UNESCO’s Creative Meccas

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Some days, hunkering down with a good book is nothing short of blissful retreat. So when IT heard that just across the pond, wordsmiths like Yann Martel, Ilan Pappe, and Esther Freud recently emerged from their writer caves to rub shoulders with ordinary folks at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, we couldn’t help but get a little tingly with wanderlust.

The 17-day annual event wrapped up August 27, but as the world’s only UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh offers plenty of year-round finds for bookworm travelers, from literary pub crawls to a Writers’ Museum.

A quick glance at the rest of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network reveals a power list of other global cities worth exploring by travelers in the so-called “creative class.”

Launched by UNESCO in 2004, the network “aims to help unlock the creative, social, and economic potential of cultural industries held by local actors and therefore promote UNESCO’s goals of cultural diversity.” So far, nine cities—from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Santa Fe, New Mexico—have garnered recognition for their “creative pedigrees” in craft and folk art, design, gastronomy, literature, and music.

So go ahead, delve into these cities’ creative heritages, in the name of authentic travel. Score karedj (palm-leaf plates) in Aswan, Egypt; stroll along Canyon Road in Santa Fe; peruse Berlin’s Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design; or catch a concert of the Accademia Filarmonica (founded in 1666) in Bologna, Italy.