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Europe’s Best Bookish Cities
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!
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
Embrace your inner nerd because you’re about to head on one heck of a ride. At the end of your journey, definitely leave more suggestions about bookish cities in the comments. I may visit them in the near future. I always need more ideas for future trips. Trust me!
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.
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!
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. This is one of the greatest literary festivals in the entire world. Make a special note on your calendar.
In my humble opinion, Dublin rivals London as far as literary sites are concerned. I’m not kidding. Dublin is awesome for book lovers.
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.
Worried about money? Don’t be. The Chester Beatty Library is free to everyone who wants to visit it.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Additionally, 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.
Finally, Spain’s wonderful capital Madrid closes my post for the best bookish cities in Europe.
Here, you want to take time to explore Madrid’s Literary Quarter or the Barrio de las Letras. Spanish Golden Age poets all resided in this neighborhood. Some of their homes are even museums, allowing you to see the rooms in which they wrote some of their greatest poetry. You can also see literary street art on the building, as well as stanzas from the poems themselves embedded into the sidewalks.
Barrio de las Letras is a wonderful neighborhood for book lovers to stay in. Not only for its literary value, but also its abundance of restaurants and cafes. Mmm, tapas everywhere!
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! And don’t forget to read some travel poems for extra inspiration.