Worldwide

25 Best Bookstores Around the World

Readers, unite! One of the best parts of traveling is finding some of the best bookstores around the world. From hidden gems to popular chain stores you didn’t even know existed, this is your ultimate guide to all the bookstores you have to see at least once in your lifetime!


Asia

Hikayat | Penang, Malaysia

Hikayat, 226 Beach Street, George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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credit: Kit Yeng Chan

UNESCO-inscribed Penang is Malaysia’s creative island. Renowned around Asia and the world for its street art, George Town, the main city, has become a hive for artists, painters, writers, and… of course, readers.

Set along historical Beach Street is Hikayat, a book and art space run by editor and writer Gareth Richards. Without a doubt, in only two years since opening, Hikayat (meaning “story” in the Malay language) can be considered George Town’s leading and most special bookshop. Set inside a restored double-story Chinese shophouse, on the ground floor is Gerak Budaya’s second bookshop (the first is not far away on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling), a large room filled with the best volumes on Asian affairs, art, history and fiction, and some beautiful coffee table books from the region and around the world.

Upstairs at Hikayat there’s an art space called the Blue Room, which basically packs all sorts of events from literary workshops to book launches, and a Thursday cine club. Right next to this room is the island’s first podcast recording station and a cozy apartment that’s up for rent to all those who want to have a place to stay to be in close proximity with the many Malaysian creative minds that flock here.

On the ground door at the back of the bookshop is Cerita cafe, an intimate place that tops it off in style, and is perfect to relax with a book and an espresso, or to chat up with other clients about books and authors.

Traveled by Marco Ferrarese from Penang Insider


Oxford BookStore | Delhi, India

Block N 81, Connaught Place, Outer Circle, New Delhi – 110 001

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There is no dearth of bookstores in Delhi and some of these have been around since the British era. Yet, the one that we want to write about is the relatively modern Oxford Bookstore. This is located at the regal Connaught Place, New Delhi.

Oxford Bookstore is almost a century old chain in India. The first book store opened in Kolkata in 1921. The Delhi outlet came up much later but, arguably it has become the largest book store in Delhi. It is on the first floor of a colonial mansion and when you enter you are greeted with a selection of photography and coffee table books. They often have interesting art installations in this area. You walk into the main bookstore that carries a huge selection of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books; magazines, and stationery. They have seating arrangements so you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours just browsing. Off and on we find pop-ups selling crafty items inside the bookstore. Behind the bookstore is a vacant space where book-readings and other events are held occasionally. There is so much happening here, yet there is a sense of serenity and that makes it very special as a bookstore.

This piece would be incomplete if we do not mention Cha Bar, the lovely café that is part of the book store. It is quite a hub for intellectual exchanges and is always overflowing with diners. Cha Bar serves the best fish and chips in Delhi and with a little embarrassment; we admit sometimes we visit Oxford Bookstore just for that.

Traveled by Sundeep and Bedabrata from Delhi-Fun-Dos.com


Europe

Acqua Alta Libreria

30100 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy

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Venice is truly one of the best places to visit in Italy. Not only is it home to gorgeous canals, but it’s also home to the beautiful Acqua Alta Libreria bookshop. This bookstore is truly one of a kind. As soon as you hit the entrance, you already know you’re in for a treat.

Inside, the majority of books are stored inside gondolas. But why? you might ask. It’s because the bookstore has actually flooded every time that the city floods, so this is their way of preserving the books! It truly makes for an amazing atmosphere.

There are also lots of the owner’s cats strewn throughout the inside. Don’t forget to stop by the tiny outdoor areas of the bookstore too. There’s a whole staircase made of books that makes for one of the best spots to take photos in Venice.

Not only can you get to Acqua Alta Libreria by foot, but you can also take a gondola straight to the store. They have their own little dock!

Don’t forget to also try some of the best foods in Italy while you’re there!

Traveled by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages


Armchair Books | Edinburgh, Scotland

72-74 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE, United Kingdom

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A visit to Armchair Books is a perfect way to escape the Scottish weather as well as one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh. Inside this cosy little bookstore, you’ll forget the busy city outside and get lost in the world of words and adventures. The store describes itself as ‘very neatly alphabetised chaos’ referring to the tightly-packed shelves overflowing with books but meticulously organised nonetheless. 

This intimate bookshop has a real sense of character. Follow the hand-written signs directing you between shelves and admire the oriental rugs which brighten up the low-lit shop. Let the colourful book spines guide your way around the treasure chest of literature. From guide books to fiction, history books and encyclopaedias, you’re sure to find something you’re keen to read.

Run by a local family, Armchair Books is a friendly place to visit and chat with the staff about literature. Although the ancient building wasn’t made with accessibility in mind, the staff at Armchair books invite visitors with accessibility problems to get in touch so that they can help immerse you in the books.

Traveled by Rose from Where Goes Rose


Atlantis Books | Oia, Santorini

Nomikos Street, Oía 847 02, Greece

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Situated on the main street of Oia in the heart of Santorini, Atlantis Books is a colorful, eclectic bookstore that houses literature, non-fiction, poetry, and more in over seven languages.

The entrance to the shop is painted with a bright bookstore mural and when you step inside, you’re greeted by floor-to-ceiling shelves of novels as well as journals, paintings, and quotes. You could easily spend hours flicking through the pages of Greek history books and famous fairy tales before moving out to the terrace which boasts one of the most beautiful locations for a bookshelf I’ve ever seen! The Atlantis Books terrace overlooks the cerulean Greek skies and the deep blue caldera and has little nooks where you can kick back and relax with your nose nuzzled in a book.

Atlantis Books was started by a group of friends who drove from the UK to Oia with a van full of books and a decade and a half later they’re still here sitting proud, selling books and soaking up the sunshine!

The store is open throughout the summer from 10 am to midnight, so there really is no excuse not to go and check it out while visiting Santorini.

Traveled by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate


Barter Books | Alnwick, England

Alnwick Station, Northumberland NE66 2NP, England

Barter Books situated in the beautiful and listed Victorian Railway Station of Alnwick in England’s northernmost county of Northumberland is a book lover’s dream.

Not only is the building and location unique for a bookstore but Barter Books boasts over 350,000 second hand books, rare editions, DVD, LPs and a dedicated children’s room.

Open every day of the week between 9.00 am and 7.00 pm a visitor could very easily lose themselves for a couple of hours or more browsing the endless number of shelves seeking their own favourite author or subject of interest. Every now and then your ear will catch the sound of the model train set circling above.

For those so lost in the Barter Books’ magic the store also has its own Station Buffet cafe specialising in locally sourced home-made food. A perfect pick me up ahead of yet more browsing!

Barter Books is also famed for the origin of the recent ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster fashion. In the year 2000, a rare original of this WWII poster was discovered in an auction, framed and erected in the store. It became an instant hit and today versions of this simple slogan are seemingly everywhere!

Unsurprisingly Barter Books has been referred to by New Statesman magazine as ‘The British Library of secondhand bookshops’. Visit for yourself and you will be in total agreement.

Traveled by Paul from The Two That Do


Blackwell’s | Oxford, England

48-51 Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BQ

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Oxford is a city associated with academia so it should come as no surprise that it’s a city teeming with bookshops. However, Blackwell’s is just a cut above the rest of the bookshops in Oxford. The original Blackwells is based in the centre of Oxford and boasts the largest single room selling books in the world.

Whilst it may look like an ordinary-sized bookshop from the outside, in the basement, there is an enormous room with over 5km of bookshelves. This is known as the Norrington Room and dates back to 1966! You could spend hours down there browsing the shelves and there’s the odd armchair dotted around so you can sit and flick through some pages. 

The Blackwell’s brand is even older than that, dating back to 1879. Whilst they were historically known as academic booksellers, today they stock every genre from new fiction to bookish gifts to the university student’s textbooks. They also host a lot of literary events with famous authors, many of whom were students themselves at Oxford.

Whilst there is one main Blackwells store in Oxford, there are two more Blackwell’s bookshops on the same road. These specialist stores stock music-related books and art and posters and are well worth a visit too. 

Traveled by Laura from What’s Hot?


