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The Best Bookish Cities in Europe

bookish cities in europe

Are you ready for some literary wanderlust? I know I am! As an English teacher, I feel like it’s my super special duty to promote literature destinations – of all shapes and sizes – from around the globe! I love books (and they love me)!

Some travelers seek out authentic street food. Others heart stopping adventure tours. Me? I’m all about books.

I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a tiny child. My love of stories inspired me to pursue English in college and graduate school. Heck, even J.K. Rowling indirectly pushed me to create this travel blog.

So it’s not a surprise I make visiting bookstores, authors’ homes, writers’ museums, etc. priorities on my travels.

Hopefully one day I’ll stop being so lazy and pen the next “Great American” novel myself!

bookish cities in europe

As you can see on my Destinations page, I have a special place in my heart reserved for Europe. The food, the people, the history, the beautiful cities, the nature, I love every corner I’ve explored throughout the years. The continent also has a very rich literary history (to say the least).

So, my fellow readers, you need to embark on a “wordy” journey through Europe, too, and hit each of these bookish cities. Don’t worry! I believe you can see it all!

Without further ado…

Welcome to the Best Bookish Cities in Europe

At the end of your journey, definitely leave more suggestions in the comments. I may visit them in the near future. I always need more ideas for future trips. Trust me!

bookish cities in europe

best bookish cities in europe

London, England

Obviously all book lovers want to visit London. You could spend a week here and still not see all the famous literary sites!

You love Shakespeare? Go to the Globe theater! Victorian Literature buff? Check out the Dickens House, home of the renowned author himself. Wanna go on a journey to Hogwarts? Visit Platform 9 and 3/4 in King’s Cross Station. Want to hang out around some beautiful first editions? Go to the British Library.

And, of course, every literary buff needs to go to Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Edmund Spenser, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, etc. are all buried here.

bookish cities in europe

bookish cities in europe

Bath, England

Have a crush on Mr. Darcy? Welcome to Austen-central also known as Bath in Somerset.

The Jane Austen Centre provides all the information you need to know about Bath’s most famous literary resident. This city’s streets will make you feel as if you fell into the pages of a Regency romance.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Bath this September (instead of working like yours truly), then you ought to check out the annual Jane Austen festival. Look at those costumes!

best bookish cities in Europe

best bookish cities in Europe

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is an absolute feast for any literature junkie. Of course, you have various Harry Potter sites, including the Elephant House Cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote her famous novels. You can also venture to Greyfriars Kirkyard to discover Tom Riddle’s grave.

However Edinburgh has even more to offer the literary traveler! Do you love Robert Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Visit Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. Brodie’s twisted legal story inspired Stevenson to write his Gothic classic. You can also check out Stevenson’s house on 17 Heriot Row.

Finally don’t forget to visit in August when the International Book Festival is in town.

best bookish cities in europe

best bookish cities in Europe

Dublin, Ireland

In my humble opinion, Dublin rivals London as far as literary sites are concerned.

Make sure to walk by Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker’s homes, exercise your mind inside the Dublin Writers Museum, and even sign up for a cool literary pub crawl later in the evening!

Are you limited on time and simply want to see some gorgeous books before enjoying that famous Irish landscape? Then go to Chester Beatty Library and Trinity College (where the Book of Kells is on display!), and ogle at the delicately ornate and hand-written pages. You’ll want a copy of your own.

bookish cities in Europe

best bookish cities

Paris, France

Ahh, Paris. The City of Lights and Literature. Bookish sites simply ooze out of this city. Like London and Dublin, you have so many places to see and experience that you may not have enough time to see all of them.

Love Oscar Wilde? Pay respects at his grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery. Be warned, however, you can no longer kiss the avant garde stone itself. Another cemetery, this one for fans of French literature, is Montparnasse Cemetery. Notable residents include Charles Baudelaire, Simone de Beauvoir, and more.

Not wanting to spend all your time in graveyards? Check out Shakespeare and Company, one of the most famous bookshops in the world. Of course I still need to see it, sigh.

