Enchanting bookstores around the world

Posted by Imogen on 8 February 2019

There’s something special about a bookstore. Getting lost in a foreign land with your favourite fictional character, or curling up in the reading corner letting the time pass you by can be as good as any travel adventure. At some stores, you may even enjoy the swirling aroma of coffee in the air as you search for that title you’ve always wanted to read.

Book-lovers can attest to the fact that visiting a bookstore is an enthralling experience, especially when the store itself is filled to the brim with over 100,000 books, or happens to be inside an old theater. Here are some of the world’s most beautiful book havens to dig for titles to add to your personal library.


1. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Stained-glass decorations and wooden finishes make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you enter this bookshop. Livraria Lello opened its doors in 1969 and it’s easy to see why it’s been named the world’s most beautiful bookstore multiple times.


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Porto is home to one of the most beautiful bookstores of the world: Livraria Lello e Irmão. Have you been here? It’s said that JK Rowling got inspiration from it for Harry Potter, so you definitely can’t miss it if you visit this city! 🇵🇹📚 . 📸 @joethommas

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2. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

A bookstore with a view, a cat and many first-edition titles — there are few greater combinations. Atlantis Books is situated in the basement of an iconic whitewashed house on Greece’s most romantic island, Santorini.

3. 10 Corso Como, Milan, Italy

When it comes to Milan, attention to detail is everything and 10 Corso Como is testament to this fact. From the outside it appears unassuming, but this is in fact a bookshop unlike any other. Founded in 1991 by former Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Carla Sozzani, it’s no wonder that alongside the bookstore, there is a high-end clothing store, a hotel and an exquisite garden where you can sip espresso and read the day away.

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4. Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

Close to St Marks Square along the canals sits this Italian gem. With over 100,000 books and a cat or two to keep you company, you can go book-hunting here in a gondola, in a bath or in a boat. The store’s owner, Luigi Frizzo, will also help you find the perfect read for your holiday if you require assistance. This bookstore encompasses all things Venice, including the occasional flooding, however, the books are kept out of harm’s way and never damaged.

5. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

Founded in 1951 and opened inside a 17th century building, this bookshop is well worth a visit when you’re wandering the streets of Paris. Located in the 5th arrondissement, take the time to explore the incredible book selection both inside and outside Shakespeare and Company.

6. Hatchards, London, England

London’s oldest bookstore, Hatchards is perfect for both book and history lovers. The store was established in 1797 and its shelves are stocked with the latest books to browse through.


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Flags flying proudly over London’s oldest bookshop.

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7. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Built inside a century-old theater, this bookshop is beyond charming. Take the time to explore each floor and soak up the rich culture El Ateneo Grand Splendid represents. A massive fresco by the Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi decorates the ceiling, and is reason enough to visit the store.


If you’re looking to get immersed in the world of reading, pay a visit to some of South Africa’s most beautiful libraries.


Image: Unsplash

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