In the mood for a bit of armchair travel, or just after some pretty books to line your shelves? Check out these beautiful coffee table travel books, definitely worth adding to your collection.
Along with souvenirs from your trip, coffee table travel books are lovely edition to your home. You can flick through them when you need to be feel inspired, or just simply wish to remember the joy of travelling.
There are plenty of options out there, for all types of travel and destinations.
Here are a few suggestions, some of which may end up finding a place on your coffee table (or bookshelf, where they’ll look just as pretty).
Best coffee table travel books
Here are some of the most colourful travel books, featuring all sorts of themes and locations from around the globe.
Each are a worthy addition to your coffee table travel book collection.
1. Kinfolk Islands – John Burns
Kinfolk are masters of making coffee-table travel books (and magazines).
Put together with slow travel in mind, book contains 18 stories, guidance and gorgeous photography.
Keep an eye out for the next book in the series Kinfolk Wilderness, set to be published in mid-2023.
2. A House Party in Tuscany: Recipes, Stories & Art from Arniano – Amber Guinness
This is not only a travel book worthy of your coffee table – the additional recipes make it a most practical book, too.
Inspired by cooking in the Italian countryside, Guinness spent her childhood cooking in her family’s home in Tuscany. As an adult, she turned the 18th century farmhouse into an artists’ retreat, the backdrop for this book.
Discover seasonal Italian recipes, ideal wine pairings and try to stop yourself from immediately organising a trip to Tuscany, to experience it all for yourself.
3. Offbeat – Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet know how to put together a coffee-table worthy travel book and in Offbeat, they document 100 destinations not ruined by overtourism.
If you’re keen to get off the beaten track – whether in your actual travels or your reading, then this makes a worth addition to your travel book collection.
4. Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles, & the Vibrancy of Rajasthan – Christine Chitnis
Rajasthan, India is one of the most colourful places in the world. And now you can enjoy it in published form, courtesy of Christine Chitnis.
Inside, you’ll find 200 photographs of markets, art, textiles, buildings and day-to-day life in this region of India.
A very colourful addition to your coffee table travel book collection.
5. Mountain Escapes: The Finest Hotels & Retreats from the Alps to the Andes – Martin N. Kunz
There’s something delicious about mountain hotels, whether they’re used as a setting in a horror story (a la The Shining) or glorified in a Wes Anderson film.
The coffee table travel book quite simply presents the best mountain hotels in the world. So you can get lost in a chalet in Switzerland or deep within the Himalayas, without leaving the comfort of your armchair.
6. The Magic of Japan: Secret Places & Life-changing Experiences – Hector Garcia
Japan has exploded in popularity in recent years, partly due to the unique nature of Japanese culture.
This book aims to capture some of this quirk.
Along with over 400 photographs, Garcia (who lived and worked in Japan for 15 years) dives deep into cultural topics, exploring Japanese idiosyncrasies, behavioural traits and even peeling back the layers of the country’s darker side.
7. A Year in Japan – Kate T. Williamson
Artist Kate Williamson, as the name of this book suggests, spent a year living in Kyoto. While there, she sketched and painted watercolours, detailing her life in this historic and beautiful city.
This is basically an illustrated travel journal, detailing an expat’s explorations, in vivid illustrations. If you love Japan, love art, or simply love collecting travel books, then this is a worth addition to your coffee table or bookshelf.
Buy this book: Amazon
8. Into Africa – Frans Lanting
This coffee table travel book features the photographs of a National Geographic photographer – so you know it’s going to be good.
Lanting has widely travelled in Africa, camera by his side, photographing the amazing animals and land of this wild continent. The book itself is based on an exhibition, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
9. How to Live Icelandic – Nina Bjoerk Jonsdottir & Edda Magnus
Iceland is another destination which has piqued worldwide interest in the last 15 years or so. People visit to explore the country’s extremely beautiful and unusual nature, but are equally charmed the Icelandic way of life.
This is an insider’s guide to the country, covering it’s history, vibrant literary and music scene, covering its small but steadily growing film industry and detailing some of the cuisine Iceland has become famous for – from skyr to hot dogs.
If you want to expand your knowledge about ‘the Land of Ice and Fire’, then this is the coffee table travel book for you.
10. The Great American Road Trip: Roam the Roads from Coast to Coast – Gestalten
The US is a country that inspires road trips and in turn, this inspires the imagination. Think of all the great American texts that have flickered into life due to the simple act of traversing across these immense landscapes.
