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Best Travel Guidebooks Reviewed
Or at least the ones I like the most!

The Europe BookEurope guidebook
by Lonely Planet

The Europe Book

I'm not much of a coffee table book person but I'll make an exception for this Europe travel guide. It's actually a pseudo-coffee table tome - it is a paperback rather than a hardcover, but a big beautiful one.

I was ready to find it unwieldy and superficial until I started reading it, and I was hooked.

The Europe Book leaves no country unattended, even the tiny ones (San Marino, Vatican City) or newest ones (Montenegro) or furthest ones (Azerbaijan), interpreting Europe quite largely. It doesn't pretend to be an in-depth study of each country but if you're planning to travel through Europe and haven't quite decided which countries to visit, some of these descriptions could tip the balance.

It's immensely practical. The bare facts first - capital, population, language... and a coherent structure for each country:

  • Landscape: pine-clad hills, alpine peaks, vast open steppes...
  • History in a nutshell: the high points only
  • People: minorities, culture
  • The best films and books about the country
  • Trademarks, like flamenco, Turkish delight, pizza, kissing
  • Natural beauty, top festivals
  • Urban scene, for city slickers
  • Surprising facts (coffee came to Europe from Turkey)
  • Plus marketplace (the economy), random facts, cuisine, best sights, ecotourism, myths and legends, future directions...
  • And alsoi important, Essential Experiences, or where you have to go to see this country properly

Lonely Planet has taken advantage of the size of the book (equivalent to the surface of about four paperbacks) to provide us with fabulous photographs that whet your appetite for a visit to countries you may never even have heard of before. As is fitting for a book about Europe, it also suggests a number of itineraries that will take you off the beaten path (or on, as you wish).

What's missing from this book? Places to sleep and eat, transport, all the nuts and bolts you usually find in a travel guidebook. But if all this were included, you'd need a wheelbarrow to carry The Europe Book around. It's large as it is, something to thumb through before you leave, not a book to stuff into your backpack.

 

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