Book town tourism is fast becoming one of the more popular forms of off-beat travel and Norway is one Scandinavian country that stands to benefit from it. Book shops attract a certain kind of eccentric – the literature lovers, the world-curious, historians, and people just passing by. They also give rise to cities that might not be as well-known at first glance, but are worth checking out. The concept of book towns as a form of tourism was partially developed by Richard Booth of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, UK. Established as a book hub in 1962, Hay-on-Wye attracts approximately 300,000 visitors each year and is frequently dubbed the “book capital of the world.” Booth later went on to create the International Organization of Book Towns – of which both Tvedestrand, Norway and Fjaerland, Norway are proud members of.
Fjaerland’s reputation as a book town is not something you have to read between the lines to know about either. We send clients here every year as a scenic stop along their journey through the Sognefjord. What makes Fjaerland special is that you’re not wandering into just any old standard book shop, (see above photo for an example); the locals have converted barns, stables, and even old boathouses into storage space and display cases for beautiful antique books. Their town boasts 12 shops total and over 250,000 books.
And if you grow tired of sifting through the shelves and reading off the fine print, you can always check out the endless array of cafes and arts and crafts shops. If you want to stretch your legs even furhter, you’re not far from the mighty Jostedalbreen glacier and two National Parks. There, you can hike to your heart’s content and stop at a scenic point where you can relax and do a little reading from your new book (that you picked up at a local book shop!) Fjaerland was also host to the International Book Town Festival in 2006.
If one book town is not enough, we’ll send you to Tvedestrand on the southern coast of Norway where you can weave your way through the “book triangle” – the area of Tvedestrand where most of the book shops are located. Tvedestrand is a coastal town that offers an elegent old quarter of white wooden houses, a welcoming harbor and a wealth of water acitivites to try. In addition to book hunting, you can also check out Lyngor, a town that sits between four islands off the coast, as was once ranked the “best kept village in Europe” or partake in diving, sailing, swimming, or fishing.
If a book town tour sounds like your thing, you should book today. Over 250,000 fairytales await your discovery!