It’s difficult to say when the earliest travel guidebooks were published, but they grown in popularity over the years. Today, the best guidebooks focus on specific locations to provide the most valuable information for a given traveler. Keeping that in mind, here are the top five travel guidebooks which we have based on each publisher’s catalog of guidebooks and their popularity among travelers of all types.
While we all know the name of at least one major guidebook publisher, the general mistake that people make in determining the best is that they think of name recognition before they consider the specific needs of their own journey. You’re still likely to recognize at least one or more of the names of our top five, but what puts them on this list is their breadth of booklets that reach out to specific travelers, specific activities, and specific destinations while leaving no gaps for the traveler to stumble into.
While Fodor’s can trace its origins to founder and traveler Eugene Fodor’s 1936 publication of his European guide, Fodor’s now covers the world in detail with print and online versions. A small army of world travel experts and local travel authority correspondents are constantly updating the info on their more than 7,500 global destinations. In each guide, you’ll find insider tips, planning essentials, and expert hotel, restaurant, and sight recommendations to create a trip of a lifetime. Available in paperback and eBook formats.
From its beginnings over 40 years ago by a young couple, Lonely Planet has become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 120 million books in eleven different languages. Along with guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, Lonely Planet also produces a range of gift and reference titles, an award-winning website and magazine, and a range of digital travel products and apps.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide
The combination of in-depth text and vivid pictures has made DK Eyewitness Travel Guides a winner for more than two decades. World travelers and novices have utilized these guides to unlock the world’s history, art, architecture, and culture of various destinations through thousands of photographs, maps, and custom illustrations. Expert travel writers and researchers have provided independent editorial advice, in-depth cultural and historical information, recommendations, and reviews to keep these visual travel guides relevant for each of its more than 200 destinations around the world.
Arthur Frommer’s revolutionary Europe on $5 a Day was the beginning of this guide in 1957. Today Frommer’s collection of travel products has expanded to include over 300 guidebooks and a website used by travelers across the globe.
Covering more than 100 destinations from Atlanta to Zurich, Phaidon’s Wallpaper City Guides provide in-depth profiles of the world’s most exciting cities. The guides utilize mounds of color photographs to show the art, architecture, and destinations within each city.
This is a companion to the in-depth insider text that provides details on the city’s hippest nightlife, hotels, shopping, galleries and cultural spaces, as well as local design and contemporary architecture. In addition to their handy pocket size, they are also available for iPhone and iPad to allow in-app browsing, restaurant and hotel booking, and interactive GPS location assistance.
Of course, these are just five of the top travel guidebook publishers that are available, and depending on your preference for how the information is presented, there are still others that are equally compelling. We couldn’t resist adding one more travel guidebook candidate in the form of the top list from Gearpatrol.com. This 2015 list provides an idea of how guidebooks today can be categorized in lists that are far more relevant to individual user experience. Their list includes guides such as:
- Best City Guide
- Best Narrative Guide
- Best Guide for Young Travelers
- Best Budget-Conscious Travel Guide
- Best Guide for Cyclists
- Best Guidebook for First-Time Travelers
- Best Guidebook for Writers
Of course, travel isn’t about always knowing exactly what you’ll find. A few surprises (as long as they are good ones) are always a welcome part of seeing the world or what’s in your own backyard.