6 of the best travel books to read in 2024

This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

The natural world continues to inspire travel writers. Standout books for the year ahead include a collection of stories, illustrations and poems that explore our connection with nature, plus a travelogue inspiring us to discover the small green spaces on our doorstep. Walking remains a popular topic for authors, as evidenced by a pair of upcoming travelogues that hit the trail in rural Spain and Istanbul, respectively, plus a collection of literary works that asks the question: why explore on foot? And to celebrate Bradt Travel Guides reaching its 50th anniversary this year, founder Hilary Bradt is set to release a memoir about her pioneering journeys both in print and around the lesser-explored corners of the planet.

World explorer Alastair Humphries spent a year examining every square metre of a 12-mile radius around his home in suburban England and found wonder close to hand. A former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Humphries has cycled around the globe, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and even walked a lap of the M25 in one of his pioneering ‘microadventures’. His latest book is a celebration of slowing things down and discovering a small wild world right on your doorstep – it’s also a rallying cry to revitalise Britain’s depleted natural spaces and our right to roam in them. £12.99, Eye Books.

Trailblazing travel publisher, Hilary Bradt’s eponymous guidebook company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The first Bradt Travel Guide was born on an Amazon river barge in 1974: Backpacking Along Ancient Ways Peru & Bolivia which included some of the very first descriptions of the Inca Trail geared for travellers. Since then, Bradt has published guidebooks to the remotest parts of the planet – Eritrea, Mongolia and Madagascar among them. Championing slow and low-impact travel before the concepts were widespread, this memoir looks at back at a lifetime of trials, triumphs and following the lesser-known trail. £20.00, Bradt.

A deep dive into the Turkish capital, framed by the crumbling walls of its Byzantine fortifications. Journalist, Alexander Christie-Miller journeys on foot in and around Istanbul’s ancient city walls, piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of its identity on the fringes of Europe and Asia. The imperialist rhetoric of current Turkish president Erdoğan still holds Istanbul in the image carved out by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, who captured then-Constantinople in 1453. But between the ancient minarets that punctuate Istanbul’s skyline, the author seeks out the real soul of the city in its diverse peoples, past and present, raising up voices rarely heard. £25, Harper Collins.

Environmental writer Laurie King and bestselling author Miriam Lancewood have gathered a collection of original non-fiction stories, illustrations and poems examining the human connection with nature, penned by travellers, wildlife lovers and adventurers from across the globe. Take a walk across the desert with American explorer Angela Maxwell, discover how hermit Gregory Smith survived for 10 years in an Australian forest and learn how activist David Malana set up a surf school for people of colour in California. These bold stories aim to inspire you to find your wild animal soul and rethink your relationship with nature. £14.99, Watkins Publishing.

For anyone who loved Laure Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, this tale of one man’s 761-mile hike across the Iberian Peninsula should appeal. Mark Eveleigh brings the pioneering spirit of adventure previously seen in his travel books on Southeast Asian to the back roads of Spain. The author spent five weeks walking from Gibraltar to Punta de Estaca de Bares in the country’s northernmost tip, taking in blistering sun-beaten planes, grey stone villages hung with mist and vast chains of mountains, in homage to the disappearing lifestyle of the vagabundo, as well as a celebration of rural Spain and its remote communities. £10.99, Summersdale.

Take a literary stroll, from the streets of London to the pilgrim paths of Japan, the jungles of Ghana and beyond. Author Duncan Minshull brings together writing from explorers and adventurers, scientists and missionaries, pleasure-seekers and literary drifters in a new collection of over 50 travelogues that aims to answer the question: why explore on foot? Spanning seven continents, stories date back to as early as the 1500s, and take in lesser-known writers along with the likes of Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, Isabella Bird and William Boyd. £15.99, Notting Hill Editions.

Published in the March 2024 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

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