Bookstores are more than just places to buy books. They are cultural hubs where people can gather, explore different genres, and engage in many other activities. They can also serve as a great tourist experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local literary scene and discover unique gems from the region. 

For travelers, bookstores can provide a sense of immersion into the local culture and history as well as an opportunity to admire their architecture and design. Many bookstores are housed in historic buildings or have unique architectural features that add to their charm and appeal. Exploring these spaces not only allows visitors to browse through books but also offers a glimpse into the artistic and cultural heritage of the area. 

These top bookstores around the world can provide an unforgettable experience that showcases the cultural tapestry of the area. Whether you love books or just want a unique travel experience, consider a visit to one of these literary wonders.

Shakespeare and Company – Paris, France

Nestled in the Latin Quarter of Paris, Shakespeare and Company is a literary haven with a rich history. Founded in 1919, the bookstore’s rustic charm and cozy reading nooks have welcomed generations of writers and readers. It offers a curated selection of English-language books and hosts cultural events that continue to foster a sense of community. This legendary bookstore, with its worn wooden floors and whimsical decor, remains a symbol of artistic exploration in the heart of the city of love.

Strand Bookstore – New York City

A mecca for bibliophiles, the Strand Bookstore in New York City has been a staple since 1927. Spanning four floors and boasting 18 miles of books, it houses a vast collection of new, used, and rare titles. The store’s iconic red awning and towering stacks of books draw book lovers from all corners of the globe. Whether you’re hunting for a classic novel or a hidden gem, the Strand’s treasure trove of literature provides an immersive literary experience.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Once a grand theater, El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires combines architectural grandeur with a love for books. Its ornate balconies, crimson curtains, and frescoed ceilings create a unique backdrop for its extensive collection. Visitors can browse books on the main stage or relax in the former theater boxes turned reading nooks. This bookstore captures the essence of Buenos Aires’ cultural scene, inviting patrons to lose themselves in literature while surrounded by the echoes of artistic performances.

Livraria Lello – Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello is a marvel in the heart of Porto. Its neo-Gothic façade and intricate woodwork transport visitors to a bygone era of literary elegance. The centerpiece is a stunning red staircase that spirals upward, leading to a beautifully designed mezzanine and a ceiling adorned with a stained glass masterpiece. This bookstore’s history dates back to 1906 and has inspired authors like J.K. Rowling. Livraria Lello is a pilgrimage site for book enthusiasts seeking literary treasures and architectural wonders.

Libreria Acqua Alta – Venice, Italy

In the enchanting city of Venice, Libreria Acqua Alta stands out for its whimsical and unconventional charm. Translated as the Bookstore of High Water, it creatively addresses the city’s occasional flooding by storing books in bathtubs, gondolas, and even a full-size boat. This quirky arrangement adds to the store’s unique character. Visitors can navigate through narrow passages of stacked books, making for an unforgettable and offbeat book-shopping experience in one of the world’s most romantic cities.

Daunt Books – London, UK

Daunt Books celebrates travel literature and evokes the spirit of exploration, with its flagship store in Marylebone, London. Housed in an Edwardian building, the store boasts long oak galleries and skylights that bathe the space in natural light. Its meticulously curated selection of travel-related titles invites readers to embark on literary journeys to far-flung destinations. The ambiance is tranquil, offering a respite from the bustling city, and it serves as a reminder that the world of books can be a gateway to diverse cultures and adventures.