Guide to the Guides

Guidebooks have been around for a long time. Their history dates back to the mid-1850's when prominent writers & artists used Baedekers to tour Europe. Since then there has been an explosion in the number & variety of guides available. Reading up beforehand on the country you are going to be visiting will help you get the most out of your trip. What follows is a brief comment on some of the major guidebook companies.
Access Blue Bradt Cadogan Cicerone
Access Blue Bradt Cadogan Cicerone
Culture Shock Culture Smart Eyewitness Falcoln
Culture Shock Slovakia Eyewitness Falcon Fodor's
Fodor 25 Best Fodors Exploring compass Frommer Frommer Day by Day
Fodors 'Best' Fordor's 'Expoloring' Fodor's Compass Frommers Fromer's 'Day by Day'
Footprint Hidden Insight Insight step by step Karen Brown
Footprint Hidden Insight Insight Step by Step Karen Brown
Knopf knopf mapguide Lets Go Lonely Planet Discover Lonely Planet
Knopf Guide Knopf Mapguide Let's Go Lonely Planet Discover Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet Encounter Michelin Green Michelin Red Moon Moon spotlight
Lonely Planet Encounter Michelin Green Michelin Red Moon Moon spotlight
National Geographic Open Road Rick Steves Rough Guide Time Out
National Geographic Open Road Rick Steves Rough Time Out
Trail Blazer        


Very detailed overland guides that have a personal touch. Great hand-drawn maps, combined with extensive planning information and travel tips that most guidebooks don't include.
Time Out
City guides with very comprehensive listings and reviews on just about anything you can think of. Partially supported by included advertising which is sometimes more interesting that the prose.
Rough Guides
An opinionated guide for the sophisticated yet-cost-conscious traveller. Published in Britain, these guides have found a following amongst disenchanted Lonely Planet and are clearly more fun to read prior to travelling. Especially good for European & African destinations. Don't date as badly as Lonely PLanet as they use a price range feature. A Travel Bug favorite.
Rick Steves
The 'Guru' for travelers heading to Europe. Guides cover areas in Europe (i.e.Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium & the Netherlands, Germany, Austria & Switzerland, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, an Access Guide for Peolpe with disabilities, London, Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice. Rick is famous for usable highlights on an area as well as his down to earth travel tips. He now lends his name to a midline practical live of luggage which we carry.
Open Road
G uidebooks to destinations on four continents. All Open Road Travel Guides are written by authors with a distinct, opinionated point of view, and are for those who want to make their own travel choices. Strong on the basics, but also offering choices for those looking to get off the beaten path.
National Geographic
In-depth site descriptions and background information - Insightful features on history, culture and contemporary life - Vivid color photographs - Detailed, full color maps - Mapped walking and driving tours - Specially commissioned art work - Clear, easy -to-use design - And complete visitor information - Plus hotels, restaurants, activities and shopping. A bit stodgy and quite heavy.
Moon Spootlight Handbooks
Guides are affordably priced, lightweight guides covering smaller geographic regions than Moon Handbooks or Moon Outdoors guidebooks. The travel content in a Spotlight guide is pulled directly from the chapters of larger Handbooks or Outdoors books, with no introductory information or index included. The result is a compact guide providing just the information you'll need to explore a specific locale in depth.
Moon Handbooks
Guides to countries in the Mexico,South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Canada and the USA. Exhaustive background information on topics ranging from history and politics to flora and fauna. Particularly stong on smaller towns and villages. Very readable and good for driving tours.
Michelin Red Guides
Ratings of hotels & restaurants via an icon based coding system. Exhautively updated yearly with more information about price and amenities that any other guide. A bible for many European travelers
Michelin Green
Touring Guides provide an alphabetic listing of cities and sites within an area. Not so much fun to read in advance but quite terrific when driving through small towns. (Lets wear out our tires! Mainly Europe, but also include Thailand, New York, Washington DC, Quebec, Canada
Lonely PlanetEncounter
Small, abreviated and more sharply targeted to the major sites. For quick trips or small pockets. .

Lonely Planet
. Probably the best known brand and quite possibly the largest network of freelance contributers. Excellant nitty gritty travel information although they have become a bit formulaic as they expand to cover the globe. They have and excellant website accompanyment to their guides which really helps with current information. They cover a broad range of accommodations from budget to moderately expensive.


Shoestring guides cover larger areas & are budget only.

Lonely Planet Discover
For some folks, a guide is about in-depth information and having plenty of information. That’s what you’ll find in our classic country guides.But others would rather focus time and planning on those can’t-miss experiences.


Discover guides highlight the best a country has to offer while still providing the authentic and memorable experience travelers expect from us. They’re in full color, with inspiring photography.

Let's Go
THE budget travel guide, whether you are a first-time traveller or a veteran explorer, are in search of city nightlife or off-the-beaten-track adventure, are travelling by train or burro. They now carry the mantle of the Backpackers guide, once owned by Lonely Planet

Knopf Mapguides

This series looks like a book but it's really fold-out mini maps. It's organized by the major neighborhoods of London. You fold out each section and see the highlights of that area.foldout maps and concise info about cultural sites, restaurants, shopping & hotels.

