Literary travel destinations

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Exploring places that have inspired beloved stories can be a truly magical experience. In this extensive guide, we’ll take a journey to various literary destinations around the world that every book-loving traveler should consider for their bucket list. Losing yourself in a favorite book is great, but real-life wandering is better. In this guide, we’ll explore all the best vacation spots that were featured in famous books, were the homes of acclaimed authors, or served as inspiration for a major literary work.

  • London England -The birthplace of William Shakespeare, this town offers tours of the playwright’s home and the nearby Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Explore Sherlock Holmes’ world at 221B Baker Street and lose yourself in the magic of Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station. London Walks specializes in literary tours. They offer dozens focused on literary landmarks from the works and lives of Virginia Woolf, Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and T.S. Eliot. London also offers several free walking tours featuring filming locations and inspirational spots for the Harry Potter series.

  • Edinburgh, Scotland – Explore the city that inspired authors like J.K. Rowling (who wrote parts of Harry Potter here) and Robert Louis Stevenson. Staying within the UK, we head up north to captivating Scotland. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and a fabulous city for historical and literary tours. The city was home to JK Rowling during many of the years she was creating her legendary wizarding series. Though it’s closed for now, you can see The Elephant House cafe, where she did much of her writing. You can tour Victoria Street, which many believe was one of the inspirations for Diagon Alley. Tour Greyfriars Cemetery, and look for familiar names from the novels, or hire a tour guide, and take a Harry Potter walking tour. Elsewhere in Scotland, you can see the spot where Hargrid’s hut was located in the movies in Glencoe, take a ride on the Hogwarts Train, and see Loch Shiel, or “The Black Lake.”
  • Paris, France – Paris is a literary legend. From the madness of the Da Vinci Code to Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, Paris is the perfect backdrop for a romantic or torrid tale. At this moment (July 2023) though, riotous Paris resembles a scene from Les Mis a little too closely! Explore the literary cafes of Paris, such as Les Deux Magots and Café de Flore, frequented by writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Sartre.
  • Dublin, Ireland – Dublin, Ireland, boasts a rich literary heritage, most famously associated with James Joyce and his masterpiece, “Ulysses.” Visit the James Joyce Centre, explore Trinity College’s Long Room Library, and experience the lively pubs that once hosted renowned Irish authors.  Pop into the incredible library at Trinity College, where you will find the ninth-century illuminations of the Book of Kells. Visit the Museum of Literature. The James Joyce Centre offers literary lectures and walking tours. As in most of the great literary cities, watering holes were a favorite amongst angsty authors, and the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl tours will introduce you to the best of the best.
  • New York, USA– New York City, USA, has been the backdrop for countless literary works. Follow a literary trail through Manhattan, visiting landmarks like the New York Public Library and Greenwich Village’s historic cafes. Like Paris and London, NYC is a no-brainer on this list. It was the home of greats like Jack Kerouac, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Truman Capote, Emma Lazarus, Walt Whitman, Edith Wharton, and Tennessee Williams. It’s the setting of countless works, like Breakfast at Tiffany’sAmerican PsychoThe Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye, and countless others. It’s loaded with gorgeous libraries, iconic bookshops, and familiar literary spaces. Like Dublin, NYC is a great place for a literary pub crawl.
  • Pamplona, Spain– Pamplona exudes old-world charm, and it’s not surprising that greats like Ernest Hemingway found solace in its glitzy watering holes. The colorful Spanish architecture, stacked high in narrow alleyways, opening to grand squares of stunning facades, fountains, and sculpture offers a plethora of inspiration for a writer. The city is most famous for its annual running of the bulls, and it is this event that dominates the most riveting section of Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises. This was Hemingway’s first hit novel.
  • Massachusetts, USA– Massachusetts has a very strong literary history, especially for such a small state. A road trip through Massachusetts is akin to a treasure hunt for literary masterpieces. Emily Dickinson owned two homes in the town of Amherst and attended university there. Robert Frost taught at the university. Start by taking a tour of the university. Visit the Robert Frost Library, and then tour the Emily Dickinson Museum and Historic Home. Nantucket Island is the setting of Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick. Melville didn’t visit Nantucket until long after he wrote the book, but the island has a great whaling museum, some interesting walking tours that include the literary history, and a fabulous summer book festival in June.
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands – Amsterdam was the home of one of the most endearing characters in human history. A little Jewish girl, known as Anne Frank, spent the last years of her “freedom” in an attic apartment, where she thoroughly detailed her daily life in hiding in her childhood diary. The Diary of Anne Frank is enlightening, endearing, and immensely heartbreaking and possibly one of the most-read non-fiction works of the 20th century. Visitors can tour the Anne Frank House to see firsthand where Anne penned her now-famous memoirs.
  • Tokyo, Japan– Delve into the vibrant world of modern Japanese literature by exploring Tokyo’s literary scene. Discover hidden bookstores, visit literary museums like the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum, and immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of neighborhoods like Jimbocho, known as Tokyo’s Book Town.

Hope you enjoyed this list of literary travel destinations. While these are some of the best, we guarantee whoever your favorite author is, you can design a trip around the places they lived and wrote in.

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