Book Store Dominicanen | Maastricht, Netherlands

Dominicanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CZ Maastricht, Netherlands

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The City of Maastricht is full of history and architectural gems for visitors and locals to visit, this includes the fantastic Book Store Dominicanen. Book Store Dominicanen or as it is known locally Boekhandel Dominicanen is a fantastic book shop in many ways. Firstly the venue is special a former Dominican Church that dates back to the 13th-Century, it was consecrated in 1294. The building is designed in a gothic style with an imposing exterior and high vaulted ceilings inside. The vibe inside is relaxing and the church features certainly add a dimension to the visit.

The building has 2 floors and primarily sells English and Dutch versions of books, a fantastic selection covering a wide range of topics. Being in Maastricht I wanted to look for something related to Andre Rieu one of the city’s most famous residents. The shop delivered and found many books and DVDs relating to him, I left happy with a new selection of music this visit.

The staff in the shop were very friendly, knowledgeable and happy to help and spoke perfect English from my experience. To round off a visit coffee and cake were served, there were many options for cake and could happily sit and enjoy a few slices while having a read in this special place.

Traveled by Richard from RJOnTourUK


Booth’s BOokshop | Hay On Wye, Wales

44 Lion St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5AA, United Kingdom

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Booth’s Bookshop in Hay on Wye is the largest second-hand bookstore in Europe. Spread over a 3-floor emporium, high vaulted ceilings and intimate nooks create the perfect environment for a bookworm’s dream space. Visitors are invited to pull up a comfy sofa or perch on a windowsill and soak up the hushed ambiance. Complete with creaky floorboards and rambling rows of shelves, the myriad of subjects on offer is enough to allow for hours roaming the space. 

In addition to the great selection of books, Booth’s also includes a café, a cinema showing art house gems and a loft studio where independent practitioners hold classes. A regular diary of events makes Booths a focus point in the book-loving town of Hay on Wye.   

The characteristic that makes Booth’s Books so special is its legacy. The former owner, Richard Booth is responsible for turning the sleepy market town of Hay on Wye into the world’s most recognised book capital. The annual Hay Festival attracts thousands of book-loving visitors each year to listen to world renown authors and has spawned Hay Festivals in locations across the world. Booth’s bookstore is the heart of the town that has become known as the book capital of the world.  

Traveled by Paul from Anywhere We Roam


BOUQUINISTES | Paris, France

Along the upper banks of the River Seine:
Right Bank: from the Quai du Louvre to Pont Marie
Left Bank: from the Quai Voltaire to the Quai de la Tournelle
Open several days a week from 11.30am to sunset

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On a walk along the River Seine in Paris between the Louvre and Notre-Dame you’ll encounter Paris’ largest open-air bookshop. The Bouquinistes and their green painted boxes have been part of the Paris landscape for many years, at least from 1859. That year, second-hand booksellers were allowed to fix storage boxes on the upper banks.

The word Bouquiniste refers to the French world ‘bouquin’ which is synonymous to ‘a livre’ (a book). 

Indeed, you will find 900 Bouquinistes boxes alongside the Seine selling used and vintage books, old magazines, stamps, comic books, posters and postcards, as well as souvenirs.

Unfortunately the increased and widespread use of the Internet has led to a big drop in book sales which is threatening the booksellers livelihoods. To make things worse, the opening of a pedestrian area on the lower banks means that people are less inclined to walk by the green boxes of the upper banks with its noisy traffic flow.

This partly explains why the Bouquinistes have been allowed to diversify their activities. They can now sell souvenirs intended for tourists but limited to 1 out of 4 boxes for this purpose.

Nevertheless, the Bouquinistes have remained a true symbol of Paris and as the saying goes: the Seine is the only river in the world that runs between two bookshelves!

Traveled by Pierre from French Moments


Cărturești Carusel | Bucharest, Romania

Cărturești Carusel, 55 Strada Lipscani, Bucharaest, Romania

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Cărturești Carusel in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is one of the most enchanting bookstores I have visited anywhere in the world. Built in the early 19th-century as the neoclassical headquarters of a bank, for many years the building was left derelict, before being delightfully transformed by a grandson of the original owners to the bookstore that opened in 2015.

Step in from the cobblestone streets of the old city centre of Bucharest to four light-filled floors of books and stationary, along with a tea room tucked away on the top floor. A series of staircases flow from floor to floor, with the upper floors supported by white classical columns and edged with elegant curving rails, overlooking the centre void.

For foreign visitors who do not speak or read Romanian, a selection of foreign language books including an English collection is scattered throughout the floors, a great chance to stock up on reading material, while also admiring the beautiful surroundings.

Traveled by Shandos from Travelnuity


Leakey’s Bookshop | Inverness, Scotland

Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY, United Kingdom

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Leakey’s Bookshop opened in 1979 and is one of the most charming bookstores I have found on my travels. Set inside of a 17th century Gaelic Church, you will marvel over the beautiful stained glass windows, the choir loft on the 2nd floor, the wood pulpit, impressive spiral staircase, floor to ceiling stacks of books, and a wood-burning stove in the center of the shop. This bookshop caters to locals and travelers alike with a warm welcome and plenty of tranquil reading nooks for you to appreciate. 

Leakey’s is Scotland’s largest secondhand bookstore, so you should have no problem finding books that you will love to read again and again. You can spend your afternoon reading one of the books from the famous Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson or one of the other 100,000 books on hand. Surprisingly, the bookshop is categorized well which helps in locating a specific genre. Their collection of old leather-bound and hard covered books is one of the best that I have found and I walked away with a couple of late 1800s books to add to my collection. The old adage “Never judge a book by its cover” applies to buildings as well. Who knew that an amazing bookshop was nestled inside an old Gaelic church? 

Traveled by Heather from RaulersonGirlsTravel


Librairie Jousseaume | Paris, France

45-46-47 Galerie Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France

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If you are spending 2 days in Paris or more, go beyond the main sights to get a glimpse of the local life in the French capital.

One of the must-addresses for book lovers in Paris is Librairie Jousseaume, an independent and historical bookstore which is listed historical monument in France.

This charming bookstore lost in time was founded in 1826 with the name of Librairie Petit-Siroux. With an architecture and decoration typical of the Belle Epoque, Librairie Jousseaume reminds its guests of the elegant Paris of the XIXth century. Today, this small bookstore is a paradise of ancient books, and rare books, with more than 40.000 references from XVIII, XIX, and XXth centuries. The concept is simple: Mr. Jousseaume, the owner, has everything or he can have everything so it is the perfect place to browse for a rare treasure or to order it!

Librairie Jousseaume is located at 45 Gallerie Vivienne in the second district of Paris 2. It is inside one of the most beautiful and elegant covered passages of Paris (also listed historical monument) so after visiting the bookstore take the time to explore the rest of this wonderful walkway full of pretty cafes and vintage shops. The closest metro station is Bourse, on line 3. From there, it’s a few minutes walk.

Traveled by Elisa from World in Paris


Livraria Lello | Porto, Portugal

R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal

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Bookworms, Prepare yourself for your new favorite location on the planet – the magical Magical Lello Bookstore in Porto. Since the dawn of the 20th century, this neo-classic Gothic Revival bookshop has fascinated written-word lovers.

Even so, when you first wander in, your attention is stolen away from the books by the massive stained-glass skylight, elaborate wooden walls, and fantasy-medieval architecture. The façade is as luxurious as the interior, with carvings that reflect the ideals of ‘Art’ and ‘Science’ as well as elaborate detailing.

Lello Bookstore‘s centerpiece is the winding art nouveau staircase that leads up to the top floor and is believed to be the model for the moving staircases of Hogwarts. JK Rowling worked for several years in Porto and reportedly regularly visited Lello. Whether this is accurate or not (she has never confirmed), we may never know – but it hardly matters as nothing could possibly lessen this bookshop’s grandeur.

Lello gets a little crazy with tourists in peak seasons, but with a couple of books, you can quickly disappear in a corner and take in the scenery. Although you’ve got to pay a fee to get in there days, if you buy a book, it’s refundable – so you might just as well bide your time!

Traveled by Jordan from Inspired by Maps


North America

Arcadian Books & Prints | New Orleans, USA

714 Orleans St., New Orleans, LA, 70166 USA

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Whenever I visit New Orleans, I always head to the French Quarter (as everyone should). It’s a people-watching haven, and there’s a lot of bars you can hang out in, not to mention the small and big restaurants that are a must when you visit the city.

More than these, however, I also head to the French Quarter to go to Arcadian Books & Prints, a small pre-loved books shop along Orleans St. It’s the perfect place to be when you need a little quiet. For those who still prefer hard copy books over ebooks, it’s the best place to buy reading material you can take with you on your travels.

The bookshop is small, and when you go inside, you will see stacks and stacks of books in English and other languages. The pre-loved books are stacked floor-to-ceiling. There’s limited space to move around but if you’re not careful, you can spend hours there just browsing!

Don’t let the chaos fool you, though. There is a system amid the stacks. The books are organized by genre, by country, and by language, among others. Since they’re pre-loved, a lot of the books are pretty inexpensive. There are a number that cost just a dollar each. And right by the door, you can find a box of books that you can take home for free.

Definitely visit Arcadian Books when you’re in The Big Easy!

Traveled by Aleah Taboclaon of Solitary Wanderer


Brattle Book Shop | Boston, USA

9 West St, Boston, MA 02111, USA

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Brattle Book Shop is one of the oldest bookstores in the United States, established in 1825. It is located in the heart of downtown Boston, right next to the oldest city park in the U.S.– the Boston Common– which dates all the way back to 1634. Brattle Book Shop serves as a buyer and seller of used books and magazines, as well as an antiquarian dealing in rare books.

Its three stories are packed floor to ceiling with all sorts of treasures, with used books on the first two floors, and rare and antiquarian books on the third floor. The Brattle has over 250,000 “books, maps, prints, postcards, and ephemeral items in all subjects,” as well as one of the largest inventories of first-edition, out-of-print, and rare leather bindings in the country.

When the weather is nice, the bookstore also hosts a large outdoor sales lot, located in front of the mural to the left of the store (pictured), with some books for sale for as little as $1.

Brattle Book Shop is located very close to the Freedom Trail and is absolutely worth checking out when you’re in the area. For a step-by-step guide to Boston’s Freedom Trail, see Why Not Walk’s guide here.

Traveled by Tegan & Alex from Why Not Walk


E. Shaver, Bookseller | Savannah, Georgia

326 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401

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If you’ve ever wandered into a bookstore and immediately felt so welcomed that you just want to curl up in a comfy chair and never leave, then you know what it feels like to visit E. Shaver, Bookseller.

First of all – the shop is downright adorable! It’s decorated with worn and colorful rugs, cozy chairs tucked into every corner, and row after row of stuffed-to-the-brim bookshelves – many featuring local Lowcountry authors.

The shop is also home to three friendly cats who have full run of the place. Don’t be surprised to plop down on a chair and have Bartleby, Mr. Eliot, or Skimbleshanks curl up next to you and start purring for attention.

The independent bookstore has been locally owned since 1975 and is a favorite amongst both locals and tourists.

While you’re visiting, be sure to stop in the attached tearoom, which serves a variety of unique flavors. After all, as C.S. Lewis once said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

If you need a place to stay, consider one of the most haunted B&Bs in Savannah!

Traveled by Erin from Savannah First-Timer’s Guide


The Last Bookstore | Los Angeles, California

The Last Book Store, 453 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, California

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One of the best fun, free things to do in Los Angeles is to visit The Last Bookstore. As the name implies, this bookstore was founded in 2005 when independent bookstores were in decline and faced near-extinction. Fortunately, LA’s Last Book store came to life—and offers so much more than books!

At two stories tall, housed in a magnificent building within the heart of downtown LA, The Last Bookstore is a must-see. Not only will you enjoy browsing the largest new and used bookstore in all of California, but you’ll want to check out these unique features:

  • The Arts & Rare Books Annex
  • A vinyl record store
  • A vast collection of graphic novels
  • A variety of arts and craft shops
  • An eclectic, seasonal art gallery, “The Spring Arts Collective”

—all tucked under one roof. 

