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Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 2009 Paperback – September 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The more money you spend, the bigger the wall you build between yourself and the culture you traveled so far to visit. Stay in the small inns, eat in family-style restaurants, visit out-of-the-way places, rub elbows with the locals. You'll spend less money and have a great time in the process."

This is Rick Steves's "back door" travel philosophy. For more than 25 years, he has traveled and led tours around Europe, finding and sharing the joy of simplicity and openness.

Along with tried-and-true tips on packing, transport, sleeping and eating well on a budget, and meeting the locals, Steves reveals more than 30 "back doors" found throughout Europe, from a tiny lake town in Austria to the narrowest gorge in the world, which winds through Crete. If Europe is your destination, this book is more important than your luggage. --Kathryn True --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Steves preaches a low-cost, low-to-the-ground style that not only saves money, but gets you closer to the real Europe, the way Europeans experience it.

Product Details

  • Series: Rick Steves
  • Paperback: 756 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 2009 Edition edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598801082
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598801088
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,595,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of 40 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe -- and Europeans -- for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of U.S. markets. Rick has also created two award-winning specials for public television: Rick Steves' European Christmas and the ground-breaking Rick Steves' Iran. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his company, Back Door Productions.

Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel expert, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country and has spawned a popular podcast. Rick has also created a series of audio walking tour podcasts for museums and neighborhoods in Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice (with more tours, including London, coming in 2010).

Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 40 other country, city and regional guidebooks, phrase books, and "snapshot" guides. For several years, Rick Steves' Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the U.S. In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

In addition to his guidebooks, TV and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel.

Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. By the time he reached 18, Rick jokes, "I realized I didn't need my parents to travel!" He began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started Europe Through the Back Door (ETBD), a business which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 70 full-time employees. ETBD offers free travel information through its travel center, website (www.ricksteves.com), European Railpass Guide, and free travel newsletters. ETBD also runs a successful European tour program with more than 300 departures -- attracting around 10,000 travelers -- annually.

Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening their perspectives through travel. He is also committed to his own neighborhood. He's an active member of the Lutheran church (and has hosted the ELCA's national video productions). He's a board member of NORML (working to reform marijuana laws in the USA). And Rick has provided his local YWCA with a 24-unit apartment building with which to house homeless mothers.

Rick Steves spends about a third of every year in Europe, researching guidebooks, filming TV shows, and making new discoveries for travelers. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I like this philosophy for traveling, not all, but a great part. If you want to have fun on your Europe trip, read this book, understand the points it makes, then go. No tour, no guide, all alone or with your "traveling partner". This is the way to travel, and to experience the people and the culture of where you are. Rick does a great job letting you in on some great ideas. He'll also open your eyes as to what to get from your travels, or lose from your travels.
If you go to Europe and say once "It's not the way I have it at home", then don't read this book unless you're ready to change your attitude. If you raise your voice louder and continue to speak English, then stay home and don't read this book. If you want the adventure of traveling to Europe and immersing yourself in the culture and people, way of life, and past, then read this book, buy your plane tickets, and get going. All the tools you'll want are in this book. You just add the adventure. Be brave.
This is the best story telling instruction book I've read in a long time. Rick gives you all you'll need to get off anywhere in Europe and be able to survive and enjoy. He'll encourage you to free your mind, talk in bad local language with a smile, change money, ride the train, order dinner at the local eatery, and how to just enjoy the life you're experiencing. Remember you go there because it's different from where you live.
There is so much information for the traveler here that it's hard to grab 1 or 2 ideas and discuss them. The one thing that stands out is that you'll approach your trip to Europe from a totally different angle after reading this book.
Rick, we go in 10 days, and thanks for the help.....
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By A Customer on March 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have read Rick Steves' books for years, and like the others, this one contains helpful information. His conversational style and middle income budget make this book perfect for average American, especially the first time traveler. The down side to this book and other Rick Steves books is as follows: 1) the maps are very poor- hand drawn and definitely low tech. Frommer does a better job in this area 2) costs are listed only in the foreign currency instead of following with the approximate cost in dollars in parenthesis. You must constantly dig out the calculator. 3) a lot of the material (whole pages at a time) is a direct copy from the previous edition, making for a repetitive read. That said, I would not take a trip to Europe without this book. I have never met anyone who went to Europe and used his tips and was sorry. However, I have met a lot of people who have used Lonely Planet and Let's Go who were disillusioned. I'm taking this book and Frommer's when I go this summer.
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Format: Paperback
Traveling Europe last summer, my cousin and I were armed with every travel book that we could carry on a 2 1/2 month expedition throughout Europe. Europe Through the back door provided the most unique and awesome experiences that we had. Gazing onto the majestic scenery in Lake Como, Italy to the personal quarters in the scerene mountains of Switzerland. Rick Steves book was great and I suggest it to anyone who desires to experience Europe to it's fullest extent.
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Format: Paperback
Maybe I'm too used to Michelin or Fodors, but I found Through the Back Door to be more on the philosophical benefits of packing light, using the railpass and staying in lesser known places than on seeing, exploring, and experiencing Europe. Much of this material is already covered in packing books and general travel guides (not necessarily European).
I agree with several of his picks (and will be sure to check out others on my next trip there), but his recommendations about what to do in these places occupy only a small portion of the book.
Already a believer in packing light and meeting the locals, I wanted a book that would cover in more detail the "Back Door" towns that he recommends. My advice would be to get this book from your local library, check out his Back Door towns, photocopy the restaurant/lodging recommendations of those towns, and then get a Michelin guide for more detailed information.
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Format: Paperback
Before buying this book, understand that all of the "secret" back doors are known to EVERYBODY that reads this book. You'll find yourself among ETTBD readers everywhere. There's a virtual army of Rick Steve's-toting 35+ "independent" travelers everywhere in Europe.
The general travel advice is good - the hints on hostels, trains, packing, etc. are important.
Do yourself a favor - get over to Europe with a couple of good maps and just find your own Back Doors.
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By A Customer on August 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Europe Through The Back Door is the best travel guide out there. When planning to travel solo around Europe for a month, Rick Steves was my guide, and I had a great time. Every little secret "Back Door" I went to were amoung my favorite places, with only carriers of this book and no other Americans to be found! This book is also the most enjoyable travel guide to just sit down and read! It is really entertaining. Only complaint is that his focus is more centered to older people and not the young student traveller like me, but its still great. But don't buy it, so all of us "In the know" travellers don't need to share the Cinque Terre!
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