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Discover who publishes the best travel guides

I asked you who published the best travel guide books, and here’s who you voted for (just to note, you will see that some people voted for more than one guide, for different situations)…

Number 1: Rick Steves with 26% of the votes

See Rick Steves Guides on Amazon

Here are a few of your comments…

‘Without a doubt, RICK STEVES’ Guide books are the best, in my opinion. The books are easy to read, easy to navigate, give concise information for the traveler who is TRULY on a budget, and tells us about places that aren’t necessarily on the beaten path. Also give pricing on restaurants, inexpensive accommodations, and saving money on admissions. His website will give updates as information changes.’

‘We have used RICK STEVES’ guide books for several years and they are very accurate, concise, and uptodate. Having lived in Europe in the past, we do a fair amount of sight seeing on our own volition, but when you want to “be with the people”, at better prices, and see great things that others would miss, RICK STEVES is, by far, the best. We HIGHLY recommend his books.’
Lynne & Dick Ronk

‘I agree that Rick Steves’s guides are the best. They are accurate, practical, and down to earth. Regrettably, they cover Europe only. I also agree with the recommendation to contact Rick’s website: it’s not just for update material, but in addition it expands considerably and in detail on various items of interest.’

‘After many years, and without any question, Rick Steeves’ books are the best! With one very important note: Any tour book should only be the beginning of your travel explorations! Steves’ are the beginning and form the basis for our travels which are philosophically the same as Ricks. Where Rich hasn’t gone, we fill in with Frommer. As a rule, my wife and I don’t take comprehensive tours but we use tour books for recommendations on hotels, etc. Many times, our own wanderings produce fabulous restaurants and places to investigate.
But, hey, have we all forgotten one of the BEST supplements?? The internet, of course! One of the best day trips that we ever had was to Corleone in Sicily! We discovered it over the internet and were paid huge travel dividends!’
Ray Miller

‘I like Rick Steves, because I believe in his travel philosophy. He hits the high points if one has a short amount of time in a place. He finds great little places to stay and eat for a reasonable price.’
Pat Branson

‘Rick Steves is the best! His recommrndations are always spot on, you can’t go wrong. He personally has been everywhere he writes about and he has a real knowledge of Europe.’

‘Rick Steves!!! The best. Helpful, easy to use (and preserve) maps. Wonderful guide books with extremely helpful and thoughtful details. For instance, who else would caution about the tricky driveway entrance and exit from a particular hotel in the Loire Valley. Easy to read and exciting to plan a trip with. And as an added bonus, language phrase books that contain language basics and “survival phrases”.’
Zoelle & Robert

‘Just returned from London,Paris,Rome vacation. Rick Steves books were in the apartments I rented along with other travel books and he was the guy we turned to. Geared for the person who wants to truly site see with great tips for saving money and getting around on mass transit.’
Mike G

See Rick Steves Guides on Amazon

Number 2: Lonely Planet with 24% of the votes


See Lonely Planet guides on Amazon

Here are a few of your comments…

‘Lonely Planet has the best books and website for travelers interested in saving a buck or two. They do an outstanding job of explaining local history an pointing the traveler towards attractions, restaurants and lodging that might not appear in publications geared towrds more upscale travel.’
John Baird

‘Lonely Planet is the best for young budget travelers.’

I have found that Lonely Planet guides and Rough guides are superior. They provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand information which is aimed at the typical traveler, not the tourist who requires first class accomodations, and hopes that things will not be too different from the good ole USA. I lean toward Rough Guides because quite often Lonely Planet guides have small errors.

Lonely Planet is the best for everyone, not simply for the younger travelers.
Fran Roberts

‘We are long-time travellers who often return to certain countries many times and need guides that delve deeper than what most books offer. Lonely Planet and Rough Guide are better at taking one off the beaten track. Also, they don’t gloss over; their unlaundered, sometimes cheeky comments are helpful and more truthful. If you read French, the Guides Routard is an excellent publisher. For first-time travellers under time pressures, the green Michelin guides’ star-system really helps priorize one’s choices. And of course, the red Michelin guides are the golden standard for finding the top restaurants, if money is no object.’
Diane Ponee

See Lonely Planet guides on Amazon

Number 3: Rough Guides with 12% of the votes


See Rough Guides on Amazon

Here are some of your comments…

‘My favorites are Rough Guide, Moon Guides and Lonely Planet. All three have a large amount of information (including excellent maps) about places & sites that don’t even garner a mention from Frommer’s or Fodors. Online I have found for SE Asia was a very good resource.

