4 mins

The best travel books of 2021 (so far)

From slow adventures across Britain to tips for solo travellers and beautiful boutique hotels in Iran, we round up the most inspiring travel books of 2021

The Mittens, Monument Valley, Arizona, USA (Shutterstock)

1. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain, Penguin Random House

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain, Penguin Random House

The final work from the late chef, writer and TV presenter gets a helping hand over the finishing line from his friends, supplementing Bourdain’s typically sharp-scribed rough guides to some of his favourite places.

Check prices on Amazon

2. I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain

I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi, Bloomsbury Wildlife

I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain by Anita Sethi, Bloomsbury Wildlife

After being the victim of a race-hate crime on a train, Anita Sethi sets out to explore the rugged Pennines’ wildlife, geology and history, as well as Britain’s undergrowth of racism and misogyny – reclaiming her rightful place not only in the UK but also in its wild places.

Check prices on Amazon

3. Slow Trains Around Spain

Slow Trains Around Spain by Tom Chesshyre, Summersdale

Slow Trains Around Spain by Tom Chesshyre, Summersdale

Spain’s train service doesn’t get much attention but, as Tom Chesshyre finds out in the latest of his slow-railing travelogues, it’s a fine way to get beyond the beaches. Taking an ‘S-shaped’ route through Spain’s little-visited centre, he finds a country at a crossroads and wondering which track to take.

 

Check prices on Amazon

4. Handmade in Japan: The Pursuit Of Perfection in Traditional Crafts

Handmade in Japan: The Pursuit of Perfection in Traditional Crafts Ed by Robert Klanten & Lincoln Dexter, Gestalten

Handmade in Japan: The Pursuit of Perfection in Traditional Crafts Ed by Robert Klanten & Lincoln Dexter, Gestalten

One of the joys of visiting Japan is seeing millennia-old artisanship in action. Taking us through the regions and highlighting the handicrafts associated with them – pottery in Ishikawa, fishing boats in Gifu, embroidery in Kyoto – we get an insight into one of travel’s great cultural experiences.

Check prices on Amazon

5. Slow Adventures

Slow Adventures by Tor McIntosh, National Trust Books

Slow Adventures by Tor McIntosh, National Trust Books

With people reconsidering how they journey around their home, former Wanderlust-staffer McIntosh creates 36 inventive itineraries across Britain that encourage you to not only get outside but to do so at a pace that allows you to rediscover its phenomenal nature, too.

Check prices on Amazon

6. Pilgrimage: Journeys of Meaning

Pilgrimage: Journeys of Meaning by Peter Stanford, Thames & Hudson

Pilgrimage: Journeys of Meaning by Peter Stanford, Thames & Hudson

The concept of the pilgrimage has found itself back in vogue, even as the original religious purposes of these journeys have become blurred. Here, Stanford walks us through the history behind 12 of the most celebrated treks – from Mecca to Machu Picchu – and why they still resonate with travellers today.

Check prices on Amazon

7. Hidden Beaches: Spain

Hidden Beaches: Spain by Lola Culsan and John Weller, Wild Things Publishing

Hidden Beaches: Spain by Lola Culsan and John Weller, Wild Things Publishing

The adventurous publisher’s new (and updated) title is perfectly timed to help those looking to try something different – and dodge the crowds – in those Euro-staples. Watching whales in the Gulf of Cadiz? Yes, please.

Check prices on Amazon

8. Camping Road Trips: France & Germany

Camping Road Trips: France & Germany by Caroline Mills, Bradt Travel Guides

Camping Road Trips: France & Germany by Caroline Mills, Bradt Travel Guides

All-in-one slow travel facilitator and isolation-bubble? Bradt successfully capitalise on ‘glampervanning’s’ post-Covid makeover with this practical guide to getting your show on the road, steering you through some of Western Europe’s most striking and dramatic routes, taking you right to the Polish border.

Check prices on Amazon

9. How to Travel Solo: Holiday Tips for Independent Adventurers

How to Travel Solo: Holiday Tips for Independent Adventurers, Welbeck

How to Travel Solo: Holiday Tips for Independent Adventurers, Welbeck

Exploding the myths about solo travel, Wanderlust’s new book is full of tips on everything from suitable destinations and packing to ways to combat loneliness. You’ll discover that you already have all the resources to take the plunge and strike out on your own.

