Although there is an abundance of travel imagery and information online, and obviously I’m a big fan of the travel blog or Instagram as a source of both, sometimes you can’t beat a glossy, hardback, coffee table book filled with stunning imagery in print. In contrast to the very point of this blog, sitting with a cuppa, and physically flicking through the pages of a travel publication can be a welcome relief from the constant online presence we don’t even realise we are in these days. This year, I certainly, along with any travel enthusiast I know has had to get a fix of escapism and travel wanderlust without much hope of actually getting there in 2020. Here’s 10 travel books, mainly photo books that just might help you get yours too.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, all imagery is my own and doesn’t belong to the books or authors mentioned.
Back to the days of flicking through holiday brochures, occasionally the in flight destination guides tucked into the back of airplane seats, followed by the travel sections of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar (that’s how my mum originally found the Portixol Hotel), I’ve always enjoyed turning the pages of any publication, magazine or travel book like this, and seeing where we would be transported to next.
Maybe it’s the slower pace of it. Reading an article, interview or photo story with someone describing at length their personal experiences, a mood board of hotels, the tiny details down on paper, and no pressure to turn the page – travel books seem like a slower alternative to the fast paced online world of the next click, the next search bar, the next pin or the next photo we scroll past.
The content is designed to be consumed more slowly – an article at a time here and there as you catch five minutes peace on the sofa, or early morning before most people get up, or just before bed when you’ve put your phone down. Even as you lie on a sun lounger in your back garden with a cold home made sangria in hand. It’s forever there in a book or magazine, and that format still makes travel that little bit more exciting.
There’s nobody leaving whingey comments, or scathing reviews because one pillow case was creased, or pop up ads trying to click bait you in to the cheapest deal – looking at you Ryanair. Sometimes it’s a lovely way to plan your travel, and one I highly recommend once you’ve done your online searching, researching and booking.
Aside from my Conde Nast Traveler subscription, which I still get delivered in print for all of these reasons, as well as the digital download version, these 10 travel books are perfect for that uninterrupted travel wanderlust fix. Apologies if any of them have you longing to book up immediately, they all do that to me, and they’re very much Europe focused.
Pretty City London & Pretty City New York, by siobhan Ferguson
You might have heard of the ‘The Pretty Cities’ instagram account, a beautiful curated account of the pretty spots, the little details, unique corners and popular spots of cities around the world. Well these two books are further products of that Instagram account. Siobhan Ferguson pulls together some of the most beautiful photography of these two cities into her books, along with tips on how to photograph them, but most importantly information on each place. They’re like a window into the spots you might never find otherwise, including cafes, bookshops, restaurants and pretty streets.
101 weekends in Europe, By Robert Barton
I flick the pages of this every time I go into Oliver Bonas, it’s a must for city breakers and short trippers. As the title says you’ll find snapshots of key information on 101 European cities, and how to travel them over a weekend. Each one highlights what makes that city unique, relevant suggestions depending on what you like, and a summary of how to get there. There’s everything from your typical Paris and Rome’s, to lesser known cities you might not have even heard of. Perfect for weekend travel inspiration or new ideas for where to go. The reviews say it makes a great gift and I’d have to agree.
500 hidden secrets of…, Multiple authors
These books are fabulous, I love the Amsterdam one and I plan to get the Paris and Copenhagen ones next. They’re all written by locals, and are designed to basically tell you all the secret places that you probably wouldn’t otherwise find. Full of unique tips and information, and set out in easy to take in list style sections, they’re perfect for repeat visits to cities. If you’ve been somewhere before and want to venture off the tourist trail a bit more, and experience cities like a local then these guides are for you.
Take a look at the full 500 Hidden Secrets collection here.
The Little Book Of Hygge, By Meik Wiking
Copenhagen is a city I’ve been to so many times with work over the last few years, and it is so true that everywhere you go – restaurants, bars, cafes, they do ‘hygge’ well. Hygge is a feeling, and the simplest definition is a feeling of ‘cosiness and contentment’. It goes way beyond just this though, and this bestselling book explains it fully, alongside tips for you to bring more hygge into your daily life.
The Danes are said to be one of the happiest nations, so they must be doing something right, and from my experience they do have a great way of living and attitude to work life balance. If you’ve visited Copenhagen, or if you really want to this is a good one for while we can’t travel, as it brings the Danish way of life to you.
Get your copy of the Little Book of Hygge from Amazon.
Best in Travel 2020, Lonely Planet
One of the best fountains of knowledge of the travel industry, Lonely Planet knows what it’s talking about. A huge online community made up of their own staff and contributing writers, bloggers and travel enthusiasts, their annual travel lists always get plenty of eyes on them. Not surprisingly though, this years guide is significantly reduced! It’s still full of helpful tips and travel suggestions that can be used beyond this years travel disaster.
The Bucket List. 1000 Adventures Big or Small, by Kath Stathers
A real coffee table hardback, this one is for anyone looking for real inspiration for something different to the norm. Adventures of ALL kinds cover the pages among the beautiful photography, and are listed with specific details from location, to the best time of year to do them. There are a huge range of suggestions, adventures and once in a lifetime experiences. Even if you don’t plan to actually do any of them, you could get lost among the pages of imagery, but you just might find that one adventure you absolutely have to get off the sofa and go do.
Amsterdam City Guide – Your Little Black Book, By Anne De Buck
I was originally going to buy this book from my favourite cafe in Amsterdam, but it was all in Dutch. Thankfully the English version is available on Amazon, and if you’re a frequent visitor or want to guarantee good recommendations for a future trip then this pocket city guide to the Dutch capital is for you.
The author is a local living in Amsterdam, and the book is an extension of the instagram account and blog of the same name. She has tried and tested everything she recommends, and the easy to read bite size ‘top 5’ lists cover everything you could possibly need for a trip to Amsterdam.
Humans of New York, By Brandon Stanton
A best seller you’ve probably heard of, or at very least the photography concept that began years ago, when Brandon Stanton simply just started taking photos of the people of New York. It’s true that people make a place, and the original Humans Of New York blog that I think I used to follow on Tumblr of all places, was filled with photos, quotes and little captions straight from the people of New York. What better insight into the lifestyle and the place? The book is a follow on from the blog, and covers a huge range of stories, cultures, people and lifestyles, all from the same city.
Sundays in Paris, By Yasmin Zainab
Ive not read this yet but I have it on order ahead of my next trip to Paris in the spring 2021. Sundays are known for being a quiet day in Paris, with many places closed. It’s actually my favourite day to spend in my favourite city, so this curated guide of the places that are open seems a good purchase, and it apparently comes with some itineraries and walking guides too.
Natural Wonders of the World, By DK Packham
The imagery in this book is absolutely captivating, showcasing the most beautiful natural spots across the world. From forests to mountain ranges, to the Great Barrier Reef and more, the book takes you from continent to continent and gives you all the need to know details. It’s the photographs that do it for me though, absolutely stunning.
Get your copy from Amazon.
Each one of these travel books goes beyond the normal destination guide that you might find on the shelves of WH Smith in your local airport departure lounge. Many are written by locals that offer an insight rarely achievable by just visitors, and they all make perfect coffee table reading that you can dip in and out of at your leisure.
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