The best travel books of 2023

From cycling across Türkiye meeting local communities, to a resident vet curing animals in the world's most remote destinations, these spectacular stories will transport you to every corner of the globe...

5 mins

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Wanderlust Club members can get 25% off any of these books, plus 15% off everything else on the Stanfords website. Click here to get the code.



By Julian Sayarer (Stanfords Book of The Month for October 2023)

Sayarer pedals his way across Turkey, from the Aegean coast to the Armenian border, meeting farmers, workers, Syrian refugees and Russians avoiding conscription. The result is a love letter to the country and its neighbours, but one that also doesn’t shy away from the many issues.

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Great Scottish Walks

By Helen & Paul Webster

All you need to know to trek 26 of Scotland’s finest long-distance trails from the brains behind the Walkhighlands website. If you’ve ever been marooned mid-walk without a bed in the Highlands, then this practical overview covering access, stays, transport and local amenities is a godsend.

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Vet at the End of the Earth

By Jonathan Hollins

Hollins was the resident vet on some of the remotest islands on the planet: the British Overseas Territories of the Falklands, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension. From saving the life of the world’s oldest land animal to relocating herds of reindeer, this is a remarkable account of the realities of working and living on the edge of the world.

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Wanderings and Wonderings through the British Ritual Year

By Weird Walk

By walking Britain’s ancient landscape and following the old seasons, this book by zine creators Weird Walk aims to reconnect us to our shared folklore. The result is a fascinating delve into some of the UK’s most unusual historic sites and the stories behind them.

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The Man Who Loved Siberia

By Roy Jacobsen and Anneliese Pitz

Jacobsen and Pitz have adapted the account of Fritz Doerries, who spent 22 years travelling in Siberia in the late 19th century, trying to better understand its flora and fauna. His on-the-ground research was legendary, but beyond his stories of ice chasms, bandits, bears and vipers, this is a rare glimpse into a region as mysterious today as it was 150 years ago.

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Atlas of Extreme Weathers

By Pini Lorenzo (Stanfords Book of The Month for November 2023)

This beautiful coffee-table atlas is reason enough to never complain about the rain again. Explore 50 places where the weather shapes the lives of local communities, from a town in Siberia where it can drop to -70ºC, to a part of Venezuela pounded by lightning and a Japanese city submerged by 7m of snow every winter.

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The Screen Traveller’s Guide

By various authors

For those who want to add another dimension to their next city break, or just want to follow in the footsteps of hobbits, this blend of travel guide and film-and-TV trivia takes you quite literally behind the scenes. Follow the Avengers as they battle across New York, wander the Croatian setting for King’s Landing in TV’s Game of Thrones and find out how New Zealand was transformed into Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

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The Wanderlust Ultimate Travel Quiz Book

Test your travel know-how or challenge your friends and family this festive season with the Wanderlust Ultimate Travel Quiz Book. It’s packed with new quizzes and the toughest questions around, guaranteed to stump even the most intrepid adventurers. What better Christmas present for the explorer in your life?

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The Life Cycle

By Kate Rawles

Join Kate as she pedals South America on a bicycle that she built from bamboo. Gliding through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, she uses her surroundings to ponder the declining biodiversity in the region caused by goldmining and logging. She remains optimistic by asking how we can change things ourselves.

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In Sardinia

By Jeff Biggers

Part travel literature, part historical guide, Jeff uses his three decades of living and travelling in Italy to elaborate on a region that has been a beacon of civilisation since the Bronze Age. Discover little-known historical sites and unusual facts, all illuminated by the author’s wit and charm.

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Must Love Trees

By Tobin Mitnick

Tobin is an unapologetic tree lover, and his rather unabashed enthusiasm is infectious. This book runs the gamut from serious science to detailed drawings of North American trees, to an imagined dialogue with the world’s oldest bristlecone pine. There are personal reflections and even a guide to the best tree-hugging experiences.

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Unravelling the Silk Road

By Chris Aslan

Unpick the long and fascinating history of three ancient trade routes (the Silk Road, Wool Road and Cotton Road) that tangle their way through Central Asia. Chris weaves in his own experiences from living in the region as he looks at the overarching narrative of colonialism and politics in these vast networks, as well as the incredible journeys that often lay at the heart of them.