Check prices on Amazon

10. How to Travel Guilt Free: Holiday Tips for Ethical Travellers

How to Travel Guilt Free: Holiday Tips for Ethical Travellers, Welbeck

How to Travel Guilt Free: Holiday Tips for Ethical Travellers, Welbeck

Want to do some real good in the world as you travel through it? Putting our 28 years of responsible travel to good use, Wanderlust has compiled 100 essential tips to make sure your next adventure is a ‘good’ one.

Check prices on Amazon

11. Penguin: A Story of Survival

Penguin: A Story of Survival by Stefan Christmann, teNeues

Penguin: A Story of Survival by Stefan Christmann, teNeues

Well, you had us at penguins. However, as well as dramatic imagery, this coffee-table book by the acclaimed photographer Christmann also provides an insight into the uphill battle facing the Antarctic charmers, from predators to climate change.

Check prices on Amazon

12. 99 Maps to Save the Planet

99 Maps to Save the Planet by Katapult; intro: Chris Packham, The Bodley Head

99 Maps to Save the Planet by Katapult; intro: Chris Packham, The Bodley Head

The creatives at Katapult put climate crisis data into pointedly sharp visual context. It’s impressively imaginative and effectively alarming.

Check prices on Amazon

13. The Gardens of Mars: Madagascar, an Island Story

The Gardens of Mars: Madagascar, an Island Story by John Gimlette, Head of Zeus

The Gardens of Mars: Madagascar, an Island Story by John Gimlette, Head of Zeus

John Gimlette’s latest thoughtful study sees him explore the relatively recent human history of the world’s fourth largest island. He travels across Madagascar to discover that the people who live there are every bit as extraordinary as its unique flora and fauna.

Check prices on Amazon

14. Red Sands

Red Sands by Caroline Eden, Quadrille Publishing

Red Sands by Caroline Eden, Quadrille Publishing

Using food as her window into the lives and culture of the people of Central Asia, Caroline Eden once again successfully mixes travel writing with recipes, providing a tasty insight into this wild sweep of land.

Check prices on Amazon

15. How to Shit Around the World

How to Shit Around the World by Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth, Travelers’ Tales

How to Shit Around the World by Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth, Travelers’ Tales

Wanderlust’s regular medical expert has updated her guide to staying clean and avoiding illness while on the road. Often just as funny as it is plain speaking and practical, it’s much more than just a bathroom read.

Check prices on Amazon

16. Pilgrim Pathways

Pilgrim Pathways by Andy Bull, Trailblazer

Pilgrim Pathways by Andy Bull, Trailblazer

You don’t have to head to Spain, Italy or the Holy Lands to enjoy a spiritually minded wander. These detailed guides to 20 one- or two-day walks from across Britain provide some great getaway ideas to let you become a weekend pilgrim.

Check prices on Amazon

17. Lion: Pride Before the Fall

Lion: Pride Before the Fall by George Logan, Born Free

Lion: Pride Before the Fall by George Logan, Born Free

A beautifully crafted coffee-table book celebrating the endangered King of the Plains from top photographer Logan. All proceeds go to Born Free’s Last Lions of Meru conservation programme in Kenya.

Check prices on Amazon

18. Sacred Spaces – The Holy Sites of Buddhism

Sacred Spaces – The Holy Sites of Buddhism by Christoph Mohr and Oliver Fülling, teNeues

Sacred Spaces – The Holy Sites of Buddhism by Christoph Mohr and Oliver Fülling, teNeues

This hardback book packs 240 colour and black and white photographs of Buddhist culture across Asia into its 192 pages, which include Buddhist monasteries, temples and sacred mountains.

Check prices on Amazon

19. Mountain Escapes - The Finest Hotels and Retreats from the Alps to the Andes

Mountain Escapes - The Finest Hotels and Retreats from the Alps to the Andes by Martin Kunz, teNeues

Mountain Escapes - The Finest Hotels and Retreats from the Alps to the Andes by Martin Kunz, teNeues

From treehouse cabins to jungle retreats and tents styled on tribal huts, the images from this beautiful photography book will inspire you to escape to the hills.

Check prices on Amazon

20. Persian Nights - Amazing Boutique Hotels & Guesthouses in Iran

Persian Nights - Amazing Boutique Hotels & Guesthouses in Iran by Thomas Wegmann, teNeues

Persian Nights - Amazing Boutique Hotels & Guesthouses in Iran by Thomas Wegmann, teNeues

This beautifully illustrated book shines a spotlight on Iran's most stunning boutique hotels and their surrounds, capturing a side of the country many travellers don’t see.

Check prices on Amazon

Related Articles