Books - Travel Guides


No matter what information you find on the internet it's always wise to carry a travel or guide book with you during your travels. I have tried to offer up the pros and cons of each travel book so you can select the one that best fits your need. You can get books for all of Spain, Andalucia or just Seville. While there is comfort and reason to stick with the popular guides such as Lonely Planet, Let's Go and Fodor's, you may want to consider something different so you're not always on the same path as everyone else. Don't be afraid to carry two of them should one fail you in certain respects.

Many of you may choose to drive rather than take a train or bus everywhere - don't worry as it's not as difficult to do as you may think, at least until you get into the old center of Sevilla and it's narrow streets. Guides focusing on car travel are also listed below.

Finally you'll need to communicate along the way, right? Take a look at some helpful phrase books which will get you speaking quickly. I just hope you understand the response you get from the native speakers. And a dictionary comes in handy when you really need to understand one or two words outside the normal conversational vocabulary. Find what might be best for you below.


Travel Guide Topics
Travel Guides for Sevilla & Andalucia

cover Seville & Andalusia (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
The best part of these books are the illustrations, photos and 3-D views which help you easily learn about the specifics of the places you visit. For the main tourist attractions this book is very helpful, and has received praise for the quality of it's city maps. It covers Sevilla better than the other cities of Andalucia, and some consider it the best guide around for Sevilla. For the "off the beaten path" attractions many have recommended using Lonely Planet or Let's Go in conjunction with this book.

cover Thomas Cooke Travelers Seville & Andalucia (Web links CD included)
While one has to be suspect about a web links CD being up to date they review their content every year. Plus they include tips for hotels and dining out. It's a compact guidebook, which is good when you're lugging other necessities around the streets. The maps are better than Let's Go, which isn't saying much. Some out of the way and less known sites are listed as well. The entire line of these books has been revised, and while they're much better than before they still lack some information. But when everyone's carrying the above books with them and this one being small it might be worth it as a second option on your trip.

cover Lonely Planet Andalucia (Travel Survival Kit)
A little bit of everything to get you through your trip in Andalucia, starting with some background like history, geography, people, climate and more. Sections on flamenco, food and drink and getting around Andalucia give you the basics to make your travel decisions. Then look at each province in detail, including the sites and smaller towns and attractions along the way.


Rough Guide Andalucia

A good mix of culture, history and background of the province. Rough Guide has always been good about providing a different point of view than most of the other books, and this one won't disappoint you. They also tend to recommend more budget accommodations than many of the other guide books out there.

Footprint Seville
A guide covering just Seville, and it's done quite well. Special sections on tapas, flamenco and sherry are included. Also inside is coverage of the popular events of Semana Santa and Feria, as well as nightlife spots. Other cities are not ignored as they cover the basics of side trips to Córdoba, Jerez, Cádiz, Carmona, and Huelva.


cover Granada Seville Córdoba, 2nd
Three cities you must see while visiting Andalucia, this book has some great color photos as well as very good background reading before making your trip. Plenty of recommendations for accommodations (250) as well places to eat. Well written, it also includes a men reader to make your dining experience a little easier.


Fodor's Andalusia: The Guide for All Budgets
Like the Eyewitness Travel Guides the Fodor's guide does the right thing in covering Andalucia apart from the rest of Spain. I would hesitate to say this is really a guide for "all budgets" after glancing through their listings of restaurants and hotels/hostals. They do, however, rely on authors from Andalucia, giving them an advantage over some of the other books.

cover Time Out Andalucia
Time Out puts together some of the best city guides around and is well known in Europe, while having less fame in the U.S. They do a great job with Andalucia covering each region and the basics of accommodations, eating and drinking. Then add a few more details the others sometimes leave out: nature walks, beaches (from quiet to party going), history and legends as well as literary background.