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South Wales

By Norm Longley

As the first of the always-excellent Bradt guides to focus on a specific part of Wales, this book lets you really drill down into one of the UK’s least heralded but most spectacular corners. If you didn’t know that South Wales boasts Europe’s second-tallest sand dune or the UK’s smallest city (St David’s), then this is the guide for you. Discover magical beaches, lonely castles, coastal paths, wild moorlands and plenty more.

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Tender Maps

By Alice Maddicott

Travel inspired by art, literature or cinema can be a tricky thing, as the destination often doesn’t live up to the prose or subjective vision of the creator, or even how you felt when you first encountered it. Here, the author takes on that doubt head first by seeking out specific scenes or feelings inspired by cultural works. And whether through the art of Ana Mendieta or the writings of Italo Calvino, she implores us to look at our destinations in a different, more thoughtful way.

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A Diver’s Guide to the World

By Carrie Miller & Chris Taylor

An illustrated guide for divers, snorkellers and their landlubber companions. Destinations cater to a number of different diving abilities, and the locations – all hand-picked by expert divers – include nearby day trips, hiking adventures and sailboat tours, just in case you want some time out of the water.

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Into Xinjiang

By Ben Colbridge

Looking for a page-turner for the plane or beach? This gripping paperback novel might be just what you’re looking for. Following a nightmare scenario for a young British traveller who finds himself fleeing through China after being falsely accused of a crime, the pace doesn’t let up. Author Ben Colbridge, who works in the travel industry, claims it is based on real events, eek!

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Glowing Still

By Sara Wheeler

Fancy a life of adventure? When Sara Wheeler started out, she had few female travel writers to emulate and little experience of a world outside her small family circle, so had to develop her own style. It’s one that shines bright in this new book on growing with every trip that you take.

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Wounded Tigris

By Leon McCarron

In 2021, adventurer Leon McCarron travelled by boat along the length of the Tigris, meeting those along its banks who rely on the river – farmers, artists, activists. Along the way, he saw first-hand the damage of climate change and regional politics on areas that stand to lose everything as the river waters continue to fall. Stanfords Book of the Month April 2023

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The Future of Geography

By Tim Marshall

For some it’s the final frontier; for Tim Marshall it’s simply the next one, as he considers the geopolitics of space travel. Pondering everything from space metals worth billions to humans on Mars, he aims to show how we got here, where we’re going and what it means for the rest of us back down on Earth. An intriguing book on power, politics and the future of humanity. Stanfords Book of the Month May 2023. 

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Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World

By Anthony Sattin

If you missed its initial release, the paperback edition of Anthony Sattin’s story of Nomadic peoples on the move across history is worth catching. Tracing the epic paths of wanderers across 12,000 years, this book reveals the tales of those whose influence and achievements far outstripped their footprint, and how their respect for nature’s rhythms and freedom of movement led to unique ways of thinking.

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Finding Hildasay

By Christian Lewis

When ex-paratrooper Christian Lewis set off with £10, two days of food and his beloved dog Jet to walk the coastline of the UK, he was suffering from depression. This journey was, in many ways, his attempt to jettison his demons and find a new purpose. After five years and thousands of kilometres, this book narrates how he finally found the peace that he was denied by his old life.

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Leaving the Comfort Zone

By Olivier Van Herck & Zoë Agasi

Authors Olivier and Zoë travelled for four years in search of wild outdoor adventures. While their exploits are covered in detail here, this book is as much a ‘how to’ manual as a travelogue. Expect advice and insights on how to plot your adventures as well as photography that gives you the push you might need.

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Europe by Train

By various authors

Fifty itineraries by a team of European rail travel experts is all the encouragement you require to take to the rails with confidence. There’s ticket advice and a good mix of short and long trips, with routes broken down so that you can plot your stops.

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Psst. Wanderlust Club members can now enter our competition to try and WIN a copy of this book! Enter here

In the Shadow of the Mountain

By Silvia Vasquez-Lavado
Winner of the Edward Stanford Travel Book of the Year 2023

As the first openly gay woman to climb the highest peaks on every continent, Silvia recounts how the sport offered her freedom from the traumas and confusion of her youth in this impassioned memoir, and what it was like to lead a group of female survivors of abuse, who had never climbed before, to the Base Camp of Everest.

