Providing you’ve got a pen and a few sheets of paper, you can write anywhere. It’s one of the beauties of the profession. But realistically, a good internet connection might also be good to have (research doesn’t do itself), as would a good range of affordable housing options and enough sources of inspiration to keep your output flowing. Other than that, it all depends on the kind of writer you are. Some need peace and solitude to do their best work; others get their best ideas in the city. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, you’ll find plenty of great options on our round-up of the 20 best places for writers to live in Europe.
20. Valletta, Malta
If sun, sea, and sand are your go-to treatments for writer’s block, you might want to consider Malta’s capital city of Valletta. With gorgeous beaches on its doorstep, glorious year-round weather, and a cost of living that’s low enough to keep poets from starving in their garrets, this former European Capital of Culture is a great destination for writers. If you’re from outside the EU, getting a residency is simple enough thanks to the Global Residence Program. All you’ll need to do to qualify is either rent a property for 8750 euros or buy one for 220,000 euros.
19. Carcassonne, France
If you want to hole up somewhere secure and get down to some serious work, Carcassonne could be exactly what you’re looking for. The medieval city is said to have inspired Walt Disney, and there’s certainly something magical about its ramparts, turrets, and towers. For centuries, the city served as an important fortification. Even today, it gives the impression it could simply raise the drawbridge and retreat from the world whenever it chooses. Asides from that, it’s a lively, jolly town with a quirky center, a medieval castle, plenty of boutiques, a small clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants, and some very funky little artists workshops. The cost of living is very attractive, as is its setting just 90 minutes away from the Pyrenees on one side and 60 minutes from the Mediterranean on the other.
18. Birmingham, England
Named one of the 10 most inspiring places around the world for writers by gogreentravelgreen.com, Birmingham is an industrial city with a surprisingly bookish side. By all accounts, J.R.R Tolkien spent some of his greatest years at Sarehole Mill. Charles Dickens staged the first public performance of A Christmas Carol in Birmingham Town Hall in December 1853. Sherlock Holmes’ creator Arthur Conan Doyle spent many happy years in the city, as did Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine. If you want to walk in the footsteps of your heroes, Birmingham is where you get to do it.
17. Athens, Greece
Where better to shoot for literary glory than at the birthplace of Western civilization and the cradle of philosophy? But be warned – if you need peace and quiet to work, Athens might not be for you. This is a city where people are always going somewhere, doing something, and only stopping for long enough to tell you about it. The streets are a mess of beeping horns, congestion, and confusion. But if you need life and excitement to get your creative juices flowing, it’s perfect. According to Forbes, it also offers plenty of co-working spaces for those who like company when they write, an excellent internet network, and a very affordable cost of living.
16. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is special. Surrounded by mist-covered, towering mountains, perched aside a glassy lake, and scattered with colorful houses, few places manage to be quite so scenic and yet still incredibly accessible – despite feeling a world away from the noisy streets and frenetic activity of the city, it’s only an hours drive from Salzburg and three hours from Vienna. If you can’t get inspired in these kinds of surroundings, you can’t get inspired anywhere.
15. Giethoorn, Netherlands
If you’re easily distracted, living in a big city with 24/7 diversions on your doorstep won’t do either you or your work a lick of good. If you want to finish that magnum opus this side of the 21st century, you’re going to need a change of scene. Giethoorn could be just the place to give it to you. The small village of 2620 people is known as the “Venice of the Netherlands” thanks to its absence of roads and its proliferation of canals and bike lanes. Small, peaceful, and very, very pretty, it’s the ideal place to break away from the rat race and find your inspiration.
14. Edinburgh, Scotland
Whether it’s the historic buildings, the bohemian neighborhoods, the majestic architecture, or the gorgeous university campuses, there’s something special about Edinburgh, at least from a writer’s perspective. Even before it became the first-ever UNESCO City of Literature, the city was attracting scores of creative types. Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle were both born here, JK Rowling finished the last installment of Harry Potter here, and Kate Atkinson has used the city as the setting for countless novels, as have Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, and many, many more. No doubt about it, Edinburgh is a city of stories. If you want to create one of your own, book the packers now.
13. Sant’Angelo, Italy
If drinking gallons of coffee with your laptop perched on your knee at Starbucks stifles rather than inspires your muse, you need a change of scene. Forget about modern metropolises and characterless towns. What you need is a city with enough charm, character, and personality to fill the pages of your notebook. A city like Sant’Angelo, in fact. Perched on a hillside overlooking the vineyards and sea below, the town has so far resisted calls to modernize and stayed true to its traditional roots. The town is today as it was 200 years ago. That might be to the detriment of your internet connection but it’s to the benefit of that historical blockbuster you’ve got lurking inside you.
12. Annecy, France
Annecy is a ski resort with a difference. It doesn’t open with the first snowflake and close with the last. It’s not a tourist town; it’s a living, breathing community with a cosmopolitan vibe, a creative spirit, and a score of events and attractions to keep you entertained. Each July, its streets come alive as locals celebrate Les Noctibules, an annual art festival, and in August, the legendary Fête du Lac kicks off the biggest fireworks show in Europe. It’s a city of art, culture, and of literature. If you want your literary ambitions to be met with enthusiasm rather than derision, it’s a great place to call home.
