50 Best Travel Books of All Time

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Beach with ocean

What is it about a book that can transport you to a new destination in just a few pages? Whether you’re planning a trip or just dreaming of taking one, picking up a book about travel – or even a book that has such an evocative setting, it has the same effect, it’s one way to travel when you can’t quite get there in person.

In this list, I’ll share what I consider are the best travel books of all time. There’s be a good smattering of the most popular books that rightly deserve to be on a list like this, but there will be some more obscure suggestions from my own personal reading list, too.

Some of the books cover dark topics and while stories of war zones or former leper colonies may not, in themselves, inspire the urge to travel, the sense of place those books depict may well leave you wanting to know more.

Whether you’re after a work of fiction that can take you somewhere exotic or want to travel vicariously through the story of someone else’s travels, here’s what I think are the +50 best travel books of all time …(in no particular order).

Table of Contents

1. The Penguin Lessons, Tom Mitchell

The Penguin Lessons: What I Learned from a…
  • Hardcover Book
  • Michell, Tom (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 10/27/2015 (Publication Date) -…

The Penguin Lessons is top of the list because I’ve just finished reading it this morning. It’s by far one of the most uplifting books I’ve had the pleasure to devour. Ever. About a young expat teacher who ‘adopts’ a penguin while he’s in South America, this is a true story about one young traveller’s journey to the other side of the world and the unexpected friend he meets along the way.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Argentina

2. The Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Life of Pi: A Novel
21,318 Reviews
Life of Pi: A Novel
  • Great product!
  • Martel, Yann (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

What do you get when you cross a shipwrecked Indian boy and a Bengal tiger for over 200 days in the Pacific Ocean? Answer: The Life of Pi.  This fantastical adventure will leave you wondering how you’d cope if your travel adventures ever went that awry.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: India

3. The Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Walter

The Bridges of Madison County
  • Waller, Robert James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages – 01/07/2014 (Publication Date) – Grand…

The Bridges of Madison County is a love story like no other. Perhaps it’s the free-spirited nature of the ever wandering photographer that will make you think of the open road and although not strictly a travel book, it will still make you want to put Madison County and its bridges on your travel list.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Madison County, Indiana

4. On the Road, Jack Kerouac

On the Road
  • Jack Kerouac (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 293 Pages – 06/01/1999 (Publication Date) -…

No list would be complete without featuring ‘On the Road’ as it’s become a seminal work widely read by travellers and dreamers alike. it took me several goes to finally finish this book and I have to be honest, I didn’t rate it. Still, plenty of people do.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: USA especially San Francisco.

5. Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest…
  • 102812 Has limited quantity available
  • Strayed, Cheryl (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Lost in life and looking for answers following her mother’s death, Wild is the true story of one woman’s 1000-miles walk along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s gritty but compelling and inspiring all at the same time.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: on a long trek/Pacific Crest Trail

6. The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain

The Innocents Abroad: Original Illustrations
  • Twain, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 550 Pages – 07/30/2018 (Publication Date) -…

Mark Twain was one of the original adventurers and The Innocents Abroad will let you travel in time to Europe and the Holy Land during the 1800s. So many travel quotes have been lifted from Mark Twain’s pages, this, together with his other books more than deserve a read.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Europe and the Middle East

7. The Island, Victoria Hislop

The Island
  • Hislop, Victoria (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages – 07/24/2007 (Publication Date) – Harper…

Dealing expertly with that tough topic of leprosy, Victoria Hislop’s The Island doesn’t just educate, the vivid descriptions leave you feeling like you’ve just been to Greece on a heart-wrenching journey. A great book if you’re interested in travelling to Greece.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Greece

8. In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country
  • Australia – description & travel
  • Bryson, Bill (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

I read In A Sunburned Country so long ago I think it deserves another read and if you’re off to Australia, or if you’re just up from laugh, this hilarious account is just the job. Note: this book is called ‘Down Under’ in the UK.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Australia

9. 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Jules Verne

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Wordsworth Classics)
  • Jules Verne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 12/30/1998 (Publication Date) -…

This perfectly charming work of fantasy by Jules Verne is a fast read and although travelling 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is out of the question, exploring the land of ice and fire – Iceland – isn’t. One of the best books to inspire great travel adventures.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Iceland

10. Marching Powder, Rusty Young

Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship,…
  • McFadden, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 05/01/2004 (Publication Date) – St….