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A Stranger in Your Own City: Travels in the Middle East’s Long War

By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

This candid view of modern-day Iraq charts the nation’s history from the time of the US invasion in 2003 to the present day. In doing so, it untangles the Western stranglehold on its narrative and makes an effort to look through the eyes of ordinary Iraqis, who watched their world slowly fall apart.

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The Earth Transformed: An Untold History

By Peter Frankopan

One of the UK’s leading historians makes the argument that the natural environment is a crucial part of human history, and one we can learn from. Frankopan offers a powerful case for looking at past eruptions, floods and droughts in order to discover a better future.

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The Lost Whale

By Hannah Gold & Levi Pinfold
Winner of the Edward Stanford Children’s Travel Book of the Year 2023

If you know any little ones curious about the world, then this tale of a young boy who bonds with a whale and grows by learning about its life and environment is a beautifully illustrated and touching read.

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Wilder Journeys

Edited by Laurie King and Miriam Lancewood

This anthology of adventurous travels offers plenty of temptation to explore further than you ordinarily might. Tales of living with a family of eagles in Scotland, surviving for a decade in a remote Australian forest and charting a passage through the infamous Darien Gap is the kind of inspiration that makes our feet itch.

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Lost In The Lakes

By Tom Chesshyre

If you have never hiked in the Lake District, then this gentle tome offers up inspiration enough to lace up your boots and book a train ticket to Penrith, as you follow its genial author in a 600km round-trip hike (or ‘big wobbly circle’, as he puts it). Along the way, he encounters fellow walkers, runners and farmers, and rests his weary feet in draughty bothies and damp shepherds huts on what is an entertaining ramble.

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How to Read a Tree

By Tristan Gooley

If you’ve ever envied a companion’s ability to name the trees around you or tell the difference between almost identical leaves, this is the read for you. Trees can reveal fascinating secrets about the landscape and environment, and this book will add a new dimension to your next countryside stroll.

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The Half Known Life

By Pico Iyer

In a spectacular journey, both inward and outward, Iyer roams from crowded mosques in Iran to a film studio in North Korea, to a holy mountain in Japan to discover whether paradise can exist in a divided and often chaotic world.

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By Kapka Kassabova

Kassabova explores one of the oldest inhabited river valleys in Europe, deep in the south-west of Bulgaria. Its forests and mountains are a nexus for wild-plant gatherers, and in its old ways and villages the author finds room for thoughtful meditation on place, people, plants and the urgent call to rethink how we live.

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Found in Translation

By Duncan Madden

Did you know that the word ‘Canada’ originally meant ‘village’? Duncan Madden unravels the tangled threads of history and etymology to uncover the strange and enlightening stories that have shaped the names of nations and places around the world.

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By James Stourton

The author turns his gaze on elements of British cultural and the natural environment that have been deliberately preserved: the countryside, national parks, historic buildings. In doing so, he charts two major periods of conservation and looks at different ideas of ‘heritage’ and the threats to it that have existed down the years. 

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Wild Women

Edited by Mariella Fostrup

From Antarctica to the Andes, countless footloose females have travelled the world and recorded their exploits for posterity. In curating this collection of first-hand accounts, broadcaster and writer Frostrup lends a platform to adventurers gone by, ranging from lesser-known eccentrics to iconic heroines.

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Between the Chalk and the Sea

By Gail Simmons

Wandering the Old Way across 386km of the UK’s south coast allows Simmons ample room to touch on history, folklore and modern politics. Along the way she also delves into what long walks, such as the old pilgrim trails, mean to us today and why being a woman walking alone still feels like a radical act.

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Dreaming the Land

By Marie Geissler

As we learnt from our feature on the Northern Territory this issue (see page 76), Aboriginal Australian art carries with it a wellspring of cultural meaning. It’s a complex subject for outsiders, but one that is studiously broken down by Geissler, who charts the evolution of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, focussing on the Torres Strait Islands and Northern Territory. She also provides useful itineraries for those after a closer look.

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