Seven of the world’s most charming bookstores
If you consider yourself a real bookworm, there is simply no better way to explore a new city than through its best bookstores. Offering a scenic escape from the hustle and bustle and of course plenty of books, bookstores are the perfect addition to any travel itinerary.
From surreal castle-like bookstores to historic literary havens, here are some of the most incredible bookstores you should visit on your travels.
Libreria Acqua Alta
Translate to high water library, Libreria Acqua Alta is one of Venice’s many hidden gems perched along one of the city’s many floating canals. Full of old and new books, many who visit this eclectic bookstore come just to see the different ways owner Luigi Frizzo has stored the shop’s many books. From the gondola to the wine barrels to the tub, books pile up in weird places in the event of a flood.
Often attracting many tourists, the Libreria Acqua Alta also has a staircase made up of books that you can climb as well as friendly cats that frequent the shop.
Shakespeare and company
Located rue de la Bûcherie in Paris, Shakespeare and Company is by far the city’s most famous bookstore and an attraction in its own right. Opened by George Whitman in 1951, Shakespeare and Company has not only served as an English bookstore on the left bank of Paris, but also a haunt for budding writers throughout its more than 70 year history. In return for helping out in the shop and writing a page for the shop’s archives, the writers were able to sleep in one of Shakespeare’s beds. It is estimated that more than 30,000 people spent the night in this iconic bookstore.
Considered a New York institution, The Strand has been providing new and used books to New Yorkers for over 90 years. As the only surviving bookstore in the city’s historic Book Row, the Strand is one of the few non-commercial bookstores and one of the largest in the city. Boasting “23 miles” of books, locals and tourists alike continue to return to The Strand for its incredible selection and historic value to New York literary life.
As one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal, Livraria Lello has a lot of heritage charm, including a magnificent stained glass ceiling, an incredible forked staircase, and a host of intricate Art Deco finishes. Dating from 1881, the Libraria Lello is one of Porto’s most visited attractions, with the bookstore now set to open with a paid entrance; thousands of people flocked to take some shots of the breathtaking architecture inside and often didn’t buy a book before they left.
Livraria Lello is often considered one of the finest bookstores in the world, and it’s not hard to see why.
Opened in 1797 by publisher and anti-slavery activist John Hatchard, Hatchard’s is London’s oldest and most beloved bookstore. Located in bustling Picadilly, Hatchard’s has hosted some of the most famous writers to date, including Oscar Wilde, and continues to be a haven for authors and book lovers, offering new bestsellers and copies. collection.
Housed in an incredible Gothic church dating from the late 1200s, Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht offers a magnificent setting for its buyers. With incredibly high ceilings, an altar and a cascade of light through its windows, this Dutch bookstore attracts many visitors, being a tourist attraction as well as a bookstore. In addition to beautiful Gothic architecture, Boekhandel Dominicanen also offers a range of English books and a cafe.
Located in Chengdu, China, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge is a breathtaking bookstore that uses black floors and mirrored ceilings to create the illusion of endless spiraling bookshelf towers. While the incredible bookstore only opened in October 2021, the store already has a collection of more than 80,000 books, according to an article by Architectural Digest. With tall arched and curved shelves and twisting staircases, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge is easily one of the most visually stunning and surreal bookstores in the world.