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Literary Travel Destinations

There are destinations all over the world that evoke thoughts of our favorite books or hold significance within the literary community. I have compiled a list of 12 places that I found interesting but there are many more out there.

 

Before diving into the list of places I wanted to mention that UNESCO has a whole list of place that are designated as UNESCO Cities of Literature. If you want to know more check out Cities of Literature.

 

Bath, England- Jane Austen Fans

The city of Bath has a strong literary heritage, with authors past and present gathering inspiration from the city. It is well-known that eighteenth-century novelist Jane Austen once lived in, and wrote about, Bath, but the city was also immortalized in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, and provided inspiration to Anna Sewell and Mary Shelley, whose novels Black Beauty and Frankenstein were influenced by the city. Nowadays, Bath continues to feature in popular literature. Douglas Westcott's novels, Go Swift and Far and An Unfolding Soul, bring the city to life, shining a spotlight on little-known aspects of Bath's colourful past.


 

Dubrovnik, Croatia- Game of Thrones Fans

Dubrovnik is the setting for many of the King’s Landing scenes! Beyond the Game of Thrones connection, Dubrovnik is simply a stunning literary travel city full of gorgeous views and streets to explore.


 

Anne Frank House- The Netherlands

One of the most memorable literary travel places you could visit is the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Most of us probably read The Diary of Anne Frank in school, but nothing prepares us for the overwhelming emotions of seeing where she wrote those words. Anne's writing made a deep impression on Otto. He read that Anne had wanted to become a writer or a journalist and that she had intended to publish her stories about life in the Secret Annex. Friends convinced Otto to publish the diary and in June 1947, 3,000 copies of Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex) were printed. And that was not all: the book was later translated into around 70 languages and adapted for stage and screen. People all over the world were introduced to Anne's story and in 1960 the hiding place became a museum: the Anne Frank House. Until his death in 1980, Otto remained closely involved with the Anne Frank House and the museum: he hoped that readers of the diary would become aware of the dangers of discrimination, racism, and hatred of Jews.


 

Scottish Highlands- Harry Potter Fans

I know that J.K. Rowling is very controversial now but Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart as it got me into reading in the first place. There was no green screen magic in the movies when the Hogwarts Express glided over a viaduct that cut through lush countryside. It’s one of the iconic shots in the franchise, and you can travel the exact route taken by young witches and wizards by heading to Scotland. The Jacobite, to give the train ride its muggle name, lasts a camera-filling couple of hours. If that’s not long enough, there’s a two-day version that cruises around the Highlands, letting you happily pretend you’re leaving for Hogwarts.


 

Chicago, Illinois- American Writers Museum

If you’re looking for a wide breadth of literary travel connections, what’s better than a writing museum? The American Writers Museum highlights famous Chicagoan writers like Sandra Cisneros and Ernest Hemingway as well as celebrating all aspects of the reading and writing in America.


 

Prince Edward Island, Canada- Anne of Green Gables Fans

Anne of Green Gable fans, step into this magical land where Anne Shirley delighted and exasperated all those around her. The island has embraced this connection and features many places to visit inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s stories. I visited Charlottetown last year and I would have loved to have a bit more time to go and visit Green Gables.


 

Florence, Italy

Florence, and Italy more generally, have provided the background for more than a few literary works. Perhaps you were seduced by the idea of buying a quaint fixer-upper in the hills of Tuscany surrounding Florence after reading Frances Mayes’s Under the Tuscan Sun. Or, perhaps you fell in love with the dreamy city thanks to E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, which describes a glorious morning in the heart of this Renaissance town:

“It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look clean though they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins and bassoons. It was pleasant, too, to fling wide the windows, pinching the fingers in unfamiliar fastenings, to lean out into sunshine with beautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and, close below, Arno, gurgling against the embankment of the road.”
 

Cuba-Ernest Hemingway Fans

Cuba is another gorgeous but complicated country that has generously lent itself to many novels and short stories, including many by Ernest Hemingway, such as The Old Man and the Sea and To Have and Have Not. The author also lived there for nearly 30 years, and it’s also where he wrote two For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Moveable Feast.


 

Greece

In 2018, Athens was named a UNESCO World Book Capital, but there are many things for book lovers to see and do outside the nation’s capital city. Plan a holiday on the island of Ithaki, where Homer’s Odyssey concludes, and where Penelope patiently waited for her husband’s return. Or, visit the setting of one of the first novels, Daphnis and Chloe by Longus, by spending the day on Lesvos. The third-largest Greek island, Lesvos is mostly untouched by mass tourism, so you can enjoy genuine experiences, traditional food, and uncrowded beaches.


 

Hay-On-Wye, Wales- Village of Bookshops

If you’ve heard of the little village of Hay-On-Wye in Wales, it’s probably because of the interesting bookshops for which it’s famous. Even though the village is home to less than 2,000 residents, it still features a number of unique bookshops, some of which are dedicated to specific genres. The main point of interest to see in the village is the open-air bookshop near Hay Castle. Known as the Honesty Bookshop, it features shelves of books that are free to browse. Customers can purchase them by putting money into a slot since there’s no shopkeeper.


 

Trinity College Library- Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is another city that was home to some of the greatest writers the world has ever seen. It’s also home to several important literary sites that any book lover would be dying to see. The main highlight to include on your bucket list when traveling to the Irish capital is the Trinity College Library. Dating back to the 18th century, the immense library looks like something out of a storybook. But it’s not just the design of the library that should draw you in — although that is a strong selling point! Inside you’ll find the manuscript of the Book of Kells on display.


 

Bebelplatz- Berlin, Germany

Located in the heart of Berlin, Bebelplatz is one of the most picturesque public squares in the city. It is also the site of the infamous book burning that happened in May 1933. On May 10, Nazi Student Union members and professors torched approximately 20,000 books in an effort to quell the "un-German spirit" by destroying texts that were opposed to their ideology. Several important works authored by then-blacklisted writers like Erich Kästner, Karl Marx, August Bebel and Sigmund Freud were also thrown into the flames. Today, an underground memorial marks the site — a library with bare bookshelves — a symbolic reminder of the horrific event. A visit to this memorial serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of freedom of expression and the power of the written word.


 

There are many more literary destinations but it really depends on what kind of books you are reading, authors you like, etc. Use this list as a guide if you want to plan your own literary trip.

 

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