Something of a classic among backpackers in South America, Marching Powder tells the true story of life inside San Pedro, one of the world’s most notorious prisons, which is located in La Paz, Bolivia.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Bolivia

11. The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist, 25th Anniversary: A Fable About…
  • Note: Item has rough Cut edges(Edges are cut…
  • A special 25th anniversary edition of the…
  • Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into…

Parable meets wanderlust: The Alchemist is Paolo Coehlo at his absolute best and I doubt there’s anybody with even the slightest bit of wanderlust who doesn’t want to pack a bag after they’ve read it.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Andalucia/North Africa/The World

12. Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
  • Mayes, Frances (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages – 09/02/1997 (Publication Date) – Crown…

Frances Mayes lives out the fantasy of many when she buys and restores a villa in the heart of Tuscany. Under the Tuscan Sun will leave even the most active person yearning for a simpler and slower way of life and it’s the perfect read to escape the modern pace of life.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Tuscany, Italy

13. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram: A Novel
  • Roberts, Gregory David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 944 Pages – 10/01/2005 (Publication Date) – St….

You’ll do well reading this on your Kindle if you plan to take this behemoth of a book on your travels. Pitched as a true story about an Australian ex-convict who escapes to the underworld of Bombay, questions about the truth of this tale have since come to light but that doesn’t make Shantaram any less compelling a read.

If you haven’t got a Kindle for reading while you’re on your travels, I’d highly recommend getting one, mainly because you can pack a whole library for minimal weight. You can find out more and buy one here.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: India

14. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace (Vintage Classics)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Tolstoy, Leo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

I’m still wading through War and Peace but even before I’ve come to the end, Tolstoy’s epic about the French invasion of Russia has re-inspired my urge to visit Russia, making it a classic.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Russia (should global events change)

15. The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist: A Novel
  • Burton, Jessie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages – 06/02/2015 (Publication Date) – Ecco…

Despite an ending that I found disappointing (don’t worry – no spoilers), The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is evocatively set in 17th-century Amsterdam where the merchants rule the city and trade lies at the heart of its prosperity. It may not be intended as a travel book but it made me want to return to Amsterdam.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Amsterdam

16. The Travels of Marco Polo, Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo
95 Reviews
The Travels of Marco Polo
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Polo, Marco (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

If you’re looking to jump into the exotic East during the Middle Ages, this is the way to do it.  Depicting a time when off-the-beaten-path actually meant something, The Travels of Marco Polo will make the truly adventurous wish they could embark on their journey several hundred years ago.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Asia

17. Inferno, Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon)
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 624 Pages – 05/06/2014 (Publication Date) – Anchor…

Regardless of whether you’re into Dan Brown’s conspiracy stories, it’s hard to deny that the way he bounces his characters from one European city to another makes you wish you were right there with them. Dan Brown’s book, Inferno, is no different, taking you through Venice, Florence and on to Istanbul.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Venice, Florence, Istanbul

18. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (SeaWolf Press…
  • Twain, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 358 Pages – 02/25/2021 (Publication Date) -…

Rafting down the Mississippi River, Huck and Jim take you on a voyage through the antebellum history of the South. With The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn you’ll travel in time as well as place.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Mississippi (you can start with New Orleans)

19. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
  • Joyce, Rachel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 03/26/2013 (Publication Date) – Random…

Finding out that an old friend is in a hospice about to die, Harold Fry only intends to walk to the post box to send her a letter but instead finds himself on a 600-mile pilgrimage through England to deliver the letter himself. A quirky story, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will make you think about the deeper aspects of life, with a chuckle along the way.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: England

20. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thomas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey…
  • Hunter S. Thompson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 204 Pages – 05/12/1998 (Publication Date) -…

Long before The Hangover took to the Holywood screams, there was the epic book: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s the story of a weekend road trip to Las Vegas that’s dipped in drugs and promises to be a rollercoaster read.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Las Vegas

21. Discovering Beautiful: On the Road to Nowhere, Rory Miller

Discovering Beautiful: On The Road To Somewhere
89 Reviews
Discovering Beautiful: On The Road To Somewhere
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Miller, Rory (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Gritty doesn’t even begin to cover Discovering Beautiful: On The Road To Somewhere. If you’re tired of reading polished, well-presented travelogues, Rory Miller’s story bounces from  squats in New York to something a lot more spiritual in the Mexican desert. I won’t spoil it but there’s a hard-hitting, sadly real-life, twist in this book. A fellow traveller gave this book to me in a dorm room in Tel Aviv years ago. It went out of print for a while but I’m pleased to see it’s back again.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: North America

22. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything…
  • Great product!
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Speaking of well-polished and publicised travelogues, Eat, Pray, Love is one of those books you can’t escape, particularly if you’re a thirty-something, solo female traveller who is travelling after a break-up. Sigh. I’m generally a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert’s creativity even if I did have to force myself to read this book through to the end. It was a rare occasion when I preferred the movie. Perhaps, because it was over more quickly.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Italy, India, Bali

23. The Beach, Alex Garland

The Beach
  • Garland, Alex (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 448 Pages – 02/01/1998 (Publication Date) -…

Seeing as we’re on the topic of blazingly popular books – I present to you The Beach. If you haven’t read this backpacker blockbuster, go read it now. More dark and twisty than the title suggests, the pace is fast and the storyline compelling (even if some of the geography doesn’t stack up – and every traveller in Southeast Asia will tell you as much). Still, one of my travel favourite reads of all time.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Thailand

24. Notes From a Small Island, Bill Bryson

Notes from a Small Island
  • Bryson, Bill (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 324 Pages – 05/15/2001 (Publication Date) -…

Notes From A Small Island is Bill Bryson’s take on the curiosities of the tiny island I call home. And it will have you simultaneously laughing out loud, and checking flight prices to Great Britain as you power through this book.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Great Britain

25. Into the Wild, Jon Krakaeur

Into the Wild
  • Random House Into the Wild, Paperback by Jon…
  • Jon Krakauer (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Sadly, I watched the film before reading the book – never the best way to do it. Nevertheless, Into the Wild is…well, a pretty wild story about one man, disenchanted with modern society who goes off to live in the wilds of Alaska with astonishing consequences. Read this with comfort food to hand.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Alaska

26. A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle

A Year in Provence
  • Peter Mayle
  • Mayle, Peter (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Ever wondered what it might be like to move into a centuries-old farmhouse in Provence, and survive each of the seasons it throws at you? A Year in Provence is Peter Mayle’s account of his year doing exactly that. Expect a chuckle along the way.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Provence

27. Last Train to Istanbul, Ayse Kulin

Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel
  • Kulin, Ayşe (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 396 Pages – 10/08/2013 (Publication Date) – Amazon…

Love, war, the Ottoman empire, fighting families and adventures across a continent into a land unknown. I’d put money on the Last Train To Istanbul making its debut on screen one day. Until then, settle back and enjoy the (written) ride.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Ankara, Paris, Cairo, Berlin

28. Moloka’i, Alan Brennert

  • Alan Brennert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 10/04/2004 (Publication Date) – St….

