These Are the 13 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World 

| © and courtesy Ellie Azzam / @traveling.lens

Social Media Editor

Who doesn’t love books? They hold the key to a new world each time we open them and few things beat the feeling of turning a page to discover what a character will do next. Equally, shopping for books is pretty great as well, especially if it’s in one of these 13 most beautiful bookstores in the world.

Boekhandel Dominicanen

Maastricht, the Netherlands

This bookstore is quite possibly located in the most unique and magical setting ever – a 700+-year-old church! Browse the shelves while standing in actual history and please don’t forget to take pictures, because this place is beyond stunning. They get bonus points for their pet-friendly policy too!

Shakespeare and Company

Paris, France

One of the most historical bookshops in the world, Shakespeare and Co. is a haven of English-language literature in the heart of Paris, France. The original Shakespeare and Co. dates back to 1919 and was a popular hangout for American writers in the 1920s, including Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The shop that exists today was started as an homage to the original in 1951.

Libreria Acqua Alta

Venice Italy

Possibly the only bookstore to use gondolas and bathtubs as shelves, this boutique in Venice, Italy is absolutely dreamy. It is also home to many cats, who will hang out with you while you browse.


London, UK

This majestic bookshop is the oldest in all of London and has been open since 1797! The booksellers specialise in signed editions and their building in Piccadilly Circus epitomises literary glamour.

City Lights

San Francisco, USA

Founded in 1953 by Beat icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti, this independent bookstore in San Francisco’s focus is on world literature, the arts and progressive politics. It is also America’s first all-paperback bookshop, making the page-turners on offer as affordable as they are fascinating.

Livraria Lello

Porto, Portugal

Self-proclaimed ‘most beautiful bookstore in the world’ on their website, Livraria Lello in Porto definitely gives its fellow bookshops a run for their money. It is absolutely breathtaking – no wonder it’s rumoured to have served as inspiration for JK Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts in Harry Potter!

Book and Bed

Tokyo, Japan

A bookstore-themed hostel in Tokyo, Book and Bed is the literal dream. Where else can you spend the night entirely surrounded by bookshelves?

El Ateneo Grand Splendid

Buenos Aires, Argentina

A true feast for the eyes, this theatre in Argentina was transformed into a bookstore and is now basically the closest thing to the library in Beauty and the Beast that we will ever see in real life.

Strand Bookstore

New York, New York

Eighteen miles of books in the middle of New York City, Strand Bookstore was established in 1927 and has been Manhattan’s most famous bookshop ever since.

Les Bouquinistes

Paris, France

Located along Paris’s river Seine, this is not one bookstore but rather multiple book stalls. Especially inviting on a summer’s day, this is probably the most picturesque place on the planet to buy a book and you’ll have more than your share to choose from too.

Secret Headquarters

Los Angeles, California

Perhaps more exceptionally cool than beautiful, Secret Headquarters is an LA icon for comics and ‘zines. They also host art shows, which obviously adds to the wow factor.

Scarthin Books

The Peak District, UK

This quaint shop has gone from one room to twelve since its opening in 1974, but has retained the homey and cosy feel of its humble beginnings.

El Pendulo

Mexico City, Mexico

A wonderland of books in Mexico City, El Pendulo bookshop and café sells mostly Spanish language books but also has an English section for tourists. It is absolutely charming and beautiful, and is definitely not short on books – just look at those shelves!

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Edit article