Somewhere…somehow…unknowingly, we’re secretly playing the role of our favourite character from one of those mind-blowing novels that got on to us at a young age. Is it Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie’s novels, Robert Langdon from Dan Brown’s mystery novels, or the witty Hermione Granger from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter? Bookworms do mean it when they say ‘books transport you to another world’, don’t they? There are so many bookstores to visit in your lifetime that not only have the best book archives, but are also known for their historic works of architecture, run by bibliophiles, and treasure literary culture on every shelf. Here’s some good news for you. We’ve listed the best bookstores in the world for you and trust me, by the end of this article, you’re going to find yourself looking for ways to travel and visit each one of them.
The Most Famous Bookstores In The World
From Argentina to Paris, here are some of the best bookstores in the world that you ought to know if you claim to be a book-lover! You’re going to find several books to be read at least once in this lifetime starting from rare collections to all-famous hits in the book world.
Location: Porto, Portugal
Known as the living access door to history, Livraria Lello is the oldest bookstore in Portugal. It opened in 1906 with a mind-blowing red double helix staircase which is the main centrepiece of the library, fondly referred to as the ‘stairway to heaven’ by the book-lovers. In fact, the bookstore is even rumoured to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts in Harry Potter!
Source: Livraria Lello
Notice the stained glass skylight and bronze literary figures, carved into the wooden bookshelves. Livraria Lello has been officially recognized as one of the best bookstores in the world by the magazine Time, The Guardian, and the travel guide Lonely Planet.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Remember the library from Beauty and the Beast? If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like in reality, El Ateneo Grand Splendid would give you a fair idea, although not in a complete sense. Originally built as a theatre in 1919, the bookstore still maintains the stage and the ornate balconies, claiming to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
Here’s an aerial view of the 1,20,000 books stored here. At this bookstore, you either get lost admiring the beauty of the bookstore or you immerse yourself in the books sitting on a comfortable club chair and sipping coffee. The view from the balcony is so fancy, you can imagine witnessing the Argentines lined up watching glamorous tango performances back when the store was a theatre. Make sure you put on some fine clothes when you’re book browsing just to feel like you belong there.
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Shakespeare And Company
Location: Paris, France
You can’t talk about the best bookstores in the world without mentioning Shakespeare and Company. Set in the heart of Paris, this historical bookstore is an oasis for literary lovers and a hangout spot for writers ever since its inception. A special mention to the American expat Sylvia Beach who opened this store in 1919 and generously lent it to the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway when he couldn’t afford them. Although the original bookstore was forced to close during the German occupation in Paris, there is another version of the same over-looking the Seine and pays homage to the original Shakespeare & Co.
The Last Bookstore
Location: Los Angeles, America
If you’ve ever considered making a list of the most bucketlist-worthy bookstores in the world, do not miss out on The Last Bookstore. The USP of this fancy bookstore is that it has gravity-defying bookshelves. The bookstore has a huge labyrinth of books to explore from fantasy titles to LA-centric literature to a whole new crime and mystery section.
Source: Poets & Writers
On the mezzanine level, you’ll find the famous tunnel of books where you’ll feel like you’re entering a fairytale world made entirely from books. As one of the best bookstores in the world, you’ll definitely want to whip out your camera before burying yourself into the array of books around you.
Libreria Acqua Alta
Location: Venice, Italy
Did you know that this unique bookstore, Libreria Acqua Alta, is the only bookstore in the world to use bathtubs and gondolas as bookshelves? No wonder why this is known to be one of the best bookstores in the world. Surrounded by century-old stonewalls and rooms, the bookstore gives a total vintage experience to visitors. At Libreria Acqua Alta, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cute cats and kittens while you’re witnessing the gorgeous views of the canals and browsing books alongside.
Location: Santorini, Greece
There’s a story behind how this famous bookstore came into existence. It so happened that two American friends happened to be holidaying in Santorini, admiring the beauty of the glittering ocean. As voracious readers, the friends went book-hunting in and around the area but weren’t really satisfied with their browsing experience. This led to creating this dreamy bookstore set in a white-washed home right beside the ocean. It is known that the books were handpicked and stored in the bookshelves. So when you head up to the terrace to soak in the beautiful views, you can pick out first-editions, rare treasures, biographies, and all sorts of books that will complement the view beside you.
Thank you for reading this blog on the best bookstores in the world. If you wish to read more, here are some blogs that might be of interest to you: