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Little Europe: San Marino, Monaco, Vatican City, Liechtenstein, and Andorra

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, 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.



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Andalucia, Gibraltar and Tangier

Exploring Andalucia, 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.



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Prague

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.

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Oslo

The proud spirit of the Norwegian people shines in every dimension of their capital city-from its once-fearsome Viking ships to its sleek new Opera House, from tales of World War II heroism to the constant festival of its thriving harborfront. Connecting with the culture, we enjoy art-from Vigeland's statues to Monch's scream-and cap things off by joining local friends for a sail on their fjord.

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Berlin

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.

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Norway's West: Fjords, Mountains and Bergen

For Scandinavia's most thrilling sightseeing, we sail under towering fjord cliffs, hike on powerful glaciers, and find surviving traditions in remote farm hamlets. Then we delve into the Hanseatic heritage and enjoy the salty hospitality of Norway's historic capitol, Bergen.

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Germany's Hamburg and the Luther Trail

Hamburg, Germany's mighty port city has risen from the ashes of World War II with a gleaming new skyline and a brisk creative energy. From there, Rick visits the great historic sights of Martin Luther and the Reformation (Erfurt, Wittenberg, and Wartburg Castle) before finishing in the capital of Franconia: wine-loving Wurzburg.

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Stockholm

Sweden's capital, confident and self-assured, glitters with souvenirs from the day when it ruled as a superpower. From pondering gilded royal staterooms to sampling gourmet reindeer and sipping vodka in an ice bar, we experience the city's cultural highlights. Then we sail the archipelago for the prettiest island-hopping in northern Europe.

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Germany's Dresden and Leipzig

Saxony, part of the former East Germany, remains a secret to most travelers. Rick visits 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.

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Helsinki and Tallinn: Baltic Sisters

The fascinating capitals of Finland and Estonia offer a chance to sample each country's history, art, and distinct love of life. We'll start in Helsinki with its Neoclassical old town, modern flair for design, and steamy saunas. Then it's just a two-hour boat ride to Tallinn-with its medieval charms and new-found prosperity-celebrating its freedom and thriving in its post-USSR renaissance.



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Germany's Frankfurt and Nurnberg

Skyscraper-studded Frankfurt - with so much commerce it's nicknamed "Bankfurt" - has a delightful-to-explore old center. Rick also visits Nurnberg, 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, Nurnberg is a fascinating study in contrasts.

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Galicia and the Camino De Santiago

We follow the trail pilgrims have trod for centuries, from the French border to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest corner of Spain. Along the way, we stop off in Pamplona to run with the bulls, and dive into the unique Celtic culture of Galicia-where Riverdance meets flamenco.



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Bulgaria

Bulgaria, so mysterious to most Americans, has a vivid identity as a crossroads of the Balkans. Rick traces the country's complex history, from ancient Thracian tombs to medieval Orthodox Christian monasteries to Soviet monuments. And he enjoys an intimate taste of contemporary culture: the yellow brick road of Sofia; the gregarious craftspeople of the medieval capital, Veliko Tarnovo; and the thriving pedestrian zones of cosmopolitan Plovdiv.

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Basque Country

The homeland of the proud and resiliant Basque people is split between France and Spain. From our San Sebastian home base, we tour the ancient Basque capital of Gernika, the dazzling Guggenheim Modern in 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.



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Romania

Rick and his team tour Romania's vibrant capital, Bucharest, with its "Little Paris of the East" architecture and lingering reminders of a brutal communist dictator. Then they head into Transylvania, where they visit fortified churches, cobbled merchant towns like Sighisoara, and castles made famous by an imported German king and the real-life Dracula. Finally, they explore Maramures, where everyday life still feels like an open-air folk museum.

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Rome: Ancient Glory

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 marvel at the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the empire's exquisite art. Then we go offbeat by bicycle to see the Appian Way and marvels of Roman engineering.

Read our ancient Rome travel guide.

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Assisi and Italian Country Charm

In the Italian countryside, Rick connects with rustic, traditional culture: enjoying an agriturismo (farmhouse inn), seeing how prosciutto and pecorino cheese are made, and hiking down into deep and ancient wine cellars. He ends in Assisi - the hometown of St. Francis - which retains its spiritual aura to this day. Like pilgrims, he explores its stony center before trekking to its awe-inspiring basilica, built on the tomb of the beloved saint.

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Rome: Baroque Brilliance

This second of three episodes on Rome reveals a city busy with life and bursting with Baroque. We 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 join locals after dark, lacing together the Eternal City's most romantic nightspots.

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Siena and Tuscany's Wine Country

Siena, once a proud and independent city-state, retains its confidence and unique traditions. Rick enjoys a front-row seat at its wild horse race - the venerable Palio - and marvel at cultural treasures from the days when Siena rivaled Florence for leadership of Tuscany. Then he heads into wine country for a little dolce vita under the Tuscan sun.

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Rome: Back-Street Riches

In this third of three episodes on the Eternal City, we 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.

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West England

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. He finishes by pondering the dramatic prehistoric stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury.

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Florence: Heart of the Renaissance

Fifteenth-century Florence was the home of the Renaissance and the birthplace of our modern world. In this first of two episodes, we 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 cross the Arno to where Florentine artisans live, work, and eat ... very well.



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Southeast England

Arcing along the southeast coast of England, Rick travels from Canterbury (with its famous cathedral) to Dover (stoutly fortified from Roman times to the Battle of Britain). Then he hikes 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.

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Florentine Delights and Tuscan Side Trips

In this second of a two episodes on Florence, we enjoy more of the exquisite artistic treasures of the city that propelled Europe out of the Middle Ages. Then we 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.



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England's Cornwall

The far southwest of England is a world unto itself, with a persistent Cornish culture. He explores 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, he hikes to forgotten stone circles and chase wild ponies.

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Paris: Regal and Intimate

In Paris, amidst all of its grandeur, the little joys of life are still embraced. In this first of two episodes on Paris, we cruise the Seine River, visit Napoleon's tomb, and take in the Louvre. Then we 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.



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The Majesty of Madrid

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Paris: Embracing Life and Art

In this second of two episodes on Europe's "City of Light," we 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 Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and savor the Parisian cafe 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.



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Highlights of Castile: Toledo and Salamanca

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.



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London: Historic and Dynamic

In many-faceted London, we ponder royal tombs in Westminster Abbey, learn how to triple the calories of an English scone at teatime, 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 at Greenwich.

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Normandy: War-Torn Yet Full of Life

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.



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North England's Lake District and Durham

Hiking through the Cumbrian Lake District-England's green and pristine mountain playground-we 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 are dazzled by Durham's Norman cathedral.



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Belfast and the Best of Northern Ireland

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.

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Venice: City of Dreams

After sorting through the monuments of Venice's powerful past, we trace its decline from Europe's most powerful city to its most hedonistic one. We cruise the Grand Canal, luxuriate in a venerable cafe, and savor fresh fish canalside 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 under the moonlight.



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London: Mod and Trad

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.



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Venice and Its Lagoon

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 cruise its lagoon, stopping in fiery Murano for glass, pastel Burano for lace, and murky Torcello for a sense of where Venice was born.

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Highlights of Paris: Eiffel and Monet to Creme Brulee

Packing the best of Paris into one episode, we scale the Eiffel Tower, then savor classic treats - from steak tartare to creme brulee. 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 epoch.

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European Travel Skills, Part I

The first episode in this three-part mini-series distills Rick Steves' 30 years of travel experience into 30 minutes of practical advice on how to have a fun, affordable, and culturally broadening trip to Europe. Shot on location in Amsterdam, Germany's Rhineland, Venice, Siena, the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London, these episodes cover Rick's favorite 3,000-mile European loop while providing viewers with essential travel skills.

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Belgium: Bruges and Brussels

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.



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European Travel Skills, Part II

The second episode in this three-part mini-series distills Rick Steves' 30 years of travel experience into 30 minutes of practical advice on how to have a fun, affordable, and culturally broadening trip to Europe. Shot on location in Amsterdam, Germany's Rhineland, Venice, Siena, the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London, these episodes cover Rick's favorite 3,000-mile European loop while providing viewers with essential travel skills.

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Provence: Legendary Light, Wind and Wine

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 wispy vineyards, we explore the Cotes du Rhone and more wonders of the South of France.



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European Travel Skills, Part III

The last episode in this three-part mini-series distills Rick Steves' 30 years of travel experience into 30 minutes of practical advice on how to have a fun, affordable, and culturally broadening trip to Europe. Shot on location in Amsterdam, Germany's Rhineland, Venice, Siena, the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, Paris, and London,these episodes cover Rick's favorite 3,000-mile European loop while providing viewers with essential travel skills.

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French Riviera: Uniquely Chic

A longtime favorite escape of Europe's elite, the Riviera coastline still sparkles with yachts. We follow in the footsteps of 19th century aristocrats along Monaco's harbor and Nice's promenade des Anglais. Then we visit the picturesque, artist hangouts of Chagall, Matisse and Picasso.

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Western Turkey

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.



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Poland Rediscovered: Krakow, Auschwitz and Warsaw

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.




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Central Turkey

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, Ataturk.

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