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Best travel books

Best travel books

Why not add to your armchair travel selection by treating yourself to a travel book? Whether this is in preparation for a planned trip, or just to learn more about somewhere new with a view to going in the future, let a book bring you to a beautiful place. You could also buy a book for a loved one and tuck a travel voucher from The Natural Adventure inside. Here are a few of our best travel books by authors who have immersed themselves in places where we love to travel, and are experts not only in their chosen destinations but also in creating a sense of place and adventure. 

Please also remember to purchase them at an independent bookstore or direct from the publishers who are supporting great travel writing. 

My Family and Other Enemies – Life and travels in Croatia’s Hinterland

Author: Mary Novakovich 

If you are planning a trip to Croatia, Serbia or Bosnia-Herzegovina, this poignant memoir, My family and Other Enemies, by Mary Novakovich (published by Bradt Guides), about travels to her native lands in Lika, Croatia, is a must read. Although Mary grew up in Canada and now lives in the UK, she takes you with her on various journeys back to her homeland in the 1970s as a child, then revisiting them as an adult to find them changed by conflict and yet, in many ways, still quite unchanged. It makes you really want to go and climb the mountains of her childhood, eat and drink šljivovica and feel the bura in your hair. 

best travel books
Travel through the hinterlands and family lands of Lika, Croatia, with Mary Novakovich in her brilliant memoir and travel book.

High: A Journey Across the Himalayas Through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China

Author: Erika Fatland 

So many of us travel to the Himalayas for the landscapes, but this author goes there predominantly for those who live there. In High, Norwegian anthropologist, Erika Fatland’s travels through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, China and Tibet with an inquisitive eye, an alert ear, and with a great taste for community and culture. Just as an example, she meets goddesses, Gurkhas and girls who were sex-trafficked. So it’s not a travel book per se, and yet it really is one of the best travel books about the Himalayas. it’s a book about real lives not romanticised ones, and it’s an important read if you want to ensure that you don’t just look up while trekking in the Himalayas, nor look solely with a western eye. Published in 2022, by MacLehose Press in the UK, and Pegasus Books in the USA in March 2023. 

101 Byways – Traveling to lesser-known places in Bulgaria

Authors: Ivan Mihalev and Elina Tsankova

Just like our Bulgarian holidays, this book takes you off the beaten path and is a favourite of our Balkan expert and Chief Operating Officer at The Natural Adventure, Maria Kostadinova. “I was inspired to visit some of these places around Bulgaria with my family”, says Maria and trust us, she knows Bulgaria like the back of her hand. From secret waterfalls to wineries, stunning viewpoints and fascinating points of view, you will find many of the treats mentioned in 101 Byways on our walking and cycling holidays, and others you may need to book an extra day for. 

Europe by Rail

Authors: Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries 

We have a rapidly-growing collection of adventure holidays reachable by rail, and there is a similar growing number of adventurers who are choosing not to fly. If you haven’t explored the UK and Europe by rail yet, then this book will get you on track. Now in its 17th edition, Europe by Rail is not only factually brilliant but also written with eloquence and an eclectic knowledge of routes and destinations. Nicky and Susanne are gifted travel writers as well as committed train travellers, making this the definitive guide to train travel in Europe. You may also enjoy reading our blog, Top walking holidays accessible by train

Europe by Rail is the bible of rail travel, written by two green gurus.

Riding Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and New Beginnings

Author: Simon Parker

If you discovered the joys of cycling during lockdown as a way to keep the virus voices at bay, then you will relate to this touching memoir and fascinating journey-cum-journal of Simon Parker. Experiencing the lows of lockdown for many reasons, Simon decided to seek out natural highs on a saddle, and took on a mammoth cycling journey around Britain through its high lands, lowlands and islands, and through many ups and downs. You can follow in his trails on our UK cycling holidays, but this is really a book that gets to the heart of why cycling speaks to so many of us. 

Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City

Author: Matthew Teller 

Just as our Judaean Hills: Trails to Jerusalem walking holiday takes you off the beaten path, breaks down barriers and preconceptions, this beautiful book takes you on an unexpected and unique journey around Jerusalem. Written by Middle Eastern expert travel writer and journalist, Matthew Teller, Nine Quarters of Jerusalem explores beyond the traditional four quarters of the Old City, its religious and ancient sites, and into hidden quarters, vibrant communities and the hearts and minds of local people. Read and revel in the stories not only of Palestinian and Jewish communities, but also of its Indian and African populations, Greek, Armenian and many more. Published in 2022 by Profile Books in London and Other Press in New York. 

Never Leave the Dog Behind: Our love of dogs and mountains 

Author: Helen Mort 

Helen Mort is a natural adventurer who not only loves trail running and climbing, but also her dog, a rescue whippet called Bell. Helen believes that “a house is not a home without a whippet” but in this short but sublime read, she clearly feels that a holiday is not one either. As an award-winning poet, this book is an ode to canine companionship and a moving memoir of hiking with a hound. Dog lovers will read it and weep happy tears, and may be inspired to take their own best friend on one of our dog-friendly mountain walking adventures. Published by Vertebrate Publishing in 2020. 

best travel books
A treat for all our adventurers who love to bring their canine companions, read Never Leave the Dog Behind by Helen Mort.

Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan 

Author: Will Ferguson

Published in 2002, it’s an oldie but a goodie, as Will Ferguson takes on one of the most unique odysseys of hitchhiking the length of Japan, in an effort to chase the country’s celebrated cherry blossom. Hitchhiking is pretty rare these days, but even more so in Japan. But it’s an inspired way for Ferguson to take a short-cut through the usual formalities of Japanese culture. It also makes for a superb collection of cultural exchanges, insights and humorous observations. It’s risqué and raucous, brimming with both saké and sensitivity. It’s also a favourite of our Adventure Specialist, Victoria Holt, who says, “Hokkaido Highway Blues is fab! Especially all the characters Will meets along the way, which I think is a big part of when you travel.”