This coffee table travel book aims to convince travellers to ditch the planes for four wheels, detailing iconic routes and unreal landscapes across the continental USA.
Eerie deserts, snowfields, mountains, glorious coastal paths – the USA has it all.
11. Dark Skies – Valerie Stimac
One for those with stars in our eyes, this coffee table travel book is small, but packs a punch. Dark Sky expert and National Park enthusiast Valerie Stimac has put together a comprehensive guide to dark-sky sites and stargazing sites not only in the USA, but around the world.
There’s even a section on the burgeoning field of Space Tourism, set to explode in popularity, with billionaires with too much money and no idea how to spend it already blasting themselves up into the stratosphere.
Definitely one for the space nerds, with a decent side of travel.
12. Beaches – Gray Malin
If you’re determined to keep your mind and body firmly centred on planet Earth, then perhaps this is the coffee table travel book for you.
Grey Marlin shoots his aerial beach photography from a doorless helicopter, combining his love of interior with his passion for photography.
The result is a series of photos that pop with energy and colour, taken in some of the best beaches around the globe.
Coffee table travel books about wild adventures
These are the books to pick up when you’re feeling desperate to hit the wild world, but have to content yourself with armchair travel for the moment. They feature some fantastic adventures and truly cool individuals.
13. Epic Hikes of the World – Lonely Planet
Keen to set your best foot forward? This travel book details 50 routes in 30 countries, with another 150 suggestions.
There’s everything from day hikes and urban treks to months-long thru-hikes. You’ll be taken through cities, mountains, fields and coastal paths.
The book includes colourful photographs and detailed illustrated maps. Plus, practical advice for trip planning, should you want to undertake any of these hikes for yourself.
For more, check out these books about walking.
14. Wanderlust: Hiking on Legendary Trails – Gestalten
After more hiking inspiration? Gestalten’s answer to this desire outlines iconic walking routes with maps, tips and as expected of any coffee table worthy travel book – gorgeous photographs.
Curated with hikers of all levels and abilities in mind, you can use this book as a practical guide, or just live vicariously through its colourful pages.
15. Running Wild: Inspirational Trails from Around the World – Julie Freeman & Simon Freeman
Okay, we’ve covered walking, but how’s about a coffee table travel book for all the runners out there?
This travel book is the answer, taking the simple act of rapidly placing one foot in front of the other to the backdrop of some absolutely stunning scenery.
Whether you’re a solo runner or interested in testing your endurance alongside thousands of others, you’ll find worldwide inspiration between the covers of this book.
16. Cliffhanger – Julie Ellison
Climbing has taken off around the world, both as a sport and a lifestyle. This coffee table travel book profiles people who climb, the places they climb, and the history and culture surrounding such an activity.
This book may make your palms sweat, or inspire you to get out there and try some cliff scrambling off your own (even if it’s within the safety of a dedicated space, like at your gym).
17. Surf Life: Women Who Live to Surf and Create – Gill Hutchison
There’s something endlessly cool about surfing and if you’re like me, you’ll be fascinated by the women who have dedicated their lives to it.
This book pays homage to women who have heeded the call of the waves and outlines how it influences their creativity.
Author Gill Hutchison is one of them – she left a job in the publishing industry to pursue her passion and now lives on Victoria’s Surf Coast.
Look out for the second volume of this book, coming out this year.
18. Ultimate Train Journeys: World – Tim Richards
There’s something whimsical about hopping on a train for a long journey, traversing diverse landscapes, dozing in sleeper cabins, dining on board.
In the tired age of plane travel and in the face of environmental turmoil, train travel is steadily regaining popularity and remains one of the few forms of travel to perfectly encapsulate the adage of ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’ (ferry trips being another).
This book profiles 30 fantastic train trips, from all over the world, from The Orient Express to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Author Tim Richards has also written a travel memoir that focuses solely on train travel in Australia (we too have some epic routes) – Heading South.
19. Wayward – Chris Burkard
Love adventure travel? So does Chris Burkard, to the point where he made an entire career out of it.
This book is a series of photo essays, dictation Burkard’s wild adventures to remote places around the globe. A keen surfer, Burkard ruminates over what it means to be an explorer in the modern, and shares how he balances his passion for travel and conservation with family life.
Coffee table travel books about Australia
This is an Australian travel blog and this country, astonishingly photographic. If you’re looking to include some books about Oz on your coffee table, here’s a few great suggestions. And here’s some other books about Australia, too.
