As a self-proclaimed book lover, I’ve always found solace and adventure between the pages of a good book. There’s something magical about stepping into a bookstore and being surrounded by shelves filled with endless stories. Whether you’re a traveler looking for a literary gem or a bookworm in search of your next read, these bookstores from around the world will leave you awestruck. Let’s embark on a journey to discover the 15 best bookstores in the world that will blow your mind!

1. Shakespeare and Company – Paris, France

A Literary Haven

Shakespeare and Company isn’t just a bookstore; it’s a literary institution. Founded in 1951 by George Whitman, this English-language bookstore on the banks of the Seine has been a haven for writers and readers alike. Imagine walking the same aisles that Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce once did. It’s an experience every book lover dreams of.

The Bohemian Ambiance

The charm of Shakespeare and Company lies in its bohemian ambiance. The narrow, winding aisles are filled with books stacked from floor to ceiling. There’s a cozy reading room upstairs, and if you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a poetry reading or an impromptu jazz performance. It’s the perfect place to lose yourself in a book and the history that surrounds you.

2. El Ateneo Grand Splendid – Buenos Aires, Argentina

A Theatrical Transformation

El Ateneo Grand Splendid is nothing short of grand. Housed in a former theater, this bookstore retains the opulence of its previous life. The stage, once graced by performers, now serves as a café where you can sip a latte while diving into your latest literary find.

Browsing in Grandeur

Walking into El Ateneo Grand Splendid feels like stepping onto a stage yourself. The balconies, ornate carvings, and crimson curtains create a majestic atmosphere. It’s not just about the books here; it’s about the experience. Don’t forget to look up at the beautifully painted ceiling – it’s a masterpiece in itself.

3. Powell’s City of Books – Portland, Oregon, USA

The Largest Independent Bookstore

Powell’s City of Books is a book lover’s paradise. Covering an entire city block, it boasts the title of the largest independent bookstore in the world. With over a million books in stock, there’s something for everyone here.

A Community Hub

What makes Powell’s special is its role in the community. It’s not just a place to buy books; it’s a place to connect with other readers. They host numerous author events, book signings, and even have a dedicated Rare Book Room. I remember finding a first edition of a beloved classic here, and it felt like discovering buried treasure.

4. Livraria Lello – Porto, Portugal

Art Nouveau Splendor

Livraria Lello is often touted as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The stunning Art Nouveau design, with its intricate wooden carvings and stained-glass ceiling, makes it a must-visit for any book lover.

Harry Potter Connection

For fans of J.K. Rowling, Livraria Lello holds a special place. It’s rumored that this bookstore inspired the Hogwarts Library. Walking up the iconic red staircase feels like stepping into a magical world. When I visited, I half-expected to see Hermione browsing the shelves.

5. Daunt Books – London, UK

Travel Literature Wonderland

Daunt Books is a haven for travelers. Specializing in travel literature, the store is organized by country, making it easy to find books about your next destination. Whether you’re looking for travel guides, novels set in far-off lands, or historical accounts, Daunt Books has it all.

Edwardian Elegance

The store itself is a sight to behold. The Edwardian decor, complete with oak galleries and skylights, creates a serene atmosphere perfect for getting lost in a book. One of my favorite memories is discovering a rare travel journal tucked away in a corner – a true gem.

6. Bart’s Books – Ojai, California, USA

An Open-Air Experience

Bart’s Books is unlike any other bookstore you’ll find. This open-air bookstore lets you browse under the blue skies of California. The shelves are lined with books, and you’ll even find some placed outside the store for after-hours browsing.

Quaint and Charming

There’s something incredibly charming about Bart’s Books. The honor system for purchasing books after hours adds a quaint touch. It’s a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon, sipping coffee and perusing the shelves. On my visit, I found a delightful collection of vintage cookbooks – a treasure trove for any culinary enthusiast.

7. City Lights Booksellers & Publishers – San Francisco, California, USA

Beat Generation Landmark

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers is a cornerstone of San Francisco’s literary history. Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, it played a pivotal role in the Beat Generation. The store’s legacy is palpable, and its commitment to progressive literature continues to this day.

A Cultural Hub

City Lights isn’t just a bookstore; it’s a cultural hub. The store’s selection of poetry, literature, and political works is unmatched. I spent hours here, drawn into the rich history and vibrant community events. It’s a place where you can feel the pulse of San Francisco’s literary scene.

