If you consider yourself a true bookworm then there’s simply no better way to explore a new city than through its best bookstores. Offering a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle, and of course plenty of books, bookshops are the perfect addition to any travel itinerary.
From surreal castle-like bookshops to historical literary havens, here are some of the most incredible bookshops you should visit on your travels.
Libreria Acqua Alta
Translating to high water bookshop, Libreria Acqua Alta is one of Venice’s many hidden gems perched along with one of the floating city’s many canals. Jam-packed full of books old and new, many who visit this eclectic bookshop come just to see the various ways in which owner Luigi Frizzo has stored the shop’s many books. From a gondola to wine barrels and a bathtub, books are piled high in strange places in the event of flooding.
Often attracting plenty of tourists, Libreria Acqua Alta also offers a staircase made of books you can climb as well as friendly cats that frequent the shop.
Shakespeare and Company
Situated on rue de la Bûcherie in Paris, Shakespeare and Company is easily the city’s most famous bookstore and an attraction in its own right. Opened by George Whitman in 1951, Shakespeare and Company have not only served as an English bookshop on Paris’ Left Bank but also a place to stay for aspiring writers throughout its more than 70-year history. In exchange for helping around the shop and writing a page for the shop’s archives, writers were able to sleep in one of Shakespeare’s beds. An estimated more than 30,000 people have stayed overnight at this iconic bookshop.
Considered a New York institution, the Strand has been providing new and used books to New Yorkers for more than 90 years. As the only surviving bookshop from the city’s historical ‘Book Row’, the Strand is one of the few non-commercialized bookshops and one of the largest in the city. Boasting ’23 miles’ of books, locals and tourists alike continue to return to the Strand for its incredible selection and historical value to the literary life of New York.
As one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal, Livraria Lello features plenty of heritage charm including a stunning stained glass ceiling, incredible forked staircase and no shortage of intricate Art Deco finishes. Dating back to 1881, the Libraria Lello is one of Porto’s most visited attractions with the bookshop now having to open on a ticket-only entry; thousands would flock to take some snaps of the breathtaking architecture inside and often not buy a book before leaving.
Livraria Lello is often referred to as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, and it’s not hard to see why.
Opened in 1797 by the publisher and anti-slavery campaigner, John Hatchard, Hatchard’s is London’s oldest and most loved bookshop. Located on the bustling Picadilly, Hatchard’s has welcomed some of the most famous writers to date through its doors, including Oscar Wilde, and continues to be a haven for authors and book lovers alike, offering new bestsellers and collector’s copies.
Housed in an incredible gothic church dating back to the late 1200s, Boekhandel Dominicanen in Maastricht offers beautiful surroundings to its shoppers. With incredibly high ceilings, an altar, and light cascading through its windows, this Dutch bookshop attracts plenty of visitors, being a tourist attraction as well as a bookshop. In addition to beautiful gothic architecture, Boekhandel Dominicanen also offers a range of English books and a coffee shop.
Located in Chengdu, China, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge is a simply jaw-dropping bookshop that uses black flooring and mirrored ceilings to create the illusion of infinitely spiraling towers of bookshelves. While the incredible bookshop only opened in October 2021, the store already boasts a collection of more than 80,000 books, according to an article in Architectural Digest. With tall arched and curved shelves and twisting staircases, Dujiangyan Zhongshuge is easily one of the most visually stunning and surreal bookshops in the world.
This article originally appeared on Fancy