20. Welcome to Country – Marcia Langton
This is a travel guide to Indigenous Australia, written by anthropologist Professor Marcia Langton.
A gorgeous addition to your coffee table, it gives you a chance to learn more about the culture that has existed in Australia for tens of thousands of years.
21. Loving Country: A Guide to Sacred Australia – Bruce Pascoe & Vicky Shukuroglou
Loving Country is a travel guide to Australia’s sacred Indigenous sites.
Journey from the Grampians (Gariwerd) in Victoria, to Bruny Island in Tasmania and of course, Uluru.
A great introduction to the vast landscapes that cover this ancient continent and a compelling argument for taking care of them.
22. Explore Australia 2024: Australia’s Essential Travel Guide – Hardie Grant Explore
This is the 40th edition of Australia’s longest-running travel guide.
It lists delightful holiday regions in Australia, giving you an overview, map, summary of the top attractions, festivals, events and of course, beautiful colour photos.
If you’re planning or even daydreaming about a trip to Australia, then this is the perfect coffee table travel book for your collection.
23. Epic Hikes of Australia & New Zealand – Lonely Planet
The Oceanic version of Lonely Planet’s ‘epic hikes’ series is a great addition to your coffee table travel book collection (I should know – I have a copy of it on my own bookcase).
As the name suggests, the book contains some of the best hikes in these two countries, which are world-renowned for their scenic walks.
There are 50 hikes to choose from, across varying degrees of difficulty. This guide intends to cater to not only experienced hikers, but beginner hikers too.
24. Sh*t Towns of Australia – Rick Furphy & Geoff Rissole
Australia is great in many ways, but it does have some sh*t towns (and some small towns too).
What can you expect to find on the list? All sorts of notable names, such as underground town Coober Pedy, gold rush town Ballarat and even Canberra – our nation’s fair capital.
In case it needs to be hammered in, this is of course intended as a fun, tongue-in-cheek travel guide. If your town or place of origin features on the list, consider it an honour, rather than an offence.
If you need help deciphering some of the language in this book, please refer to my guide to Australian slang words for assistance..
Buy this book: Booktopia
25. Ocean Pools: 75 Pools Across Australia for Saltwater Swimmers – Marie-Louise McDermott & Chris Chen
Beaches. Australia’s got a lot of them – an estimated 10,000, in fact. And what it also has a lot of are ocean pools.
Cut into the rock of the country’s coastline, these pools offer protection from surf, rips and sharks, allowing swimmers to enjoy the benefits of the ocean in relative peace.
Plus, they’re gorgeous to look at. Making this perfect for your collection of coffee table travel books.
Buy this book: Booktopia
Coffee table travel books about responsible travel & design
As responsible travel becomes more ‘mainstream’, there are more and more books being published on the subject. This cater to all kinds of travel – from slow travel ideas, to eco-friendly accommodation and inspiration.
26. The Ethical Traveller – Imogen Lepere
A smaller travel book than many others on this list, it’s still beautifully illustrated and full of practical tips.
Consider it your pocket guide to sustainable travel, to whip off the shelf or coffee table whenever you need a little guidance or inspiration.
27. Kinfolk Travel: Slower Ways to See the World
Yup, another Kinfolk suggestion, because they are just that beautiful.
Kinfolk have long been spruiking the benefits of slow living and now they turn their hand to the act of slow travel.
This book is a guide to planning trips that make a meaningful connection with the local people and their culture.
There’s 20 locations featured, across five continents, accompanied by essays and gorgeous photography.
28. Remote Places to Stay – Debbie Pappyn & David De Vleeschauwer
There’s something so intriguing about a hotel in the middle of nowhere. A trip to a place like this offers the chance to truly disconnect and escape from everyday life.
This coffee table travel book features 22 places from around the world, that are hidden and hard to get to.
If you’re not in the position to travel to any of these places, simply open this book and get lost in its places. A different matter of switching off.
29. Oasis: Modern Desert Homes Around the World – iO Tillett Wright
Love the desert? There’s certainly something alluring about people who choose to set up shop on arid landscapes. And even more so, the homes they inhabit.
This book covers well-known stalwarts of desert living such as Georgia O’Keefe’s house in Abiquiu, New Mexico, to newfangled solar-powered sustainable homes.
Escape to the desert, with the help of this coffee table worthy travel book.
30. New Rural: Where to Find It and How to Create It – Ingrid Weir
Country living is definitely very much in vogue, especially after the city lockdowns of 2020/2021. And country homes have a certain aesthetic, which changes from place to place.
