The first time I went to England I took three travel guidebooks. They were heavy. Next time I go, I’ll likely only need my iPad, which I’d be taking anyway. Of those heavy guidebooks, my favorite far and away was the one from Dorling Kindersley, also known as DK. If you haven’t seen DK travel books, you’ve probably seen others from them. They publish absolutely gorgeous stuff. And their travel books are great for preparing for a trip, when on the ground, navigating your way around or once back home describing what you saw to others. They’re even a lot of fun for places you may never go, just to give you an armchair sense of what’s there.
DK has been doing PDF editions for quite a while but has just moved into iPad and iPhone app versions of their guides. The new London app in the Eyewitness Travel line does an excellent job of bringing the feel and functionality of the printed guides to the iPad.
Like the printed guides, the app not only helps you get around to points of interest and see stuff you wouldn’t want to miss, it also gives background on why places you’ll see are important and how they fit into the history of the area. The photography, as with the printed guides, is beautiful and gives a dramatic addition to the information. There are zoomable walking maps of the entire London area, and more in-depth, artistically rendered maps with point of interest info for smaller areas. And, of vital importance for anyone planning to cover more ground, an easily referenced map of the underground transit system (“the Tube”).
Whether you’re a London aficionado, preparing for your first trip there, or just interested in some armchair sightseeing, the Eyewitness Travel app is packed with information and is very attractively presented. Its normal price is $16.99, but right now it’s on sale for $7.99, more than half off. And if London isn’t quite what you want (or isn’t enough for you), there are similar apps for New York City and Paris, as well as more abbreviated apps designed for the iPhone, covering a number of cities. Next time you travel, load up your iOS devices and leave the heavy books at home!