You’ll find The Last Bookstore overflowing with whimsy, too. Notice the checkout counter constructed of books, a section of books arranged solely by color, a lighted tunnel of books and a labyrinth, as well as other delightful, unexpected surprises. 

The Last Bookstore has a vibe especially well-suited to creatives and free-spirits, so when you visit, be sure to allow plenty of time for the full experience. Be forewarned: this unique, chill space might tempt you to pull up a couch and hang out for a long while.

Traveled by Jackie from Enjoy Travel Life


Powell’s City of Books | Portland, Oregon

1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209

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Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon is one of the biggest, most impressive, and majestic bookstores on the planet. In fact, it is the largest bookstore in the world that sells both used and new books. The store even provides a map so visitors can make their way around the various color-coded rooms.

A bibliophile could literally spend all day inside and never get bored because there are over 3,500 sections of books. You can find every category of book here from romance to mystery to travel. There’s even a specific section dedicated to nautical fiction. Powell’s is so popular that three other locations have opened in Oregon, but the flagship City of Books is still the best.

Some bookstores have apathetic staff who don’t seem to have ever read a book themselves. You won’t find this kind of nonsense at Powell’s. The staff members are all knowledgeable book-lovers happy to assist with thoughtful recommendations. On top of that, Powell’s welcomes visiting writers who come almost every day to read excerpts of their work and/or discuss their work with the audience. But perhaps the greatest treat at Powell’s is the Rare Book Room, which is basically a book museum located right inside this wonderful bookstore. 

Traveled by Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours


Square Books | OXford, USA

160 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655

Open since 1979, Square Books is an institution in the college town of Oxford, Mississippi. What began as a single upstairs location in one of the historic buildings on Oxford’s courthouse square has bloomed into four stores in three buildings, ranging from children’s books (Square Books, Jr.) to rare and collectible books (Rare Square Books). Square Books opened as an independent bookstore specializing in Southern literature, and it’s no wonder the store has flourished in the hometown of Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author, William Faulkner. 

Throughout the years, Square Books has hosted authors like Alice Walker (The Color Purple), Alex Haley (Roots), Willie Morris (My Dog Skip), and John Grisham (A Time to Kill), and has continued its long tradition of celebrating Southern writers and featuring stories about the South. I stopped in one year and picked up a signed copy of a John Grisham novel for my mom; great gift! Besides southern literature, Square Books has an extensive offering of book genres available and will be happy to place orders for customers as well. With a huge selection and friendly service, it’s easy to see why locals are loyal customers and tourists must visit. 

Located less than a mile from William Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, Square Books is a great place for visitors to pick up a souvenir copy of one of his works. There’s also a great photo op with a William Faulkner statue on the square just steps away, and don’t miss Thacker Mountain Radio, a weekly radio show of musical performances and author readings, broadcast from Off Square Books. 

Traveled by Jennifer Campbell of Just Chasing Rabbits


Trident Booksellers and Cafe | Halifax, Nova Scotia

1256 Hollis St, Halifax, NS B3J 1T6, Canada

Halifax Nova Scotia is a city full of unique charm and its local bookstores are no exception. One that you’ll want to add to your Halifax itinerary is Trident Booksellers & Cafe at the bottom of Hollis Street in downtown Halifax.

What’s unique about Trident Booksellers and Cafe is that they have been selling books since 1992. While many independent booksellers in Canada have since gone out of business,  Trident has kept a strong presence downtown. The building and decor still have a 90’s charm about it, selling both new and used books.

There is also a cafe inside Trident where you can grab a gourmet roasted cappuccino to sip while you browse the books. They also serve sweet treats! Trident is the perfect place for coffee dates whether you’re solo or with a friend. There is table space inside where you can cozy up with a coffee after finding the perfect book on the shelves. 

Traveled by Lora from Explore With Lora


Oceania

Unity Books | Auckland, New Zealand

Unity Books & Little Unity , 19 High Street, Auckland 1011

If you’re looking for the best bookshop, Unity Books in Auckland New Zealand is the place to go – it was literally crowned the World’s Best Bookshop in 2020! 

