets to save time standing in LONG lines (even if it costs more), loading a VPN, using Google Earth to "walk down your street" before actually booking your B&B or guest house, and so forth. Great i ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this a few days ago and somehow never marked it read. Oops.

This was an incredibly comprehensive travel guide. Like if you’re actually going to Europe, get this (just get the most recent edition of it). It had advice on everything from planning your itinerary, how to travel from place to place once you’re there, what to pack, where to stay and eat, and a ton of other stuff you might not have even thought of. I will admit that I skipped over a lot of the basic travel info because I was
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Rick Steve's books are great. Great tips on where to eat, sleep, sight see. We have planned both of our trips to Europe using his books!

He has trip plans for the number of days you plan to stay - for every attraction he tells you how long you should expect it to take. He tells you exactly where the highlights of a museum are located so you can skip the stuff you don't want to see. Around every attraction, he lists a perfect place to grab lunch or a cup of coffee. He suggests great places to stay
Kristy Barefoot
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I dunno of it's bias or not but I love all thongs Rick Steves. He delivers wonderful and concise travel suggestions and tips with a jovial dad like quality. I read this because I love Europe, I love traveling, and I want to sharpen those skills and become a savvy traveler within a budget that I can afford. I want to approach the world as my own backyard and the people within it as friends who's needs I care about and learn the needs of others as well as those of my own. Rick gives all of those t ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Plucked this off the donation cart at my library and am enjoying every page. I'll have to get the 2008 version and compare. Steve's advice is practical and useful if not always realistic such as his view that makeup and pajamas are "optional"! Nice section on packing light even though he totally plugs the shopping section on his webpage. Still it made me take a look and he offers some nice travel accessories and bags for sale through the site. Also helpful is the section on overrated tourist sit ...more
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Part 1 of this book is really great for people who are going to be travelling to Europe for the first time. I learned quite a bit and now feeling more confident about going to Europe solo. The only thing I didn't like about this book is Rick Steves' idea of "cheap" travelling is rather pricey. Wouldn't recommend this book to those looking to stay at hostel and do a budget trip.
Part 2 of the book has some really interesting cities that people should check out that aren't high on everyone's touri
Mar 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This guy just knows how to travel. My wife and I have enjoyed two Rick Steves' tours and in the process learned that to travel lite is to travel best. Steves guides you to all kinds of interesting places throughout Europe. The problem is that so many people use his books that his discoveries can become overwhelmed. The next time you travel in Europe, look around and you'll see loads of travelers with one of his books in hand. If you want your traveling to move beyond seeing the icons this book c ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Classic European travel advice. This is the best preparatory guide for North American travellers headed to Europe. It covers the basics of money, transportation, packing, itinerary planning, culture, and more. Don't go to Europe without reading this or something similar - there will be many "A Ha!" moments where you are experiencing something strange but then realize Rick taught you how to navigate the issue. You will still need to purchase country-specific guides, as this is a general travel pr ...more
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Richard "Rick" Steves is an American author and television personality on European travel. He is the host of a public television series, and a public radio travel show, and the author of many travel guidebooks and autobiographies. ...more

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