Everyone has their own happy place, and for me, it's the bookstore. Warm, cozy, and filled with that new (and sometimes old) book smell, there is no better place to spend your time — or your money — especially when you're talking about the world's most beautiful bookstores. From the scenic seaside cliffs of Greece to the countryside of England, these shops will make you want to pack up and leave right away — just make sure you leave room in your carry on for your bookstore purchases while you're there.
Unlike most types of stores, bookstores do more than just sell you things; they provide you with an experience. Their shelves are filled with exciting stories, new friends, important history lessons, and much-needed breaks from reality. Their calendar is loaded with author talks, panel discussion, book club meetings, and all kinds of events, book related and not. Bookstores are more than just stores. They are cultural institutions that provide communities with a place to gather and engage with art, learning, and each other.
Not to mention, they're usually pretty beautiful.
From repurposed castles to renovated barns, modern designs to classic looks, these bookstores are breathtaking, inside and out. Get your vacation planner ready, because you're definitely going to want to add these 15 of world's most beautiful bookstores to your summer's travel agenda.
1Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
Walking into Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal, is like walking onto the set of Harry Potter. This 110-year-old bookshop was opened in 1906 by two brothers, José and António Lello, and features winding staircases, stained glass windows, wood carving, and plenty of great reads.
2Cook & Book, Brussels, Belgium
The Cook & Book Cafe / Bookstore in Brussels, Belgium*— Literature & Books (@Lit_Books) August 11, 2014
Go to the bookstore, drink coffee and read!
Located in Brussels, Cook & Book's expansive space features nine different thematic spaces, each with their own feeling and offerings. In addition to a robust children's section, comic books section, and a travel section that includes an Airstream trailer, this sprawling bookshop has plenty of great reads and delicious bites to keep book-lovers busy all day.
3Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece
Who needs beach reading when you can have cliffside bookshop reading? At Atlantis Books in Santorini, Greece, visitors can pick out their next read, attend a literary festival, watch a film screening, or go to a "good old fashioned dance party" while taking in the breathtaking views offered by this little bookshop built below an old castle.
4El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Built in an old theater, this magnificent bookshop in Buenos Aires is like something out of a bookish fairy tale. Featuring frescoed ceilings, ornate decorations, and balconies filled with books, El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookshop is a must-stop-shop for book-lovers on the road.
5The Bookàbar Bookshop, Rome, Italy
World's most beautiful bookstores: Modern design at its finest. The Bookàbar Bookshop in Rome, Italy. pic.twitter.com/uC3q2lpNlK— Hamline Bookstore (@HamlineBooks) March 9, 2016
You may know Rome for its ancient architecture, but at The Bookàbar Bookshop, it's nothing but new books and modern design. Home to books, music, art, and more, this is a dream destination for readers who want to brush up on art, design, and architecture in a unique setting.
6Waanders In de Broeren, Zwolle, Netherlands
A large shop with three floors and more books than you could read in a visit, Waanders In de Broeren in the Netherlands is actually a renovated old Dominican church. Many of the original features still exist, including the original plaster molding, despite its more modern and updated look.
7The Bookworm, Beijing, China
Another Harry Potter-esque store, The Bookworm in Beijing is a bookshop and cafe that you'll want to visit at night. Featuring large glass panel windows and floating candles, reading in here is like stopping off at Hogwarts for an evening.
8Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico
When it's too hot to read outside, find a nature paradise indoors at Mexico City's Cafebreria El Pendulo. This multi-level bookstore and cafe offers piles upon piles of books, movies, and music, as well as delicious pastries and a beautiful view inside.
9The American Book Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Get lost in one of the many nooks and cranny's of The American Book Center in Amsterdam. Featuring an enormous collection of English-language books, reading rooms, and even an indoor tree or two, this gorgeous space is worth taking an entire afternoon to explore.
10Barter Books, Northumberland, UK
There are a lot of cozy bookshops in the U.K., but none cozier than Barter Books in Alnwick. Specializing in used and special books, this unique store features lit fireplaces, a breathtaking skylight, a model railway, three 40-foot murals, and more.
11Baldwin's Book Barn, Pennsylvania
From mills to churches, many types of buildings have been repurposed for bookstores. At Baldwin's, they've transformed a five-story barn into a gorgeous bookshop featuring book floors, wood-burning stoves, and stunning architecture. Stepping foot inside Baldwin's is like going back in time, and visitors will want to savor every moment.
12Poplar Kid's Republic, Beijing, China
Poplar Kid's Republic Bookstore in Beijing ☆— F. L. (@fanciersols) July 14, 2016
Floored by this imaginative concept! And those reading nooks 😍 pic.twitter.com/N7hEbr3SKp
If you have a young reader in your life, make sure you bring them along when you visit Poplar Kids Republic in Beijing, China. A bright and bold bookshop featuring fun and interactive design and more reading nooks than you could ever find in one visit, this is a bookstore that reminds visitors how fun reading can be.
13Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy
When the owners of Libreria Acqua Alta realized their flooding problems weren't going anywhere, they decided to make it work instead of move. That's why in this unique Venice bookshop, you'll find collections of books stored in tubs, boats, and canoes instead of traditional bookshelves. A unique shop unlike any other, this store will make you want to buy an entire boatload of books and paddle out into into the sea with them.
14Waterstone's Bradford Wool Exchange, UK
This photo from Michael Beckwith is wonderful - I think he got one of our good angles! pic.twitter.com/La8Wajy5Vj— Waterstones Bradford (@WaterstonesBD1) March 6, 2017
Waterstones may be a large chain bookseller, but their Bradford location is anything but corporate. Build inside an old wool exchange building, this beautiful store features a large Peter Pan-esque clock tower, pink granite columns, wrought-iron decorations, and an unforgettable hammer-beam room.
15Faulkner House Books, New Orleans
William Faulkner wrote his 1st novel Soldiers’ Pay in New Orleans (1926). Now his house turned into a bookshop. Cool! pic.twitter.com/FUcZYOfl8i— Literature & Books (@Lit_Books) May 19, 2014
Small but mighty, this New Orleans bookshop, built inside William Faulkner's old home, is a must-see for U.S. book-lovers. Faulkner House Books features chandeliers, built-in shelving, and that signature NOLA charm.