The Best Bookstores Around the World.

The Best Bookstores Around the World.

Hey friends! Today, I have a really exciting post for your guys. I collaborated with several other amazing travel bloggers (and book lovers) and compiled a list of the best bookstores in the world! This is an extremely comprehensive guide and all of these places are worth adding to your itinerary. Do you have a bookstore that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!


The Best Bookstores In The World


Shakespeare & Company – Paris, France

Luke & Meagan of Two Restless Homebodies 

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

When visiting a city steeped in history, you’re bound to come across more amazing bookstores than you can shake a stick at. One of the most famous of these literary attractions in Europe is Paris’s Shakespeare & Company. The only fully English language bookstore in the city, it seems a little incongruous – after all, who goes to Paris to speak or read English?! Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein, and Joyce, just to name a few. This bookstore’s original Left Bank incarnation helped nurture these Lost Generation authors as they came into their own, and is still known as a Mecca for English-speaking authors looking for Parisian inspiration and support.

And now, in its post-War location and staffed by hopeful writers bartering shop work for ambiance, this place is nothing short of a book lover’s dream come true. With everything from antique editions of timeless works to a bargain bin copy of IT to little €2 envelopes stashed with random, classic poems typed by the staff, the only thing about this place that you WON’T love is the line to get inside!

For more information about Shakespeare & Company, check out Luke & Meagan’s post.


These travel bloggers share what their favorite bookstores are, all around the world. Click To Tweet

Libreria Acqua Alta – Venice, Italy

Melissa of Suitcase and Heels

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

Tucked away on a tiny, quiet side street in Venice in Libreria Acqua Alta, is a pokey, overfilled bookstore. It may be small and unassuming but if you’ve been around on Instagram you’ve probably heard of it. The bookstore became Insta-famous for two features: inside the store, they have a gondola filled with books and outside the back of the shop they have a small patio with a staircase made from books leading to a great canal view.

It’s not surprising that Venice floods from time to time. It’s to be expected when your roads are made of water. Libreria Acqua Alta has solved the problem of ruined by keeping their merchandise up off the floor in the gondola and also in bathtubs and other waterproof bins. Pretty ingenious. And makes for a good photo op.

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

Follow Melissa on Facebook!


Tattered Cover – Denver, Colorado

Bri of Wondering & Wandering 😉 

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

I have been to bookstores near and far and none of them compare to the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, Colorado. I’ve been to both locations and love both locations, but my personal favorite is the one in the Aspen Grove mall in Littleton, Colorado because it’s a lot larger, cozier, and has a wider variety of books. I make a point to visit everytime I’m in the Denver area. I go into the store planning on buying only one book and I come out with about twenty more. That’s a pretty good problem to have, if I may say.

Related:   Denver Travel Guide

Powell’s City of Books – Portland, Oregon

Powell’s City of Books in Portland Oregon is one of the country’s (and worlds) best bookstores. It was founded in the late 70’s and has remained independently owned since, making it the largest independent bookseller in the United States. The flagship location takes up an entire city block and boasts 68,000 sq feet of retail space. One’s first foray into Powell’s can be incredibly overwhelming with the numerous color-coded rooms and multiple floors. It is so large that they even have a handy map of the store at the information counter. Powell’s combines new and used books throughout the store making the likely hood of you finding what you need (or didn’t need) higher. If rare books are your thing there is even a special room that you can check out their rare book collection in on the top floor. If you are a book lover Powell’s City of Books must be on your list of stores to visit as there truly is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.


Carturesti Carusel – Bucharest, Romania

Teresa of Brogan Broad

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

My favorite bookstore ever has to be Carturesti Carusel, one of the most instagrammable spots in Bucharest, Romania.

This beautifully-designed bookshop is not only a bookworm’s paradise, but it is an Instagrammer’s dream. It is a very open space where the light is really bright and it reflects off the white 3-level balconied shop. I love the splashes of color from the books on the shelves against the white background. The lovely classical style columns and dreamy spiral staircases take you directly to the first-floor balcony, where you can browse books in both Romanian and English. There is also a central staircase that takes you to the second level and to a sweet little bistro on the third floor. And why stop at books? There is also a gift and clothing store in the basement.

Follow Teresa’s adventures on Facebook!


Ler Devagar – Lisbon, Portugal

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

Ler Devagar is one of my favorite bookshops in Lisbon and in the world. The bookshop, which was originally based in the Bairro Alto, can be found at Lisbon’s uber-hipster LX Factory – just across the road from a café that claims to have the best chocolate cake in the world.
The premises were formerly a printing factory, and their new purpose as a bookshop just makes sense. Ler Devagar has even retained the two antique printing presses, which help to cement the industrial vibe that this bookstore gives off.
Ler Devagar literally means “read slowly” and that’s exactly what you’ll be inclined to do when you visit. Although most of the books are in Portuguese, it’s easy to spend half an hour or even an hour in the smaller English books section without even realizing it. Don’t worry if you do: this is a very relaxed bookshop. There’s even a café where you can get a coffee or a glass of wine and mull over any potential purchases.
To read more about the bookshops James has visited, check out this post!

El Ateneo Grand Splendid – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jeanette of Traveling Honey Bird

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

Photo by Ingrid of Second-Half Travels.

The most amazing bookstore I’ve ever had the pleasure of stumbling into was the El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A marvelous nearly 100-year-old theatre that has been converted into a multi-level bookstore and complete with a licensed cafe. Even though all the books were in Spanish it was an utter delight to be able to walk around the glamorous building and imagine the wonderful shows that would have once been on offer.

After strolling around the four levels of books it’s down to the center stage to experience a little bit of relaxation with a coffee or a wine. As you enjoy an afternoon treat it’s easy to drift away as you people watch. It’s hard not to imagine what it would have been like to have been an actor on this glorious stage. Just waiting for that moment when the heavy red curtains are pulled back.

To read more of Jeanette’s travels in South America, be sure to check out these posts.


El Péndulo – Mexico City, Mexico

Ingrid of Second-Half Travels

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

El Péndulo, Polanco, Mexico City

El Péndulo is an extraordinary chain of café-bookstores in Mexico City. Each location is uniquely gorgeous and features a huge selection of books, vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and gifts. A wonderful place for freelancers to work with free Wi-Fi or just to sit and chill with a coffee on the comfy sofas. The bookstores also double as performance spaces with regular live music, poetry readings, book presentations, and even stand-up comedy.
A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

The pendulum for which the bookstores are named.

The Polanco location is visually stunning and features a delightful treetop terrace, but the La Condesa branch is my favorite. Located in a vibrant historic neighborhood near two lush parks, it has a special cozy vibe that invites you to linger for hours. El Péndulo was a driving force behind the rebirth of La Condesa after the devastating Mexico City earthquake in 1985. The neighborhood was hit hard again by the September 2017 quake, but El Péndulo remains an enduring symbol of the resilient spirit of La Condesa’s residents.
Ingrid Truemper blogs at Second-Half Travels.

Palavra de Viajante – Lisbon, Portugal

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

There is nothing Instagrammable about Palavra de Viajante but I think it’s one of the most beautiful places to lose track of time in Lisbon. The true appeal of this bookstore in the Portuguese capital is that it (literally) holds the whole world inside its four walls – from guides to memoirs, from souvenirs to maps, all that is travel-related can be found here in Portuguese, English, and French. Looking for a specific travel book? You will probably find it here. If not, a quick chat with the owner will put you on the right track.

Unlike other bookstores, where books are organized by genre or by author, inside Palavra de Viajante each nook or cluster of shelves corresponds to one continent. You can hop from one to the next in a split second and find that book for inspiration or the guide with practical tips you were looking for but were having trouble finding elsewhere.


Rainy Day Books – Kansas City, Missouri

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit. Nestled in a neighborhood shopping center a five-minute drive west of Kansas City’s iconic, Seville-inspired Country Club Plaza is Rainy Day Books. Vivien Jennings founded Rainy Day Books, Kansas City’s only surviving independent bookseller, in 1975 when Amazon was just a river in South America. While Rainy Day Books doesn’t have the square footage you might expect from a massive bookstore chain, it does have a world-class author events calendar that brings more than 300 authors a year to Kansas City. From debut novelists with great expectations to household names like Dan Brown, John Grisham, and Stephen King, the authors present their latest works and take questions from the sold-out crowd. When’s the last time a big chain or online bookstore offered you 90 minutes of in-person time with your favorite award-winning author? Exactly. And if you happen to miss one of Rainy Day Books’ amazing author events, don’t fret. You can purchase select autographed books from their website or their store.

