10 Unique Bookstores Worth Traveling For
Shakespeare and Company
Nestled in Paris’ west bank, Shakespeare and Company was an old hangout spot for James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway. One of the most famous independent bookstores in the world for its views of the Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral, it evokes a feeling that takes us right back to Paris’ golden years. It’s a feeling you have to explore yourself, with an old book and English tea in hand.
Powell’s is as US iconic as it gets. The three floor bookstore takes up a whole city block and houses about one million new and used books, all divided up into 9 color coded rooms. Known as the City of Books, Powell’s is the biggest independent bookstore in the world. We could spend days wandering through Powell’s and sipping coffee in their cozy cafe. Make sure to visit their flagship location if you can only stop at one - they have four Portland locations in total.
Cook and Book
Divided into 8 sections, each with its own decor and dining spaces, Cook and Book is truly a work of art in the Belgian capital. Rooms like La Cucina, filled with cook books and volumes on wine and beer, decorated with a vintage Fiat 500 or the English books room full of British cliches and a cafe perfect for tea and scones, exude something special for every visitor. The best part? 800 books hanging from the ceiling that spell out I love Belgium.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Find a good book in the place where some of Argentina’s most famous tango artists danced. Old theater turned bookstore, El Ateneo now holds 120,000 books mostly in Spanish, but with some great English selections. The theater’s original frescoes, theater boxes, ornate balconies, trimmings, and plush curtains are all intact, creating a truly unique experience for the visitor.
Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen
A 700 year old church turned trendy bookstore sounds pretty ideal to us. Located in the city of Maastricht, the old Dominican church now houses three floors of bookshelves set amongst Dominican frescoes. We’d go all the way to Maastricht just to cozy up with a book in one of the church's' alcoves at Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen.
It’s not easy to name just one bookstore as the most beautiful in the world, but Livraria Lello is certainly up there. Step inside and it’s old world feel, iconic crimson staircase, mahogany detailing, neo-gothic facade, and stained glass windows will envelop you.
Rumour has it young J.K Rowling visited Livraria Lello and drew inspiration for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.
This bookstore, bar, restaurant, and event space is China’s haven for literature printed in English. Explore thousands of old books while savoring a good espresso or enjoying Chinese food and catching up with friends. The floor to ceiling bookshelves are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Beijing. It’s time to add the Bookworm to your list of stops in Beijing.
Two American undergraduate students, Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise were visiting Santorini and ran out of books to read, so they decided to open up their own bookshop on the island. Years later, Atlantis Books is a popular tourist destination with books in English, Greek, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese. Not only do they have a great selection of reads, their views of the Aegean Sea make it one of the best bookstore views in the world.
Libreria Acqua Alta
A floating bookstore? Yes, it’s real. Venice’s Libreria Acqua Alta is quirky, fun and whimsical - a book nerd dream come true. Various rooms are stuffed with maps, magazines, and books in bathtubs, waterproof bins, and gondolas to save them from flooding. The whimsical shop is a must see on your next trip to Venice.
Cafebreria El Pendulo
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City’s two story bookstore and cafe is more than just a place to search for a good book. Live plants in every corner, old wood floors, and balconies create a beautiful space that inspires writers and tourists, alike. Search through their collections in Spanish and English, enjoy a good cup of coffee, and take in some of the magic Cafebreria El Pendulo gives off.
Interested in even more bookstore love? Check out our post on Chatham, MA, the beautiful Cape Cod town with 3 indie bookstores!