Guide me to a travel guide.
February 23, 2009 11:48 AM   Subscribe

What are the best guidebooks for exploring Stockholm, Berlin, and Amsterdam?

I'm going to be spending 4 or 5 days in each city this April. I'm looking for guides that are easy to carry around and give a good overview of each city.

When I went to Rome I had the Lonely Planet Encounter book and liked it because it could fit in my coat pocket, gave me some history, and was put out fairly recently so all of the awesome gelato places mentioned were still open. I didn't like it because of its ridiculous overuse of the words "nosh" and "filthy-fresh," because it considered under $20 for a meal, not including wine/water, to be cheap (uh, more like $10), and because all of the shops mentioned were super high end.

For Amsterdam, this Get Lost! guide sounds cool to me, but it was put out in 2006 and I am worried that it will only cover the seedy/underground parts of Amsterdam, which although I'm interested in many such aspects, I also want to see the more "conventional" stuff.
posted by waltzing astronomers to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Even given your experience with the Rome book, I do think Lonely Planet is your best bet (I used their Scandinavia book a few years ago, and it was fantastic). Each of their books are written by different people, so I doubt you'll run into "filthy-fresh" again. In my experience, guidebooks are best for getting to know neighborhoods and public institutions, and not so good for things like restaurants and shops. For those, invest some time in poking around online.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:38 PM on February 23, 2009

I swear by Time Out.

Lonely Planet constantly frustrates me with bad maps and outdated information (I've used maybe 20 different ones and the amount of innacurate information is astounding).
posted by wingless_angel at 1:16 PM on February 23, 2009

Get Lost! isn't limited to the seedy/underground stuff, though it is aimed at people who are either backpacking or hanging out on the cheap, and looking for places to sleep, eat, drink and be merry on limited means. The map on my (old) copy is pretty rubbish, though.

The little Rough Guides DIRECTIONS city guide for Amsterdam (equivalent to the L.P. Encounter guides) might fit your bill. Or even the D-K Eyewitness books for all the standard tourist fare that doesn't change much, presented in a very attractive way, that can be supplement with your own up-to-date material gathered from the internets.

To go really minimalist, there are Moleskine City Notebooks for all three cities. The idea is that they're "DIY guidebooks", with very good street and transit plans, along with space for you to make notes in advance, all in a form factor that doesn't have you looking like a tourist with a big flappy map.
posted by holgate at 2:51 PM on February 23, 2009

I still like Rick Steves.
posted by theantikitty at 4:38 PM on February 23, 2009

I never travel without a Let's Go guide. They are written by Harvard students and geared toward budget travels.
posted by jefficator at 7:00 PM on February 23, 2009

Having seen the disheartening conditions under which Let's Go guides are written (I went to Harvard and had many friends who worked for Let's Go), I don't trust them. The writers never have enough money to get around (and so often don't travel or sample as extensively as they should), and the errors that are in those guides always manage to outstrip the incredibly stressed and harried editors who're chasing after them.

My sister was an R-dub ("researcher-writer") for Let's Go Australia one year. The proclivities of her predecessor (several years before her) was apparent in that the guide had needed to create a new symbol to add to the legend for the guidemaps in the book: a tiny brassiere, which indicated brothels.

My sister didn't research those locations, and they were dropped from her version of the guide.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:17 PM on February 24, 2009

When it comes to guidebooks, it seems like each city/area has its own "best" one, so I don't think you need to get the same brand for all three cities.

I myself like the Moleskine City notebooks (there are Berlin and Amsterdam ones for sure, Stockholm maybe) which are just maps and lots of blank space for you to write/tape/glue in your own stuff. They are small enough to fit in your pocket.
If you are concerned about updated info, online research printed out is the way to go.
posted by soelo at 11:59 AM on February 25, 2009

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