Book lovers rejoice! These dreamy bookshops around the world will inspire your future travels. Plus, enjoy locally-inspired reads in each location.

I once took a Kindle backpacking in an attempt to reduce the weight of my bag. Approximately a week into the trip, I sat on it and broke it, and from that point forward I was heavily reliant on hostel book swaps.

Over the coming weeks, I devoured grubby paperback after grubby paperback of the adventures of two eccentric old Scottish ladies who went around solving crimes with their Shih Tzus.

I must have been tailing someone with very niche taste.

Entertaining though their escapades were, a woman cannot live on murder mysteries alone. So my first stop in the towns that I passed through turned toward the local bookshop.

These visits became one of my travel highlights and I’ve never bothered taking a Kindle on a trip since.

In the same way that I love to revisit a favourite book (I’ve never forgiven my ex-boyfriend for not returning my battered, much-thumbed copy of To Kill A Mockingbird), I’m also prone to revisit a place, so this list is rather European and South American-centric.

Editor’s note: Do you have a favorite local bookshop where you live or wherever you’ve traveled? Let us know so we can add to this list!

From my travels thus far, here are some of my favourite bookshops in various countries around the world. Plus, a recommended book to read while you travel in that destination!

Dreamy Bookshops for Travelling Book Lovers

girl reading book on brown wooden table
Photo by cottonbro on

Libros del Pasaje in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Libros del Pasaje bookshop in Buenos Aires - a travelling book lover's dream come true
Photo credit Anna Richards

If heaven exists, it will take the form of this bookshop. I once went every day for a week. Libros del Pasaje has tall wooden ladders and bookshelves that stretch floor to ceiling.

I feel like Belle from Beauty and the Beast whenever I go, hanging from the ladder and adding yet another novel to my growing pile.

The fantastic café is open all day, which means that you can enjoy crumbly, dulce de leche-filled alfajores over your latest purchase.

Buenos Aires has countless incredible bookshops (would you expect anything less from the city that gave us Borges?), but this one is my favourite by a mile.

What to read?

Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

Take it for a stroll along Jorge Luis Borges Street if you want to go all-out fangirl. It’s the next street down from the bookshop.

Read next: Solo camping in Argentina

Massolit in Krakow, Poland

Come for the melt-in-the-mouth peanut butter cake and stay for the impressive array of English-language books by Polish authors.

Massolit smells like polished wood and old books. If I could bottle this and make a perfume out of it, then I’d wear it daily.

Look out for the section of books by Ryszard Kapúciński, Poland’s first foreign correspondent turned travel writer.

What to read?

Another Day of Life by Ryszard Kapúciński

Travel across continents in your mind, from Poland to Angola at the time of the Angolan Civil War.

Post-war Poland didn’t have the budget to chauffeur-drive or fly their foreign correspondents from place to place to be first to the action, but Kapúciński’s way of travelling brought him into contact with far more interesting people.

Visiting Poland? Join us at WITS Gdansk!

Beerwolf Books in Falmouth, Cornwall (UK)

Beerwolf Books in Falmouth Cornwall
Photo credit Anna Richards

“Tired of beer and books, tired of life,” as the old saying goes. Oh, wait, maybe that was “Tired of London..”.

The sentiment is the same though. Pint, potter, peruse, repeat.

A big bonus here is that brand new books are vastly cheaper than in your big chain stores. They buy books with old covers that can be sold at reduced prices.

It’s easy to justify a second pint with the savings that you’ve made on your purchase!

What to read?

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

Get inspired, hike a section of the South West Coastal Path and reward yourself with another cold pint at Beerwolf at the end of it.

Atlantis Books in Oia, Greece

Whitewashed walls and panoramic views of the Aegean Sea greet you as you descend into aptly named Atlantis Books. Inside is an Aladdin’s Cave.

Antique books line the curved walls and pile in high pillars on the shop floor.

Try to find yourself a quiet spot to read, far away from the hopeful grooms-to-be on one knee as you watch the famous Oia sunset. I promise that you’ll feel like you’re in a beautiful, indie, coming of age film.

What to read?

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

A Greek family flees to the United States during the Greco-Turkish War. Two generations later, an intersex child is born. History, gender identity and a whole lot of humour.

Read next: Unique destinations for your bucket list

Bookstory in Cluj Napoca, Romania

Something about Cluj Napoca instantly inspired me to read more.

Perhaps it is the towering baroque architecture, or that the city is Romania’s largest university town. Everyone that we passed lugged tote bags brimming over with books.

There is nothing overly flashy about this bookshop, but that doesn’t detract from the charm, and the ‘blind date’ book lucky dip is excellent.

What to read?

