All book lovers know that a good book (or two, or three) should be high on your to-pack list when you’re preparing to go on holiday. From fantasy to biographies and non-fiction, nothing beats relaxing under the sun, next to the pool or in a cosy café with a book to recover from all your sightseeing!
In honour of World Book Day on April 23rd, Holidu, the holiday rental booking portal (www.holidu.co.uk) and Spain-Holiday (www.spain-holiday.com) decided to bring you a shortlist of the best cities to travel to if you are hooked on reading! Using Google Maps data, this ranking compiles the cities with the most and best-rated libraries and bookshops in Europe. Get inspired and find your next travel destination, because we know that even on holiday, a good book can be hard to resist!
The 10 best cities to travel to for book lovers
- Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart can call itself the most bookish city of Europe! Car lovers may know this city in the southwest of Germany as the home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, but the city has much more to offer.
With more than 200 libraries and bookshops, and an astounding 240 publishing companies based in the city, every bookworm should consider adding Stuttgart to their bucket list. One of the bookish sights you can’t miss is the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart with its iconic minimalist design. Grab a book from their extensive English collection, and enjoy some quiet reading time in the reading room, or in the cafeteria with a cup of coffee or tea. Another great activity for any reader is to head to Schlossgarten or one of the other botanical gardens in the city with your current read (whether you bring it from home or pick up a new book at a local bookshop) and have a relaxing afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of the city.
- Lyon, France
Lyon is one of those cities that are not on every tourist’s radar, being ignored in favour of cities like Paris and Nice. However, the city is surprisingly beautiful and has a rich cultural history. It’s not surprising that it takes the second spot in this ranking! With one of the highest ratios of bookshops per 10,000 inhabitants of all of Europe and some of the best-rated libraries, this city will seduce all book lovers that come to visit. Lyon is home to the world-famous Le Bal des Ardents, the prettiest bookshop in the city. An impressive arch made entirely out of books welcomes you when you arrive, and inside the massive bookshelves hide a treasure trove of books by independent authors and small publishers. Another must-visit place is the Damn Fine Bookstore, where you will find a wide selection of English books to buy or to read with a nice cup of coffee in their coffee shop. Or bring a book with you and enjoy the sights of the Rhone while you read on a park bench next to the river.
- Reykjavík, Iceland
Iceland is one of the countries with the highest book production compared to their inhabitants, and the capital of this book-loving nation has an incredible offer of libraries and bookstores that will make every bookworm fall in love. From regular municipal libraries to university libraries, all of them are open to the public. If you fancy something different, you can head to the Borgarbókasafnið library and enjoy a swim at the pool when you’re done reading, or try to spot the Bookmobile, a travelling library in a van. You’ll have many occasions to enjoy a good book in the city! Reykjavik is also home to many quaint independent bookshops where you can replenish your collection. Two shops you can’t miss are the Bókakjallarinn (Book Basement), where you’ll find a wide selection of second-hand books, and the Bókavarðan to pick up the best books related to Icelandic culture.
- Dublin, Ireland
As the home of the Trinity College Library, Dublin has always attracted many book lovers and other tourists wanting to visit the building. It’s one of the landmarks that you simply must visit when you’re in town: wander through the shelves of the Long Room, admire the famous Book of Kells and just soak up the atmosphere of this iconic library. But Dublin has many other bookish attractions waiting to be discovered. Book lovers will be enchanted by the 18th-century Marsh’s Library where you can enjoy exhibitions, a peaceful library garden and many activities for all ages. If you prefer to add some books to your personal library, you can’t miss The Winding Stair Bookshop, a quaint independent bookshop where you can spend an afternoon browsing books and literary gifts. Other must-visit bookshops in Dublin are Hodges Figgis, one of the oldest bookshops in the world, and Ulysses Rare Books for antiquarian novels and rare editions.