Pilsen Community Books – Chicago, Illinois

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit. Pilsen Community Books is an absolute dream! Tucked away in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, this place is the quintessential bookstore. I stopped in on a chilly day and was surprised at how cozy it was. While small, its walls are lined from floor to ceiling with books. They even have the old rolling ladders! I would estimate approximately 80% of their book selection is used and priced under $10. The owners choose their inventory meticulously, so everything looks brand new! When I visited I had to restrain myself from purchasing an entire suitcase worth of books to take home with me. And something I love especially is the fact that they give back through their Pilsen Reads! program. They’ve given away over 1,700 books to 28 classrooms in their community. The owners place a lot of importance and meaning in the “community” part of “Pilsen Community Books.” I love and admire that commitment to doing good.

While you’re in the neighborhood, Pilsen itself is also worth exploring! The area is bright and vibrant, with colorful murals lining the streets. Originally it was a Czech diaspora, but sometime around the mid 20th century, it saw a rise in the Hispanic demographic. Nowadays the Mexican influence is very obvious in the area. Thanks to the community’s diversity, you’ll find an array of vintage shops, coffee houses, panaderias, and restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine like tamales. Pilsen is a special, unique place. While the bookstore and the neighborhood may be little off the beaten path of Chicago’s must-see attractions, it’s definitely worth a visit!

Follow Katy on Facebook!


Red Emma’s – Baltimore, Maryland

Alissa of In Locamotion

I really love Red Emma’s in Baltimore, Maryland, though it is definitely not your typical bookstore! Red Emma’s is a radical bookstore (as well as a community space, coffee shop, and vegetarian/vegan café). A radical bookstore, for the folks who are unfamiliar, features books whose subject matter tackles the root causes of systemic injustices and oppressions throughout the word.  Thus, in Red Emma’s you find a large selection of books related to feminism, gender studies, queerness, race, class, environmental justice, and so much more. It’s a great place to go to brush up on your social justice knowledge. Also, Red Emma’s contains many books related to social movements and organizing within Baltimore itself. Some of my favorite picks from Red Emma’s are Excluded by Julia Serano, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and The Battle For Justice In Palestine by Ali Abunimah.

Follow Alissa’s travels on Facebook!


House of Books in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Dorota of Born Globals

A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

House of Books in Saint Petersburg wasn’t initially constructed to be a bookshop. It was designed and built for Singer Sewing Machine Company as its Russian headquarters. The company wanted to make it a skyscraper similar to the one they have in New York – however, in Saint Petersburg it was forbidden to build anything taller than the Winter Palace. Therefore, the architect needed to find a smart way to make the building stand out. And he did – the building has a beautiful glass tower topped with a globe. It is beautiful – and subtle.
The building served the Singer Company initially but it’s been a bookshop for almost 100 years now. Short after October Revolution in 1919 Petrograd State Publishing House received the building and it’s been serving as a bookshop with hardly any breaks since then.

For more ideas of places you need to see while visiting Saint Petersburg, Russia, check this out!


City Lights – San Francisco, California

Carol of Wayfaring ViewsA comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.

City Lights is a San Francisco institution founded in 1953 as a bookstore and performance venue. They gave voice to the Beat movement, publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and spotlighting authors like Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs. 64 years later, the store is still a touchstone for San Francisco’s ongoing counterculture.

The store still promotes ideas and creativity that sit squarely outside of the mainstream with a poetry room and an eclectic assortment of staff pics. You can wander around the upstairs fiction section or the basement nonfiction area, buy a book and then go up to the attic. There you’ll find the poetry room which is a great reading space with lots of light and cushy chairs.

If you’re thirsty…you can take your new book next door to the Vesuvio bar. The saloon was established in 1948 and was the chief watering hole for Neal Cassady, Dean Moriarty, Jack Kerouac and other Beats. After your beer, go and seek out other counter-culture spots in San Francisco and you’ll get to experience the true personality of the city.

Follow Carol on Facebook!


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A comprehensive guide to the best bookstores in the world, as told by professional travel bloggers and book lovers. These stores are all a must visit.
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Bri is the Harry Potter obsessed founder of Wondering & Wandering. When she's not blogging or traveling, you can usually find her in bed with a good book and a glass of wine.
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1 Comment

  1. December 24, 2017 / 10:15 am

    So many great bookstores! I’ve gratefully been to a few of these and totally agree that they are some of the best! The rest I’ll have to add to my bookstore bucket list. If I were to add another, it would be London’s Word on the Water, a bookstore on an old Dutch barge.

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