11. London, England
If you’re sick of getting rejection letters in the mail and want to graduate to face-to-face brush-offs, look no further than London. With its dozens of literacy agencies, publishers, and magazine headquarters, this is where you get to look the enemy in the eye before they stamp on your dreams. When you’re not doing that, you’ll find plenty of ways to fill your time, whether by hitting up the locals for some book-worthy gossip at the greasy spoon or spending all your savings on a swanky leather-bound notebook from Harrods. It’s not the cheapest place on Earth to live, but it’s definitely one of the most fun.
10. Prague, Czech Republic
Named by clippings.me as one of the best cities for writers in the world, Prague is a stunning city that could inspire just about anyone to apply pen to paper and create something beautiful. This is the city where Franz Kafka was born, where Dvorak composed his first symphony, where Mucha painted some of his best work. It’s a place of castles and fairytales, revolution and intrigue. Ultimately, it’s one of the most fascinating cities in the world; even if you never get a visit from the muse again, you’ll still have no regrets about living here.
9. Brighton, England
Brighton is known as one of the most open, tolerant, and creative places in England. It’s got quirk, it’s got style and it’s got the kind of shoreline that’s sure to get the creative juices flowing. If you want to do your thing in a liberated, liberating environment that offers a great standard of living, it’s a no-brainer.
8. Sighișoara, Romania
If horror’s your genre and Dracula is your main man, Sighișoara, Romania is going to be right up your street. The Transylvanian city is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, Wallachia’s most vicious prince and the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. His childhood home (which comes with its own torture museum, naturally) is eerie enough to inspire a thousand stories. The rest of the town is stunning, with colorful houses, a UNESCO-protected historic center, and an emphasis on culture and the arts that doesn’t go amiss.
7. Paris, France
What city in the world could inspire the muse better than Paris, France? According to businessinsider.com, the city ranks as one of the 24 European cities with the best quality of life. While that quality of life isn’t reserved for writers, there’s no doubt that creative sorts get more out of Paris than most. With its rustic, old-world charms, its bohemian cafes, its glossy surface and its seedy underbelly, this is a place that will fill up your senses and your pages faster than almost anywhere else in Europe.
6. Madrid, Spain
Not all writers are sitting on fortunes the size of JK Rowling’s. In fact, most barely have two coins to rub together. Finding a place that offers low-cost living is usually a priority, but no one wants to sacrifice a great lifestyle for cheap accommodation. In Madrid, you don’t have to. This is a city that combines affordability with desirability, low-cost living with high living standards. It also happens to be the capital of a country that’s constantly changing, evolving and growing ever more dynamic, exciting, and culturally explosive by the day. If that doesn’t bring on the muse, nothing will.
5. Dublin, Ireland
At one point or another, Dubin has been home to three Nobel prize winners for literature and a score of world-class writers who include James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Beckett in their mix. These days, it’s a great place to live and write, with plenty of places and people to draw inspiration from. If you want to shoot the breeze with some like-minded folk, there are several pubs where a small band of artists, writers, and other creative types regularly meet up to talk about literature and the like.
4. Hay-on-Wye, Wales
Few places in the world are quite so bookish as the small Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye. In 1962, Richard Booth opened his first second-hand book shop. More soon followed. By the 1970s, Hay had gained the nickname “The Town of Books.” These days, it has more book stores than anything else and even boasts the world-famous annual literary Hay Festival. The rent’s not cheap, and anyone looking for the big city lights is going to be disappointed. But if you want to live somewhere where books are celebrated and writers are worshipped, look no further.
3. South Queensferry, Scotland
Named by jameystegmaier.com as one of the five best cities in the world for writers, South Queensferry’s charms take a bit of getting used to. Bad weather is a constant companion to the town’s residents, something that means there’s precious little opportunity to enjoy a walk, a bike ride, or a picnic in the park. There are, however, endless opportunities to hole up in a pub and talk about writing or sit in front of the fire and get to work on your latest chapter.
2. Ronda, Spain
Sometimes, writers need to get away from the distractions and find a quiet corner of the world where they can write freely. Ronda is just such a place. Perched somewhat precariously in the mountains at the edge of a 400-foot cliff, it offers stunning views, spectacular Moorish architecture, intriguing labyrinthine streets, and not a lot else. If peace, quiet, and splendid isolation bring on the muse, you’ll find no better place to call home.
1. Oxford, England
As Expatica writes, the dreaming spires of Oxford have inspired some of the world’s greatest minds and greatest writers over the years. We can’t guarantee that renting a bicycle and zipping around its cobblestone streets is going to turn you into the next Percy Shelley, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, or Dorothy Sayers, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Even if the muse doesn’t call, there’s still a lot to enjoy in Oxford’s leafy neighborhoods, bohemian bars, and cozy cafes.