Top literary travel trails

Top literary travel trails

Our favourite books are filled with wonderful characters, but don't we love the authors, too? How about a trip where you can check out stuff connected with literary greats?

From the haunts of Parisian literati to the Russian residence of Crime And Punishment author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, follow us on a paper trail of the Top 10 literary sites (presented in no particular order) worldwide, where book lovers can get up close-and-friendly with the works of their favourite authors.

1. 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 pay a visit to Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery where literary greats have been buried since the beginning of the 19th century.

What? Start your tour at Proust's black marble tomb. The hermit-like author of A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu (In Search Of Lost Time) was buried here in 1922 after dying of pneumonia. Cross over to the south-east 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 be missed include Les Miserables creator 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 44ha cemetery, so join a guided tour with Oui Paris Tours (www.ouiparistours.com).

Where to stay? Paris' first literary hotel. The Pavillion Des Lettres

2. Borges and more: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Where? Latin America's most literary city, Buenos Aires, is packed with atmospheric sights for avid book lovers.

What? Stroll along Avda Sante Fe to see Portenos (Buenos Aires city dwellers) browsing the countless book kiosks, walk along Borges Street where city son Jose Luis grew up, then have a coffee in Gran Café Tortoni, a historic café where the writer often hung 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 (www.getyourguide.com) daily walks.

Where to stay? Just around the corner from the Borges family house, the BoBo boutique Hotel (www.bobohotel.com) is an elegant haven.

3. God's own country: Kerala, India

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 Thiruvananthapuram, the region's bustling capital which hosts the celebrity-author-packed Kovalom Literary festival (www.kovalamlitfest.com). Next head for Aymanam, the backdrop for Roy's Booker-prize-winning 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.

Where to stay? Explore the backwaters featured in Roy's novel in The Oberoi's opulently luxurious Vrinda motorvessel (www.greavesindia.com),

4. Official literary city: Dublin, Ireland

Where? This Unesco City of Literature is one of only four such cities in the world. With its writers museums, literary-themed tours and book-related sights, Dublin is a bookworm's dream.

What? Pop into the Dublin Writer's museum to learn about the prolific literary heritage of this city where James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and WB Yeats were born, then saunter over to Trinity College to marvel at illuminated 9th century manuscript Book Of Kells. Stop off 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 poet WB Yeats in 1903.

Best way to do it? Explore this book-loving city on a two-hour guided literary tour with Ireland Expert (www.irelandexpert.com).

Where to stay? Take your pick from the list of luxury hotels offering special literary Dublin packages on the Visit Dublin City of Literature website (www.dublincityofliterature.ie/ literary-world/ dublin-literary- ambassador-hotels-and-restaurants.html).

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 in 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 (www.wbstudiotour.co.uk).

Best way to do it? London has hundreds of literary tours, so log on to the website of Literary London Walks (www.walks.com/Standalone/Literary_London_Walks/default.aspx) and pick the one that's best for you.

Where to stay? Stay at the heart of the city's literary action at The Cadogan (www.cadogan.com), a chic historical hotel where Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895.

6. From Russia with love: St Petersburg, Russia

Where? Russia has more literary museums than anywhere else in the world, and the atmospheric streets of St Petersburg where Tolstoy's heroine Anna Karenina has her fated trysts ring with literary associations.

What? Call at the Dostoyevsky Museum, packed with memorabilia and set in the apartment where the writer penned The Brothers Karamazov, then take a cab 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.peters walk.com) organises literary walks of St Petersburg.

Where to stay? Close to all of St Petersburg's top literary sites, the Imperial Russian-style, brand new Four Season's Hotel Lion Palace (www.fourseasons.com/stpeters burg/accommodations) is the place to stay.

7. Book markets and historic sites: Melbourne, Australia

Where? Hailed as Australia's cultural capital and recently nominated Unesco City of Literature, Melbourne's book markets, stately libraries and author-related sites make it a great place for bookworms.

What? Head for the State library of Victoria, built in the 1800's to see the walls of the La Trobe Reading Room covered with quotes by famous writers, or catch celebrated authors giving talks.

On Saturdays, don't miss the vast bookmarket in Federation Square, then pop into Richmond's Booktalk 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 tour (www.hiddensecretstours.com/Festival_tours.php).

Where to stay? Sleep sweet at the historic Hotel Windsor (www.thehotelwindsor.com.au), where the city's literati once hung out.

8. Slumdog tour: Mumbai, India

Where? Adapted from Indian author Vikas Swarup's book into an award-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire is a great reason to visit Mumbai.

What? Swarup's book, which relates 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 Mumbai's largest slums.

Take a half day tour of Dharavi, the slums featured in the book, and you'll be astounded by the immense initiative of slum-dwellers 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 covering Dharavi.

Where to stay? Book into The Taj Mahal Palace (www.tajhotels.com), the historic hotel where literary celebrities, including George Bernard Shaw, have stayed.

9. At home with Hemingway: Key West, Florida

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-see 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 10 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/hemingway-house.asp) which visits the city's main sights and ends with a visit to Hemingway's house.

Where to stay? Book the sumptuous Hemingway Suite with its private balcony overlooking the Hemingway Home at Lighthouse Court (www.historickeywestinns.com/the-inns/lighthouse-court).

10. Mooning with the Moomins: Tampere, Finland

Where? Tove Jansson's hippo-like Moomins are a big hit with the kids, whilst other literary figures like Seppo Jokinen, creator of fictional character inspector Koskinen, have put Tampere on the literary map.

What? Based on the cartoon books by celebrated Finnish author Tove Jansson, the Moomin World is peopled with costumed characters, miniatures of Moomins and fun, interactive exhibits.

Back in Tampere town, you can feel like Ian Fleming's Bond character as you try your hand at firing a gun, or deciphering a coded message at Tampere's Spy museum, then have dinner in the Bond-style 140m high revolving Nasinneula restaurant (www.sarkanniemi.fi/en/attractions/nasinneula-observation-tower).

Best way to do it? Ask Tampere tourist board to organise one of their Inspector Koskinen's Tampere tours, based on locations used in this series of detective books.

Where to stay? Brush up your own novel in peace at Villa Hepolahti (www.villahe polahti.com), a stunning villa with wall-to-wall windows overlooking Lake Pintele.

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