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Top Ten Travel Books to Read on your Travels

Author: David Pettitt

Whether relaxing by the pool or exploring some far flung corner of a foreign land, there is no better companion than a good travel book. Whether humorous or informative, escapist or practical, since the turn of the last century the travel literature genre has attracted some of the world’s greatest authors who, in turn, have contributed many much-loved titles and inspirational travel writing books. Below, we have compiled a selection of our top 10 travel books, many of which we consider to be amongst the best travel books of all time.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ by Paul Theroux

A classic tale of adventure and discovery, ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ chronicles Paul Theroux’s intrepid rail journey from Europe to India and Asia. Credited with inspiring a generation of travellers and travel writers, it is as relevant now as when it was first published in the 1970s.


Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby

‘Slowly Down the Ganges’ by Eric Newby

Eric Newby has written many a classic tale – ‘A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush’ and ‘Love and War in the Apennines’ to name but two. ‘Slowly Down the Ganges’, where Newby follows India’s mother river is one of his finest as he expertly, and entertainingly, captures the sights and sounds of the subcontinent.


A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

‘A Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle’s glorious book has encouraged generations to dream of escaping the rat race for the sunnier climes of southern France. Set in rural Provence, this is a charming account of French village life, the ups and downs of renovating a 200 year old home and the locals who welcome them into their community.


Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

‘Notes from a Small Island’ by Bill Bryson

Arguably Bryson’s best known work, this much-loved and often quoted travel book perfectly encapsulates Britain and British life. In his own unique, witty and erudite style, ‘Notes from a Small Island’ chronicles Bryson’s travels around his beloved and bemusing adopted home.

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

‘In Patagonia’ by Bruce Chatwin

‘In Patagonia’ signalled a revival in travel literature, a book of such astonishing and lucid observation that, to this day, is the template for all modern travel writing. History, anecdotes, characters and adventure combine to create the ultimate portrayal of Argentinean Patagonia ever written.


Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron

‘Shadow of the Silk Road’ by Colin Thubron

Following in the footsteps of the ancient trading caravans of yore, Colin Thubron’s record of his journey along one of history’s most important land routes is a masterpiece. Exploring a myriad of cultures, civilisations and religions, ‘Shadow of the Silk Road’ perfectly blends the ancient and modern worlds.


Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater

‘Chasing the Monsoon’ by Alexander Frater

Concocting a hair-brained scheme to follow the monsoon as it makes its way north through India, Frater’s journey is the ultimate adventure. Humorous and gentle, intelligent and kindly, ‘Chasing the Monsoon’ is a wonderful portrayal of a country by a true Indophile as he travels to fabled Cherrapunjee.


Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

‘Seven Years in Tibet’ by Heinrich Harrer

Very different to the other travel books on this list, Heinrich Harrer’s is an account of his escape from India across the Himalayas to Tibet during the Second World War. Befriending the Dalai Lama, Harrer made a home and embraced life in the Tibetan capital until the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950.


City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple

‘City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi’ by William Dalrymple

Chronicling the year William Dalrymple spent in the Indian capital Delhi, ‘City of Djinns’ is an astonishing book crafted by someone who truly knows India. Combining history, religion, ancient tales and contemporary Delhi life, Dalrymple shows a keen eye for detail and a fascination for the characters he meets.


As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee

A memoir of the author’s travels from his home in rural Gloucestershire via London to Galicia, Lee’s journey ultimately coincides with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Undertaken at the age of twenty, this lyrical account portrays the excitement and curiosity of youth set within the turbulence of the 1930s.

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