Blue Guide Rome

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

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

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

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

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?