6 mins

10 of the best guidebook series to help plan your dream trip

Start dreaming of your next adventure, with the help of the experts, insiders and locals who create the the world's best guidebooks. There's one for every destination, interest and type of traveller...

Top travel guidebooks (Rough Guides)

1. DK Eyewitness

(DK Eyewitness)

(DK Eyewitness)


Who: Succinct but expert advice, beautifully detailed illustrations that transport you right into city streets and historic buildings, detailed maps and interesting facts – is there really any wonder why DK's Eyewitness guides impress us so much? 

It's safe to say that you hold them in high regard yourselves, as DK topped the list of best guidebooks at the 2020 Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards.

DK has been going strong since 1993, taking us to more than 200 destinations in this time. Their real standout feature is the brand's compelling use of inspirational visuals and illustrations.

Incredibly user-friendly, the photo-packed books paint a clear picture of exactly what you can expect on your travels.

What to read: Check out the latest updates to DK's collection here – the new 2020 editions offer fresh insights into popular cities across the world, including Paris and New York City.

See the city of love in a new light with hand-drawn illustrations showing the interiors of its most iconic sights, from the Notre-Dame to the Panthéon, and a calendar of exciting events happening throughout the year.

2. Lonely Planet

(©Lonely Planet 2020)

(©Lonely Planet 2020)

Who: Lonely Planet's travel guides narrowly missed out on the top spot in the 2020 Reader Travel Awards, but they're popular for a reason.

The brand's origins are certainly romantic, too, having been founded by married couple Maureen and Tony Wheeler after their epic overland expedition from London to Australia in the early 70s.

While Lonely Planet's first offering was, of course, the stapled 94-page booklet Across Asia on the Cheap in 1973, the brand has come a long way since then. 

With more than 100 million guidebooks printed, the books are thorough, informative and packed with ideas for responsible travel escapes.

What to read: Pick up a copy of the best-selling The Travel Book (2006) – a visual bible on every UN-approved country in the world – or look out for their most up-to-date guides here.

We also suggest updating your bookshelf with Lonely Planet's new edition of the Poland guide, which includes insider tips on everywhere from Warsaw to the Carpathian Mountains. 

3. Bradt

(Bradt)

(Bradt)

Who: Another perennial favourite, Bradt guides are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to independent travel guides.

Founded by Hilary Bradt in 1974, the pioneering brand is one of your favourites, having taken the top spot at the Reader Travel Awards many times in recent years.

Delving deep beneath the surface, Bradt's guides are always packed with high quality content, while advocating for sustainable and slow travel. Best known for covering off the beaten track destinations, they are also loved for their guides to the UK. 

What to read: If you're looking for a new insight into Africa, take a look at the recently published guides on Gabon and Zimbabwe.

After the significant political upheaval of recent years, Zimbabwe is an excellent guide for travellers wanting to dip their toes into the country's attractions, covering everywhere from Victoria Falls to the Zambezi River. 

For more off-the-beaten-track destinations, dive into Bradt's online shop here – there's currently 50% off for shoppers who use the code DREAM50. What are you waiting for? 

4. Rough Guides

Rough Guides (APA Publications)

Rough Guides (APA Publications)

Who? If you're looking for an easy way into a destination, Rough Guides ticks all the boxes.

Famous for its 'tell it like it is' approach to places, the guidebook series initially provided founder Mark Ellingham a way out of getting a 'real job' – but now offer thousands of readers practical and hands-on advice on more than 120 countries across the world, as well as being strong on cultural insights..

What to read? Fans of Japan should look out for the Rough Guide to Tokyo (out on 1 April 2020) which promises comprehensive coverage on everything from the dizzying neon lights of Shinjuku to sushi and sake.

Or you can look out for new releases on Rough Guides' online shop here

5. Insight Guides

Insight Guides (APA Publications)

Insight Guides (APA Publications)

Who: Insight have been in the business for more than 45 years, so it's safe to say that these guides know what they're talking about.

Detailed maps, accurate information and beautiful photography combine within to connect readers to places through their history and culture. 

