Blue Guide Rome

1. Choosing a getaway isn't an easy task, but selecting a guide should be. We sorted through the stacks.
Blue Guide

Best for: Treasure hunters

Signature strength: Expert advice from art historians, emphasizing a region's history and culture

For instance: The Rome book has essays on iconic artists, reproductions of their greatest works, and a thorough survey of the Vatican's riches.

—By Alexis Soloski
Eyewitness Travel Instanbul Guide

2. Eyewitness Travel
Best for: Visual thinkers

Signature strength: Lavish, intricately detailed illustrations

For instance: Istanbul's Topkapi Palace and St. Petersburg's Hermitage get the show-don't-tell treatment, with cutaways and floor plans of major sights.
London Rough Guide

3. Rough Guide
Best for: Bookworms

Signature strength: Background on local arts and literature

For instance: The London guide features elegantly written pieces on the Bloomsbury group and musicians who've lived and worked in the Mayfair neighborhood (Handel and Hendrix both).
Fodors Paris Guide

4. Fodor's
Best for: Luxury lovers

Signature strength: Reports on high-end hotels and exclusive restaurants

For instance: You'll find mouthwatering accounts of Paris patisseries, plus practical advice on tipping and restaurant dress codes.
Culture Shock! Costa Rica Guide book

5. Culture Shock!
Best for: Stealth tourists

Signature strength: The lowdown on social customs and etiquette, for the traveler who wants to pass for a local

For instance: The Costa Rica guide notes that you shouldn't wear shorts in the cities—who knew?


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