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Recommended Guidebooks for the UK and Ireland

Pauline Kenny

Start your trip planning by reading guidebooks. These books will help you decide where to go and how to plan your trip. Bring your favorite guidebooks with you; good guidebooks and maps will make your trip more enjoyable. We always carry a shoulder bag full of books, maps, printed out web pages (including pages from this site), tourist brochures, restaurant listings. We keep this bag in the car whenever we go out, so that if our plans change during the day, we still have all the information that we need. When we leave the car to go touring, we take the one book and map that we need. With some guides you can tear out the pages about your destination and slip them into your pocket.

On Novels and Memoirs I have listed memoirs written by people living in England and some novels that I recommend reading to prepare for travel in England.

If there is a link for Amazon, the book can be ordered from them. If there is only a link for Amazon.co.uk, then it is not available in the US, but you can order from the UK or pick it up when you are there. If there is a link for both, compare prices and availability. Sometimes it is best to order from the UK.

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General Travel Guidebooks

There are many good series of guidebooks for the United Kingdom. I have listed my favorites below. Most guidebook series have different editions for the different regions of the country.

Great Britain - Eyewitness Travel Guides, by Michael Leapman, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, revised edition, 2003
This book covers London, England, Scotland, and Wales. Use this to get an overall look at Britain and to plan where you want to go.

Order from Amazon

London - Eyewitness Travel Guides, by Michael Leapman, Mary Scott (Editor), Dorling Kindersley Publishing, revised edition, 2003

Order from Amazon

Scotland - Eyewitness Travel Guides, by Michael McGarrity, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, revised edition, 2003

Order from Amazon

Ireland - Eyewitness Travel Guides, by Lisa Gerard-Sharp (Editor), Tim Perry (Editor), Dorling Kindersley Publishing, revised edition, 2003

Order from Amazon

The Most Beautiful Country Towns of England, Hugh Palmer, Thames & Hudson, 2005

I just ordered this book for myself, but his other books on Italy and France are great. Beautiful photos and nice descriptions of the towns.

Order from Amazon

Discovering Prehistoric England, James Dyer, Shire Publications, 1993

I bought this book over 10 years ago in England and bring it with me on each trip. It lists by region the prehistoric sites. There are some photos and good descriptions. This is a good book if you want to hunt out obscure stone circles, hill forts, hill drawings, and other prehistoric remains.

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Guidebooks for the Southwest and Cotswolds

Time Out, South West England, Bath, Bristol and beyond, Time Out Publishing, 2003

Good guidebook for Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. Sections for Bath and Bristol. Descriptions of towns and sites, restaurants, accommodations. I have used this book on a couple of trips.

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Pevsner Architectural Guides - Bath, Michael Forsyth, Yale University Press, 2004

A detailed guide to the architecture of Bath. Also has 11 suggested walks and  five excursions. Maps and photos. This is the book to have with you as you explore Bath in detail.

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The Cotswolds (AA Leisure Guides), Ordnance Survey Staff, 2002

Good overview of the Cotswolds.

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Cotswolds Insight Compact Guide, Insight Guides, 2005

Good overview of the Cotswolds with details on the towns.

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The Cotswolds Town and Village Guide: The Definitive Guide to Places of Interest in the Cotswolds, Reardon Publishing, 2000

Detailed descriptions of Cotswolds towns.

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Maps for Planning and Driving

AA Big Road Atlas Britain 2005

This is a good road atlas for driving in the United Kingdom. The scale is 3 mile to 1 inch, perfect for finding your way around the countryside.

Order from Amazon

The London Mapguide, by Michael Middleditch, Penguin, 4th edition, 2000

This is an essential street map for London. Detailed maps, index of streets, travel information, underground map, and more.

Order from Amazon

The Cotswolds and Gloucestershire - OS Travel Map, Ordnance Survey, 2005

This is a good driving map at 1:100,000 scale (1 inch to 1.5 miles). Roads in white are narrow farm tracks. Any road not in white is very drivable.

Hiking/Walking Books and Maps

See our Guidebooks for Walking and Hiking in England

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