Dracula by Bram Stoker (of course!)

If reading this leaves you hungry, hit the streets after dark to hunt down papanasi (a Romanian fried donut filled with jam and sour cream).

Or seek psychological help for why a book about sucking someone’s blood is making your tummy rumble.

The Paper Hound in Vancouver, Canada

Vintage reads in a modern city. This bookshop is so well-curated that it could be a little art gallery.

If the weather is bad, hole up in one of the comfy armchairs in store. If the sun is shining, pack a picnic and head to Stanley Park to feel a million miles from urbanisation.

What to read?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Scare yourself silly with how plausible this dystopian world seems, then follow Margaret Atwood on Twitter for some light relief because she’s pretty damn hilarious.

Seagull Books in Kolkata, India

Seagull Books in Kolkata India
Photo courtesy of Seagull Books

An entire street of Kolkata is dedicated to an enormous daily book fair (College Street Book Market), which makes it the largest second-hand book market in the world.

After tiring yourself out browsing College Street’s plethora of literature, head to Seagull Books to curl up with a classic and a steaming mug of sweet masala chai.

Kolkatans are deservedly proud of their reputation as the unofficial literary capital of India. Although, the country’s most famous literary festival is actually held in Jaipur!

What to read?

I could list so many wonderful books about India but my current favourite is The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

The numerous flaws in India’s class system are unpicked in a gritty and darkly humorous novel.

Armchair Books in Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

I stumbled upon Armchair Books completely by accident and it took me days to find it again, but I wasn’t prepared to give up.

All the searching was worth it for the treasure trove that awaited me. Armchair Books reminds me of my grandparents’ attic.

Not an inch of the tiny space is wasted: books are piled high from floor to ceiling. So if you haven’t got lost on the way here, you easily can do inside.

What to read?

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

An oldie but a goodie. Follow it up by watching the film and marvelling at what an absolute babe Maggie Smith was back in the day.

Travel inspiration: Plan a trip to Edinburgh with tips from 29+ travel experts!

Aljibe Librería in Barichara, Colombia

Aromatic Colombian coffee, cake and a cracking book club. Aljibe Librería is the first bookshop that Barichara has seen for 314 years, but it was worth the wait.

Barichara’s cobbled streets will instantly transport you back in time and make you feel like you’re living in a Gabriel García Marquez novel, not just reading one.

What to read?

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Marquez

A pseudo-journalistic account of family honour and vengeance in a Colombian village.

Librería del Desierto in San Pedro De Atacama, Chile

Call ahead for this one! As delightful as this little place is, the first time that I visited, I walked an hour from town through the desert only to find it closed when I arrived.

Opening times are listed online but change on a whim.

When it is open, however, it is difficult to find a more secluded and picturesque spot to immerse yourself in a good book. The desertscape backed by the snowcapped Andes could distract you from even the most riveting of tales.

What to read?

The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Bitesize poems to sink your teeth into in between marvelling at Mother Nature and napping in the desert heat.

Word on the Water in London, England (UK)

Word on the Water bookshop in London
Photo courtesy of Word on the Water

“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats,” says Rat to Mole in The Wind in the Willows.

Unless, of course, you can mess about in boats with an incredible selection of books at your fingertips.

Word on the Water is a bookworm’s dream housed on a 1920s Dutch barge in Regent’s Canal. If you weren’t sold already, they also have a resident dog and parrot (Star and Jasper respectively).

What to read?

My Name is Why by Lemn Sissay

True life stranger than fiction and poems with such rhythm you’ll be tapping your feet. An eclectic mix, just like your surroundings.

Le Bal des Ardents in Lyon, France

At first glance, you might think that the archway made from books is one of the trompe l’oeils (optical illusions) that Lyon is famous for.

But this isn’t a cleverly painted wall, it’s the entrance to Lyon’s best bookshop. The brightly-coloured rugs and warm lighting make you feel at home instantly.

What to read?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Visit Lyon for the annual Fête des Lumières to see the story projected with stunning optics on the side of Lyon’s old façades.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina

A list of bookshops bookended by Buenos Aires: world capital of bookshops (at least in my opinion), and so the only city to be awarded two spaces on this list.

El Ateneo is a tango theatre-turned-bookshop with an intricately painted ceiling and plush, red velvet reading nooks in the old boxes.

If just stepping inside this building doesn’t make you feel like a celebrity, then why not have lunch on the old stage and look down on your audience of colourful paperbacks?

They’re a respectful audience that never heckles.

What to read?

The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

It’s unlikely that you’ll visit Argentina without witnessing some form of political protest, so clue yourself up on Latin American history and social injustice with the country’s most famous revolutionary.

Feature image by cottonbro on

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