Arts and Culture

The 10 most unique bookstores around the world

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Between e-readers and film versions, it can sometimes seem like books are destined to become artefacts of the past – and, with them, bookstores. However, bookworms and lovers of literature can still rejoice in the resilience of a few truly remarkable bookstores across the globe. 

Here are 10 of the most unique bookstores from around the world. 

1. The Last Bookstore 

Los Angeles, California  

While flipping through the pages of a book might not be the first thought that comes to mind while visiting Los Angeles, you won’t regret stopping by The Last Bookstore in the heart of the city. 

Not only is it the largest venue of its type in the state, its design is simply stunning. From the Victorian drawing room to the Bohemian loft, there’s a little something for everyone. 

2. Libreria Acqua Alta

Venice, Italy  

The ‘bookstore of the high water’, as its name means, is one of the many treasures you’ll find in Venice. Bursting at the seams with new and used books, the tomes are displayed in tubs, boats, barrels and gondolas – particularly fitting for the city of canals. Check out the staircase made of old encyclopaedias. 

Curl up with a good read while travelling the world.Curl up with a good read while travelling the world.

3. Livraria Lello 

Porto, Portugal  

Elegant red-carpet staircases, stained glass ceilings and intricate wall designs, this bookstore inspired the setting for Harry Potter. Unlike many of the most unique and memorable bookstores that were converted from older buildings, this one was purposefully created to foster a remarkable atmosphere for book lovers.

4. La Villa del Libro

Valladolid, Castile-Leon, Spain 

Why settle for a bookstore when you can have an entire mediaeval villa devoted to literature? In addition to a defensive wall, castle and churches, this charming Valladolid village has 12 bookshops and activities that celebrate literary culture. 

5. Selexyz Dominicanen  

Maastricht, The Netherlands 

When you transform a 13th-century church into a bookstore, the results are magnificent indeed. The Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht has lined the tall, graceful halls of the Dominican church with colourful tomes that you can peruse while taking in the original architecture and artwork. 

While visiting The Netherlands, be sure to stop by Maastricht's iconic bookstore.While visiting The Netherlands, be sure to stop by Maastricht’s iconic bookstore.

6. Atlantis Books 

Santorini, Greece  

As far as atmosphere goes, you can’t get much better than Atlantis Books in Santorini. A holiday in Greece is an escape in itself, with gorgeous seascapes and islands at your disposal. This bookstore fits right in, providing an island bookshop, reading hideaway and cultural centre like no other.  

7. Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid

Buenos Aires, Argentina 

Aside from a church, what makes a spectacular re-purposed venue for a bookshop? A theatre, and that’s just what El Ateneo did in downtown Buenos Aires. Feel the full elegance and extravagance of the 1920s stage and balconies while selecting a book to enjoy in one of the theatre-box reading rooms. 

Where will you discover your next page-turner?Where will you discover your next page-turner?

8. Daunt Books

London, England   

Rich woodwork, arched windows and glass skylights to flood the room with natural rays, the Daunt Books of Marylebone High Street in London is the original location for the beloved chain. The Edwardian atmosphere is quiet and elevated, like an academic library, so you’ll feel smarter just by setting foot inside. 

9. The Bookworm 

Beijing, China  

Whether you want to buy or borrow, this bookshop has both local and foreign titles, including books that are officially banned in the country. With tent-like fabric cascading along the ceiling and candles dangling magically above you, the ambience will transport you to your favourite literary escapes. 

Lanterns create a mystical atmosphere as you dive into your favourite  fantasy.Lanterns or candles create a mystical atmosphere as you dive into your favourite fantasy.

10. Shakespeare and Company 

Paris, France 

Located on the Parisian Left Bank, this English-language bookshop has hosted elite company, indeed. The likes of Ernest Hemingway, George Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and other literary giants gathered at the original location. The current store pays homage to that history, hosting literary expats in beds above its shelves since 1951. Now, you can join free literary events and soak in the remarkable atmosphere of the 17th-century building.

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