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Blog Dreaming of travelling? 7 great books to inspire your future trips
Date: 20 April 2020

Dreaming of travelling? 7 great books to inspire your future trips


Even if you can’t reach the destination of your dreams right now, you can still travel with your mind and make plans for the future. And there’s nothing like a good book to give you a dose of wanderlust.

Who can say they’ve never felt the desire to travel to the place where the story they’re reading unfolds? In fact, trends show more and more people are choosing their holiday destination based on scenes from their current novel.

Take a look at our selection of gripping reads which will inspire you to visit the city you get to know in the pages, and start adding some destinations to your travel bucket list.

1. Dublin – ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce

People on a bridge in Dublin at sunset
Explore Dublin and the banks of the River Liffey, featured in James Joyce’s Ulysses

Ulysses by James Joyce was first published in 1922, and was originally banned in the UK and the United States. The nearly 800-page masterpiece set in Dublin is now considered a classic within modernism and has become the subject of much analysis and commentary.

The action described in the book takes place on 16 June 1904 as we follow Leopold Bloom through the streets of the Irish capital on this day, which has since become known to Joyce fans across the world as ‘Bloomsday’. On 16 June every year, book lovers make the pilgrimage to Dublin to attend the literary celebration that is the Bloomsday Festival.

In this book, written in what was then a revolutionary stream-of-consciousness style, we follow the protagonist as he wanders around Dublin in deep thought.

While some of the building and places in Dublin mentioned in the book no longer stand, visitors to the city can still enjoy a route around many of the sites featured in Ulysses, such as Glasnevin Cemetery, Princes Street, Sandymount Strand and Martello Tower, the latter of which is now home to The James Joyce Tower and Museum.

Tip: If this book inspires you to travel to the Irish capital yourself, check out these top things to do on a weekend break in Dublin.

2. Barcelona – ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ by Ildefonso Falcones

Interior of the Santa Maria del Mar basilica in Barcelona
See the inside of the Cathedral of the Sea for yourself at the Santa Maria del Mar church. Photo: amaianos from Galicia – Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Cathedral of the Sea is a fabulous historical novel set in medieval Barcelona. The heart of the story is the city’s Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar which is the pride of the city and gives meaning to its people, especially to the dock workers like the book’s main character, Arnau, who literally carry the church’s stones on their backs from the quarry at Montjuïc (a hill on which the Olympic Stadium is located in today’s Barcelona) to the building site in the Born district.

Follow Arnau’s journey as he works his way up through the ranks of society in this tale of love, war and struggle, and see how the arrogance of the nobility and the brutality of the Inquisition impacted the lives of the poor in medieval Spain.

Ildefonso Falcones’s book paints an excellent and detailed picture of the conditions in a medieval European city. It’s easy to imagine what the Barcelona of the time looked like and where the city walls used to be. For example, there was a city wall and a river along what is now Barcelona’s most famous street, Las Ramblas.

Aside from the iconic spots of the city’s Gothic Quarter, some of the action takes place in the neighbouring areas of Barcelona, which can provide inspiration for excursions when visiting the Catalan capital.

If you’re planning a visit to Barcelona after reading the book, take a look at this Cathedral of the Sea walking tour, where you’ll relive the stories of the novel through its real-life locations.

Tip: If you’re thinking of heading to the city with your other half, take a look at our top tips for a romantic weekend.

The Eiffel Tower as seen from a side street with pink clouds in the background and buildings and cars in the foreground
Head to Paris and follow in the footsteps of Nell, Liv and Sophie

This book of short stories by the best-selling author gives us a peek into the lives of a cast of strong, relatable women, and is a great light read full of funny and charming moments.

The first story in the book, Paris for One, is romantic tale featuring some of the well-known sights of the French capital.

The stage is set as the main character, Nell, and her boyfriend plan to meet in Paris for a romantic getaway. But when he cancels at the last minute, Nell decides to go anyway.

Alone in Paris, she gets to know Fabien, who takes her on an adventure. This story will whisk you along with them, giving you a little more of a taste of a local’s side of Paris than you usually experience as a tourist.

If you’re craving more French fun, another of the stories in this book, Honeymoon in Paris, should tide you over.

The story follows two different characters in two different time periods: Liv in 2002, and Sophie in 1912. As you jet off to Paris again, you’ll dive into the troubles of the women’s new marriages in this rather unconventional love story.

