10 Literary cities for book lovers to visit in the UK

BY Liam Smith

21st Sep 2023 Lifestyle

3 min read

10 Literary cities for book lovers to visit in the UK
The UK boasts a rich literary heritage, with cities packed with bookshops, literary landmarks and cosy cafes. If you love books, try one of these city breaks
As the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, whose iconic works have captivated generations of readers, Great Britain boasts a vast and diverse literary landscape for bibliophiles to revel in.
But which British cities truly shine as the ultimate literary destinations for bookworms to fall in love with?
In honour of Read A New Book Month this September, printing experts at Aura Print sought to reveal the best UK cities for book enthusiasts. They considered various factors, from the number of libraries and bookshops to the presence of green spaces and cafes for a relaxing read.

1. York

Earning a remarkable “bookspiration” score of 9.4/10, York has claimed the title of the best UK city for book lovers.
Boasting the highest number of reading spots per 100,000 people among all cities analysed, literary lovers will find themselves spoiled for choice in this mediaeval city.
Home to 20 libraries and 33 highly rated bookshops, this serves a significant literary resource for a city of its population size.
Books inspired by York include: The Secret Garden, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre
Top reading spot: Museum Gardens

2. Bath 

Bath comes second, receiving a final “bookspiration” score of 8.1/10. 
Beyond its plentiful quiet reading spots (more than seven libraries and 16 bookshops per 100,000 people), the city also offers ample green spaces, perfect for avid readers to dive into their favourite tome.
A dream destination for those with a penchant for all things bookish and Jane Austen, it’s also host to the annual Jane Austen Festival in September, featuring a host of immersive Regency-themed experiences.
Books inspired by Bath include: Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Vathek
Top reading spot: Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

3. Belfast

In third place is Belfast, scoring a respectable 7.3/10. 
The Northern Irish city boasts a whopping 18 libraries and 55 charming bookshops to choose from, with an average Google rating of 4.71/5—the highest of all cities analysed. 
Serving as the backdrop of inspiration for CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Belfast also has a thriving bookish culture as it plays host to an annual book festival drawing in the nation’s biggest bookworms.
Books inspired by Belfast include: Eureka Street, Mystery Man, The Star Factory
Top reading spot: Cave Hill

4. Bristol

Dubbed the hipster capital of the UK, Bristol (6.8/10) secures fourth place to be a literary lover’s paradise.
Thanks to its trove of bookshops from independent to second-hand (over 17 bookshops per 100,000 people), the lively South West city makes an unrivalled haven for book-shopping.
Books inspired by Bristol include: Shadow Dance, Birdcage Walk, Keep Him Close
Top reading spot: Hatter House Cafe

5. Edinburgh

As the world’s first Unesco City of Literature, Edinburgh rounds off the top five with a “bookspiration” score of 6.7/10.
Its picturesque cobblestone streets are lined with a remarkable 188 quaint cafes (the second highest number of cafes per 100,000 people), 28 libraries and 71 bookshops. With its well-preserved architecture and rich literary landscape, the Scottish capital offers book addicts a glimpse into the golden era of modern literature.
Books inspired by Edinburgh include: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Trainspotting, One Good Turn
Top reading spot: The Elephant House

6. Brighton 

Brighton secures the sixth spot with a respectable “bookspiration” score of 6.6/10. The seaside city has nurtured a plethora of literary legends, from Rudyard Kipling to Lewis Carroll, and is renowned for its culturally vibrant environment and eclectic independent book scene.
Books inspired by Brighton include: Brighton Rock, Looking Good Dead, Pride and Prejudice
Top reading spot: Africa House

7. Nottingham

Nottingham takes the seventh spot and proves to be a vibrant city for book lovers. Boasting a "bookspiration" score of 6.3/10, this city offers a rich literary scene with numerous bookshops and cosy coffee spots, making it a haven for book enthusiasts.
Top reading spot: The Bookcase

8. Cardiff

Securing the eighth spot with a "bookspiration" score of 6.2/10, Cardiff is a city with a thriving literary scene and a multitude of bookstores and inviting coffee shops.
It's a perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful reading experience amidst a rich literary heritage.
Top reading spot: Pettigrew Tea Rooms

9. Liverpool

Liverpool takes the ninth position and offers a delightful experience for book lovers. With a "bookspiration" score of 5.6/10, Liverpool provides a lively literary scene, a variety of bookstores, and cosy coffee shops for a tranquil reading ambiance.
Books inspired by Liverpool include: Day of the Dead, The Dressmaker, Ruby Flynn
Top reading spot: Blackburne House Cafe

10. Glasgow 

Completing the top ten list is Glasgow, with a notable “bookspiration” score of 5.4/10.
As the birthplace of famous writers such as Alasdair Gray and Liz Lochhead, the Scottish city boasts an impressive count of 137 coffee shops and 55 bookstores sprinkled across the city, book aficionados are certainly in for a treat in Glasgow.
Books inspired by Glasgow include: Lanark, The Death of Bees, The Cutting Room
Top reading spot: Tchai-Ovna House of Tea
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