These Are the European Cities That Appear the Most in Literature

A new study ranks European destinations based on one of the earliest forms of travel inspo.

The first time I ever dreamed of traveling to Paris, it was not because I'd seen the city on television, or photos in a magazine. It was because I was flipping through the pages of Madeline, enthralled by the painted portrayals and a young girl's adventures. Later, I’d get similar sensations while reading about Lisbon and Lebanon, Lagos, and London. Before there were TikTok travel trends and Instagram influencers, there were novels. Stories set into landscapes that literally leaped off the page, creating a kind of wanderlust you could spend your entire life chasing.

Some cities are more popular literary inspirations than others—Paris is famous for its mentions in novels, essays, and as a home to so many 20th century greats. Meanwhile, London is the home to some of literature's most infamous characters—Sherlock Holmes just to name one.

The printing experts over at Aura Print have sought to quantify the influence of European cities, by determining the top 20 most influential European cities referenced in books between 1920 and 2019. By evaluating Google Books’ 25 million books, Aura Books was able to create the following ranking. Here are the top 20 most referenced European cities and the decade each city was most popular in literature:
1. London, 1960s
2. Paris, 1920s
3. Rome, 1920s
4. Berlin 1940s
5. Moscow, 1980s
6. Florence, 1920s
7. Vienna, 1980s
8. Athens, 1960s
9. Dublin, 1920s
10. Amsterdam, 1990s
11. Brussels, 1990s
12. Venice, 1920s
13. Madrid, 1990s
14. Stockholm, 1980s
15. Warsaw, 1980s
16. Munich, 1990s
17. Milan, 1960s
18. Copenhagen, 1950s
19. Prague, 1960s
20. Porto, 1920s

Now that you've got this list, you can head to your local library and start exploring the wealth of travel inspiration it has to offer. My personal recommendation? I've always loved the lore of Rick Riordan's books as a launch point for my travel inspo.

Looking for more travel inspo?

If you're ready for an adventure but not sure where you'd like to go or what to do, we're on it. The best new hotels opening up around the world. The most exciting places to travel without a passport. The world's best beaches, as ranked by travel influencers. It's all here along with all the travel news you need to stay informed and inspired.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.