- Stockholm, Sweden
Apart from pretty streets, the ABBA museum and the Royal Palace, Stockholm is also home to many impressive libraries and bookshops that will conquer the heart of every visiting book lover! If you’re interested in architecture, you may already have heard of the Stockholm Public Library which was designed by famed architect Gunnar Asplund. The beautiful building houses more than 2 million books and should be on your must-see list during your stay. Don’t miss out on the Nobel Library either, where you can browse the best of contemporary literature. The cobblestone streets of Stockholm also hide many independent bookshops, where you can browse the shelves for hours. Pick up a new book at The English Bookshop or at Hedengrens, the oldest bookshop in the city, and take a break from all the sightseeing with a great book and a delicious semla or other Swedish pastry.
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
As a city known for its rich cultural scene, Ljubljana’s place in this ranking is well-deserved. On every corner of the city, you will find art galleries, theatres, and of course bookshops and libraries. The National and University Library of Ljubljana is renowned for its extensive collection of medieval literature and its stunning central staircase. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re admiring the black marble pillars, impressive statues and solemn reading rooms of this masterpiece. If you prefer some more contemporary reads, head to Bookstore Trubarjeva. This bookshop doubles as a coffee shop, and you can enjoy its special blend of coffee while you browse the English book selection. Another highlight of Ljubljana is the Beletrina Bookstore where you can find a large selection of books by Slovenian authors translated into English. A perfect spot to find your newest library addition!
- Edinburgh, United Kingdom
With the famous International Book Festival and the title of UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh is a perfect city for book lovers. Its most renowned library is the National Library of Scotland, where you can visit exhibitions, browse their collection and buy books and bookish gifts. If poetry is your thing, head to the Scottish Poetry Library where you can spend the entire day surrounded by works of the greatest Scottish poets. Are you more interested in everything that has to do with plants and botany? The Royal Botanical Gardens Library will enchant you with its extensive collection of plant-related books and a beautiful 70-acre garden. And don’t forget to hop in some bookshops during your visit! McNaughtan’s Bookshop, Armchair Books and Elvis Shakespeare have amazing collections of second-hand books where you’ll be able to discover some real literary gems.
- Florence, Italy
Beautiful Florence is the next destination that should be on every book lover’s bucket list! While this city’s architecture and romantic atmosphere have always attracted many visitors, Florence is also home to the Laurentian Library, which was founded by the Medici family. Here you can visit a collection of codexes, manuscripts, and prints from throughout various centuries. The building itself is also stunning, with beautiful marbled floors and stained-glass windows. Other libraries in Florence that are worth visiting are the Biblioteca Orticultura, located in a greenhouse inside the botanical garden, and the Biblioteca Riccardiana, where you can visit exhibits of its extensive medieval collection. There are also many bookshops with an English selection, where you can find some new additions to your own personal library: head to Paperback Exchange for the largest collection of English books in the city, or enjoy some vintage books at Todo Modo with a cup of coffee… or a glass of wine!
- Belfast, United Kingdom
Apart from visiting its historical sites and the nearby national parks, visitors to Belfast can also enjoy many literary attractions. The city was the childhood home of C.S. Lewis, and you can still visit many of the places that inspired his writing today. Follow the Lewis walking trail through the city and discover this picturesque side of Belfast! Most book lovers will also want to head to Linen Hall first, the oldest library in the city. The library has a rich collection of books, documents posters and more, which are regularly showcased in exhibits and events centred around local history and famous Northern Irish figures. If you prefer to pick up a bookish souvenir during your holiday, head to one of the city’s independent bookshops like No Alibis or Bookfinders for the best shopping experience. Another great idea is to plan your trip to fall during the Belfast Book Festival in June, where you can attend workshops and find great deals on all sorts of books.
- Zurich, Switzerland
Our last travel recommendation for book lovers is no other city than Zurich, where you can visit several beautiful and unique libraries. The Rechtsbibliothek is one of the highest libraries in the city, and is located in an unassuming building in the city centre. The interior, however, was designed by architect Santiago Calatrave and will leave you speechless. Another small library that’s worth a visit is the Thomas Mann Archives, where you can visit an extensive exhibit of the author’s letters, manuscripts and other works. If you want to enjoy a calm morning or afternoon just enjoying a good book next to the lake shore or in one of the many beautiful parks, you can pick up some great books at the independent bookshops of the city. Pile of Books is your go-to shop for English literature, while Calligramme is a second-hand book paradise, with every genre you could possibly think of.
Source : Travel Daily Media