Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Amanda Stancati
Find inspiration for your next masterpiece at any of the places listed below:
Paris is a writer’s dream. With sidewalks full of literary-inspired buildings, bibliophiles will surely feel right at home. Start your visit with a walking tour through Paris’ literary corners. David Burke will be more than happy to discuss the lives and works of famous writers like Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and Ernest Hemingway. Visit the renowned Shakespeare and Company founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach. Here, you will fall in love with a diverse collection of literary jewels. The entire time you will be asking yourself, ‘why didn’t I come here sooner?’ After, polish up your own work at a table at Les Deux Magots or St. Germain Café where Hemingway was said to frequent. Order a classic grand crème and a croissant. Or better yet, buy yourself a glass of scotch. It’s Paris! Make Hemingway proud.
If you arrive on a Monday, make sure to hit up Au Chat Noir and be swept away by the fascinating world of spoken poetry. Don’t forget to pay homage to Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Pere-Lachaise Cemetery. If you find a lipstick smudge or two, don’t be alarmed – they’re most likely left by adoring fans. Complete your visit with a relaxing stay at Le Pavillon des Lettres. There are 26 rooms at this hotel, each assigned a letter in the alphabet, with every letter honouring a writer (from A for Andersen, Hans Christian to Z for Zola, Emile). All rooms also feature beautifully stenciled quotes and come with iPads loaded with reading materials, simply perfect for modern lovers of literature.
There’s no better place to find inspiration than Edinburgh. An atmospheric city that has inspired more than 500 novels – from the likes of Ian Ranking, Alexander McCall Smith, and Irvine Welsh, everything about Edinburgh will make you swoon. Pay the Writer’s Museum a visit and see portraits, rare books, and personal objects of powerhouse literary trio: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Louis Stevenson. Drop by the National Library of Scotland which is the largest library in Scotland and discover five book sculptures modeled after classic Scottish stories. Spend some time at the Elephant House Café, where J.K. Rowling sat by a window and jotted down her vision about a young boy wizard. In one glimpse out of the window, you will see the Edinburgh castle. After, take some time to admire the Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British monarch of Scotland. If you hold history and politics in high regards, taking an audio tour through the palace may just be what you need. Before you part ways with this stunning landscape, make sure to pass by Greyfriars Kirk. Every square inch of it is covered with local legends and lore, making it the perfect muse for a mystery novel.
Dublin has plenty of charming qualities. It bustles with history, architectural grandeur, and a sparkling string of coastal towns, beaches, and harbours, ideal for aspiring writers everywhere. Begin your journey with a Ulysses self-guided tour. The tour starts from the James Joyce Statue on North Earl Street and takes you through a path that the characters in the book took on June 16, 1904. When you’re done, explore the Dublin Writers Museum and get the chance to see celebrities from the past three hundred years be brought to life through their books, letters, portraits, and personal items. Spend some time at the Abbey Theatre, which has contributed to some of the world’s greatest theatrical works. During your visit, make sure to also see the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from the Middle ages housed in the Old Library at Trinity College. And depending on when you visit, you may get the chance to witness the annual Poetry Now Festival in Dun Laoghaire and the regular readings and festivals around Ireland.
There is much to be said about London’s literary culture. In fact, listing all of London’s important sites and pastimes could fill a book even lengthier than the entire Harry Potter collection. Take part in the Literary London Pub Walk, and get the chance to see the public houses and taverns that inspired generations of writers and artists. See where the likes of Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Burgess ate, drank, and worked on their masterpieces. Head over to the British Library at St. Pancras and enjoy a romantic date with more than 13 million books. Here you will find the 1214 Magna Carta and many manuscripts, including Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Not enough Dickens? Why not tour the rooms where he lived with his young family and where he completed “Oliver Twist” and “The Pickwick Papers”? After, lose yourself in the massive independent bookshop, Foyles. If you’re lucky, you might just stumble across an author, as they regularly pop in, sometimes unannounced for signings. When nighttime comes, order a drink at Dukes Bar. Legend has it that this place gave Ian Fleming inspiration for the “shaken, not stirred line” used in the Bond films. On your last day, make your way to one of London’s most famous addresses 221b Baker Street, and find the dwelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional creations, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. And if you’re departing from Kings Cross Station – see if you can find J.K. Rowling’s platform 9 ¾ quarters. But muggles, beware. You may just stumble across a mysteriously fascinating world.
Portland may seem like an unlikely choice, but trust me, there are plenty of reasons why it belongs on the list. One of the world’s greatest towns for beer, weirdness, and funky neighbourhoods, a visit to Portland will surprise you (in a good way). Take a trip to Powell’s City of Books, which spans an entire city block. Here you will see a massive collection of new-and-used books. It’s the largest of its kind in the world, so take time to monument every moment. During your visit, book a stay at the Heathman Hotel and ask about its “Books By Your Bedside” package, which provides a tour of its 4,000-volume library, made up entirely of signed books by author guests. And if you visit between September and May, make sure to drop by Portland Art and Lecture series. It is known to be one of the biggest lecture events in the country and has drawn headliners like Annie Proulx and Sebastian Junger.
Do you fancy any of these 5 literary cities? Tell us your thoughts below!