8 Cities to Visit If You Love Literature

By Briana Seftel

Have book, will travel!

If you count yourself a bibliophile, check out these eight cities that inspired some of the greats, from Billy Shakespeare to Ernest Hemingway.

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Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

Make the pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. Visit the house on Henley Street where the world’s most famous playwright was born and grew up, then continue visiting this literature-obsessed town! Other must-see Shakespeare locations include Hall's Croft (home to Shakespeare's daughter), Nash's House and New Place (the last chapter in his life), Anne Hathaway's cottage (a romantic setting) and Mary Arden's Farm (the childhood home of Shakespeare's mother). Don't leave Stratford without seeing a play at the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company.

Paris, France

Paris is a literature lover’s paradise. Victor Hugo set both of his most famous novels "Les Miserables" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" in Paris while Emile Zola captured the spirit of Montmartre during La Belle Epoque. You can visit the Pantheon and Pere Lachaise cemetery to see where some of the great writers are buried.

In the 1920s, writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and James Baldwin descended upon Paris for culture, inspiration and the signature French "joie de vivre." A handful of their favorite haunts remain to this day like Shakespeare and Company bookstore and Les Deux Magots cafe, where you can order an absinthe just like Fitzgerald did.

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. - Ernest Hemingway

Edinburgh, Scotland

Named UNESCO’s first City of Literature in 2004, Edinburgh is a city for book lovers. The Scottish capital has inspired more than 500 novels including "Harry Potter," and visitors can find nods to literature throughout the city. See the monument on top of Calton Hill dedicated to the 18th-century poet Robert Burns and visit The Oxford Bar where Ian Rankin was inspired to write his Inspector Rebus movels. Every year in August, Edinburgh hosts the largest celebration of the written word in the world with the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena owes its literary significance to one writer in particular: Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The Colombian novelist, who was born in Medellin, set several of his novels in the Caribbean colonial city. One of his most famous works, "Love in the Time of Cholera," is set in a fictionalized city largely modeled on Cartagena and popularized what is known as magic realism in literature. Walking around the vine-covered walled city, you can't help but succumb to the same charms as Marquez once did.

Big Sur, California

Hugging the rocky and rugged Pacific coast, Big Sur's natural beauty and relative isolation attracted many writers and artists in the early to mid-20th century including Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller, Edward Weston, Richard Rattigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Emile Norman, and Jack Kerouac. Miller led the pack in the 1950s and published a compilation of stories titled "Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Beach." His legacy lives on at the Henry Miller Memorial Library, “where nothing happens” as the sign promises.

St. Petersburg, Russia

Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Pushkin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ayn Rand are just a handful of writers that make up St. Petersburg's esteemed literary history. Celebrate Dostoyevsky Day in St. Petersburg on the first Saturday of every July, where fans gather across the city to celebrate their hero. You can visit the Institute of Russian Literature, also known as the Pushkin House.

[St. Petersburg is] the most abstract and intentional city in the world. - Dostoyevsky

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston has been called the "Athens of America" for its literary culture and earned a reputation as "the intellectual capital of the United States." Beginning in the 19th century, a number of writers of the Transcendental movement came to Boston including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, James Russell Lowell, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Some consider the Old Corner Bookstore - where The Atlantic Monthly was first published in 1857 - to be the "cradle of American literature." In 1852, the Boston Public Library was founded as the first free library in the United States. Boston's literary culture continues today thanks to the city's many universities and the annual Boston Book Festival in Copley Square.

Dublin, Ireland

Books are in Dublin's heart, from the collection of poignant short stories in James Joyce's "Dubliners" to the quintessentially Irish poetry of William Butler Yeats. You could make an entire trip to Dublin solely on the monuments and institutions dedicated to the written word. See the first edition of Bram Stoker’s "Dracula" at the Dublin Writers Museum, pose next to the Oscar Wilde statue in Merrion Square, and walk over not one but three bridges over the River Liffey named after Joyce, Sean O’Casey and Samuel Beckett.

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