The best books on European cities

Hold the conventional guidebooks for a moment — we’ve picked a few of our favourite reads that offer a different take on some classic European cities.

By Connor McGovern
Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:22 BST, Updated 11 Oct 2021, 14:04 BST
The best books on European cities

1. In Paris, by Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide
Chic couture and a diet of cigarettes? You might have your stereotypes of the Parisian woman, but this look at the life of 20 Parisiennes is about to banish them. Penned and shot by the fashion-forward duo of Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide, the book is peppered with insider’s tips and interviews, from what to drink and where to the City of Light’s secret corners.
RRP: £16.99 Penguin Random House

2. Vienna 1900 Complete, by Christian Brandstätter, Rainer Metzger and Daniela Gregori
The Austrian capital’s role as the European nucleus of ideas has been celebrated for decades, but this beautiful book is perhaps the first attempt to amass all its artistic offerings into one definitive, visual guide. This is a decadent delve into the city’s turn-of-the-century artistic output, spanning everything from furniture design to the unsung women of the city’s cultural scene.
RRP: £85 Thames and Hudson

3. Berlin, by Jason Lutes
Comic artist Jason Lutes began Berlin back in 1996, but only since last autumn have readers been able to enjoy all three of its volumes packed into one striking tome. Drawn in monochrome, Lutes narrates the story of the Weimar Republic’s fall through the eyes of Berliners. Graphic novels have seen a boom in recent years, so if there’s ever been a time to read this, it’s now.
RRP: £35 Drawn and Quarterly

4. Great Pubs of London, by George Dailey
This might just be the most handsome guide to the capital’s watering holes. Packed with sumptuous photographs of the city’s most venerable old boozers, and re-released in a handy pocket format, readers are waltzed through 25 of London’s most historically significant public houses. Also features a foreword by actor — and publican — Sir Ian McKellen.
RRP £14.99 Prestel

5. Copenhagen Food, by Trine Hahnemann
Food writer Trine Hahnemann’s latest offering is a culinary ode to her hometown. From souped-up hotdogs to marzipan-sweet træstammer cakes, she takes us on a tour of the Danish capital through its people and plates. The book is full of recipes, neighbourhood guides and recommendations that paint a vibrant picture of a city mad about its food.
RRP: £25 Quadrille Publishing

6. Autumn in Venice, Andrea di Robilant
Andrea di Robilant recounts the tale of how Ernest Hemingway and his wife found themselves in Venice by chance in 1948, and of Adriana, the local girl who went on to inspire his later works. It’s a story about not only his love affair with the young Venetian, but also with this romantic maze of waterways — somewhere he described as a ‘goddam wonderful city’.
RRP: £17.99 Atlantic Books

Published in the European Cities Collection, distributed with the April 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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