coverFootprint Andalucia Handbook: The Travel Guide (3rd Edition)
Footprint has been around for 75 years! They show their experience in covering history, culture and customs in Andalucia, and do a more than thorough job in descriptions and background of the sites. You'll be hard pressed to find better information on the attractions, so it's worth a look for that alone. If you're looking for more information on hotels, restaurants and bars you may find yourself disappointed - while they cover them there are few recommendations compared to other books.


cover Lazy Days Out in Andalucia (Cadogan Guides Series)
For the tourist with a car and a little time on their hands, as the title describes. For those looking for a relaxing and slow paced tour of some of the best rural restaurants and sites this book comes highly recommended. Out of the way places where you can slow down and enjoy the food and culture. Great in depth descriptions of the restaurants and sites, plus solid driving directions and maps.



cover Insight Guide Southern Spain (Insight Guides)
Insight Guides often don't get the recognition they deserve because people searching for the typical guide books telling them where to stay, eat and maps find these guides lacing in this department. But this book is perhaps one of the best when it comes to pre-departure reading and giving you a wonderful background on the people and culture of Andalucia. Over 10 sections cover culture and life and there are some great ideas on what to see and how to see it. I say buy two books - Let's Go, Fodor's, Lonely Planet or one of the others - and then buy this one. You won't regret it!


cover Routard: Andalucia & Southern Spain: The Ultimate Food, Drink and Accommodation Guide
I do believe they are published in France, but definitely offer a European point of view for the young, budget-minded traveler. What they do best is offer advice and recommendations on places to eat, look for nightlife and crash for the evening. Many restaurants and hotels in Sevilla display their stickers outside from previous recommendations. I've seen them on some great places, as well as a few questionable ones...

Travel Guides for Spain

cover Let's Go 2003: Spain & Portugal
Let's Go has been around for over 40 years now and they do a good job of covering all the details, and generally are up-to-date on the changes from year to year. The guide also does a good job of covering all price ranges when dining out or looking for a place to stay. This is the most popular guide for traveler's from the U.S., so don't expect to be the only foreigner who shows up at that bar or restaurant.


cover Rick Steves' Spain and Portugal 2003
The book covers Sevilla and Andalucia fairly well, but some have pointed out factual problems with Rick's history. One reader also mentioned the absence of Valencia and the Costa Blanca region which were left out. His guides are based on his own itineraries, and thus some areas may not have complete coverage. Overall he provides some good general points on traveling in Spain.


cover Lonely Planet Spain (Travel Guides)
If you've seen the television series you have a good idea of what Lonely Planet is all about. They do a good job of covering the out of the way places and the budget hotels and hostals. Also included are some helpful phrases in Catalan, Basque and Galician (yes, they do speak languages other than Spanish in Spain!). Some readers have complained about a lack of detail for the accommodations, and the more luxury minded have found it less useful. Others have complained about errors in prices listed here for museums and other sites. Of course carrying more money than the just the entry fee for the attractions listed in the books not only helps, it is just plain common sense. While lacking some detail on transportation and hotels it often gets higher marks than Let's Go for the maps and insider info from people who live in Spain. A Spanish phrase book is also available from Lonely Planet.

cover Spain Cadogan Guide
Well written guide from the UK which is known for providing more insight and history into the sites you'll see along the way. Cadogan guides get a lot of praise from their readers for their solid, practical information as well, often providing details about more rural and out of the way destinations than other guides. Written with a distinctively British point of view but works well for everyone.


cover Berlitz Guide Spain Pocket Guide
It's a pocket guide! Oh boy! Really, I don't much care for pocket guides as the only advantage seems to be that...they fit in your pocket! Otherwise get ready for small type and/or less information. And while Berlitz is the king of language books they aren't known for their travel series. Still, this one does a better than average job in getting you around Spain and to the sites. Hotel and other recommendations lack a little, but if you want to pack light, or like to leave your other book in your room while out for the day then this is a decent book to bring along.


