Updated January 2022.
As new year wanderlust creeps in, discover these top travel books and fantastic travel accounts by some of the best travel writers of the past. What’s stopping you from camping at the foot of the Himalayas, embracing the whirlwind of the New York social scene, or exploring majestic ruins in Greece?
If you’re after some inspiration for your next trip, or simply fancy a little escape from the comfort of your own home, our collection of top travel books are sure to inspire your next adventure. Featuring writing from the likes of Ida Pfieffer and Mark Twain, these classic books circumnavigate the world, offering a delicious insight into the cultures of countries far and wide.
A Woman’s Journey Round the World is an 1850 travel diary by Ida Pfeiffer of the first of her two trips around the world, chronicling her successful journeys to Brazil, Chile, China, India and more. She travelled over 270,000 kilometers by land and sea through the Americas, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Africa, circling the globe twice between 1846 and 1855.
‘On the first of May, 1846, I left Vienna and, with the exception of slight stoppages at Prague, Dresden, and Leipsic, proceeded directly to Hamburgh, there to embark for the Bazils…’Ida Pfeiffer, A Woman’s Journey Around the World
In India Through the Ages – A Popular and Picturesque History of Hindustan, English writer Flora Annie Steel explores India’s fascinating history from the ancient age to the beginning of the eighteenth century.
‘The imaginative eye, looking out over the vast sea of young green wheat which in many parts of the Punjab floods unbroken to the very foot of the hills, may grain from it an idea of the wide ocean whose tide undoubtedly once broke on the shore of the Himalayas.’Flora Annie Steel, India Through the Ages
Twain recounts his trip aboard the ship “Quaker City” as it travelled through Europe and the Holy Land in 1867. The book sold more copies than any other Twain wrote in his life and remains among the best-selling travel book of all time.
‘They were to set sail for months over the breezy Atlantic and the sunny Mediterranean; they were to scamper about on the decks by day, filling the ship with shouts and laughter – or read novels and poetry in the shade of the smokestacks, or watch the for the jelly-fish and the nautilus over the side, and the shark, the whale, and other strange monsters of the deep; and at night they were to dance in the open air, on the upper deck in the midst of a ballroom that stretched horizon to horizon, and was domed by the bending heavens and lighted by no meaner lamps than the stars and the magnificent moon…’Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad
A fantastic collection of classic travel writings by a variety of notable authors, including Robert Louis Stevenson, G. K. Chesterton, and others. With pieces covering Europe, Africa, Asia, Russia, and the Americas, this collection offers the reader an insight not only into many different countries around the world, but also into history and the people and places of times past.
‘… when I climbed that hill and set my foot upon that majestic ruin, something awful clutched at my heart. I could not get my breath. The tears came into my eyes, and all at once, I was helpless in the grasp of the most powerful emotion… All at once, I saw the whole of Greek art in its proper setting. The Venus of Milo was no longer in the Louvre against its red background, where french taste has placed it… its cold, proud beauty was here again in Greece.’Greece, by Lillian Bell – I Travel the Open Road
This vintage book contains an account of the author’s trip to America in 1935. This entertaining and insightful travelogue is highly recommended for fans of Macdonell’s work and lovers of great travel writing.
‘From the moment that my telephone bell rang on that first morning, I was caught up in the whizzing, whirling, sky-rocketing Rush of life in New York. There was never time for anything except a frantic leap into a taxi and a furious drive to the next engagement…’A. G. Macdonell, A Visit to America
Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was an English writer, political officer, traveller, archaeologist, and administrator. She became an important policy-maker in the British Empire as a result of her extensive knowledge and contacts, which she built up through her numerous travels in Mesopotamia, Greater Syria, Asia Minor, and Arabia.
‘I set myself to trace the story that was scored upon the face of the earth by mouldering wall or half-choked dyke, by the thousand vestiges of former culture which were scattered about my path, but I would attempt to record the daily life and speech of those who had inherited the empty ground whereon empires had risen and expired.’Gertrude Bell, Amurath to Amurath
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