Another work of fiction that tackles the topic of leprosy is Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. Also based on a real-life former leper colony, on Moloka’i island, this book is rich with Hawaiian culture and is as much about the fictional characters as it is the disease.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Moloka’i and Hawaii generally

29. Vagabonding, Rolf Potts

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of…
  • Potts, Rolf (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 12/24/2002 (Publication Date) -…

If you’re hoping to build a stint of long-term travel into your life, veteran traveller Rolf Potts won’t just talk you into the benefits, he’ll show you how to do it – from financing your travels to planning your trip in this ever popular Vagabonding.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: On a long journey

30. A Room With a View, E.M. Forster

A Room with a View (Warbler Classics Annotated…
  • Forster, E. M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 204 Pages – 10/04/2021 (Publication Date) -…

I make no secret about the fact that Tuscany is one of my all-time favourite places and E.M Forster’s depiction of this part of Italy, at a time when female travellers had to be accompanied by a chaperone, sucked me in from the first line of A Room with A View.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Italy

31. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Yong Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition
  • Frank, Anne (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 02/03/1997 (Publication Date) – Bantam…

Anne Frank’s The Diary of A Young Girl is not the easiest book to read due to the horrifying fact that it’s a true-life account about a young Jewish girl and her family and neighbours hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II, but it’s a must-read for…well, everyone. Follow it up with a visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and you’ll see the tragedy behind this book in real life.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Amsterdam (check out Amsterdam Noord to cheer yourself up)

32. Seven Years in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer

Seven Years in Tibet
  • Harrer, Heinrich (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages – 08/20/2009 (Publication Date) -…

This story is nothing short of fantastic. As one of the first European’s to visit Tibet and with a hell of a journey to get there (escaping India at the break out of WWII), Heinrich Harrer became confident to the Dalai Lama amongst other things during his time in Tibet. Read his adventures with awe in Seven Years in Tibet.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Tibet

33. Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Blue Highways: A Journey into America
  • Great product!
  • Moon, William Least Heat (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Inspired to travel to those barely-on-the-map locations that lie at the end of the USA’s backroads, William Least Heat-Moon gives a glimpse of American life in a way that’s very rarely seen in his long-popular Blue Highways.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: USA

34. Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote…

If you want to be inspired by the story of a true hero, read Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace – One School at a Time. After climbing K2, Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer decided to build a school for poor mountain villagers. That school turned into 50 schools.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Pakistan

35. The Kindness of Strangers, Kate Adie

The Kindness of Strangers, Kate Adie

As a BBC correspondent since 1969, Kate Adie has a particular take on travel, particularly as she ended up mostly in war zones. From Northern Ireland to Tiananmen Square, Kate’s autobiography – The Kindness of Strangers – will inspire you in every way. One of the most gripping autobiographies you’ll find.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Middle East, China, Northern Ireland and more

36. The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux

The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Theroux, Paul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

A true master of travel writing, Paul Theroux is the man behind many of those travel quotes you see flying around the internet and the Great Railway Bazaar has got to be one of his best books. Sharing, with great amusement, his journey across Asia by train, you’ll be left wanting to cancel your airfair and takes to the tracks instead.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Asia

37. The Road to Oxiana, Robert Byron

The Road to Oxiana Publisher: Oxford University…
  • Robert Byron (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/01/2007 (Publication Date) – Oxford University…

The sad fact is that for most of us, reading or movies is the only way we can ‘visit’ much of the Middle East due to the ongoing conflicts there but thanks to Robert Byron’s Road to Oxiana, you can take a journey through Beirut, Baghdad, Tehran and Afganistan, exploring the architectural wonders that were a highlight of his trip in the 1930s.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: The Middle East

38. Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley in Search of America
  • Steinbeck, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 277 Pages – 01/31/1980 (Publication Date) -…

Charley’s a poodle and John Steinbeck is on a mission – to see whether he’s lost touch with America. Travels With Charley In Search Of America will take you across the USA in a book that is the closest insight you’ll get into this famous author and his views on life and the country he wrote so much about.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: USA

39. The Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere,…
  • The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere,…
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ferriss, Timothy (Author)

I was in two minds whether to put this on the list because it’s not a travel book per se and there’s a big body of people who think The 4-Hour Work Week is a huge crock of shit. Nevertheless, I’d guestimate 8 out of 10 travellers have read it and so many digital nomads seek to emulate Tim Ferriss’ view that we should all be able to detach from our desks and live our lives exploring the world while only working four hours a week.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: All over the world

40. The Valleys of the Assassins, Freya Stark

The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian…
  • Stark, Freya (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages – 07/24/2001 (Publication Date) – Modern…

Freya Stark, one of the world’s most intrepid and inspiring female travellers, a solo trip to the mountains between Iraq and Iran, and all on a shoestring. What more could you want from a book? Oh, and did I mention The Valleys of the Assassins was written in the 1930s?

Where you’ll be inspired to go: the Middle East

41. Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières

Captain Corellis Mandolin
  • New
  • Mint Condition
  • Dispatch same day for order received before 12…

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières is more than just a story about an Italian officer sent to the Greek island of Cephallonia (Kefalonia) in 1941. And it’s more than a love story. It’s a book that will take your imagination right into the heart of this Greek community.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Greece ( recently visited Kefalonia on a Greek cruise around the Peloponnesus)

42. Round Ireland With a Fridge, Tony Hawks

Round Ireland with a Fridge
  • part travelogue autobiography
  • Hawks, Tony (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

When an Irish man makes a drunken bet, you can be damned sure he’ll try to win it. The result: Tony Hawks takes himself off around Ireland… with a fridge. Hilarity ensues in Round Ireland with A Fridge.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Ireland

43. Holy Cow, Sarah MacDonald

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
  • Macdonald, Sarah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 291 Pages – 04/13/2004 (Publication Date) – Crown…

On her first trip to India in her 20s, journalist Sarah McDonald is less than enamoured with the country which she finds hot, poor and polluted. Leaving India, she lets a beggar read her palm and he tells her that she will one day return to India for love. She doesn’t believe a word of it until several years later. Holy Cow describes India through the eyes of someone who’s first impressions of India certainly aren’t love.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: India

44. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell

Down and Out in Paris and London
  • Orwell, George (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages – 03/15/1972 (Publication Date) -…

The author doesn’t stray too far from his Orwellian views about poverty in society in this part fictional, part autobiographical story, Down and Out in Paris and London is about a poor writer who brushes shoulders with the underclasses in both London and Paris.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Paris and London

45. Long Way Down, Ewan McGregor

Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from…
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • McGregor, Ewan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

With a wanderlust that won’t quiet, Ewan McGregor takes to the road once again with fellow bike companion Charlie Boorman. This time they journey from the northern tip of the UK (John O’Groats) to the southern tip of South Africa (Cape Agulhas) and Long Way Down will take you the 15,000 miles with them.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: UK to Africa

46. The Art of Travel, Allain de Botton

The Art of Travel
  • De Botton, Alain (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages – 05/11/2004 (Publication Date) -…

The Art of travel is less about where to go than why you should go. Exploring matters such as the anticipation of travel and the benefits of truly taking time to notice the stuff you see, The Art of Travel is a book that will help you make the most of every trip you take.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: the world

47. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An…
  • Pirsig, Robert M (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages – 08/02/2005 (Publication Date) -…

If you’re looking for a beautiful blend of travel and philosophical introspection on how to live a better life, then Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance is for you. It follows the journey of a father and son taking summer trips across the north-west of the USA on a motorbike.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: USA and deeper inside your soul

48. McCarthy’s Bar, Pete McCarthy

McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland
693 Reviews
McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland
  • McCarthy, Pete (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 03/03/2003 (Publication Date) – St….

It’s always nice to have a rule when you travel: make friends with the locals, leave only footprints… don’t pass a bar with your name on it. And when you possess the Irish name McCarthy and you take a journey through Ireland, that stacks up to a lot of bars. Murphy’s Bar will probably make you as thirsty for a pint of Guinness as anything else.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Ireland 

49. Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost…
  • Adams, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 333 Pages – 04/24/2012 (Publication Date) – Dutton…

Hiram Bingham III was the Yale professor who rediscovered Machu Picchu but when news reports started to depict the explorer in a negative light, Mark Adams decides to retrace the steps Hiram took in 1911. If Peru is on you travel wish list, Turn Right at Machu Picchu will be the perfect appetiser.

