Books can take us away to new worlds and places we’ve never been to before but soon, the real-life wanderlust starts to set in. Now, obviously, there’s no way to hop on a train to Hogwarts and there are no direct flights to Narnia but there are plenty of real destinations all around the world that will feel just as magical to any book-lover. For the literary traveler, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top bookish destinations.
There are many different factors that can contribute to a city being a great destination for those who love to read: being the birthplace or home to famous authors, being the setting for beloved novels, the amount of notable libraries or bookstores, etc. In the case of London, this is a city that has it all! Mystery fans will not want to miss a stroll down Baker Street to snap a picture in front of 221B as well as a stop at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. But that isn’t the only literature-centric museum in the city! There is also the Charles Dickens Museum, housed in the author’s former residence in the borough of Camden. Travelers will surely want to experience a Shakespearean performance at the world-famous Globe Theater. Last but not least, there are the fantasy fans. Travelers young and old can be fully-immersed in the world of Harry Potter by taking the Warner Brothers Studio Making of Harry Potter Tour or even by simply taking a picture at Platform 9 ¾ located at King’s Cross Station.
While touring Ireland’s capital city, book-lovers can step inside the childhood home of Oscar Wilde. Dublin was also home to writer James Joyce. Fans of his classic, Ulysses, flock to Dublin on June 16th (now referred to as Bloomsday) to follow Leopold Bloom’s steps throughout the city. Fans will even dress up in costume for the event! One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions is the Book of Kells, which can be found in the library of Trinity College. It is a display of the artistic manuscripts created from the four Gospels of the New Testament. The document dates back to 800 AD, and combines Christian iconography with traditional Irish and Celtic art, which makes it a unique piece of historical art.
North Island, New Zealand
Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy brought the Middle Earth from the books alive on the big screen thanks to the stunning landscapes that exist all throughout New Zealand. Fantasy fans may not be able to party with hobbits or fight dastardly orcs, but they can traverse the terrain that beloved characters like Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli traveled. There are countless tours that give guests a chance to see the filming locations up-close-and-personal. For an especially authentic Middle Earth experience, travelers can even visit the set of Hobbiton (The Shire), exploring the hobbit holes, including Bilbo’s, and even stop for an ale at The Green Dragon.
Dublin was already noted on our list for being the birthplace and childhood home of Oscar Wilde. But the city where he died, which is now his final resting place, also has a great deal of significance in the literary world. As far as a hotel, book-loving travelers need look no further than Le Pavillon des Lettres. All 26 of the hotel’s rooms represent a different letter of the alphabet and author. Once guests have settled into this charming little hotel, it’s time to take to the streets and explore the different bookish spots around the city of lights, such as Les Deux Magots, a café in Paris’ Saint-Germain-des-Pres quarter, famous for being a favorite spot of writers such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, James Baldwin, other artists, such as Pablo Picasso, as well as philosophers like Camus and Sartre.
For those who prefer their literature a little more spooky or paranormal, one of the classics has always been Dracula. Tihuta Pass will lead travelers through the picturesque Romanian Bargau Mountains, but fans of Bram Stoker’s novel will recognize it as the “Borgo Pass” which lead to the realm of Count Dracula. Guests can even stay in the Hotel Dracula. Built in 1974, it has become a popular stop for those visiting Transylvania due to the medieval architectural style and the beautiful landscapes surrounding it.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In a previous blog post, we listed some of the most unique sightseeing options in Buenos Aires and by far, one of the most stunning sites was El Ateneo Grand Splendid. Originally a theatre opened in 1919, it has since been converted into a gorgeous bookstore that will be any bibliophile’s paradise. It welcomes over one million patrons annually and in 2008, The Guardian gave it the number 2 spot on its list of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. Buenos Aires has been home to many notable authors throughout the years such as Roberto Alt and Julio Cortazar. Travelers can take a stroll through Lezama Park, which was a prominent setting in On Heroes and Tombs by Ernesto Sabato. In 2011, Buenos Aires was named the World Book Capital by UNESCO.