Located in downtown Auckland, Unity is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the crowds to spend hours browsing shelves stacked with every book you could imagine. Once you step inside you will be met by friendly, knowledgeable staff and a bookish peaceful atmosphere – you can rest assured you won’t be judged if you just want to spend a few glorious hours looking through books.   

The Bookstore of the Year Award, awarded at the London Book Fair Awards 2020 was a huge achievement for this little bookshop in New Zealand – but it just proves what the locals already know and love about this dreamy little shop. 

Personally, I’ll drive two hours from my hometown just to visit my favourite bookstore in the world, and I can never leave without bringing a book or two (or more!) home with me to add to my own collection. For any other book lovers visiting New Zealand, a trip to Unity Books is a must! 

Traveled by Emma from Daydream Believer


South America

El Ateneo Grand Splendid | Buenos Aires, Argentina

Av. Santa Fe 1860, C1123 CABA, Argentina

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid stands out as magnificent even in a city like Buenos Aires, which has the most bookshops per capita of any city in the world. 

It has a special connection to the city’s history and culture, dating back to 1919 when it was a theater, hosting tango legends such as Canaro and Gardel.  A decade later it had transitioned to a cinema, showing the first films with sound in Buenos Aires (and with a live tango orchestra when it showed silent films). 

By the turn of the millennium it had fallen into disrepair and was slated for demolition, but a passionate former patron saved it and converted it to a bookstore.  Today El Ateneo is 21,000 square feet of literary heaven, and hosts nearly 1 million visitors a year.  It usually makes the top-three in any “best bookstores around the world” list, and it’s not hard to see why.

The bookstore still boasts the beautiful ceiling frescoes painted by an Italian artist when it originally opened as a theater.  Curved balconies and ornate trimmings outline the private opera boxes that now house cozy reading nooks.  The stage is now the bookstore’s café, still framed by the thick red curtains.  Whether you’re looking for a particular book or just want to soak in the grandeur, El Ateneo is a must on any Buenos Aires itinerary!

Traveled by Jessica from One Girl, Whole World


Gabriel Garcia Marquez Cultural Center & Bookstore | Bogotá, Colombia

Calle. 11 #5-60, Bogotá, Colombia

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There are many things that make Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez unique and way more than any other bookstore you would come across. The first and foremost, of course, is that it was built in the memory of the world-famous Colombian writer. And it is a gift from Mexico to Colombia since Gabriel García Márquez spent a big part of his life in Mexico. 

The bookstore is gigantic with a big selection of Colombian books and an international section, with more than 50000 books. Although most of the books are in Spanish, you can find a lot of books in English as well.

There is a large art gallery where they hold exhibitions every now and then. Cultural events and poetry recitals are organized year-round.

It’s very close to La Candeleria, the vibrant historic heart in downtown Bogota, which makes it very hard to miss. If you are visiting Colombia and Bogota is on your list, then go for a stroll and you would be positively surprised. 

There is an open space, where you can read and chill. And it’s worth the climb up the landscaped roof for a great view over La Candeleri and for photo ops.

Traveled by Deb from The Visa Project


Livraria Cultura | São Paulo, Brazil

2073 Paulista Avenue, Bela Vista – 01311-940 São Paulo – SP

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There are many beautiful places to visit in Brazil, especially outdoors, but no trip to São Paulo will ever be complete without visiting Livraria Cultura.

I was an early bookworm. When I was about 10 years old, I had read way more books that most kids about my age.

And once a month, my mom and I would go to the Livraria Cultura in São Paulo, Brazil, to buy a new fiction for me–from classical Brazilian books to international bestsellers.

There were plenty of bookstores near our place, most of which were considerably closer than this one. Still, my mom and I would always go to this bookstore because the shop is a whole experience in itself.

As a former theater, the main hall’s raked floor has a few big pillows and cushions where customers can read their favorite books or magazines.

Decoration-wise, the brown shelves together with the wooden statue of a Chinese dragon flying over the books only make Livraria Culture even more special.

Traveled by Bruna from I Heart Brazil


Now you know all of the best bookstores around the world! Do you have one that you think should’ve been on this list? Then be sure to leave it in the comments below!


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