So how does one find it and recreate it? That’s what Ingrid Weird sought to do, travelling throughout New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania in Australia, documenting what she found along the way.
This is a travel and design guide to some of these states nicest country towns and regions. It’s definitely worth adding to your collection, if you’re in the mood for a spot of renovating.
31. Off the Grid: Houses for Escape – Dominic Bradbury
Eco-friendly homes are all the range and becoming more affordable than ever.
This book documents some of the most innovative off-grid homes – and how they manage to be self-sufficient in terms of water, energy, waste and food.
You’ll be wanting to escape to a tiny house yourself after flipping through this book’s pages.
32. Stay Wild – Rural Getaways and Sublime Solitude – gestalten
And be further inspired by this collection of fantastic and eco-friendly accommodation options.
Between the pages of this coffee table travel book you’ll find treehouses, houseboats, yurts, cabins and more, located all around Europe. All are truly unique and aim to have a positive interaction with nature and the environment around them.
If you live in Australia, you might want to check out these eco-retreats in Victoria for more inspiration.
33. Accidentally Wes Anderson – Wally Koval
Along with their quirky characters, Wes Anderson’s movies are known and loved, most of all, for their distinctive aesthetic.
This book pays homage to real-life places around the world, that look like they could have easily been the setting for any of the auteurs films.
Wally Koval curates the Instagram account @accidentallywesanderson and this is the best of the best – places of lost grandeur and pastel colours, located around the world.
If you love Anderson’s films, then this will be a fantastic addition to your collection of coffee table travel books.
34. Cabin Fever: Enchanting Cabins, Shacks and Hideaways – gestalten
Love the fantasy of escaping to a remote retreat? Get lost between the pages of this travel book, featuring rustic cabins in the most beautiful places.
Nestled on the side of mountains, hidden in rainforests and overlooking sweeping coastlines, these cabins all promise an escape from the stress of everyday life.
If you’re not in a position to flee to a cabin in the woods for the weekend, find inspiration within the pages of this book instead.
35. Van Life: Your Home on the Road – Foster Huntington
Similarly, many of us have moments where we’d love to pack it in, pack it up, shove our lives into an aesthetically pleasing van and hit the wide open road.
This book is curated by someone who did just that. Foster Huntington quit his job and drove thousands of kilometres across and around the USA, in his van.
Between the pages of this coffee table travel book you’ll find photos from his own camping adventures, alongside images from others living their best #vanlife.
Coffee table travel books about cities
36. Pretty City London: Discovering London’s Beautiful Places – Siobhan Ferguson
London is one of the world’s most beguiling and interesting cities.
Beyond the iconic landmarks, there’s plenty to discover, from gorgeous shopfronts, to flowerlined mews.
Siobhan Ferguson has curated the prettiest of the prettiest images of London into an inspirational guidebook.
You’ll find recommendations for different neighbourhoods around London and where to go season by season. Presumably to seek out sweet blossoms and wisteria, or autumn hues.
37. Lost Melbourne – Heather Chapman & Judith Stillman
Melbourne is another city that has a lot to offer and uncover. Victorian buildings, ornate cinemas – even an Art Deco MacDonald’s.
Part coffee table travel book and part history book, this book documents what has sadly, been lost – both in the city centre and into the surburbs.
Perfect for history buffs wanting to learn a little something about Melbourne’s past.
38. Suburbia – Warren Kirk
Same, same but slightly different, Melbourne photographer Warren Kirk documents a way of Australian life that is slowly disappearing, as neighbourhoods gentrify and everything becomes a little bit more homogenised.
His photos are a mix of buildings around Melbourne’s suburbs and people in their homes. His camera capturing a side of Melbourne that may not exist in even the next ten years.
39. Humans of New York – Brandon Stanton
Photographer Brandon Stanton began photographing New Yorkers in 2010, traversing the city with his camera to capture their images and hear their stories.
Beginning as a blog, this bestselling coffee-table travel book features 400 colour photos of the vast variety of humans who call New York home.
40. Only In Tokyo – Michael Ryan & Luke Burgess
Dive into Tokyo’s delicious food scene with the help of two Australian chefs.
Documenting restaurants, bars and tea houses, this is the perfect inspiration for foodies travelling to Japan, or those wanting to live vicariously through the pages of this travel book.
So there you have it – some of the best travel books going round. They’ll look grand on your coffee table, fantastic on a book shelf and are great fun to flip open and flick through, when you’re looking to be inspired.
What are some of your favourite coffee table travel books?