Discovering European Cities with Euro Spies Author Lindsay Littleson

I don’t know if you’ve discovered Cranachan children’s books yet but I love them and I couldn’t be happier than to support their latest release – Euro Spies by Lindsay Littleson. I’m thrilled that Lindsay has kindly provided a guest post today about her favourite five European cities to celebrate Euro Spies.

Euro Spies was published on 20th April 2023 and is available for purchase here.

Euro Spies


Samia is thrilled to win a sight-seeing holiday to Europe, but when shots are fired in the middle of the night on the Euro Metro, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary school trip…

Samia, and her fellow prize-winners, Ava and Frankie, are catapulted into a world of art, espionage, and terrible danger, as they discover the trip is being used as cover for a spying mission.

Can the children solve the fiendish clues hidden on famous European landmarks and avoid the scary strangers who are stalking their every move as they help Miss Watson from MI6?

Top Five European Cities

A Guest Post by Lindsay Littleson

Euro Spies is a love letter to all those magical cities in Europe I’ve visited in real-life and to those I haven’t visited YET.  My hope is that the novel will inspire young readers to want to see these places too. The characters in Euro Spies travel on the fabulous Euro Metro and zoom effortlessly between Paris,  Bern, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Brussels and Amsterdam. Giving a flavour of what each city has got to offer seemed a brilliant way to ignite children’s interest in European travel and certainly made the novel a joy to write.

Here is my own top five list of European cities!


I visited Venice with my partner a few years ago and completely fell in love with this stunning, romantic city.  Highlights of our trip included a visit to the island of Murano, St Mark’s Basilica and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, but to be honest, the best part of visiting Venice is just enjoying wandering across the bridges and through the narrow lanes. The gorgeous buildings give the city a magical atmosphere, which I’ve tried to describe in Euro Spies.

The gondolier, smart in his striped polo-shirt and straw boater, used the long oar to push through the sun-splashed green waters of the canal. On either side, ornate palazzos rose dream-like from the water.

Venice is such a special place, and if you haven’t visited, I’d highly recommend. There are downsides of course, and I mention them in Euro Spies. In summer, the city is overwhelmed by tourists and can become uncomfortably hot and crowded. But, I can only echo the words of  Charles Dickens. “I have never in my life been so struck by any place as by Venice. It is the wonder of the world. There is nowhere in the world quite like Venice!”


Paris holds a special place in my heart because it was my first visit to somewhere outside of the UK. Unusually for the early 70’s, the headteacher of the small village primary school I attended had ambitious ideas for school trips and decided the P7 pupils should go to Paris for four days. That trip was the highlight of my school days, which to be fair, isn’t saying a lot. But it WAS marvellous to be abroad for the first time in my life and I loved every moment. In Euro Spies, Samia feels that same sense of excitement.

As they headed up the stairs towards street level, and dropped off their luggage in the lockers, excitement started building in her chest. Caught in the crowds surging out of the exit, she scrambled to catch up with the others, and joined them on the pavement. 

Blinking in the sunlight, Samia gazed around at the tall elegant buildings with their wrought iron balconies, the shops with their colourful awnings, the cafes with their crowded outside tables. The city buzzed with movement and noise.

My Paris experience was a lot less dangerous and dramatic than the Euro Spies trip.  The highlight was when my best friend’s mum, who was with us as a parent helper, demonstrated how to remove her bra without taking off her jumper. It wasn’t information I needed at the time, but it has come in useful many times since!


Another city on my Top Five is the capital city of the Netherlands. I love its cheerful, relaxed atmosphere, the plethora of cyclists, the lovely little shops on the Nine Streets and the fabulous art galleries. Like all my favourite cities, there are lots of lovely cafes in Amsterdam, , or you could do what Samia and the other Euro Spies do, and have a picnic lunch in the Vondelpark.

After they’d finished the tour of Anne Frank’s house and the museum, they went for a half hour walk along Amsterdam’s cobbled streets and canal banks to the Museum Quarter, where they ate a picnic lunch, sitting on the grass in the Vondelpark. In the distance, jazz music was being played in the bandstand. The paths were busy with cyclists and skateboarders. Samia bit into her broodje, a delicious sandwich filled with smoked chicken breast, crispy bacon and lettuce and she wished that they could stay here all afternoon, chatting and laughing and enjoying the sunshine and the park’s lively atmosphere.

Of course, all my travel plans, like everybody else’s were put on hold during lockdown. My most recent visit to Amsterdam was in March 2020. At the end of our Friday visit to the magnificent Rijks Museum, the doors closed and didn’t reopen for a long time. The Anne Frank Museum shut that afternoon too, and we came home from our break early, concerned that flights were about to be cancelled. I’ve still got our unused tickets for the Anne Frank Museum and have promised myself I’ll be back very soon.


As a child, I loved reading stories about Roman and Greek Gods. I visited Athens in 2017 and have always been keen to visit Rome. Finally, I’ve managed to organise a trip there and can’t wait to see the Eternal City. During the 2021 lockdown, I went on quite a lot of virtual tours to various European cities, as part of my Euro Spies research, and am so looking forward to seeing the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Colliseum in real-life! I’m imagining my experience will be similar to Samia’s.

As they exited the Termini Train Station, Samia was hit in the face by a chaotic hubbub of noise, heat and movement. Scooters weaved crazily between buses, horns blasted and crowds of people surged along the pavements. Rome seemed like bedlam after Bern’s calm orderliness, and it was strangely thrilling.


The final city on my Top 5 list isn’t a Euro Spies location…but could well appear in Euro Spies 2! I first visited Seville in December 2019 and adored the fact I could walk around the beautiful Royal Alcazar Gardens without needing a jacket, despite it being mid-winter.

The Nativity market was enchanting and the Christmas decorations in the Plaza San Francisco were stunning. I would totally recommend a winter trip to this glorious city.


Those are fabulous cities Lindsay. Thanks so much for sharing your favourites with us. I can’t wait to revisit them all again when I read Euro Spies – and you will have to include Seville in book two!

About Lindsay Littleson

Lindsay Littleson is a bestselling, prize-winning author. She won the Kelpies Prize for her first children’s novel The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean (Floris, 2014). Guardians of the Wild Unicorns (Floris, 2019) was nominated for the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal. Her best-selling The Titanic Detective Agency (Cranachan, 2019) regularly tops the Amazon charts in its category. The Rewilders (Cranachan, 2022) and Euro Spies (Cranachan 2023) are Lindsay’s seventh and eighth children’s novels respectively.

Lindsay lives with her partner Ian and their very noisy cat in a small village near Glasgow.

For further information, visit Lindsay’s website, follow her on Twitter @ljlittleson or find Lindsay on Instagram.

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