cover The Rough Guide to Spain (10th Edition)
If you're looking or the most content packed guide this is it! More information and less pictures make it the most comprehensive guide for Spain. Most enjoy the maps which include hotels and restaurants. They always offer the best and most recommendations for budget accommodations. Detailed information on the smaller towns and cities also makes it ideal for those off the beaten path looking for more rural travel.


cover Fodor's Spain 2004
On Amazon I find this curious statement: "The San Francisco Chronicle sums it up best: 'Fodor's Gold Guides are saturated with information.'" Indeed, this one is saturated with information and much of it is really good. They have an excellent layout and that makes finding the basics much easier than some of the small print, 2-font guide books. What I can't agree with is their claims of a guide for all budgets. They do offer a full range of options but lean towards the money bearing traveler rather than the cash-starved one, especially when it comes to accommodations and some of their dining options.

cover Eyewitness Travel Planner: Spain
Currently listed out of print, which is a shame. While not the most thorough guides Eyewitness is known for it's visual richness - illustrations, photos, architectural explanations, flora and fauna are part of the book. Best as a companion guide to one it's more text heavy competitors, it is really worth the purchase. I'll be updating the link (hopefully) to the new edition.


Frommer's Spain 2004

Frommer's is written by travel "experts" around the globe, so do expect a critical opinion of Spain, including what to skip and what not too. Some great tips that you won't find in other books, plus hotel and restaurant listings for most budgets.



cover Baedeker's Spain (Baedeker's Spain)
A whopping 576 pages, although it's a little smaller in dimension. Baedeker's has always done a thorough job with their guides and they've updated the look and layout to make things easier. A fold out map in a plastic case is a bonus, lots of color photos plus a "dictionary" covering every almost town in Spain.


Travel Guides - Unique & Alternative


cover The Companion Guide to the South of Spain (Companion Guides)
Unique in that it's written by one person, Alfonso Lowe, who proves to be extremely knowledgeable as well as entertaining in his writings. It also gives the book an even flow which that have been pieced together may lack. Lowe knows his stuff - from history to architecture and culture the topics are detailed, factual and interesting. Some great recommendations on restaurants and local cuisine.


cover Cities of Spain
While this truly belongs in another category I thought it valuable enough to include it as a guide. David Gilmour (not of Pink Floyd) covers 9 cities of Spain, from their regional differences to history and present day (up to 1992). Gilmour is well traveled and writes what he knows best. A great book to understand the cultural identities and regionalism as it exists in Spain's urban environment.


cover Hanging Out in Spain: The Complete Guide to the Hottest Cities, Scenes & Parties
Is this part of the Wild On...guides? Well, no, but they try and cover everything a 20-something would want to know, from nightspots and party scenes to youth culture and music. Covering the major cities in Spain and some of the "party" beaches there's some question as to what "hip" is, as some like the book while others can't stand it. A new breed of guide catering to the young partying traveler, although the scene in Spain moves so quick that it may be hard to keep current. Just don't rely on it for the basic travel information that other books cover much better.

cover Discovering Spain: An Uncommon Guide (Discovering Spain)
Written by the other Penelope from Spain who's better known for her recipes. The book is an interesting look at Spain, although some complain not that uncommon. As you would expect some great recommendations on dining plus insight into Spanish regional culture. The book was written with American's in mind, a plus if coming from the states. It is not for the budget traveler, however.


cover Alastair Sawday's Special Places to Stay in Spain and Portugal
With a name like Alastair you know he's got to be British. But Alastair has put together some really great places to sat, although you may need a car for many recommendations as they are well off the beaten path. Plenty of pictures to give you a feel for the places, which include farmsteads, villas, mountain refuges, palaces, monasteries, cottages and more. Form letters are included so you can make your reservations in advance with little trouble.


Karen Brown's Spain: Charming Inns & Itineraries 2003

U updated every year, Karen Brown Guides point you to charming inns and B&Bs in Spain. Reviews and easy-to-follow itineraries as well as descriptions of all inns, hotels, and B&Bs. Covering most price ranges, chosen for their charm and the warmth of their welcome, the book also includes maps which help to plan inn-to-inn itineraries.


