My aunt (who spent a number of years in Europe) recommended that I study Rick Steves' website and materials before traveling. His site has a lot of information without being overwhelming. We are traveling to Paris, Garmisch-Partenkirchen & Amsterdam. Steves' site includes links for the different countries/cities, with tips and highlights for each one. Each link also has another link with recommended books to read, and films to watch, before visiting. I didn't feel that his suggestions were extremely up-to-date, but it definitely gave me a springboard to work with.
P.S. We just finished watching The Tourist--so good! The setting was magical and the costumes couldn't have been better. Now we have to go to Venice (but we already knew that...)