As many others will likely agree, I use the guides only to get an idea of things I want to see, rather than as my travel bible. I find my favorite travel experiences are those that are unexpected and unplanned; all too often I see people who are so engrossed in following the schedule laid out by the guide book that they miss out on the joy of experiencing a new place and culture.’
John Thompson

‘I have found that Lonely Planet guides and Rough guides are superior. They provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand information which is aimed at the typical traveler, not the tourist who requires first class accomodations, and hopes that things will not be too different from the good ole USA. I lean toward Rough Guides because quite often Lonely Planet guides have small errors.’

See Rough Guides on Amazon

Number 4: Frommers with 11% of the votes

See Frommers Guides on Amazon

Here are a few of your comments…

‘We have found that anytime both Frommers and Fodors agree on a recommendation, you cant miss. They have a great knack for finding the hidden jewels of restaurants.’
Dan F.

‘I have used Arthur Frommer’s guidebooks for more than forty years (remember when they used to be titled “___ on $10 a day”?). Throughout this period I have found their comments, especially recommendations of hotels in a place I have never visited, to be more reliable and independent than other books I have consulted.’
Cheryl Payer

‘Frommer has stood the test of time!’
Charles Schmitter

‘Frommers! I have found these to effectively capture the spirit of the place, and to offer a good range of price levels. I can’t say I’ve ever stayed in any of the accommodations, but they have gotten me started on the right track when I go online.’

See Frommers Guides on Amazon

Number 5: DK Eyewitness Guides with 9% of the votes


See DK Eyewitness Guides on Amazon

Here are a few of your comments…

‘I have found the DK Eyewitness Guides to be very helpful. The books in the Top 10 series, that just give 10 of the top places to see, eat and sleep are very nice for short trips. They are just enough to do in a long weekend without feeling overwelmed by all the city has to offer.’

‘I generally buy the DK books. The old expression is that a picture is worth a thousand words and DK has really good illustrations. The down-side is that coated paper they use to print these illustrations is quite heavy, so their guides seem to weigh more than other brands. I think the time has come for light-weight electronic guide books.’
Don Newcomb

‘I always first look for a DK Eyewitness Guide. Give best overall coverage with good general background and then consise details presented in an orderly fashion. Good maps. Great pictures.’
Brian Merget

See DK Eyewitness Guides on Amazon

Number 6: Moon Guides with 6% of the votes

See Moon Travel Guides on Amazon

Here are a few of your comments…

‘I really like the Moon guides. The people who write them really know their stuff. We usually take a Lonely Planet along as well. Particularly in South America, we had problems with Lonely Planet. As it turned out, at the time, the South American guides were being written by a guy sitting in his house! (2007) We never take LP guides alone anymore.’

See Moon Travel Guides on Amazon

Joint number 7: Fodors with 3% of the votes

See Fodor’s Guides on Amazon

‘We have found that anytime both Frommers and Fodors agree on a recommendation, you cant miss. They have a great knack for finding the hidden jewels of restaurants.’
Dan F.

See Fodor’s Guides on Amazon

Joint number 7: Time Out guides with 3% of the votes

See Time Out travel guides on Amazon

‘I’ve found that the “Time Out” series of travel guides for various cities are the most informative, useful and well-written, but they are available for only a limited number of destinations. “Lonely Planet” and “Rough Guide” travel guides cover more destinations and offer more information about important historic and cultural sites than most other guides, but they seemed to be aimed primarily at budget travelers in their sections on hotels and restaurants. For those of us who are not so concerned with budget travel, they are not as useful as other guides.’
Mike Blevins

See Time Out travel guides on Amazon

Joint number 7: Karen Brown Guides with 3% of the votes

See Karen Brown travel guides on Amazon


Joint number 7: Insight Guides with 3% of the votes

See Insight travel guides on Amazon

‘I always go through a two-stage process when planning a trip. First, I read the Insight Guide to wherever I’m going. These are short on specific information, but they provide extensive information on the history and culture of the country or city and detailed narrative tours of its major sights, all illustrated with stunning photographs. This gives me an idea of what I might want to see.

If I’m visiting an American city, then the Insight Guide is usually sufficient.

I haven’t traveled in Europe much, but I found Rick Steves’ guides to the UK to be great on the nitty-gritty details, such as what bus to take to get to such-and-such a sight.

Otherwise, I use the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, especially for Asia.

But I always START with the Insight Guide if there’s even a possibility that I’ll be going somewhere. They’re just plain fun to read, even if I end up not going (as happened with a possible trip to Australia).’
Karen S

See Insight travel guides on Amazon

Do you agree or disagree with these results? Leave your comments below…

9 thoughts on "Discover who publishes the best travel guides"

  • Mark says:

    Time Out is the best for cities, but not so great for countries or regions. Lonely Planet is extremely overrated, often inaccurate, and since they are so popular what they describe as off the beaten track soon becomes the beaten track. Sometimes, however, LP is all that’s available for some of the more exotic countries. Rough Guides seem pretty good, albeit pretentious and light on logistical details. DK, despite all their pretty pictures, are generally useless for practical matters like food, hotels, and logistics. I’ve only used a Moon Guide once, because it was all I could find for the Ukraine on short notice, but I was very impressed. I haven’t tried Rick Steve’s. I guess I should.

  • gdb says:

    The Internet! I do my research online before leaving, and copy and cut and paste only the info I want into a document. I print it out and take it along, and can discard pages when I no longer need them. Why carry around so much info that you’ll never use? There is a wealth of useful info online from fellow travellers, press travel critics and official visitor offices.

  • Dick says:

    I agree with Rick Steves as No. 1, but I would reverse No. 2, Lonely Planet, and No. 3, Rough Guide, chiefly because I have found on several occasions that maps provided by Lonely Planet were less than accurate.

    I was disappointed that Let’s Go guides were not even listed.

  • Taylor Brooks says:

    I’ve studied them all and think the best is the AAA Spriral guides. I’ve used them for Rome, Florence and Venice and think they are the Best.

  • Lydia says:

    Yes, pretty much. Rick Steves is definitely #1! And I also use Frommers and I see that’s #4, which is just about right. I was surprized to see that Cadogan Guides didn’t make it onto your list – I’ve used those in conjunction with Rick Steves when preparing for trips to both Italy and Spain. They’re not updated every year, but they provide good background.

  • William Baxter says:

    Lonely Planet guides are the best. They cover the planet and are reasonably accurate. i use them and swear by them !!

  • Michael Goler says:

    We have used the Cadogan guides all over Europe for years and have always been happy with them. Their restaurant picks are always “spot on”, as are their hotel recommendations. And their style of writing is both humoruos and enlightening, and far more detailed with respect to the history and background of a location than other books we’ve used. We have alos used DK and, from time to time, the online versions of Fodors & Frommmers, but their recommendations have not always been accurate, especially with restaurants.

    We like Rick Steves (and have all his DVDs), but his recommendations tend to be more “low budget” and we like to stay in nicer hotels whenever we can. He does have a nice way, however, of letting people know about the culture and niches in a area.

    But overall, for us it’s always going to be Cadogan if they have a guide for where we are going.

  • Andrew Johnson says:

    The best guides are different for different destinations and for the places to be visited in each. Lonely Planet tends to have much more inclusive coverage of most countries than does Rick Steves, and the information is complementary. I would recommend using both–and at least looking at the others for a given country or city.

  • maury c says:

    My vote goes to the Rough Guides. Several years ago, my wife and I spent two weeks in Romania, driving a rental car for almost 2,000 miles in a little-visited country. While we had a Romanian friend along as a translator, the Rough Guide was an almost infallible source of information, much of which our Romanian friend did not know. It provided much fascinating background about the history and politics of the nation, and did so in a very entertaining manner. The down side is that sometimes it is hard to find a particular edition at major bookstores. Give yourself time to order online.

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