Travel Destinations For Book Lovers

Warm weather always sparks my wanderlust, leaving me daydreaming about booking trips to all the places I’ve never been. I’ve been lucky to be able to do quite a lot of exploring so far in my life, having spent a semester living abroad in Denmark during my undergraduate degree. But since I’ve started investing my time and energy into reading and writing about reading I’ve realized just how much books ignite my travel bug.

Of course I can’t simply book a trip to every single place I read about. I definitely don’t have the time or money to do that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream. Last week I posted on my Bookstagram page asking my followers what their favourite book-related travel destinations were, and from their responses and some of my own experiences I compiled this list of 15 Travel Destinations for Book Lovers. So if you’ve got a combination of the book bug and travel bug, this literary tourism list is definitely for you. Let’s dive in!

Edinburgh, Scotland

What makes it so literary?

Beautiful Edinburgh was the first city to ever earn the UNESCO City of Literature designation in 2004. With its picturesque cobblestone streets and majestic castle-on-a-hill, its easy to see why Edinburgh has inspired to many writers and storytellers over the years.

Bookish attractions

Every summer authors, publishers and readers flock to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Attendees can network with key industry players, attend interesting panel discussions, and browse through thousands of titles published by companies from around the world. Visitors to Edinburgh can also take in the sights of Edinburgh University, home of a renowned creative writing program. The city is also home to several historic book stores.

Fun bookish fact

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Edinburgh.

What to read before you travel to Scotland:

  • The Outlander series by Diana Galbadon

  • How The Scots Invented The Modern World by Arthur L. Herman

Dublin, Ireland

What makes it so literary?

Also named a UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin, Ireland is a thriving centre for literary arts. The home of famed writers like George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde, Dublin continues to foster written creativity through its universities. Trinity College, Dublin is home to the Oscar Wilde Centre.

Bookish attractions

The Dublin Writers Museum and the National Print Museum are two of Dublin’s must-see bookish attractions. Bookish pubs and bars are also a great way to experience Irish culture and have fun at the same time. The city even has a Dublin Literary Pub Crawl where attendees can learn about famed authors favourite drinking spots. Trinity College’s library, Trinity’s Long Room, is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, and is also a must-visit for book lovers. Book festivals like the Mountains to the Sea Festival and the Dublin Book Festival also draw in readers from around the world.

Fun bookish fact

Sally Rooney, one of 2019’s most popular writers, studied at Trinity College Dublin, and both of her books have been set in the city.

What to read before traveling to Ireland:

Havana, Cuba

What makes it so literary?

The beautiful, tropical city of Havana, Cuba has a deep-rooted literary history. Cuba is one of the most literate countries on earth because of a campaign implemented by Fidel Castro. Havana has been home to famous writers and journalists like Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn.

Bookish attractions

Grab a drink in Ernest Hemingway’s favourite bar El Floridita or wander through the aisles of the bookstores in Havana’s beautiful historic quarter. Take a day trip out to Hemingway’s home, which has been beautifully preserved as a museum, or ride in a vintage car along the coast to soak in some of the sights and sounds that inspired his writing. If you’re looking to get away from cold weather, plan a trip to Cuba during February and attend the Havana International Book Fair, Cuba’s biggest cultural event. You can read about my experiences at the book fair HERE.

Fun bookish fact

Cuba’s literacy rate is estimated to be as high as 97%.

What to read before traveling to Cuba

  • Next Year In Havana and When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

  • This Is Cuba by David Ariosto.

Oxford, England

What makes it so literary?

Oxford University is the pinnacle of higher education, and has also been home to some of the greatest writers of all time. Philip Pullman, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical worlds were all inspired by and created at Oxford, making this beautiful city one of the world’s greatest literary hotspots.

Bookish attractions

See Tolkien’s alma mater by strolling around Exeter College, or see where he taught English at Merton College. His home, where he wrote The Hobbit, is also still standing and is a frequent tourist destination. Stop for a pint at The Eagle and Child Pub, a favourite haunt of “The Inklings”, a group of writers including Tolien and Lewis. If you’re a fan of His Dark Materials, you’ll want to stop by the university’s Botanical Garden, where you can see the bench Lyra and will promise to meet on in their parallel universes.

Fun bookish fact

Scenes from the Harry Potter movie series were filmed at Oxford University, which looks quite a lot like Hogwarts. You can even take a Harry Potter themed tour through the campus.

