1. OFFICIAL LITERARY CITY, DUBLIN
Where? One of only six Unesco Cities of Literature in the world, with its writers museums, literaturethemed tours and book-related sights, Dublin is a bookworm’s dream.
What? Pop into the Dublin Writers Museum to learn about the prolific literary heritage of the city where James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and WB Yeats were born, then saunter over to Trinity College to marvel at the ninth-century illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells.
Stop at Sweny’s Pharmacy to hear one of the daily readings from the works of James Joyce, then catch a play at The Abbey Theatre founded by WB Yeats in 1903.
Best way to do it: Explore this bookloving city on a two-hour guided literary tour with Ireland Expert (www.irelandexpert.com)
Stay where? Take your pick from the list of hotels offering special literary
packages such as the Brooks Hotel, which has double rooms starting from around Dh600 per night on the Dublin City of Literature website(www.dublincityofliterature.ie).
Getting there: KLM flies from Dubai to Dublin via Amsterdam from around Dh2,500.
2. LITERARY HAUNTS, PARIS
Where? For an atmospheric and slightly spooky encounter with some of the world’s best-loved authors, you can’t do better than to pay a visit to Paris’s Père Lachais Cemetery, where literary greats have been buried since the beginning of the 19th century.
What? Start your tour at Marcel Proust’s black marble tomb. The hermit-like author of À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu was buried here in 1922 after dying of pneumonia. Cross over to the southeast corner and you’ll find the last resting place of Oscar Wilde, the scandal-haunted 19th-century Irish writer who died impoverished at the age of 46.
Other tombs not to miss include Les Misérables author Victor Hugo’s mausoleum and the monolithic tombstone of surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire.
Best way to do it: It’s easy to get lost in this 44-hectare cemetery, so join
a guided tour with Oui Paris Tours www.ouiparistours.com.
Stay where? The Pavillon Des Lettres hotel (www.pavillondeslettres.com) has a Historic Offer including a double room and walking tour for around Dh2,500.
Getting there: Egypt Air flies from Dubai to Paris via Cairo for around Dh2,000.
3. BORGES AND MORE IN BUENOS AIRES
Where? Latin America’s most literary city, Buenos Aires is packed with atmospheric sights for avid bibliophiles.
What? Stroll along Avda Sante Fe to see Porteños (the term for Buenos Aires city dwellers) browsing the book kiosks, walk along Borges Street where poet Jose Luis Borges grew up, then have a coffee in Gran Café Tortoni, a historic café where
the writer often used to hang out.
End your tour at El Ateneo, the magnificent 19th-century theatre that is now an atmospheric bookshop complete with ceiling frescoes and crimson stage curtains.
Best way to do it: For a complete tour of literary Buenos Aires join one of Get Your Guide’s daily walks (www.getyourguide.com).
Stay where? Just around the corner from Borges family house, the BoBo Hotel (www.bobohotel.com) is an elegant haven with double rooms from around Dh500.
Getting there: KLM flies from Dubai to Buenos Aires via Amsterdam from
4. SOUL-SEARCHING COUNTRY, KERALA
Where? Home of the poetic Malayalam language and one of India’s lushest regions, Kerala is also the birthplace of The God Of Small Things author, Arundhati Roy.
What? Take a tour of the capital, Thiruvananthapuram, which hosts the celebrity-author-packed Kovalam Literary Festival (www.kovalamlitfest.com). Next head for Aymanam, the backdrop for Roy’s Booker-prizewinning novel, and visit this rural
village’s numerous ancient temples and churches before watching one of the traditional, colourful Kathakali dances described in Roy’s book.
Best way to do it: Hire a car and driver with Kerala specialists Greaves of India (www.greavesindia.com) and set out to visit this glorious region’s sights in style.
Stay where? Explore the backwaters featured in Roy’s novel in The Oberoi’s luxurious Vrinda motorvessel (www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_vrinda/index.asp). Two-night excursions from around Dh6,000. Getting there: IndiGo flies from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram from around Dh800.
5. LAND OF LITERARY GREATS, LONDON
Where? From Shakespeare and Dickens, to Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes, book lovers could easily spend a week exploring London’s literary haunts.
What? Head for the British Library to see the original manuscript of
Shakespeare’s first folio published in 1623, then hop on the tube and head
for the Charles Dickens Museum in Bloomsbury.
Next take a tour of the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street, then pay your respects to Geoffrey Chaucer and other greats buried in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner.
If you want to give the kids a treat, end your literary day with a behind-the-scenes Making of Harry Potter studio tour.
Best way to do it: London has hundreds of literary tours, so log onto the Literary London Walks website (www.walks.com/Standalone/Literary_London_Walks/default.aspx) and pick the best one for you.
Stay where? Stay at the heart of the literary action at The Cadogan (www.
cadogan.com), double rooms from Dh1,000, a historical hotel where Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895.
Getting there: British Airways has flights from Dubai to London from around Dh2,500.
6. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, ST PETERSBURG
Where? Russia has more literary museums than anywhere in the world and the atmospheric streets of St Petersburg, where Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina had her fated trysts, ring with literary associations.