Tip: If the book inspires you to travel to Paris in search of your own love story, make sure you check out these incredible romantic hotels for your stay.

4. Rome and Vatican City – ‘The Fallen Angel’ by Daniel Silva

Aerial view of St. Peter's Square in Vatican City
Immerse yourself in the world of Gabriel Allon, Daniel Silva’s protagonist in this spy thriller

This suspense novel by Daniel Silva starts out with a former intelligence agent who heads to Rome and then seeks refuge in the Vatican, where he finds work restoring a Caravaggio masterpiece. He is asked to investigate a suspicious death, which leads him to new challenges.

The Fallen Angel is a thrilling story that’s hard to put down. It not only takes you from the cloistered chambers of the Vatican to the magnificent dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, but also out to other interesting destinations such as Switzerland, Vienna, Paris and Berlin.

5. Amsterdam – ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton

Colourful houses along a canal in Amsterdam
Imagine strolling along the picturesque canal streets of Amsterdam after reading all about them in The Miniaturist

Set in 1680s Amsterdam, Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist is a story of secrets, obsession and betrayal.

When the protagonist, Nella Oortman, marries a mysterious merchant trader and moves to Amsterdam, she finds herself in an unwelcoming household with only an unusual wedding gift for entertainment: a cabinet-sized version of their house.

Nella commissions a miniaturist to help furnish the house, but the tiny creations she receives seem to predict the future with unsettling precision, and the unwelcome gifts provide a frightening insight into the family’s life and the escalating dangers that await them all.

Travel back to the Amsterdam of the 17th century and then visit the real-life locations for yourself, from the Stadhuis (now known as the Royal Palace) to the old canal streets of The Jordaan. And don’t miss a trip to the Rijksmuseum, where Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house is on display and subsequently where Burton found her inspiration for the best-selling novel.

Tip: Planning to visit the Dutch capital for a few days? Take a look at these three plans for a weekend break in Amsterdam.

6. Prague – ‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka

Books by Franz Kafka on a shelf in a store
Franz Kafka’s presence is everywhere in Prague. Photo: Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Written in 1914 but published in 1925, a year after Franz Kafka’s death, The Trial is the story of Joseph K., a respectable citizen who is unexpectedly arrested and charged with a crime kept hidden from him. It’s a chilling tale of an insurmountable struggle against an unreasonable and inaccessible bureaucratic power. Written just before World War I, it’s said to be an anticipation of totalitarianism.

All of Kafka’s writing and life is representative of Prague at the end of an era when the city was as much German as it was Czech. Through this gripping book by Kafka, a German jew, we gain a powerful insight into Prague at that time.

Many believe that Kafka is Prague and Prague is Kafka, and his presence can be felt all around the city in the form of museums, art and hidden corners where the writer once lived and loved.

If reading the book inspires you to visit Prague and see the historic sights for yourself, this 2.5-hour walking tour takes you on a journey through the city, following in the footsteps of Frans Kafka, and even stopping at one of his favourite cafés.

7. Oslo – ‘Beatles’ by Lars Saabye Christensen

Glass building, water, buildings and people in Oslo city centre
Relive the rise of the Beatles through the eyes of four young fans in Oslo

If you’re taking a trip to Oslo or spending a day or two in the city before heading to another destination, then Beatles by Lars Saabye Christensen is a book that could inspire you.

In this light-hearted and wistful novel, you can read about the youthful years of four teenage boys during the ’60s and ’70s as they ride the wave of Beatlemania in Norway. You follow Kim, Gunnar, Ola and Seb – who are obsessed with their musical heroes – on their wanderings in Oslo.

Beatles is a well-written account of a generation, and of growing up in a specific time. There’s football, drinking, love interests and other adventures that are part of adolescence, all with the unmistakable backdrop of the Norwegian capital.

Read, dream, travel, repeat

Towel, hat, sunglasses, sarong and eBook tablet on a sunbed next to a swimming pool
Read up and add some destinations to your travel bucket list

Most readers can remember at least one novel that made them want to go out and experience a particular destination. Make the dream come true.

And don’t forget, with Norwegian Reward you earn CashPoints when you fly, book a hotel or hire a car, and when you take part in guided tours and activities in your destinations with GetYourGuide. All these CashPoints add up, and you can use them to pay for your next trip.

Find your dream destination


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