Rick Steves, Special to QMI Agency

Rick Steves. (Handout)

Rick Steves writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at rick@ricksteves.com and follow his blog on Facebook.

Stories

Windsor Castle near London was the birthplace of two future English kings — Edward III and Henry VI. CAMERON HEWITT /RICK STEVES EUROPE

Touring birthplaces of Britain's royals

Although their kings and queens don't come cheap and today are only figureheads, most Brits seem to thoroughly enjoy having a royal family.

While some tourist information offices have been privatized, most in Europe are still a good source for sightseeing tips. DOMINIC BONUCCELLI PHOTO

How to get familiar with Europe

Whether tackling big cities or quaint villages in Europe, you don't want to feel like a stranger in a strange land (even though that's what you are).

Travellers who pack light are generally happier. RICK STEVES PHOTO

How to pack light for every vacation

How do you fit a whole trip's worth of luggage into a small suitcase or backpack? The answer is simple: Bring very little.

The Puerta del Sol is Madrid’s version of Times Square; it’s an engaging place to crowd-watch in the evening. (Dominic Bonuccelli photo)

Madrid's three must-see sites

I'm standing on a tiny balcony overlooking the Times Square of all of Spain -- Madrid's Puerta del Sol.

After Prague (pictured), Krakow and Budapest are Eastern Europe's best cities. (Shutterstock)

Where to go, what to miss in Europe

How to select the right destination? It ultimately depends on your interests, your tastes -- and what your experienced travel writer tells you.

The Vatican doesn’t have all the good art in Rome: Bernini’s exquisite Apollo and Daphne belongs to the Borghese Gallery. RICK STEVES PHOTO

Europe's small museums hold great art

For many travellers, a visit to one of the great treasure-chest museums -- Paris' Louvre, London's British Museum, Rome's Vatican -- is the highlight of a European trip.

A riverboat cruises toward the Rhine River village of St. Goar. DOMINIC BONUCCELLI PHOTO

Rhine River rages with history

Jostling through crowds of Germans and tourists in the Rhine River village of Bacharach, I climb to the sun deck of the ferry and grab a chair.

With a smartphone’s map capabilities, travellers can log onto a hotspot and figure out how to get to their next destination. DOMINIC BONUCCELLI PHOTO

Digital maps make navigation a breeze

Whether joy-riding through the French countryside or navigating an urban jungle like Paris, maps are indispensable tools while travelling.

Budapest's Szechenyi Baths are a fun and relaxing place to spend a few hours — BYO bathing suit. (CAMERON HEWITT PHOTO)

Bath time in Budapest

In Budapest, Hungary's vibrant capital, you can sample spicy paprika at the Great Market Hall (designed by Gustave Eiffel), sip coffee in a genteel turn-of-the-20th-century cafe, and enjoy an affordable performance at the luxurious Opera House.

Smart travellers can skip the line to buy tickets for the Eiffel Tower if they book online in advance. (Laura Vandeventer photo)

How to avoid line-ups when travelling

As far as I'm concerned, there are two IQs for travellers: Those who queue, and those who don't. If you plan ahead, you can avoid nearly every line that tourists suffer through (except for security checks).

An almost full moon has risen behind the cross of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in Dresden, eastern Germany, on May 4, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MICHAEL

Dresden revisited

At exactly 10:15 a.m. in the courtyard of the Zwinger palace complex in Dresden, 40 Meissen porcelain bells began a sweet three-minute melody.

Car-free streets in Madrid, such as the Calle del Carmen, helped turn worn-out areas into trendy zones. RICK STEVES/Special to QMI Agency

Inside, outside look at Madrid

This modern capital -- Europe's highest, at more than 650 metres -- has a population of 3.2 million.