BERKELEY, CA --(Marketwired - April 05, 2013) - For travelers planning a European voyage, it's essential to know what's what -- and, more importantly, what's new -- in terms of must-see attractions and destinations. Rick Steves -- award-winning travel writer, popular radio and television show host, and author of updated 2013 versions of Rick Steves' France, Rick Steves' Germany, Rick Steves' Great Britain, and Rick Steves' Italy -- offers vacationers essential news and updates for getting the most out of trips to these four destinations.
Travelers to France find a rich and constantly changing palette of cultural and historic sights. Here's a review of what's new or different in France for 2013:
- The long-closed Picasso Museum should finally reopen in summer 2013. Meanwhile, the Rodin Museum is undergoing major renovation until 2014. While statues will be moved around and some rooms will close altogether, the museum's lovely gardens will remain open.
- At Versailles, some rooms of the Queen's Wing of the main palace may be closed for renovation in 2013. A new shuttle whisks visitors from the Versailles train station to the Trianon Palaces and the Domaine de Marie-Antoinette (www.phebus.tm.fr).
- Through 2014, you won't be able to cross the Alps from France to Italy by cable car, as the lift from Helbronner Point down to the Italian valley station of La Palud is closing for renovation.
Those visiting Germany will enjoy a country with a rich heritage and a constantly evolving sightseeing scene. Here's the latest:
- Getting into Reichstag, Berlin's parliament building, has been difficult over the past few years due to changing entrance procedures. Finally, the new process is clear: To visit the dome, it's best to make a free online reservation several days in advance at www.bundestag.de.
- St. Kilian's Cathedral -- the main church in Wurzburg and the fourth-largest Romanesque cathedral in Germany -- has reopened following a 3.2 million-euro renovation. The ornate stucco decoration inside has been spiffed up and the cathedral's two organs restored.
Great Britain will likely be taking a deep breath this year as it recovers from a busy summer, when it hosted both the Olympics and Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. Here's what's new for visitors:
- The London skyline now boasts Europe's tallest building. Rocketing 1,020 feet above the south end of London Bridge, the Shard (www.the-shard.com) shimmers in the sun and glows like the city's nightlight after dark. The tip houses a fifteen-story stack of observation platforms enclosed in glass, which opened to the public in February.
- Travelers interested in royalty will delight in the newly refurbished Kensington Palace, which now hosts a worthwhile series of exhibits on its most notable past residents. The highlight is the exhibit on Queen Victoria, who was born and raised in this palace.
Italy has more of Europe's cultural heritage than any other country -- and the Italians are doing a fine job of sharing it with their visitors. Here are some updates for travelers:
- Rome's St. Peter's Square is eternal -- but can change to accommodate the needs of busy tourists. The square's tourist information office now offers same-day tickets to the Vatican Museum for the same price you'd pay to reserve online.
- The Cinque Terre, Italy's picturesque Riviera, is back to normal after two of its towns were badly damaged in a flood in the fall of 2011. The towns and nearly all the trails of the region are once again ready for prime time.
- To generate funds during a time of economic uncertainty, many cities -- such as Venice, Florence, Padua, and Rome -- are levying a tax on hotel rooms. Tourists must pay the tax in cash at checkout.
For more tips on European destinations or to set up an interview with Rick Steves, please contact Eva Zimmerman at 510.809.3834 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Avalon Travel
Avalon Travel is the largest independent travel publisher based in the United States. Major series include Rick Steves, the top-selling European guidebook series in America; Moon, with guides to more than 200 destinations around the world; and Road Trip USA. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Avalon is a member of the Perseus Books Group. For more information, visit www.avalontravelbooks.com
About Rick Steves
Rick Steves is on a mission: to help make European travel accessible and meaningful for Americans. Since 1973, Steves has spent four months every year exploring Europe. He's researched and written more than 50 travel guidebooks, writes and hosts the public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and also produces and hosts the weekly public radio show Travel with Rick Steves. With the help of his hardworking staff at Europe Through the Back Door, Steves organizes and leads tours of Europe and offers an information-packed website, www.ricksteves.com. When not traveling through Europe, Steves lives in Edmonds, Washington.
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