There are web articles, Instagram posts, and word-of-mouth recommendations. But an old-fashioned travel guide is one of the nicest ways to explore a new city. I’m particularly fond of the indie variety — preferring the unique insight, compelling design, and local perspective to books by bigger, mainstream brands. Here, a few new finds that I’ll be referencing for next year’s travels.
The fresh new series dives into five of our favorite cities (Dublin, Lisbon, Milan, Amsterdam, and Marrakech), showcasing the unique traits of each, while also highlighting the best spots to eat, drink, stay, and play. I love the clean, minimal design and packed the compact Lisbon edition in my carry-on on a recent trip to Portugal. ($14)
The range of city guides created by Australian publisher Hardie Grant Books are a really exciting new find. The books are heavy and feel substantial, so you won't be toting them around while you travel, but the colorful photographs and detailed descriptions are a lovely starting point for planning a visit to a new or old city. Destinations include London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Melbourne, Sydney, and Paris. ($20)
Paris transplant and blogger Vanessa Grall has been on my radar for a few years now, so I couldn’t wait to take a look at her first book, an offbeat guide to her adopted hometown. Readers are shown a lesser-known side of Paris with smart and discerning suggestions you don't see elsewhere, tips for visiting on a shoestring, and ideas on how to spend a few days in the world’s most romantic city when you have a broken heart. ($22)
The up-and-coming city is on my list of spots to visit in 2018. It’s affordable, accessible, has one of the country’s most exciting food scenes, and has a reputation for being very friendly. Created by the owners of a local periodical shop, the beautifully designed 80-page guide is filled with recommendations, Q&As, and a section for jotting down notes. ($10)
Created by graphic designer Louise Fili and Florence tour guide Lise Apatoff, the pocket-sized guide gives travelers access to an under-the-radar side of Florence’s shopping and dining scene, including go-to spots for fine lingerie, custom fragrances, and handmade shoes. Organized through a series of walks, the newest edition of the book is both practical and inspiring. ($11)
Although the Secret Guides aren't new, the latest release — Brooklyn — got my attention. With a focus on hidden treasures and off-beat experiences for local people by local guides, each travel-friendly book is chock-full of unusual and unfamiliar places that will delight both visitors and residents (myself included). Destinations in the series include Paris, New Orleans, Rome, Florence, Cape Town, Tokyo, Naples, Dublin, and London. ($14)