Walk in the footsteps of Bram Stoker this summer on this unforgettable literary tour of U.K. locations that inspired Dracula’s spookiest settings.
While the iconic late 19th-century novel Dracula is most commonly associated with the creepy Carpathian countryside and rural Transylvania (and rightfully so), in actuality, its enigmatic author Bram Stoker never even visited the most famous locations featured most predominantly in the novel. Instead, much of Stoker’s storied inspiration came from many locations within the United Kingdom, particularly the Yorkshire countryside and Scottish village of Cruden Bay: spots where Stoker spent a great deal of time and was famously roused by both the dramatic scenery and distinctly gothic vibes found throughout these windswept, haunted locations.
And this year, to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the famous novel, everyone from Dracula stans to literature lovers can experience a tour of epic proportions by literally walking in the footsteps of the famed author. Organized by the author’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, the commemorative tour through the United Kingdom was itself inspired by real-life evidence (including journals, letters, and author notes) that pinpoint locations throughout England and Scotland that inspired the Dracula creator and his quintessential vampire tale. And while the ‘official’ tours have ended, it’s still possible for fans to immerse themselves in Stoker’s singular vision through a self-guided exploration of some of the anniversary tours’ most notable locations, offering a glimpse into the legendary auteur’s imagination itself.
Get Started In Literary London
The tour begins in England’s metropolitan capital—perhaps no surprise to some who know the city’s penchant for literary lore. And while Stoker’s masterpiece does reference London locations—both realistically and fictitiously—much of the torrid tale was influenced much more significantly by other tour stops. However, even though Dracula wasn’t entirely borne from the streets of London à la Dickens, the author did live and work here for a time, serving as the manager for the Lyceum Theater through the early 1900s. A literary city through and through, London is an ideal first stop on this exciting walking tour, and there are plenty of Stoker-Esque spots to explore.
- A real-life location and possible setting for Lucy’s tomb in the novel, Highgate Cemetery is also a beautiful place to visit and take a guided tour.
Gothic Coastal Vibes In Whitby
The “official” start of the Stoker literary trail begins in the coastal Yorkshire town of Whitby. Stoker famously vacationed here in 1890 and was inspired by both the harbor town’s dramatic setting and eerie atmosphere (including blood-red rooftops!); so much so that the village’s influence can be seen throughout many of Dracula’s early chapters—think Whitby Abbey’s haunted ruins and the barren clifftop graveyard of St. Mary’s Church.
- Explore Whitby Abbey’s gothic ruins and be inspired by Stoker. Soak up the spectacular seaside views, and visit the museum and the site’s 125th Anniversary Dracula installation
- Climb Whitby’s famous 199 steps to St. Mary’s Church, an iconic Dracula clifftop setting
- Reread Chapters six through eight of Dracula and retrace Stoker’s steps
- Dine at Quayside, a famous fish and chip shop and former site of Whitby’s public library—and the spot where Stoker first encountered the name “Dracula” in a history book about Vlad the Impaler
Scotland’s Stoker Stories
The capital city of Edinburgh is a historic city in its own right, and there’s no doubt that its more macabre stories most likely influenced Stoker during his time as a theater director overseeing the production of Much Ado About Nothing. One only needs to visit the eerie Edinburgh Castle or the famous Witches’ Well fountain to get distinctly Stoker-ish vibes.
But Edinburgh is not the only Scottish setting said to inspire the author’s epistolary work. Just a few hours north along the coast lies the atmospheric fishing village Cruden Bay, where Stoker spent numerous vacations—he even wrote parts of Dracula while summering here. Full of eerie and downright spooky settings galore, it’s easy to see why Stoker was inspired by his time in Cruden Bay.
- Lodge at the Kilmarnock Arms, the village hotel where Stoker famously stayed. Visitors will be similarly inspired by the dramatically bleak (yet beautiful) clifftop setting—including secluded spots like St. Olaf’s Well and the nearby coastal inlet scene that inspired the Stoker novella The Watter’s Mou’.
- Experience the strange beauty of Slains Castle and its epic ruins, said to have influenced one of Stoker’s most famous settings—the home of Dracula himself.
- Follow in Stoker’s footsteps—literally—by strolling the stretch of beach between Cruden Bay and nearby Whinnyfold, where Stoker once rented a cottage and reportedly spent time walking solo (plotting Dracula chapters, perhaps?) or alongside his wife Florence.
the macabre beauty of many of the stunning settings that inspired one of the most famous characters in all of literature.Though the unofficial end to the tour is in Glasgow, it’s truly the spooky seaside village of Cruden Bay that is the culmination of this literary tour celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Bram Stoker masterpiece, Dracula. And while the “official” 2022 tours have ended, it’s still possible for bibliophiles and Stoker-heads everywhere to follow in the footsteps of the iconic author; basking in