Lastly, grab a drink at famous literary hangouts such as Le Rosebud and Les Deux Magots. You’ll feel like part of the “Lost Generation.” Hello, Fitzgerald!

bookish cities in europe

bookish cities in europe

Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius? Really? Absolutely! This Baltic gem belongs on any adventurous literary traveler’s list.

One of the coolest little lanes is Literatu Street. It’s an open air museum for book lovers. Each plaque is dedicated to an author, but not just any author. Each honored person must have a link to Lithuania. Since Lithuania is such a small country, you may encounter a new writer and then discover an entire new collection of works to add to your “favorites” list!

Want a cup of coffee inside what’s essentially a second hand bookshop? Then visit Mint Vinetu! This hidden gem is the coolest, most literary coffee shop ever!

bookish cities in europe

bookish cities in europe

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is pretty. So pretty. Seriously, the capital of the Czech Republic makes you feel as if you’ve spilled into a real life fairy tale.

Did you know Prague was also the birthplace of writer Franz Kafka? References to the Metamorphosis author are located on practically every corner!

While passing ornate cathedrals and absinthe shops, you may encounter a giant rotating statue of Kafka’s head. This modern depiction is made of 42 rotating layers and worth a photo or five. You can also visit the Kafka museum for something more educational about Prague’s most famous writer.

bookish cities in europe

bookish cities in europe

Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark’s cute capital Copenhagen was where Hans Christian Anderson wrote several classic fairy tales such as The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling.

Hans Christian Anderson wasn’t born in Copenhagen, but he spent many years living and writing in the city. You can see Anderson’s home (no. 20) in Nyhavn, as well as his final resting place in Assistens Cemetery. If you want to take a day trip, then venture two hours outside of Copenhagen to Holsteinborg Castle. Anderson was close friends with the count and countess, and as a result, he paid many visits to the castle grounds.

And, of course, you can always check out the famous Little Mermaid statue.

bookish cities in europe

bookish cities in Europe

Porto, Portugal

Lastly, Portugal’s northern hub is another literary gem you must explore on your bookish European tour. I had the pleasure of visiting most beautiful bookshop called “Livraria Lello & Irmão.” I’ve already gushed about this place on here but can you BLAME me? It’s stunning. I can’t think of a single bookshop that resembles a royal library.

Porto also has a little something special to offer Harry Potter fans. Bookish legend has it that J.K. Rowling penned the first draft of Harry Potter and the Philosopher/Sorcerer’s Stone at Cafe Majestic.

Tell me about your favorite bookish destinations, including bookish cities in Europe. Or, if you want to, give me book recommendations or tell me what you’re reading right now. Thanks for visiting!

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8 Responses to The Best Bookish Cities in Europe

  1. Valerie September 7, 2016 at 12:47 am #

    Shakespeare & Company is a great stop in Paris! Unfortunately it’s SUPER easy to miss because everyone’s looking the other way at Notre Dame 🙂

    • Rachel Elizabeth September 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

      Valerie —

      I’m SO mad I missed it! I need to go back to Paris just to visit that bookshop, argh.

  2. Tanja (the Red phone box travels) September 7, 2016 at 4:15 am #

    great selection!:)

  3. Kelly September 7, 2016 at 8:57 am #

    Dublin will always have my heart! If you’re there in mid-June, you can celebrate Bloomsday (based on the events in Joyce’s Ulysses).

    I spent a summer studying Irish literature in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, including a week at the Yeats summer school in Sligo (which is in a gorgeous area totally worth a visit!). Sometimes I wish I were back in college so I could have experiences like that again! 🙂

    • Rachel Elizabeth September 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm #

      Kelly —

      AHHHHH, that summer sounds like a dream come true. Those sort of experiences make me wish I could enroll in graduate school again. Silgo is stunning.

  4. Anne September 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    Fellow travel/book nerd here!! Love this! 🙂

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