What to read before traveling to Oxford

  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

  • Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Bath, England

What makes it so literary?

As the home of our lady and literary saviour Jane Austen, Bath comes by it’s bookish tourism honestly. The beautiful Roman town serves as the setting for her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, and also boasts some of the most beautiful architecture, history and scenery in England. Bath also has connections to Frankenstein author and horror-genre creator Mary Shelley, as well as to Charles Dickens.

Bookish attractions

Stop by Dicken’s former home at 35 St. James Square before strolling over to Royal Crescent, one of the most beautiful streets in Bath that’s featured in Austen’s novels. Visit Bath Old Books, a lovely antiquarian bookstore before heading over to the Jane Austen Centre where you can learn incredible facts about her life and work. Finally take a jaunt over to Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights or Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath for a little more shopping.

Fun bookish fact

Jane Austen is so central to Bath’s history and culture that the city even holds a festival in her honour featuring full-on reenactments.

What to read before traveling to Bath

  • Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen,

Iowa City, USA

What makes it so literary?

Iowa City is home to the Iowa Writers Workshop, arguably the most highly regarded school for writers in the world. Alumni of the program include Flannery O’Connor, Elin Hilderbrand, John Irving, and many, many others.

Bookish attractions

Visit the famous green and white writer’s workshop house right along the Iowa River before heading to Prairie Lights, the city’s beloved bookstore that frequently hosts author readings and literary society events. Take a stroll down the Literary Walk along Iowa Avenue and see the bronze plates filled with quotes from various authors and then head to the Iowa Writer’s Library. The city hosts a book festival every year, so if you plan your trip wisely you might be able to stop in and meet some authors and publishers. Just outside of the city in Coralville you can visit the Iowa River Landing Sculpture Walk, a collection of 8 literary themed sculptures.

Fun bookish fact

Like many other cities in this list, Iowa City has the designation of UNESCO City of Literature.

What to read before traveling to Iowa

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor (who happens to be from Savannah, Georgia, one of the other literary cities named on this list!)

Portland, Oregon

What makes it so literary?

Oregonians love reading. Portland’s library system is the second most used in the country, falling just behind New York’s. The beautiful West Coast city was also home to Ramona and Beezus writer Beverly Cleary and poet William Stafford. Oregon is also the setting for well-known Ken Kesey novels One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion.

Bookish attractions

Spend a few hours wandering through Powell’s Books or plan your trip during the Portland Book Festival. Visit statues of Beverly Cleary’s characters at the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden or walk through downtown and read quotes from famous authors inscribed in the ground. See the giant book mural painted on the Portland State University parking garage. End your day with a drink at Tugboat Brewery, a small, book-filled pub.

Fun bookish fact

Portland is home to Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world.

What to read before traveling to Portland

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes A Great Notion by Ken Kesey

  • Dies The Fire by S.M. Stirling

  • Girl by Blake Nelson

Helsingor, Denmark

What makes it so literary?

Just up the coast from Copenhagen, Helsingor is home to Kronborg Castle, famously depicted in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Denmark has been home to some of literature’s greatest figures, and strolling through Helsingor’s beautiful little streets is a magical, inspiring experience.

Bookish attractions

Walk around the property of Kronborg Castle and even take a photo with a recreation of the setting of the famous “To Be Or Not To Be” scene. You can also take a tour of the inside of the 16th century castle. From Helsingor it’s also easy to hop on a train to Copenhagen and pay homage to Hans Christian Andersen by visiting the Little Mermaid statue or stopping by the statue in his honour in the King’s Garden.

Fun bookish fact

In Hamlet the name Helsingor is translated in Elsinore for English readers.

What to read before traveling to Denmark

  • The Little Book of Hygge and the Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

  • How To Be Danish by Patrick Kingsley

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare

  • Meet Me At The Museum by Anne Youngson

  • The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Santiago, Chile

What makes it so literary?

Chile is home to some of the world’s most renowned poets, and its capital city is home to many literary cafes, bookstores and literary monuments. Other well-known Chilean authors include Isabel Allende and Alejandro Zambra.

Bookish attractions

Santiago is known for its literary cafes, where tourists and locals can enjoy a unique blend of culture and recreation. Grab a coffee and sit down to read at Balmaceda or Bustamante. Visit La Chascona, Neruda’s home in Santiago’s Bellavista District now preserved as a museum, or head to Cerro San Lucia park to see the elaborate mural dedicated to Mistral.

