I travel quite a lot. And while I often plan my travel around places to eat, things to see and tourist attractions, more often than not, the first thing I look for is a list of cool bookstores.
There’s nothing I love more than browsing bookstores and libraries in my local area, but even more so when I’m abroad as I love to see the different variations of books on display.
And so, without further ado, here is a list of my favourite bookstores I’ve visited around the world.
1. Shakespeare & Company, Paris
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Nestled in the heart of Paris, is a legendary English-language bookstore that has captured the hearts of literary enthusiasts for generations.
Founded by George Whitman in 1951, this charming bookstore is not just a place to buy books but an iconic literary sanctuary. Its intimate, book-filled spaces have welcomed luminaries like James Baldwin, Anaïs Nin, and, of course, the Beat Generation writers.
A warm and inviting atmosphere greets visitors as they explore the labyrinthine shelves, antique typewriters, and cozy reading nooks. But Shakespeare & Company is more than just a bookstore; it’s a living tribute to the written word.
Visitors should come here to soak in the rich history and artistic inspiration that permeates the air, participate in poetry readings, or even attend literary events. Whether you’re a bookworm, a history buff, or simply seeking a respite from the bustling streets of Paris, a visit to Shakespeare & Company is a must for anyone who appreciates the magic of literature and the enduring spirit of the written word.
2. The Strand, New York City
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, United States
The Strand Bookstore, situated in the bustling heart of Manhattan, is an emblem of New York’s rich literary legacy. Established in 1927 by the Bass family, The Strand is an expansive labyrinth of literature, offering a staggering array of books that cater to all tastes and interests.
What sets The Strand apart is its sense of history and cultural significance. This landmark institution has not only been a hub for book lovers but also an essential part of New York’s cultural scene, with its iconic “18 miles of books.” It’s a place where history meets the present, where you can discover hidden treasures in the Rare Book Room or enjoy browsing the latest releases.
The Strand is a testament to the enduring importance of independent bookstores, and a visit here allows you to connect with the city’s dynamic literary culture.
3. Hodges Figgis, Dublin
56-58 Dawson St, Dublin 2, D02 XE81, Ireland
Hodges Figgis, located in the heart of Dublin, stands as a venerable institution in the world of books and a cherished cultural landmark. Established in 1768, it proudly claims the title of Ireland’s oldest bookstore, steeped in history and tradition.
As you step through its welcoming doors, you are transported to a world of literary wonder. The sprawling shelves are a treasure trove of books, from classic to contemporary, spanning a wide range of subjects.
Hodges Figgis not only showcases an extensive collection of literature but also serves as a hub for intellectual and artistic exchange. The store hosts book launches, author readings, and cultural events that enrich Dublin’s vibrant literary scene. Beyond its selection of books, the store’s charming ambiance, with its cozy reading corners and wooden interiors, invites visitors to linger, explore, and engage in the written word.
4. No Alibis, Belfast
83 Botanic Ave, Belfast BT7 1JL
Located in the vibrant heart of Belfast, is a cherished gem for book lovers and a hub for literary exploration. Established in 1997 by David Torrans, this independent bookstore has become an integral part of Belfast’s cultural landscape.
Upon entering, you’re immediately immersed in a world of captivating stories and diverse voices. No Alibis is celebrated for its extensive selection of crime fiction and mystery novels, a nod to the genre’s enduring popularity. However, it’s not limited to crime; the store also boasts an eclectic range of books spanning various genres and interests.
The cozy and inviting atmosphere, coupled with its knowledgeable and passionate staff, makes it a haven for book enthusiasts. Beyond its impressive book collection, No Alibis is a gathering place for authors, poets, and readers, hosting numerous literary events that enrich Belfast’s cultural tapestry.
5. Daunt Books, London
84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW
Daunt Books, nestled in the heart of London, is a literary haven that transports you to the world of adventure and exploration through the pages of its carefully curated books.
Established in 1990, this independent bookstore is a testament to the enduring charm of the written word and the power of travel literature. As you step inside, you’ll be struck by the enchanting Edwardian interior, complete with oak galleries and skylights, which exude a timeless elegance.
The books, neatly organized by country, beckon readers to embark on literary journeys to far-flung destinations, from the bustling bazaars of Marrakech to the serene landscapes of the Swiss Alps.