What to read: Look out for one of Insight's latest offerings – Insight Guides Pakistan – to uncover the country's turbulent past and present, and encounter its people and politics from an interesting new perspective. 

You'll find more books online here

6. Time Out

(Time Out)

(Time Out)

Who: Time Out's city guides have long been a trusty travel companion for those of us seeking the freshest take on a city – especially in Europe – but we nearly lost them for good back in 2016.

Now those dark days are over, they're back and better than ever, proving that we still want to discover the latest trends on art, culture, design, food and hotels. 

What to read: Delve into the latest guides online here – there's some excellent European coverage, including Time Out: Amsterdam, the brand's most recent offering, highlighting all that's afloat in the city of canals. 

Detailed street maps will help you find your way when your phone battery dies, leading you to best museums, restaurants, bars and coffee shops to recharge in the city.

7. Footprint

(Footprint)

(Footprint)

Who: Travelling to Latin America? Footprint Guides are your best bet, having specialised in all things under the South American sun for nearly 100 years.

That's not to say they don't specialise in other parts of the world, though – their shelves include books on the Caribbean and South Asia, only written by expert authors who have lived in that region and can truly capture its essence.

Perfect for travellers who want an intimate insight into a country. 

What to read: Footprint's iconic South American Handbook is your new best friend for any adventure to the continent, with advice on everything from swinging from the treetops in epic rainforests to dancing in Andean villages and exploring the plains of Patagonia. 

First published in 1924, it's now in its 94th edition, so you're sure to find the answer to any of your burning questions. If you've already crossed that continent, you can explore Footprint's latest releases online here

8. Blue Guides

Blue Guides on a bookshelf (Blue Guides)

Blue Guides on a bookshelf (Blue Guides)

Who: With more than a century of history to back them up, Blue Guides are the go-to guides for cultural capers.

From art to architecture and archaeology, these guides aim to inform travellers unsure about where to go next or who want to know more about the museum they're visiting with a series of award-winning maps, diagrams and photographs at your disposal – a great source of knowledge for any trip you're planning. 

What to read: Don't worry if you can't get to Rome at the moment – you can still plan your next trip to the Eternal City with the help of Blue Guide: Romethe brand's latest updated guide.

New mentions are the ruins of Ostia, the port of ancient Rome, as well as information on Tivoli and its famous gardens, but you can also look out for other guides online here.

We also recommend Travels in Transylvania: The Greater Târnava Valley – a fascinating insight into Romania's great green heart beyond the blood-sucking stereotypes. 

9. Cicerone

(Cicerone Guides)

(Cicerone Guides)

Who: Wild walking adventures across the globe have been Cicerone's USP for more than half a century.

If you want to know where to walk, trek, climb, mountaineer or cycle, these guides spanning the UK and Europe are are really the ones to watch out for with clear maps and directions paving the way for an epic hike.

Is it time to dust off those hiking boots yet? 

What to read: Cicerone celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, marking the occasion with Cicerone: Celebrating Fifty Years of Adventure.

Featuring 50 inspirational tales and trails, the book collates the memories of Cicerone's seasoned writers who have weathered all storms on their adventures, with laugh-out-loud moments and jaw-dropping accomplishments in the mix.

To see Cicerone's latest guides, check their online shop here.

10. Marco Polo

(Marco Polo)

(Marco Polo)

Who: Want to be more like Marco Polo? The pioneering 13th-century Venetian explorer has inspired many adventurers – Columbus, for one – as well as these handy little guides. 

As well as revealing the best things you can do for free, Marco Polo guides are fully equipped for the digital age – download the Touring App and you can freely access detailed routes and maps on your smartphone.

No internet? No problem – you can access them offline, too, so you won't get an expensive phone bill, either. They really are your best friend when travelling on a shoestring budget. 

What to read: From Marrakech to Mallorca, there's lots of sunny destinations to look out for this year, but if you're dreaming of beaches, forests and mountains in the USA, check out the recently released California Marco Polo Travel Guide.

Want an Australian adventure, instead? We all do – especially when there's tropical climes, island paradises and epic road trips to be had. Check out the latest info for a trip down under in the Australia Marco Polo Travel Guide or see what else the brand has to offer here.

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