8. Libreria Acqua Alta – Venice, Italy

Whimsical and Eclectic

Libreria Acqua Alta is one of the most unique bookstores you’ll ever visit. Located in the heart of Venice, this bookstore stores its books in gondolas, bathtubs, and even barrels to protect them from flooding.

A Book Lover’s Dream

The eclectic arrangement adds to the charm of this bookstore. Browsing through the shelves feels like a treasure hunt. The view of the canal from inside the store is breathtaking.

9. Munro’s Books – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Neo-Classical Beauty

Munro’s Books is set in a stunning neo-classical building that’s as beautiful as the books it houses. The grand columns and high ceilings create a serene environment perfect for book browsing.

A Curated Collection

Munro’s offers a well-curated selection of books, making it easy to find something you’ll love. The staff’s recommendations are spot on, and I found some fantastic reads based on their suggestions. It’s a place that truly caters to book lovers.

10. Selexyz Dominicanen – Maastricht, Netherlands

A Church Turned Bookstore

Selexyz Dominicanen is a breathtaking bookstore housed in a 13th-century Dominican church. The stunning blend of historical architecture with modern design elements creates a truly unique atmosphere.

Awe-Inspiring Atmosphere

Walking into Selexyz Dominicanen is an awe-inspiring experience. The towering ceilings and stained-glass windows provide a serene backdrop for book browsing. The in-store café is the perfect spot to enjoy a book with a cup of coffee. It’s a place where history and literature intertwine beautifully.

11. Books Kinokuniya – Tokyo, Japan

A Diverse Selection

Books Kinokuniya is a major chain in Japan known for its vast selection of books in multiple languages. Whether you’re looking for manga, art books, or foreign literature, Kinokuniya has it all.

A Favorite Among Locals and Tourists

This bookstore is a favorite among both locals and tourists. The organized layout and extensive collection make it easy to find what you’re looking for. You will love browsing through the manga section and discovering new titles that aren’t widely available outside Japan.

12. Strand Bookstore – New York City, New York, USA

Greenwich Village, NYC

“18 Miles of Books”

Strand Bookstore is an iconic fixture in New York City. Famous for its “18 miles of books,” this bookstore offers an extensive range of new, used, and rare books.

Literary Events and More

Strand isn’t just about the books; it’s also a hub for literary events. From author signings to book clubs, there’s always something happening here. I have fond memories of attending a reading by one of my favorite authors and finding a rare first edition in their rare books section.

13. The Last Bookstore – Los Angeles, California, USA

Artistic and Quirky

The Last Bookstore is a must-visit for its artistic installations and unique book displays. The creative layout makes browsing an adventure.

Instagram-Worthy Spots

One of the highlights of The Last Bookstore is the book tunnel – a perfect spot for an Instagram photo. The store’s quirky vibe and artistic displays make it a fun place to explore. I spent hours here, captivated by the creativity and discovering unique books.

14. Boekhandel Dominicanen – Maastricht, Netherlands


Historical Significance

Boekhandel Dominicanen, also in Maastricht, is another stunning bookstore set in a former church. The historical significance and beautiful design make it a unique place to visit.

Modern Design in a Historic Setting

The modern bookstore design within the old church creates a fascinating contrast. The serene and inspiring atmosphere makes it a perfect place to immerse yourself in a good book. It’s a place where the past and present come together beautifully.

15. Word on the Water – London, UK

A Floating Bookstore

Word on the Water is a charming floating bookstore on a 1920s Dutch barge. Moored on the Regent’s Canal, it offers a unique book-shopping experience.

Cozy and Inviting

The cozy, inviting atmosphere of Word on the Water makes it a perfect spot for book lovers. The barge is filled with a carefully curated selection of books, and the occasional live music performance adds to the charm. I loved browsing the shelves while gently rocking on the water.


Exploring these bookstores around the world is more than just a shopping trip; it’s an adventure. Each one offers a unique experience, whether it’s the historical significance of Shakespeare and Company, the grandeur of El Ateneo Grand Splendid, or the whimsical charm of Libreria Acqua Alta. These bookstores are a testament to the enduring magic of books and the special places that house them. So pack your bags, grab your reading list, and embark on a literary journey to discover these 15 best bookstores in the world that will blow your mind!

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