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For those who love board games, combining travel with the joy of gaming can enhance the experience. This guide is designed for tourists who are interested in exploring the world of board games while traveling.


People playing at a convention in Poznań, Poland


Board games have been a part of human culture around the globe for thousands of years, from the ancient game of Senet in Egypt to the strategic depths of Chess and Go. In the modern era, games like Monopoly and Scrabble have become widely popular family pastimes. In the late 2010s and early 2020s, there has been a renaissance in board gaming, with games becoming more diverse, imaginative, and accessible.


Different regions have their own traditional and modern board games. For instance, Germany is known for its Eurogames, Japan for Shogi and Go, and the United States for its thematic and role-playing games. Understanding the local gaming culture can add a unique layer to your travel experience. A vibrant forum for all kinds of board games is BoardGameGeek which has many travel related Geeklists of recommended games (such as game by country of origin) among lots of others.


Map of Board games

The articles on specific games – Chess, Shogi, Xiangqi and Go – include information on places to play or to buy equipment, and on museums for those games.


  • France: one of the most famous modern board games is named after the city of Carcassonne. Some visitors bring a copy to play in the location, perhaps in the shadow of the city wall.
  • Germany: Visit Essen for the Spiel (Essen Game Fair), the world's largest board game fair.

North America[edit]


Learning a few phrases related to board games in the local language can be helpful. Phrases like "Do you play board games?" or "Is there a board game café nearby?" can open doors to local gaming communities.


There are several museums around the world dedicated to board games. There are also more toy museums which have related exhibits.


In most large, developed cities there are board game cafes or clubs where you can join board games throughout most days. Board game cafes will often have a fee, while clubs may be free. There are many board game groups which organize through social media and meet in restaurants, bars or public spaces like libraries. You can often locate them through some online searching before travelling to plan your itinerary.

Board game conventions[edit]

There are also many board game conventions around the world.

  • 1 Spiel (Essen Game Fair), Essen, Germany. An annual four-day boardgame trade fair which is also open to the public held in October at the Messe Essen exhibition centre. Essen Game Fair (Q314821) on Wikidata Spiel on Wikipedia
  • Gen Con, Indianapolis, USA. Early August. The largest tabletop game convention in North America. Gen Con (Q550430) on Wikidata Gen Con on Wikipedia


A board game store in New York City

Specialty stores[edit]

Many cities have specialty board game stores where you can find both local and international games. These stores often have knowledgeable staff who can recommend games based on your interests. Some may also have places you can meet other gamers and play.

Local games[edit]

Purchasing a board game from the region you're visiting can be a great souvenir. For example, you can consider buying a mahjong set in China or a shogi chess in Japan. Or Monopoly with local street names.

For more advanced games (Eurogames and such), while there often are various local titles, keep in mind that games you are likely to find even in specialty stores will usually be language dependent (with manual and components in local language). If you want English language version of those games, you may need to order them in advance from said specialty store as they may not be stocking English-language versions of the products they carry (but many will provide such order service). Alternatively, many game publishing companies have English online shops where they sell English version of their products online, and you may benefit from cheaper (and fast) local shipping.


Board game cafes are a fantastic way to combine the love of games with food and drink. These cafes often offer a wide selection of games and a chance to mingle with local gamers.


Some hostels and hotels around the world are beginning to offer board games in their common areas. This can be a great way to meet fellow traveling gamers.


When joining local gaming groups or visiting board game cafes, it's important to respect local gaming etiquette. This might include how to handle game components or understanding the pace of play.

Stay safe[edit]

While board games are generally a safe hobby, it's important to be mindful of your surroundings, especially when carrying valuable games or playing in unfamiliar areas. And betting big sums on gambling games, say backgammon in a local bar, is not generally advisable.


Solo travelers[edit]

Some board games are useful for playing with fellow travellers on long train rides or the like. In cities they can be a way to get in touch with a local community (see above). As a pastime when you cannot appreciate the people or surroundings, such as having to stay at your hotel room, many games now have solo play variants – and many games can be played online with real people (hopefully local: try to find that gaming community).


Consider portable, lightweight games that are easy to pack and don't have too many loose components – especially ones that aren't easily replaceable. Card games, travel-sized board games, and roll-and-write games are excellent choices. Most traditional games and some new ones have "travel sets" specially designed for play on the go, with magnetic pieces or drawers for storing pieces.

Go next[edit]

After exploring the board game culture in one city or country, consider visiting neighboring regions to compare their gaming cultures. And consider checking various more traditional local landmarks as well.

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