Where you’ll be inspired to go: Peru

50. The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the…
  • Enter your state here
  • Troost, J. Maarten (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

If you don’t quite have the time or motivation to go travelling right now, and you’re looking for a good reason to stay home, check out The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Maarten is a 26-year-old who’s already disillusioned with work life so he decides to move to a remote South Pacific Island where, it turns out, life isn’t as exotic and glamorous as he had expected. In some ways, this is the anti-travel book!

Where you’ll be inspired to go: South Pacific (or stay home)

51. Lost in the Jungle, Yossi Ghinsberg

Lost in the Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of…
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Ghinsberg, Yossi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Lost in the Jungle is a harrowing true story of adventure and survival is the full name of this book and what a survival story it is. This book was recommended to me by a fellow traveller and I tore through it in a couple of days needing to know what happened next. The story is a true one about an Israeli backpacker who gets lost in the Amazon jungle. I like to consider myself adventurous and able to cope reasonably well with challenges but I’m not sure I’d have survived if I were in Yossi’s shoes. The book has been made into a movie featuring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter to most of us).

Where you’ll be inspired to go: The Amazon Jungle and Bolivia

Want to see this list on Amazon together with more travel reading recommendations?


Not got time to read? Try audio books.

In the last couple of years I’ve really taken to Audible. As a book person, I couldn’t get onboard with listening to stories but after a few ‘reads’ I’m addicted. I play them at the gym, standing in line at the airport, while I’m chopping veggies for dinner, in the car and in the shower. All those times I couldn’t otherwise pick up a book. Find out more about Audible here. It’s the best £7.99 I spend a month (and far better for my brain than Netflix.

50 Best travel books of all time text overlay on beach
Author - Jo Fitzsimons

Hi, I'm Jo, the writer behind Indiana Jo. In 2010 I quit my job as a lawyer and booked an around the world ticket. As a solo female traveller, I hopped from South America to Central America, across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It was supposed to be a one-year trip but over a decade later, it's yet to end. I've lived in a cave, climbed down a volcano barefoot, spent years as a digital nomad, worked as a freelance travel writer, and eaten deadly Fugu. Now I'm home, back in the UK, but still travelling far and wide. You can find out more About Me.

20 thoughts on “50 Best Travel Books of All Time”

  1. I am a fan of “A Year of Living Danishly,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” (Sedaris) and “The Geography of Bliss.”(Weiner). Great job on the list and happy travels.

    • Oooh, thanks Charles – the greatest gift is a book recommendation and you’ve just given me 3! Thanks and happy travels to you too.

  2. I actually endorse many of your recommendations but Bridges in Madison County? Especially when you have it as Indiana rather than Iowa! I guess it didn’t get you to actually travel there.

  3. Great list. Really interesting. I particularly like the travel writing of William Dalrymple also. Really good writing, humorous, fascinating, in depth. “From The Holy Mountain” and “In Xanadu” are particularly good. Cheers, Liz

  4. Great list! May I add The Long Way Round (the very first and best installment from McGregor and Boorman), Call of the Wild by Jack London which will have you craving the wilderness, and Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood which is a fascinating look at contemporary life from Afghanistan to Bhutan.

  5. What a great list, and we are definitely going to look up the first title on our list. Over on Pinterest we have been building our board of top titles for literary wanderlust, there is quite some overlap which is great!!

  6. Some great books listed. I’ve only read about a dozen or so of these. One I am surprised that you did not list is “Travels” by Michael Crichton…awesome book!

  7. Thanks Jo, great list. Whilst researching some of the art in “Inferno”, I found your blog!
    now, off to Amazon…

  8. Great list, looks like I have some reading to do. I’d all add On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves to the list. Quick and easy read that will have you questioning your next puddle jumper flight.


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