The Classic GuidesBlue Guide Cadogan Guide DK Eyewitness Fodor's Gold Fodor's Exploring For Dummies Frommer's Insight Let's Go Lonely Planet Michelin Green Michelin Red Mobil Rough Guide Time Out Zagat
Full disclosure: I, travel editor at FOOD & WINE for the past four years, was a walking guidebook. I've written a dozen of these volumes from scratch and have updated, coauthored, edited and consulted on many more. I love guidebooks. I also know their weaknesses. You'll get the benefit of my experience (plus my colleague Jessica Blatt's take) in the guidebook assessments on the following pages.
A few things to bear in mind. First, remember that some guidebook publishers update every volume in a series annually; others update only their most popular titles each year; still others update on an erratic, rolling schedule. Before buying a book, always check the publication date, knowing that even the freshest information may be a year old. Also remember that guidebooks vary in quality within a series depending on the writer, and that different writers will leave their mark on a given title. To find a writer whose opinions you trust, you need to read between the lines.
That's what we did as we evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the 26 series highlighted on the following pages, analyzing their characters and grading them. Scores are based on three essential attributes: