If your idea of a perfect day involves a few uninterrupted hours in a second-hand bookstore, your next trip abroad should include one of these top literary destinations. Whether it’s an ornate monastic library in Austria or a quaint bookshop on the Seine, these destinations are sure to bring out your inner bookworm!
The Library at Trinity College (pictured above) is everything you could want from a library and more. It is an architectural wonder with high, arched ceilings and rare books as far as the eye can see. Marble busts of famous writers and philosophers line the 65-meter walkway in the Long Room. The Library at Trinity College contains the famous Book of Kells — the beautiful, illuminated manuscript of the Gospels dating back to the 9th century. After visiting the library, drop by the Oscar Wilde House at Merrion square. If you can make it to Dublin in June, check out the annual Bloomsday Celebration in honor of the James Joyce novel, Ulysses.
London, Oxford, Bath
England is the birthplace of some of the world’s most renowned, bestselling authors of all time (Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare top the list). The country’s rich literary history provides no end of things for the book lover to do. Find 221B Bakers Street, home of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Grab lunch at The Eagle and Child in Oxford — the favorite lunchtime gathering spot of authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Head to Bath for the 10-day Jane Austen festival, complete with music, dancing and hundreds of fans decked out in their fanciest regency-era attire.
Saint Catherine’s Monastery is located at the foot of Mount Sinai in the city of Saint Catherine, Egypt. Built during 565 AD by Justinian I, it is the oldest, Christian monastery still in use today. Aside from being a fascinating piece of history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saint Catherine’s library is home to the second largest collection of ancient codices and manuscripts. Some of these include the earliest printed copies of the Bible, along with works by Homer and Plato.
The library at the Benedictine monastery, Admont Abbey, is the largest monastic library in the world. The baroque style architecture and art are lavish, to say the least. Tickets for the 40-minute, guided tour of the library are € 11,00 for adults and run at 10:30 am and 2 pm.
The Austrian National Library, in Vienna, is also worth a stop. It contains four museums: the Literature Museum, Globe Museum, Papyrus Museum and the Esperanto Museum. Tickets to the library and museums can be purchased online, and advanced purchase is recommended.
Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore tucked into a cozy street within central Paris. Established by George Whitman in 1951, it has served as a store, library, cafe and even a temporary boarding house for writers, readers, and philosophers from all walks of life. Aspiring writers can spend the night in exchange for a little work around the store and the contribution of one page of autobiographical writing, which is added to the store archives. An estimated 30,000 writers, referred to as “Tumbleweeds” have spent a night in the store. After browsing the store’s carefully curated shelves of literature, head to the cafe for a warm drink and a slice of lemon pie.
6. New Zealand
Director Peter Jackson chose the enchanting landscape of New Zealand as the filming location to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth to life. Today, Tolkien fans can visit the film set for Hobbiton, or take a scenic vehicle or jet boat tour of Lord of the Rings filming locations. Don’t miss stops at Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom), the Kawarau Gorge (Anduin River) and Kaitoke Regional Park (Rivendell).
More of a film buff than a bookworm? Check out these 5 Jaw-Dropping Film Destinations!