15 Unique Bookstores to Visit

5 min read

The whiff of books when walking into a bookstore, the excitement of leafing through the crisp white pages of a book, pages that contain detailed scribbles and endless stories of writers and novelists, the experience of strolling past tall shelves of old and new books to stumble upon the perfect find, is altogether magical.

Yes, you could argue that you would rather buy your books online that would be delivered right at your door steps. But then why wouldn’t you want to go to a bookstore if it looks like this instead?

15. Selexyz Dominicanen (Maastricht, The Netherlands)

Selexyz Dominicanen, located in Maastricht, Netherlands, often makes its visitors awestruck due to its 13th century architecture with its blend of historical and modern dialog. This 700 year old former church is often featured as the most beautiful bookshop in the world.

14.  The Bookàbar Bookshop, Rome, Italy

This library is located in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, an interdisciplinary exhibition center in central Rome. Bookàbar boasts of three substantial airy rooms where two of the rooms have been allocated for books, DVDs, CDs and catalogs. A third has been designed as a museum store. The bookshop is popular for its design and total white look.

13. Plural Bookshop, Bratislava, Slovakia

The Plural bookshop, located in Slovakia, may not be as large as other well established bookstores you may have come across, but its incisive and innovative design makes it a great place to visit. The library has a climbing wooden floor in between bookshelves which are used as seats for readers and it is also used as an auditorium for viewers during an event. The library has a very warm ambiance that gives a feel of complete freedom to let go and sit and read and enjoy the books you want to dive into.

12. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello, located in Portugal, is a lavishly designed bookstore with an art nouveau exterior. Well known among Harry Potter fans as the movie has been shot several times in this very library. Due to its distinctive artistic and historical values, the bookstore has been acknowledged as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world by many.

11. Shakespeare & Co., Paris, France

Shakespeare & Company consists of two independent bookstores in Paris’s Left Bank, that serves as a regular bookstore, second hand bookstore and a reading library. Initially, opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919, it used to be a popular hub for young aspiring writers like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. However, in 1940 the shop was closed down and later reopened by George Whitman in 1951. Today, the bookstore serves as a popular tourist attraction. It was also featured in movies like Before Sunset and Midnight in Paris.

10. El Ateneo in Buenos Aires.

El Ateneo is one of the popular bookstores that are well known among locals and tourists in Buenos Aires. In 2008, the bookshop was named to be the second most beautiful bookshop in the world by the Guardian. The luxurious bookshop that we know of today, originally used to be a theatre back in the 1919 and a movie theatre in the late 20s. The theatre boxes are used as reading rooms where you can snuggle with your selections, admire the view and watch people from all over the world gather in awe.

9.  Kid’s Republic, Beijing, China

Kid’s Republic was opened in 2005 and is the very first bookstore in China to specialize in children’s books. The vivid rainbow colors of the bookstore makes it a fun place for kids to visit where they are pushed to diversify their imaginations. The main goal of the store is to provide children with the very best of books in a very relaxed space.

8. Bart’s Bookstore, Ojai, California

Bart’s books in Ojai, California was founded by Richard Bartinsdale in 1964. Overwhelmed by the amount of books he owned, Bartinsdale decided to build a collection of bookcases in the sidewalk so that people can browse or peruse through his vast collection. However, today Bart’s Bookstore remains the world’s largest outdoor bookstore and it boasts of an extensive collection of rare books.

7. Librería Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

Librería Acqua Alta, one of the most original libraries in the world today is situated in Venice, Italy. Only here, will you be able to find books, thousands of them, in gondolas, rowing boats and even in bathtubs. The bookstore even overlooks one of Venice’s popular canals. Want more? The bookstore also contains cosy nooks and crannies with luscious old paper smells that will make you want to snuggle in a corner and get you to read.

6. John K. King Used And Rare Books, Detroit, Michigan

John K. King Used & Rare Books is an independent bookseller. As the name suggests, the store was established in 1965 by John K. KIng. The bookstore is said to have a large collection of used and rare books. How large? An estimated amount of a million books are in stock. The store itself was described as “one of the largest and strangest collections in North America” by an online magazine, Salon, back in 2011.

5. Cook & Book, Brussels, Belgium

The name can be quite misleading making you think that it is probably a place for cook book lovers. Nope, that’s not the case, if you pay a visit to this place, what you will find is something exquisite. The bookstore combines both good books and good food to give you the best of time. Sounds great, doesn’t it? On top of that, you can easily locate this bookstore in the main line of the metro in Brussels.

4. Le Bal Des Ardents, Lyon, France

This bookstore was opened back in 2003 and is known for supporting unknown authors and publishing houses that maybe overlooked by traditional stores. French for the “burning ball”, the quaint little bookstore has an attractive arch entrance.

3. Livraria Cultura, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Founded in 1948 in São Paulo by Eva Her, Livraria Cultura is a chain of bookstores in Brazil. Eva Herz left Berlin to escape the Nazis back in 1938. Eva started using a spare room as a rental library and today, it has expanded into being the largest bookstore in Brazil. If you pay a visit to this bookstore, you will find massive dragon statues, lounge rooms and four stories filled with books!

2. Barter Books, Alnwick, UK

Barter Books is a second hand bookstore owned by Stuart and Mary Manley. In an year, it sees over 200,000 visitors and is one of the largest second hand bookstores across Europe. Popularly known as the “British Library of second hand bookshops”, the bookstore also serves as a tourist attraction. As the name suggests, the shop is known for its use of barter system and normal cash purchases can be made too.

1. Daunt Books Marylebone, London, UK

Daunt Books, founded by James Daunt, is a chain of bookstores. This former Edwardian bookstore is known for its graceful skylights and long oak galleries where books are arranged in the walls in an elegant style. The bookstore traditionally specialized in travel books, but since 2010 it has started publishing as well.

We hope you like our collection of bookstores. Go out and try to visit a few of these wonderful buildings. Let us know about other inspiring bookstores and libraries you have been to.

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