I love books and I love walking. There’s no better way to combine my passions than walking to London’s bookshops, reading rooms, and other literary locations. If you’re the same, today I want to share my self-guided London literary walk and map with you.
Self-Guided London Literary Walk
This literary walk is an independent book crawl through central London. From beloved bookstores to important places in the city’s history, it always takes me on a journey both literally and metaphorically.
I like to start my London literary walk at my favorite London bookshop, Daunt Books in Marylebone. With a huge travel section and an upper gallery lining the walls, this is my inner book lover’s paradise.
After a browse and a buy, I continue up Marylebone High Street and turn right down Euston Road, giving a nod to nearby 221B Baker Street. It’s the fictional residence of Sherlock Holmes, and it’s almost visible as I round the corner.
Along Euston Road, I come across the Wellcome Collection. The reading room is one of the best places for books in London, and the perfect spot to stop and read whatever book I’ve purchased at Daunt.
Across the street is the British Library, which often has exhibitions on all things literary. If I have time, I stop in and see what’s on.
From here it’s a short walk north to Regent’s Canal, where the quirky Word on the Water bookshop often lies in a vintage canal boat next to Granary Square. With titles crammed in every available space, it might just be London’s most unique bookstore.
After another browse and buy, my London literary walk continues south into Bloomsbury. One of London’s most famous literary neighborhoods, this area was home to Bloomsbury Group writers like Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster in the early 20th century.
While in the vicinity, I pay homage to one of London’s most famous writers at the Charles Dickens Museum. Afterwards, I stop by Persephone Books, which specializes in women writers and is one of London’s best specialty bookstores.
Heading southwest from here, I wander towards the British Museum, where the nearby London Review Bookshop is one of the best independent bookshops in London. Its hidden courtyard offers a good place to read, and there’s a London Review Cake Shop next door. Yum.
From the London Review Bookshop I make my way to Foyles, one of the largest and friendliest bookshops in the city. Its “Welcome book lover, you are among friends” sign always puts me in a bookish mood, and floor upon floor of books means there’s a title to interest me every time.
Down Charing Cross Road, Cecil Court has an abundance of bookshops with lots of first editions and rare vintage titles to explore. There’s even an Alice in Wonderland-themed shop to browse.
West of Cecil Court through Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, my London literary walk takes me to Hatchards. It was founded in the 18th century, and walking in makes me feel like I’m stepping back in time. Its wood paneling and warren of rooms are beautiful to explore, and it has great specialty sections for when I’m searching for a unique item or gift.
Hatchards isn’t far from St James’s Square Garden, a quiet green space with benches perfect for reading in the warmer months. And given I could sit and read all day, my London literary walk usually ends here.
If you do the walk, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. In the meantime, here are 11 lovely books about London to get you started.
I’ve also written a lot more London walks, and you can find them in my London walking tours blog post. There are more great walks outlined in London’s Hidden Walks, too. You can get it here.
Time: 2.5 to 3 hours (longer if you stop at the museums or take a break to read)
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