With its pretty plazas and grand colonial squares, Guatemala City is an ideal place for a leisurely read – but if you forgot to pack enough reading material, fear not. Whether you’re looking for an up-to-date travel guide or a local novel to delve into, we’ve got you covered. Guatemala’s capital has an excellent selection of unique bookstores to peruse – here are five of the best.
Vista Hermosa is the most popular bookstore with expats due to its excellent collection of English books. This small, cosy shop is located in a quiet residential part of Zone 15 and has been popular since its opening in 1977. While most of the books are in English there are a few in Spanish if you fancy putting your language skills to the test. As well as fiction the shop sells books on cookery, travel guides, cars, wildlife, nature and DIY (to name just a few topics), so whatever you’re into you’re sure to find something of interest here.
Situared in the lively Zona Viva (part of Zone 10), Sophos offers visitors a relaxed place to read and an extensive variety of Spanish-language and English-language books. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge on this absorbing country, Sophos is a good bet; there’s a whole room dedicated to books on Guatemala and local history, as well as plenty of Lonely Planet guides and detailed maps. Located in an elegant shopping mall, it’s the perfect place to relax after a spot of shopping – and the coffee here is excellent too.
The Libreria del Pensativo (Pensive Bookstore) first opened in 1987 in Antigua Guatemala and has since expanded to the capital. This unique bookstore is also a progressive publishing house which aims to provide the public with books that promote a critical view of Guatemala, foster creativity and develop new possibilities. Today Librería del Pensativo doubles up as a meeting space where creative types come to exchange ideas, showcase new work and get involved with cultural activities. Here you can purchase an incredibly thought-provoking selection of books, and its quiet ambiance provides a lovely environment to quietly read in. Libreria del Pensativo, 13 Calle/7 Avenida, Zona 9, Guatemala City, Guatemala
If you’re looking to read while enjoying a coffee, head to Watson Books And Coffee in Zone 16. Part cafe, part bookstore, there’s a good selection of new and old books available to purchase here, as well as many copies just lying around the store that you can dip into over a drink and snack. With a laid-back, quiet ambience, it’s a great place to bring your laptop if you need to work, and the excellent selection of coffee will keep you fueled for hours. The food is also delicious, so if you want to spend the day relaxing, reading and eating, you won’t find a better place in the city.
Mundo de los Libros is one bookstore you definitely won’t stumble upon accidentally; located inside the Pan Am building, there’s no sign outside or any suggestion that a treasure trove of books awaits up the stairs. Keep an eye out for the Saúl restaurant and the Lux Theater, and when you’re outside, head up to the first floor to browse thousands of books. Here you’ll find an eclectic collection of books, most in Spanish. It remains to be seen whether the secretive nature of this bookstore is deliberate, or just because it only opened in September and they haven’t got around to putting up signs yet!