Knopf Guides

Beautiful and elegant is the only way to describe the Knopf Guides. Mixing elements of an upscale Michelin Green Guide, an Insight Guide and a great coffee table art book. Knopf is known for publishing high-quality art books, and this expertise has been carried over to producing a line of colorful art-oriented guidebooks that you will want to save as a keepsake of your trip long after you return home.  They emphasize history, art and architecture. Hotel, restaurant, shopping and practical travel information is weak.

These guides are very portable and will work well as a reference for self-guided walking tours.

Karen Brown Guides
Personable guides to Europe, California, New England, US South East and Mexico most charming places to stay. Karen and her sister and mother visit each of the listings personally. They enjoy a great reputation for selecting quality accomodations and axing those that are resting on their laurels.

Insight Guides
The "National Geographic" of travel guides. Lots of color photos & descriptive text on things to see. Recently, the format changed and now is much more touring focused with maps and reference numbers. Justly famed for their photography


Many a trip has been inspired from a single photograph - a dreamers guide.


All lead with a short readable history and followed at the end with accomodation listing

Hidden Guides
Published by Ulysses Press in the USA, these guides claim to offer an inside look on stuff to see and do with recommendations for hotels and restaurants. Big print.
Insight Step-by-Step
Compact guides with selection of clearly laid-out walks and tours, complemented by beautiful, full-color pictures, an authoritative narrative voice, and a wealth of practical information, all in a compact package. Recommended Tours suggest the book's best tours for foodies, families, art and design enthusiasts, shopping and nightlife. The Overview reveals essential background information on local culture, lifestyle and traditions, plus the lowdown on food and drink and shopping.
Footprint Handbooks
Titles include the famed "South American Handbook" (1600 PAGES!) continuously pubished since 1924. Some of the most detailed guidebooks available. For the over-lander who wants information on all the places in between. They have expanded to cover a lot of individual countries in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia not to mention Western Canada. Reasonably reliable as they are updated by the peolple who use them.

Frommers Day by Day

Series appeals to those with little or no experience visiting a given destination. Beyond a simple offering of "how to spend three days in Rome," these books explain the significance of each recommended site in detail that is punctuated with vivid photography and historical references.

From the original Europe On $5 A Day, to a contemporary travel publishing empire with dozens of global destinations.  Frommers Guides have grown to represent reliable travel advice, whether traveling in Europe or anywhere on the planet.  Frommers Guides contain user-friendly travel information that's accessible to every price range, experience level, and style of traveler. Frommer's entire publishing business has been purchased by Google in their relentless drive to be the single portal to the world. There are numerous subcategories :

  • Frommer's $-a-Day Guides
  • Frommer's Born to Shop Guides
  • Frommer's With Kids Guides
  • Frommer's Driving Tours
  • Frommer's Walks
  • Frommer's Wonderful Weekends
  • Frommer's National Parks Guides
Fodor's Compass American Guides
Guides to individual states in the union (in full color). These guides showcase the insights of nationally recognized authors and photographers, creating vivid portraits of all there is to see and do. An excellant introduction to an area.
Fodors's Exploring The most affordable, up-to-date full-color cultural guides - with intelligent, information-rich coverage of destinations all over the globe. These are very useful if you are driving. Use a rating system for sights.
Fodor's Best
Fodor's Pocket Tiny Guides for rushed travelers ighlighting a destination's "greatest hits".
Fodor's General guides, frequently updated, with balanced coverage and practical information. They cover all major cities, countries, and regions of Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, South America, and the United States. Hotels & restaurants listed range from moderate to deluxe. Most are updated yearly.
Guides Falcon Guides focus on outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, flora & fauna, and National Parks in North America (Mainly US). They offer detailed mapping and trail information, accurate directions, information on the area's history, ecology and geography.
Highly visual & encyclopedic guidebook series. Provides soundbite information with color pictures and exploded diagrams. Revised infrequently but the focus is on the culture over the daily details of travel
Culture Smart A small but insitefull guide to local customs
Culture Shock
THE guide for someone who wants to know more about the country and its people and consequently their customs and the protocol involved in trying not to offend.
Guides for the walker and the hiker. These are terrific guides for the on foot explorer. Good enough maps and invaluble information about huts, lodging, and the pitfalls. It one is available for your area of interest - buy it. Trailblazer guides offer some comptetition.
Readable, well researched guides focusing on the history, art, architecture, & culture of a country. Listings of accommodations cater to all budgets, but that is not the focus of the book. The ones for the Southern part of Europe are among the best guides.
Bradt Guides
Off the beaten track guides for the budget traveller. Their motto is we get there first. Bradt specializes in Africa and Eastern European countries with and all destinations having a strong cultural and/or natural history bent.
Blue Guides

Continuously  published  the most comprehensive cultural guides covering art, history, architecture and, where relevant, archaeology.   These are extremely detailed guides , in-depth, practical, and updated from time to time, with a decent travel information section to help the traveller with the everyday details, Small print but clearly the most exhaustive series for in depth historical and cultural information.

Access Guides: No other guides provide such instant and portable access to a destination as the ACCESS series. Organized by neighborhood and color coded by subject ( hotels, shops, parks, sights etc) filled with striking graphics and detailed maps, each Access guide lets you see at a glance where you are, where you are headed, and what special attractions await you just around the corner. The downside is that they are not revised often enough and the entire line seems to be shrinking