Daunt Books offers a captivating selection of travel guides, fiction, and non-fiction that allows you to explore the world from your armchair or plan your next adventure. The knowledgeable and passionate staff are always ready to offer recommendations and insights. The store’s commitment to hosting author events and literary discussions further cements its status as a cultural hub in London.
A visit to Daunt Books is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of travel literature, to discover new horizons, and to celebrate the art of storytelling. Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter, a novice traveler, or simply someone who craves the magic of a well-told tale, Daunt Books provides a warm and inviting space to embark on countless literary adventures.
6. Sweet Pickle Books, New York City
47 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States
Sweet Pickle Books, a hidden literary gem in the heart of New York, is a haven for children and parents alike. This charming independent bookstore is dedicated to nurturing young minds and fostering a lifelong love for reading.
Established with a passion for children’s literature, Sweet Pickle Books exudes warmth and creativity from the moment you step through its doors.
What sets Sweet Pickle Books apart is its commitment to diversity and inclusivity, offering a wide selection of books that celebrate various cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. The store’s cozy reading nook invites young readers to embark on magical journeys within the pages of their chosen books.
Plus, they also sell jars of pickles too!
7. The Book Exchange, Amsterdam
Kloveniersburgwal 58, 1012 CX Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Book Exchange in Amsterdam is a beloved and eclectic haven for book enthusiasts in the heart of this historic city. Founded on the principle of sharing the joy of reading, this unique bookstore offers a delightful blend of literary treasures and community spirit. Located in a charming canal-side building, The Book Exchange exudes an old-world charm, with its creaking wooden floors and shelves brimming with well-loved books.
What truly sets The Book Exchange apart is its distinctive concept of book swapping. Visitors are encouraged to bring in their pre-loved books and exchange them for new literary discoveries, creating a dynamic and ever-evolving collection. The result is a diverse selection of genres, languages, and topics, offering something for every reader’s taste.
The cozy reading corners, vintage armchairs, and quiet nooks make The Book Exchange an inviting place to browse, linger, and lose oneself in the written word. The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always ready to engage in bookish conversations or provide recommendations.
The Book Exchange’s commitment to promoting reading extends to hosting book clubs, author events, and literary discussions, making it a thriving hub for book lovers in Amsterdam.
8. The Open Door Bookshop, Rome
Via della Lungaretta, 23, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
The Open Door Bookshop in Rome, Italy, is a literary oasis nestled in the heart of the Eternal City. Established in 1978, this independent bookstore exudes an enchanting charm that has captivated bibliophiles and travelers from around the world. The moment you step through its doors, you are transported to a world of books, history, and the timeless magic of literature.
The Open Door Bookshop is a treasure trove of rare and antique books, maps, and prints, making it a haven for collectors and aficionados of all things literary and historical. The shelves are lined with a carefully curated selection of volumes that span various genres and languages, each with its own unique story to tell.
The store’s ambiance, with its weathered wooden bookcases and cozy reading corners, invites visitors to browse at their leisure and lose themselves in the pages of a classic or a newly discovered gem.
9. P&T Knitwear, New York City
180 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States
P&T Knitwear Bookstore, Coffee, & Podcast Studio is a multifaceted haven for both bibliophiles and coffee enthusiasts in the bustling heart of New York. This unique establishment beautifully combines the cozy charm of a bookstore with the aromatic allure of a coffee shop and the engaging world of podcasts.
As you enter, you are greeted by the inviting aroma of freshly brewed coffee, which mingles harmoniously with the comforting scent of books. The shelves are brimming with a thoughtfully curated selection of literary works, spanning various genres and interests. Whether you’re searching for a classic novel, the latest bestseller, or a hidden gem, P&T Knitwear’s book collection has something for every reader.
The coffee bar, with its skilled baristas crafting specialty brews, offers a delightful range of coffee and tea options, making it the perfect spot to enjoy your favorite book or engage in lively conversations with fellow patrons.
The Podcast Studio is an added dimension to this unique space, where creators and podcast enthusiasts can record, edit, and collaborate on their audio content. It’s a hub for storytelling, discussion, and the exchange of ideas.
What truly sets P&T Knitwear apart is its commitment to creating a community hub where bookworms, coffee aficionados, and podcast enthusiasts can come together. The cozy reading nooks and collaborative spaces provide a welcoming environment for book clubs, open mic nights, and podcasting workshops.