Like many armchair adventurers, I suffer from a lifelong case of wanderlust. Traveling isn’t in the cards for me at this stage of my life but I hope that I will be able to visit these ten literary destinations before I kick the bucket.
Oxford, United Kingdom
Oxford is a bibliophile’s heaven. It’s home to the famed Bodleian Library, Oxford University Press, and The Eagle and Child, legendary meeting place of the Inklings. If I ever have the opportunity to visit Oxford, I’m bringing an empty suitcase with me because Oxford it also home to three amazing bookstores–the Oxford University Press Bookshop, Waterstones Oxford, and Blackwell’s on Broad Street. The few highlights I’ve mentioned here only scratch the surface of Oxford’s bookish history and hotspots. For more, see this literary tourism guide.
Like Oxford, The City of Light has an incredibly rich literary history spanning centuries. Paris has hosted countless authors and intellectuals from all over the world, including Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Anaïs Nin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is the backdrop to novels such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Les Misérables, A Tale of Two Cities, and Thérèse Raquin. It’s also home to Shakespeare and Company, one of the most gorgeous bookstores in the world. Paris has so many literary hotspots it would probably be impossible to see them all in one visit, but a girl can dream, right? For more, see this literary tour of Paris and this guide focusing on 19th century literary Paris.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Orlando
Someday I will make it down to Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the flesh. The photos I’ve seen online are out-of-this-world amazing. When construction started on the first phase of the project, I never dreamed that it would eventually grow into the magnificent replica it has become. The fact that they recreated Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, the Hogwarts Express, and Diagon Alley just blows my mind. A+ work, Orlando Studios.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
In addition to being one of the most gorgeous places on God’s green earth, Prince Edward Island is the irreplaceable setting of Anne of Green Gables. With its sandy dunes and sparkling ocean views, it’s no wonder so many tourists flock to the island each year. Of course, my first stop would be at the Anne of Green Gables Museum, followed by a trip to the beach to see some of the spots where parts of the 1985 miniseries adaptation were filmed.
Hobbiton, New Zealand
As a die-hard LOTR fan, there are few fictional places I would rather visit than the Shire. Thankfully, the original set was rebuilt for the filming of The Hobbit and this time they left it standing so tourists can pop in for a visit. Of course, no trip to New Zealand would be complete without visiting some of the other filming other locations. I want the full tour.
I have a thing for spooky places, which is why I’ve always wanted to visit Transylvania. There is some debate over whether Bran Castle, sometimes called “Dracula’s Castle,” was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for the Count’s home in the original horror tale. Wikipedia will tell you there’s no evidence that Stoker even knew of the existence of Bran Castle; the Bran Castle website claims that Stoker based his description of Dracula’s home on an illustration of Bran Castle. Regardless, it seems like a fun place to visit.10 Literary Destinations I Want to Visit Before I DieClick To Tweet
Every time I see photos of Savannah, I just want to hop in the car and take an impromptu vacation. It’s such a wonderfully atmospheric city. It’s also the birthplace of Flannery O’Connor and I would love to see her childhood home on East Charlton Street. Savannah is the setting of the real-life murder mystery depicted in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and there is a walking tour for people who want to visit the key sites mentioned in the book.
Jerusalem is a city rich in history and culture, and I would love to visit and experience both. First on my itinerary, I would like to sign up for one of those tours where you retrace the steps of Jesus. Then, I absolutely MUST see the Shrine of the Book, the wing of the Israel Museum that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.
I read Twilight about nine years ago and I have to say, it wasn’t my cup of tea. But it definitely wasn’t a waste of time because it introduced this lifelong East Coaster to the magical world of the Pacific Northwest. I’m less interested in the town of Forks itself than I am in the surrounding areas such as Olympic National Park, Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge, and the beaches of La Push. This might be cheating a bit, since my interest in the area, while sparked by a book, has nothing to do with actual literary tourism, but I figure I could track down some other literary hotspots in Washington State while I’m there. Anyway, the natural landscape of the area makes it perfectly suited for a good murder mystery. Does anyone know of any great mysteries set in the Pacific Northwest?
The Millennium trilogy hooked me on the Nordic Noir genre and made me want to visit Stockholm, the city of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, and some of the surrounding areas. There is a walking tour for fans of the trilogy but I think I would skip that and trundle around the city on my own. Stockholm is also home to other bookish hotspots. For more info, see this guide for literary tourists.
Which literary destination do you most want to visit?