Fun bookish fact

Chile is often referred to as “The Land of Poets” because two of the country’s poets, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for their work.

What to read before traveling to Santiago

  • Travels in a Thin Country by Sara Wheeler

  • By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano

  • Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

  • The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

Hay-On-Wye, Wales

What makes it so literary?

Hay-On-Wye is literally called “The Town of Books” because of its numerous bookstores and its famous annual literary festival. The town even has some truly magical outdoor book shops for tourists to stroll through as they explore.

Bookish attractions

Browse through the bookshelves of Hay-On-Wye’s famous Murder & Mayhem bookstore, or plan your trip to coincide with the town’s incredibly popular book festival. Visit Hay Castle’s Honesty Bookshop, where you’ll find two giant walls lined with books selling for under one pound. Spend an afternoon browsing and lounging in the beautiful plant filled splendor of Richard Booth’s Bookshop.

Fun bookish fact

Hay-On-Wye has well under 2,000 permanent residents, but has more than two dozen book shops, many of the home to antique books and historical texts.

What to read before traveling to Wales

  • The Seeing Stone by Arthur Crossley-Holland

  • Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

  • How Green Way My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Savannah, Georgia

What makes it so literary?

Savannah is the setting of one of my all-time favourite books, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil. The book, which tells the true story of a criminal trial, launched the beautiful coastal city into the tourist spotlight. With its picturesque streets, parks and town squares and beautiful waterfront promenade, Savannah is the ultimate inspiration for a writer.

Bookish attractions

Take a tour of beautiful and haunting Bonaventure Cemetery and stroll through the trees hung with Spanish moss. Visit the headstones of “Moon River” songwriter Johnny Mercer and then drive out to the beautiful beaches of Tybee Island. Stop by the house that serves as the setting of Midnight and then wander through ethereally beautiful Forsyth Park. Visit lovely bookstores like The Book Lady Bookstore and E Shaver Bookseller.

Fun bookish fact

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil broke all previous New York Times bestseller records by spending 216 weeks on the list.

What to read before traveling to Savannah

  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

  • Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

Buenos Aires, Argentina

What makes it so literary?

Buenos Aires has a plethora of bookshops and literary themed events. The beautiful South American city is also the hometown of literary icons like Jorge Luis Borges and Victoria Ocampo.

Bookish attractions

Visited some of Buenos Aires bookshops like El Ateneo Grand Splendid or English-only bookshop Walrus. Book a trip during Ferio del Libro, one of Latin America’s largest book fairs. Visited Biblioteca Nacional, where Jorge Luis Borges was once director. Stroll down the famous Avenida Corrientes and peer inside various independently owned bookstores and cafes.

Fun bookish fact

In 2015 The Guardian reported that Buenos Aires had more bookshops per capita than any other city in the world.

What to read before traveling to Buenos Aires

  • The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

  • Ficciones and Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

St. Petersburg, Russia

What makes it so literary?

Home to literary greats like Alexander Pushkin and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, beautiful and majestic St. Petersburg is one of the centres of the literary world. The city has worked hard to preserve literary hotspots and create monuments and museums to honour its late writing heroes.

Bookish attractions

Kick off your Russian adventure with a trip to the memorial apartment and museum for Alexander Pushkin. The museum is settled in the lower floor of a mansion where Pushkin lived with his family from 1836 on, and where he worked on some of his greatest pieces. He even died in the building. Next wander through Literatorskie Mostki, a beautiful cemetery where many famous Russian writers, scientists and intellectuals have been laid to rest. Stop in at Cafe Brodyachaya Sobaka (Stray Dog), a centre of St. Petersburg cultural and literary life in the Silver Age. It reopened in 2001.

Fun bookish fact

One of St. Petersburg’s more unusual monuments is a large limestone sculpture of a nose, called Mayor Kovalev’s Nose. The monument was created based on the story Nose by Nikolay Gogol.

What to read before traveling to St. Petersburg

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  • Romanov by Nadine Brandes

Stockholm, Sweden

What makes it so literary?

Stockholm has been home to the creators of some of the world’s most iconic characters. Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstockings and a variety of other fairytale characters, lived in the city for years. Sweden is also the setting of the quintessential Nordic Noir novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and all of its successors.

