Top 10 literary walking tours of the world
There’s no better way to pay tribute to your favourite authors or characters than to follow in their footsteps via these entertaining tours.
1. Millennium Tour, Stockholm, Sweden
The march of grim Scandinavian crime thrillers was spearheaded by Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and this walk in Stockholm, the picturesque Swedish capital, lets you relive the drama. Taking in the hip suburb of Södermalm, home to ace journalist Mikael Blomkvist and rogue IT genius Lisbeth Salander, the walk passes fictional sites mentioned in the Millennium trilogy, including Blomkvist’s home, his local cafe, Salander’s favourite tattoo parlour, Inspector Bublanski’s synagogue, Millennium magazine’s offices and, finally, Salander’s luxury apartment. It’s an atmospheric walk which helps colour in the dark outlines of Scandi noir.
Takes place in English 11.30am each Saturday, tickets 130 Swedish krona. Book via stadsmuseet.stockholm.se.
2. Literary Pub Crawl, Dublin, Ireland
This combination of tour and live performance highlights the rich cultural heritage of Dublin, the Irish capital. Weaving between pubs that once hosted great writers such as James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett and WB Yeats, tour members are entertained by readings, music and song. The tour passes literary sites such as Trinity College, where Oscar Wilde once studied. But the focus is firmly on the drinking holes where so much creativity flowed, from those featured in Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses to Behan’s old local. Raise a glass to their memory on the way.
Departs nightly in summer, cost €12. Book via dublinpubcrawl.com.
3. Literary Landmarks, Boston, USA
In the 19th century Boston was a hotbed of literature, spawning influential movements such as American Romanticism, American Realism and Transcendentalism. The Fireside Poets, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, triumphed here with their popular verse; joining other literary stars such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne. This tour reveals their haunts, including the secret of the Saturday Club.
The tour proceeds in any weather. Fee US$12, book at bostonbyfoot.org.
4. James Bond’s Mayfair, London, England
‘Shaken, not stirred.’ James Bond creator Ian Fleming coined this classic line while sipping cocktails at his favourite bar in London’s exclusive Mayfair district. This and other classified secrets are revealed on this tour conducted by guide Simon Rodway, who’s thoroughly researched Fleming’s life and its connections to his famous fictional creation. From the author’s birthplace through Berkeley Square to St James, tour members pass places with links to 007, including a naval club which evokes the author’s wartime experience in military intelligence. You can order the cocktail created by Bond, the Vesper, at the end.
5. Greenwich Village Literary Pub Crawl, New York City, USA
This tour through New York City’s famous Greenwich Village drops into several pubs that were once the site of writers’ inspiration. Guides relate the stories of both the bars and the creative types who drank there, paying tribute to such famous local luminaries as Thomas Paine (author of Common Sense), John Reed (Ten Days that Shook the World), Henry James (Washington Square) and Edith Wharton (Age of Innocence); as well as less-remembered authors such as Dawn Powell (Wicked Pavilion) and Djuna Barnes (Nightwood).
Departs every Saturday at 1pm, fee US$20. Book tickets and browse a reading list at literarypubcrawl.com.
6. Writers in Paris, France
In the early 20th century the French capital was a magnet for writers, as detailed by American writer and Paris resident David Burke in this series of walks. There are four main tours, including ‘A Band of Outsiders’, which focuses on the Latin Quarter and the exploits of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell, as well as celebrated French writers such as Honoré de Balzac and Victor Hugo. Other walks focus on the ‘Lost Generation’ of Montparnasse, the literary cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Père Lachaise Cemetery’s memorials to greats such as Molière, Proust and Wilde.
Check out writersinpariswalkingtours.blogspot.co.uk for these and other special tours.
7. Literary Shanghai, China
Shanghai’s literary heyday came during the 19th and early 20th centuries, a period when colonial traders rubbed shoulders with the local population. Starting with a talk from knowledgeable guides at a local teahouse, this tour takes place in Hongkou in the city’s north. It’s an area associated with great local writers, including Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature. The walk also visits a backstreet neighbourhood where the romantic poet Xu Zhimo once lived and hosted guests such as Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore and Irish writer George Bernard Shaw.
This tour is occasionally scheduled but otherwise operates by commission; for fees and bookings email email@example.com.
8. Jane Austen in Bath, England
It is a fact universally acknowledged that a Jane Austen fan visiting England must be in want of a good walking tour. Well, good sir or madam, here it is, and in a delightful city as a bonus. Bath is renowned for its graceful architecture. It was also where the famed author lived, and became the setting for her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The Jane Austen Centre leads this walking tour of literary highlights each weekend.
Tours depart 11am on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, fee £12. Book and find out more about Austen’s Bath at janeausten.co.uk.
9. Melbourne Literary Tour, Australia
This Australian city of Melbourne is at the heart of the nation’s literary scene, having become a Unesco City of Literature in 2008. Delving into a tradition of writers, bookshops and publishers stretching from the colonial era, this tour offered by Melbourne Walks explores literary highlights in the city centre. Along the way, tour members dip into both the present and the past: visiting the Nicholas Building, for example, a so-called ‘vertical laneway’ of writers, bookshops and publishers; and imagining the past glory of Cole’s Book Arcade, a well-remembered Victorian-era bookshop which once spanned a city block.
By arrangement, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. Wild Walk Along the Enchanted Way, Romania
After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, British writer William Blacker ventured into eastern Europe and ended up living for eight years in rural Romania. The resulting book, Along the Enchanted Way, recorded villages untouched by modernity, where daily life retained the rhythms of the Middle Ages. Wild Frontiers offers a 10-day tour of northern Romania following in Blacker’s footsteps, including walks through the attractive Izei Valley and Rodna Mountains National Park.
The tour costs £1,725 exclusive of airfares (wildfrontierstravel.com).