There’s something great about planning a trip and finding out the place you’re visiting has literary walks and tours, isn’t there? It’s even better when it’s to an author or book you love. But exploring the real life locations of your favourite books can be tricky unless you have a list like this one to help you out!
For this list of 10 Literary Walks and Tours I’ve suggested different cities and places. Admittedly, some places are packed with so many literary connections it can be hard to narrow down, like New York or London. But what they all have in common is the joy they provide a bookworm whose dream is to see a book come to life as they explore the scenes and locations of their favourite novel. I have tried to include a mixture of free tours and those that require payment, but don’t forget you can always plan your own route with a little inspiration from this list.
1. Explore Bath, Jane Austen style
It is a truth universally acknowledge that any fan of Jane Austen must be in want of a trip to Bath! The city of Bath is a beauty to behold. One of the best examples of a Georgian Spa town, it’s packed to the rafters with beautiful architecture, history and food (Sally Lunn’s buns anyone?) But for the Austenite nothing beats strolling around the city that inspired her. You can go on a host of guided literary walks and tours of the city or, if you’re a little more adventurous, Bath Tourism has this audio tour which is free
2. See Leopold Bloom’s Dublin
Ulysses is the kind of book most people say they’ve read, but never do! However, for the true Joycean, what could be better than a Ulysses themed tour of Dublin? This guided tour promises to introduce you to the history and legacy of Ulysses. It also features music, sculptures, murals, famous landmarks as well as readings. The experience is entertaining and fascinating for both Joyce fans and newcomers. A perfect literary walk next time you’re in Dublin.
3. Walk Amongst the Paris Authors
Paris is always a good idea. Especially when it comes to great literature! The city of lights provides endless opportunities for bibliophiles to pay homage to their literary icons. The only problem can be narrowing the list down. Practically every author worth their salt seems to have spent some time in Paris. For example, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Jean Rhys all found their way to the city. And let’s not forget the hundred of novels the city itself has inspired. Paris truly is the perfect place for literary walks and tours so whether you want to amble around at your leisure, or go for something a little bit more organised like this 3 hour tour, you won’t be disappointed.
4. Mrs Dalloways London Adventure
‘One might fancy that day, the London day, was just beginning.’ (Mrs Dalloway)
London is a city that comes vibrantly alive in Mrs. Dalloway. Readers are swept along with Clarissa as she navigates the busy streets and gets lost in thought. So what better than to take a tour of the places and spaces that inspired Virginia Woolf and the rest of the Bloomsbury group? This literary tour of Bloomsbury is only run occasionally but it well worth looking out for. Alternatively, arm yourself with your copy of Mrs Dalloway and head straight for Bloomsbury, first stop Tavistock Square!
5. The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking ‘I wish I had a nice pint of beer to go with this literary walk’ (and who hasn’t?!) then this is the tour for you! This award-winning tour has been going since 1996 and takes you on ‘a dramatic literary trail across Edinburgh’. You start at the bar Robert Burn frequented. Then you move on to Sir Walter Scott’s local and Robert Louis Stevenson’s favourite, amongst others. One of the most inventive literary walks and tours on the list, The Edinburgh Literary Pub The tour is performed in and out of Edinburgh’s famous – and infamous – taverns or ‘howfs’ and takes the form of an impassioned debate between two fictional characters, Clart – the literary bohemian – and McBrain – an academic. So, it’s basically a literary walking tour/ pub crawl / night at the theatre. Need I say more?
6. Visit Poldark’s Cornwall
For fans of the Poldark series, a trip to the rugged coastline of Cornwall is a must. Lots of the scenes in the BBC TV series, Poldark, were filmed on coast and countryside that’s looked after by the National Trust. They’ve created a useful list of locations on their website. The walking routes take you past either sites used in the TV series, or areas that are rich in mining and Cornish history so that you can experience real life Poldark country.
7. Comic Book Walk, Brussels
They’re just a little bit mad about comics in Belgium. As one of the few arts where Belgium has had an international and enduring impact in the 20th century, comics are known to be “an integral part of Belgian culture”. This love is demonstrated best in Brussels. Here many of the building have huge murals dedicated to the famous cartoon characters of the country, including their most famous export: Tin Tin. The city has a unique comic strip route which is free to follow and allows you to spend some time wending through the beautiful old town centre of Brussels. The route takes people along several walls in Brussels and Laeken with big paintings of famous comic book heroes.
8. The Game of Thrones Experience, Northern Ireland
The epic series, Game of Thrones, is filmed in various locations across Northern Ireland. See some of the island’s most beautiful places, most of which are remote and hard to find. These tours are ideal of fans of the books and TV show. Offering various starting points, from Belfast and Derry, you will trek deep into old growth forests, along wild sea cliffs, across rocky beaches, into caves and crumbling medieval ruins. For those who enjoy Cosplay there’s even the chance to dress up. Stark and Iron Born cloaks, swords, shields and helms are available for use, at no extra cost. Bring Westeros to life on one of these amazing literary walks and tours.
9. New York’s Literary Greats Tours
New York, like Paris and London is so full of literary history that it’s impossible to narrow down which tours are the best. But, if you’re on a budget this interactive map created by Harper Collins is perfect. The map is accompanied by an audio tour which takes you to the famous sites across The Big Apple. Walk in the footsteps of Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright. As well visiting Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain’s) former home at 14 West 10th Street in the Village. It covers a lot of ground, so put on your walking shoes, or alternatively pick and choose your favourite locations for a bespoke tour to suit your literary tastes.
10. A Walk in Yorkshire with The Brontës
The Brontë sisters loved to ramble around their native Yorkshire. That love is translated into each of their works, perhaps none more so that Wuthering Heights. With this in mind one of the best ways to experience Brontë country is to go on a guided walk of it. Brontë Walks offers various walking tours that are designed to help you make the most of your visit to Haworth, the Worth Valley and the surrounding area. The Passionate Brontë tour, for example is a gentle stroll with a relaxed pace that lasts just over an hour and covers less than half a mile.