What? Call in at the Dostoyevsky Memorial Museum, packed with memorabilia and set in the apartment where the writer penned The Brothers Karamazov, then take a taxi to The Leo Tolstoy State Museum, which houses a plethora of Tolstoy memorabilia including many of the writer’s original handwritten manuscripts.
Finish your tour at the vast National Pushkin Museum dedicated to the life of Russia’s favourite poet, before dining at Literaturnoye Café where author Pushkin – in an uncanny parallel with his character Eugene Onegin – dined for the last time before losing his life in a duel.
Best way to do it: Long-established company Peter’s Walking Tours (www.peterswalk.com) organises literary walks of St Petersburg.
Stay where? Close to all of St Petersburg’s top literary sites, the stunning Grand Hotel Europe (www.grandhoteleurope.com) has rooms from Dh1,000 per night.
Getting there: Aeroflot flies from Dubai to St Petersburg via Moscow from around Dh3,000.
7. BOOK MARKETS AND HISTORIC SITES, MELBOURNE
Where? Hailed as Australia’s cultural capital and a Unesco City of Literature, Melbourne’s book markets, libraries and author-related sites make it a great place for lit lovers.
What? Walk past Petrus Spronk’s bluestone sculpture Architectural Fragment (pictured right) outside the 1800s State Library of Victoria, and then go inside to see the walls of La Trobe room, which are covered in quotes from famous writers, or catch celebrated authors giving talks.
On Saturdays don’t miss the vast book market in Federation Square, then pop into Richmond’s Book Talk Café, a friendly book exchange serving drinks and snacks.
Best way to do it: Discover this Australian city’s vibrant literary venues, on a Melbourne By The Book walk (www.hiddensecretstours.com/Festival_tours.php)
Stay where? Sleep sweet at the historic Hotel Windsor (www.thehotelwindsor.com.au), double rooms from around D1,000, where
the city’s literati once hung out.
Getting there: Royal Brunei flies from Dubai to Melbourne via Brunei for around Dh4,500.
8. SLUMDOG TOUR, MUMBAI
Where? Taking in the vivid and colourful backdrop to the award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, adapted from Indian author Vikas Swarup’s book Q & A, or roaming the streets that inspired Jeet Thayil’s 2012 Booker-prize-nominated
novel Narcopolis are great reasons to visit Mumbai.
What? Swarup’s book, which tells the tale of slum-dweller Jamal Malik, who arouses suspicion when he enters – and eventually wins – India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, is set in one of Mumbai’s largest slums.
Take a half-day tour of Dharavi, the slums featured in the book, and be astounded by the sense of community and the diversity of cottage industry in the lively alleys, factories and homes visited during the tour.
Best way to do it: Reality Tours and Travel (www.realitytoursandtravel.com) has half-day tours to visit Dharavi. No cameras are allowed and the company puts 80 per cent of its profits back into the community.
Stay where? The Taj Mahal Palace (www.tajhotels.com) is a historic hostelry where literary celebrities including George Bernard Shaw have stayed. Double rooms from around Dh1,150.
Getting there: Spicejet flies Dubai to Mumbai for around Dh1,000.
9. AT HOME WITH HEMINGWAY, KEY WEST
Where? From the typewriter where America’s famed 20th-century author penned To Have and Have Not, to the courtyard where the descendants of his cats prowl, this is a must-notmiss for Hemingway fans.
What? Built in Spanish-colonial style and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the house in Key West (www.hemingwayhome.com) where Ernest Hemingway lived for the last ten years of his life is an atmospheric museum dedicated to the author and his work.
Marvel at the ring in the yard where the pugnacious author used to box and the stone swimming pool, which was the first to be built in Key West.
Best way to do it: Take a Trolley Tour (www.trolleytours.com/key-west), which visits the city’s sights and ends with a visit to Hemingway’s house.
Stay where? Book the sumptuous Hemingway Suite with its private balcony overlooking Hemingway’s home at Lighthouse Court (www.historickeywestinns.com/the-inns/lighthouse-court). Double rooms for around Dh731.
Getting there: KLM and Air France fly from Dubai to Key West with stopovers for around Dh5,000.
10. MOONING WITH THE MOOMINS, FINLAND
Where? Tove Jansson’s hippo-like Moomins are a big hit with the kids, while other literary figures like Seppo Jokinen, creator of fictional character Inspector Koskinen, have put Tampere, Finland on the literary map.
What? Based on the cartoon books by celebrated Finnish author Tove Jansson, the Moomin World is full of costumed characters, miniatures of Moomins and fun interactive exhibits.
Back in Tampere you can feel like Ian Fleming’s Bond character as you try your hand at deciphering a coded message at Tampere’s Spy Museum, then have dinner in the Bond-style 140-metre-high revolving Näsinneula restaurant (www.sarkanniemi.fi/en/
Best way to do it: Ask the Tampere tourist board to organise one of its Inspector Koskinen’s Tampere tours based on locations used in the series.
Stay where? Brush up your own novel in peace at Villa Hepolahti (www.
villahepolahti.com), which has wallto-wall windows overlooking Lake
Pintele. Suites from around Dh1,250.
Getting there: KLM flies from Dubai to Helsinki via Amsterdam from around Dh2,500.