Rivage's Hotels and Country Inns in Spain: Of Character and Charm

Probably the best guide out there for quaint hotels ideal for getaways. Included are maps, ratings, contact information and pictures of each establishment. Over 300 locals are covered, including restaurant guides.




Travel Guides for Driving

cover Signpost Guide Andalucia and the Costa del Sol, 2nd: Your Guide to Great Drives
While I'd never recommend driving through the cities in Southern Spain it is doable. This guide takes you to the cities, but more importantly out of them and through the countryside and along the coast for some great scenery. Accommodations, shopping, restaurants and of course lots of maps! Also some ideas to get you exploring on your own.


Frommer's Spain's Best-Loved Driving Tours: 25 Unforgettable Itineraries (5th Ed)

Currently out of stock! Color maps, pictures and detailed information on getting around Spain by car. They've done a good job selecting some of the best scenery, but may have been better off making it 50 instead of 25.


cover Lazy Days Out in Andalucia (Cadogan Guides Series)
For the tourist with a car and a little time on their hands, as the title describes. For those looking for a relaxing and slow paced tour of some of the best rural restaurants and sites this book comes highly recommended. Out of the way places where you can slow down and enjoy the food and culture. Great in depth descriptions of the restaurants and sites, plus solid driving directions and maps.


The Michelin Green Guide Spain
Fiestas, traditions, historical towns and villages, plus seaside resorts and varied landscapes. Offers suggestions on what to see and what to do, background on history and cultural heritage and a selection of hotels and restaurants. Sights are rated - 3 stars "worth a journey", 2 stars "worth a detour" and 1 star "interesting". Map itineraries help you plan your routes.

Knopf MapGuide of Seville
Maps and more maps - very detailed and I haven't ever seen the book, so I am embellishing a bit here.


Language & Phrase Books

cover Lonely Planet Spanish: Phrasebook (Lonely Planet Language Survival Kit)
Make your way around Spain with a little language help. Phrase books are often a good companion to a dictionary. Nonetheless this one includes a basic two-way dictionary and sentence builder plus pronunciation for every word. Fiestas, flamenco and fútbol vocabulary. Basque, Catalan & Galician sections plus local slang and a culinary dictionary for dining out.


cover HarperCollins Language Survival Guide: Spain : The Visual Phrasebook and Dictionary
Covers the basics of travel in Spain from traffic signs to menu items and bank machines, plus practical info like finding the closest tapas bar or reading a bus or train schedule. Photographs illustrating vocabulary and customs for easy reference plus a basic bilingual dictionary and grammar section.


cover Rick Steves' Spanish Phrase Book and Dictionary
Rick Steves, the author of travel guides to Europe, offers a guide which provides key phrases for use in everyday circumstances, including phonetic spelling. An English-Spanish and Spanish-English dictionary as well as the latest information on the Euro and rail transportation.


HarperCollins Spanish Dictionary: Spanish-English/English-Spanish

An old stand-by, although it may do a better job covering Latin American slang than Spanish from Spain.



cover 501 Spanish Verbs
To be or to be - ser and estar and lots more! Very highly recommended by me, a former Spanish student who used this frequently to make sure my tenses were in order in all my papers and correspondence. Easy to use and including just about any verb you'll need to know. It's a great reference.



Webster's New World Spanish Dictionary: Spanish/English English/Spanish

A really solid dictionary.




Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses

More of a learning tool than the above 501 Spanish Verbs, although both have their places. 501 Spanish Verbs is best to use as a tense checker, while Spanish Verb Tenses does a better job at teaching you conjugations and how to remember tenses.



The Oxford Spanish Dictionary: Spanish-English/English-Spanish

Probably the mother of all the dictionaries on Amazon.


Merriam-Webster's Spanish-English Dictionary

One of the best for travelers and students.



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