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I love nothing more than a good book, I always have, I love losing an hour or two reading a fiction book or glancing through the colourful pages of a coffee table book. Luckily for me, there are some fantastically beautiful travel books out there. These books are great to dip in and out of to when you need a quick fix for wanderlust or when you are looking for inspiration for your next trip.
They also make for perfect gifts for travel-obsessed friends and family, many of the books below have been my go-to birthday or Christmas present for traveller friends.
The best coffee table travel books:
Here are some of my current favourite travel books to add to your collection or to buy for a friend who loves to travel.
This annual bestseller ranks the hottest, must-visit countries, regions, cities and best-value destinations for 2020. Drawing on the knowledge and passion of Lonely Planet’s staff, authors and online community, we present a year’s worth of inspiration to take you out of the ordinary and into the unforgettable.
Whether you’re dreaming about your first journey, revisiting the trip of a lifetime or simply in love with all things Japan, Be More Japan will transport you to this fascinating country. Dive into the thrilling and serene world of Shinto monks, street food vendors, anime characters, Okinawan centenarians, technological innovators, J-Pop megastars, ancient philosophers, onsen dwellers and so many more.
The world’s top 500 food experiences – ranked! We asked the planet’s top chefs, food writers and our food-obsessed authors to name their favourite, most authentic gastronomic encounters. The result is a journey to Mozambique for piri-piri chicken, Japan for bullet train bento boxes, San Sebastian pintxos bars, and a further 497 of the most exciting eateries anywhere on Earth.
Don’t let the idea of travelling alone stop you from living out your dreams. Packed with tips and advice for before and during your travels, The Solo Travel Handbook gives you the confidence and know-how to explore the world on your own, whether you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime adventure or short city break.
With 1,000 adventures for all ages, it’s never too soon or too late to begin the things you’ve only dreamed of doing. We all have things we’d like to do–one day–but work, family, school, money, and responsibilities get in the way. This invaluable guide to fun, fantastic, and life-affirming activities features an eclectic range of ideas such as self-improvement, sports-related endeavours, natural wonders, cultural experiences, culinary delights, and more.
Lonely Planet’s The Best Things in Life are Free is packed full of money-saving tips, tricks and recommendations for the best-value sights and experiences around the world. From parks, museums and exercise classes that are free, to insider ideas on food and experiences offered at a great value, this book features over 60 major cities around the world and promises to help any traveller on a budget to make the most of their trip.
From Iceland’s Skógafoss to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, discover which of the world wonders should definitely make it onto your bucket list with this unparalleled survey of the world’s incredible natural treasures.
Hundreds of oversized images of the world’s most spectacular destinations are featured along with service information on the best and most authentic ways to experience them. A candy box full of visual delights, this book will inspire tangible ideas for everyone’s next great trip. National Geographic takes you on a photographic tour of our world in this spellbinding new coffee table travel gift book.
You may be aware (or maybe not!) of my love/hate relationship with scuba diving, despite this I still find my self-making lists of all of the places I want to dive across the world, and one of the reasons is due to this book. This book is full of beautiful imagery and packed full of dive site information alongside it.
India takes the reader on a journey through Mumbai, Rajasthan, Agra, Dungarpur, along desert roads, to the Ganges water’s edge, including spectacular ruins, the Taj Mahal, and the Festival of Elephants, capturing the spectacle and vibrant colours of these ancient regions.
I would go as saying this book is my favourite wildlife travel books, the imagery is stunning. All images were captured by a secret camera placed in the Serengeti, capturing curious Baboons, Lion prides, Elephant families and a whole host of other African wildlife. This book will do down with any animal lover and it is the book I pick up when I want to reminisce about being on my favourite continent.
Humans of New York is a collection of candid photos of the city residents alongside captions which celebrate both the hardships and the little victories in an often unforgiving city. This is one of those books you need to read when you need a little reassurance of the kindest of humans.
Explore the world one step at a time. Wanderlust presents legendary walking routes with inviting maps, practical tips, and inspiring landscape photographs. The Narrows Top-Down Route, the spectacular El Caminito del Rey in Spain, the fabled Kumano Kodo pilgrimage in Japan, or a mythical hiking path in the land of the giants in Norway – Wanderlust explores legendary hiking trails in enchanting corners of the world and over a variety of terrain: thin ice and desert sands; coastal tracks and forest pathways.
I was incredibly happy when I found out this book existed, Behind the Food Carts is a road trip across America, except the intention of this road trip is to eat from food carts and meet the people behind each one. The book also contains a selection of recipes from the carts. These guys are the inspiration behind mine and DJ’s side project London Food Trucks and you can read more about their travels on their blog Behindthefoodcarts.com.
Pretty self-explanatory, but the colourful book takes you on a journey through every country on our planet, as well information such as the best time to visit, what to eat, famous sayings and other tidbits of information. I like this book purely because it helped me to discover countries I did not even realise existed.
One for when I am feeling brave, which to be honest does not happen too often, but I like to pretend every so often. Another brilliantly informative Lonely Planet guide, this time detailing the different action lead activities highlights from every country, from horse riding to volcano surfing. This comprehensive guide is perfect for adrenaline junkies.
Colourful Travel books for kids
Take a world tour through 200 countries with this brand new edition of the bestselling kids’ version of Lonely Planet’s popular The Travel Book, loaded with thousands of amazing facts on wildlife, how people live, sports, hideous and mouthwatering food, festivals and a wide range of other quirky insights on every page.
This charming reference introduces young readers to the wider world by exploring languages, landscapes, weather, animals, capital cities, mountains, deserts, and other landscapes and landforms, and more. It encourages kids to get play with activities such as creating a mini-rainforest in a bottle and singing a simple song in Spanish. More than 100 colourful photos are paired with kid-friendly and age-appropriate maps along with basic facts about each continent.
Chunky, beautiful travel coffee table books make for wonderful Christmas or birthday gifts. They can help fuel wanderlust or help with inspiration when stuck with where to travel to next.
What are your favourite coffee table travel books?