Bookish attractions

Take a tour of Junibacken, a museum and play park on Stockholm’s central island dedicated to Astred Lindgren. This is the perfect spot to stop as a family - for kids it will be like walking into a fairytale. You can also visit Lindgren’s former apartment, now turned into a museum. If you’re looking for something a little darker, book a Stieg Larsson tour and see what Nordic Noir is all about. End your trip with a visit to the Stockholm Public Library, a beautiful spot for both literature and architecture lovers alike.

Fun bookish fact

In recent years international interest in Swedish novels has increased dramatically. Between 2002 and 2015, the number of foreign language translations increased by more than 50%, from 500 to 800.

What to read before traveling to Stockholm:

  • The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Melbourne, Australia

What makes it so literary?

The capital of Victoria is the epicentre of Australian literature. The home of many notable authors and essayists, and the location of a variety of writing programs and centres, Melbourne is a beautiful travel destination for book lovers everywhere.

Bookish attractions

The State Library of Victoria is one of the oldest free libraries in the world, and is Australia’s oldest library. The beautiful, ornate building is the first stop any book tourist should make when traveling to Melbourne. The library is home to the Wheeler Centre for Books, which hosts an annual book/writers festival that draws hundreds of tourists. Library lovers can also check out the Melbourne Athenaeum Library, the oldest subscription library in Victoria. Bookstores like Reader’s Feast and Collected Works are also must-see spots in the city. End your day with a trip to The Drunken Poet, an Irish pub dedicated to - you guessed it - poetry.

Fun bookish fact

The town of Clunes, also in Victoria, became the first Southern Hemisphere city to earn the designation of “International Booktown.”

What to read before traveling to Melbourne

  • Monkey Grip by Helen Garner

  • On The Beach by Nevil Schute

Concord, Massachusetts

What makes it so literary?

In the 19th century, a rich literary culture developed in Concord, mostly based around poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s residence in the area. His entourage included Little Women author Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.

Bookish attractions

Visit The Orchard House, the home where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in the 1800s, or walk through the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, which has been preserved as a museum. Walk through beautiful and haunting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where the entire Alcott family is buried, as well as Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau. Finish your stay will trips to the Concord Bookshop, a lovely independent bookstore, and the Concord Free Public Library. And if you’re looking for a place to stay, the Hawthorne Inn is built on land integral to literary history.

Fun bookish fact

Many Sleepy Hollow Cemetery visitors have been known to leave notes, poems, and other written works on Henry David Thoreau’s grave, weighed down by stones or flowers or branches.

What to read before traveling to Concord

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

  • Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Prague, Czech Republic

What makes it so literary?

Aside from its breathtaking beauty, medieval feels and incredible architecture, Prague has also been home to some of the greatest literary minds in history. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek and Milan Kundera are just a few of the renowned writers to have called Prague home.

Bookish attractions

If you want to hit all of Prague’s numerous literary hotspots, book a 2-hour walking tour of book and writing-related destinations. Visit the whimsical statue honouring Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis in Prague’s beautiful and historic Jewish Quarter. Wander through the Old Town Square, home to the world’s oldest functioning clock, and then stop for a refreshment at the Golden Tiger Pub, a favourite haunt of Closely Watched Trains author Bohumil Hrabal.

Fun bookish fact

While still sitting as President of the United States, Bill Clinton made a stop at Golden Tiger Pub to pay homage to some of the Czech Republic’s biggest literary names.

What to read before traveling to Prague

  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  • The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

What makes it so literary?

Arguably one of the greatest Canadian characters of all time, Anne of Green Gables is a product of Canada’s beautiful East Coast. Cavendish, Prince Edward Island inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write a character that captured the imaginations of so many young Canadians. The beautiful beaches and lovely historic architecture on the island make it the perfect place for a writing retreat or a book-filled holiday.

Bookish attractions

Visit the Green Gables historic site in Cavendish and take a tour around Anne’s beautiful rural home. You won’t be far from PEI’s capital city of Charlottetown, so take the chance to stroll through the beautiful town and visit independent bookstores like Bookmark or take a trip to one of the province’s lovely red sand beaches.

Fun bookish fact

Montgomery began writing Anne of Green Gables in 1905, and after publication tourists began flooding to Canada’s smallest province, eventually leading to the creation of Prince Edward Island National Park.

What to read before traveling to Prince Edward Island:

  • Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery.