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With Amazon and other cheap online retailers selling books at bargain prices, physical bookshops are a dying breed. But there is nothing more special than spending some time quietly browsing the shelves of a bookstore, discovering new authors and titles, and generally soaking up the wonderful atmosphere these special shops have. Some of the bookstores on our list have actually become tourist destinations, due to their unique locations! But if you have the chance to visit any of these beautiful stores, don’t hesitate to show your appreciation by buying a book as well - what could be a more wonderful souvenir of great holiday?
Here are some of my favourite bookstores around the world…
1…for amazing architecture
Liveraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
With it stained glass ceiling and enormous central staircase, it’s fair to say that Livraria Lello is probably one of the most photographed bookshops in the world. Nestled down an unassuming shopping street in the port city of Porto, this bookshop will absolutely take your breath away. But you won’t be the only one - at some times, there is a queue outside to visit, as well as a 5 euro entrance fee. We think the price is well worth it. The last time we visited the majority of the books were Portuguese only, so the chance of you buying a book here might be slim.
Porto has a lot of beautiful architecture and history and is perfect for a weekend getaway.
Address: R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal. Open every day, 9.30 am to 7 pm.
2…in Charles Dickens’s hometown
Daunt Books, Marylebone, London
If you love all things British, then it doesn’t get better than Daunt Books! Specialising in travel books, it has been a bookshop since Edwardian times. With a beautiful airy skylight illuminating the wraparound balcony floor. In a charming part of central London, it is the perfect place to wile away a few hours on a rainy day!
This would be a great stop on a literary tour of London!
Address: 84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW, United Kingdom. Open every day 9 am to 7.30 pm.
3….if you love to read by the water
Liberia Aqua Alta, Venice Italy
Venice’s most famous bookshop sits right on the edge of one of its azure-blue canals. So close, in fact, that it often floods during the high tides. This accounts for the piles of second-hand titles on top of tables, stacked in bathtubs, and even filling a gondola! The store is small, with several interconnected rooms. The books are mainly Italian, with a small section for tourists at the entrance. There are plenty of beautiful books that would make great travel souvenirs or gifts - I bought a vintage art book with color plates of Venice’s Accademia art gallery.
Address: C. Longa Santa Maria Formosa, 5176b, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy. Open every day, 9 am to 7.30 pm.
4…if you feel at home in the desert
Singing Wind Bookshop, Benson, Arizona
This is probably the remotest bookshop on this list, yet readers have been flocking here for over forty years. Singing Wind Bookshop is located on a ranch off of a dirt road. Since its opening 1974, it has specialised in South-West authors. The books have been hand selected by the owner, who also offers tours. It would be a shame to go all this way and not take her up on it!
Unlike the other bookshops on the list, this is unlikely to be a place you would stumble across on your travels. But if you find yourself not too far away, it is well worth the effort.
Address: 700 W Singing Wind Rd, Benson, AZ 85602, United States. Open every day, 10 am to 5 pm.
5…you love a good beach read
Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece
Off one of the main thoroughfares in Oia in Santorini, Atlantis Books is an independent bookshop with books in enough languages to satisfy its international clientele. Browsing shelves and shelves of carefully chosen books against crystal blue skies, what could be better?
Started in 2004 by a group of friends who noticed a startlingly lack of bookshops on the island, this store is both a literary tourist hot-spot as well as well as hosting local events such as a yearly Literature Festival, concerts and evening readings on their sun-kissed terrace.
Address: Nomikos Street, Oía 847 02, Greece. Opening hours unknown.
6…you love buying more books than you could ever read
Powell’s Books, Portland, Oregon
Opened in 1970 and still a family-owned business, Powell’s has the unique title of the largest independent bookstore in the world. It occupies an entire city block! It is open 365 days a year and has a unique layout - new and used books as well as non-fiction and fiction are shelved together. Now with 3 locations, Powells has somehow manage to withstand the online revolution.
Portland being a notoriously rainy city, this could be the perfect place to spend an afternoon (or even a day!) if the weather is inclement.
Address: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, United States. Open every day, 9 am to 10 pm.
7…you love animals
Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wild Rumpus is a bookshop that sounds almost too good to be true. It is a bookstore for children’s books that is also homes to a number of animal friends - cats, cockatiels, chinchillas and more! What could be more delightful? It was founded by two children’s book writers with the aim of marrying nature with reading. This is sure to lure in any children reluctant to read - after all, if you don’t want to look at books, there’s always a run for mice built into the floorboards!
Address: 2720 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55410, United States. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.
8…you appreciate a well-made cocktail
Library Lounge, Tokyo, Japan
There is nothing better than sitting down with a new book and good drink - whether that’s a mug of tea or a fancy cocktail! Despite what you may be thinking, those bookshelves don’t just look good in an Instagram photo - they actually have over 3,000 curated titles that you can browse and buy. The cozy and dimly lit bar has strategically placed lamps so that you read your new book between sips.
Address: Japan, 〒106-0031 Tokyo, Minato City, Nishiazabu, 2 Chome−15−12 カルテットビル 1F. Open every day, 6 pm to 3 am.