Bart's outdoor bookstore

Welcome to 14 of the Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World.

To many, a bookstore may just be a place to purchase your next read, but to others, a bookstores serves as a mindful sanctuary, a community center, a place of wonderment and discovery and a monument to literature all at once. From California to Slovenia to Japan, here are fourteen of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. These must-visit establishments are waiting for you, and be sure to add to the collection in the comment section below.


1. Bart’s Bookstore, Ojai, CA, USA


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Bart’s may very well be the most beautiful ode to reading in the US. This outdoor independent bookstore presents an opportunity to sit in a courtyard sheltered by apple trees, read from an extensive collection and even pay through an honor system. What began as Richard Bartindale’s street bookshelf has flowered into a literary sanctuary for the Ojai community, and now attracts travelers from all over the globe.


2. Livaria Lello, Porto, Portugal


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Magic and books combined is what you’ll find at this unique Portuguese landmark. With a space dominated by a curving staircase, characterized by ornate wooden carvings, this bookstore creates an atmosphere like that of a pirate ship you may have visited in your most decadent dreams!


3. Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, UK


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This town-length second-hand bookshop resembles a literary fantasy that is preserving history. At the heart of this small Welsh town is a crumbling medieval castle which is slowly being restored by book sales from the store in its surrounding gardens. Most striking is the set of shelves lining the castle grounds.


4. El Aleneo, Buenas Aires, Argentina


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El Aleneo holds quite a fascinating stage-to-page story itself. First built in 1919 as the Teatro Grand Splendid and then converted in 1929 into a palatial movie theatre, this fresco ceilinged, ornately carved theatre is now one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. This one is definitely on our booket list.


5. Polare Bookstore, Maastricht, Holland


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Converted from a 13th century Dominican church in 2006, this bookstore WILL blow your bibliophile brain. Polare is a modernised literary temple that raises reading to a religious experience. 

 6. Baldwin Book Barn, West Chester, PA, USA


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There is nothing quite like the feeling of stepping back in time. This is a feeling you can attain here in the Book Barn’s numerous rustic little musty rooms stuffed to the gills with old, used and antique books. Oh, and cats and dogs are welcome…need I say more?


7. Shakespeare and Co, Paris, France


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Next on the list is a spot nestled on Paris’ left bank and opened by American proprietor George Whitman in the early 50s. This bohemian bookstore presents a cosy, archaic atmosphere which speaks to the chaos and crowdeding of a bookshelf. Once frequented by the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway in the 20s and the Beat Generation influencers of the 50s, it has been run by Whitman’s daughter since his death in 2011.

8. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece


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This awesome spot was founded by a group of junior students who traveled to the island and left with a dream to open up a quaint, sun-washed independent bookstore. That is exactly what they did when they returned.

9. Plural, Bratislava, Slovakia


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Both bookstore and coffeeshop, what draws us to Plural is its simple, clean design and room-length staircase which separates its wall-to-wall bookshelves. 


10. The Bookabar, Rome, Italy


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Another modern avant-garde bookstore to add to the list is Rome’s Bookabar, set inside the Palazzi delle Esposizioni and specializing in books and art catalogs. This store is unforgettable and really a sight to behold.


11. Zhongshuge, Hangzhou, China


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Walk into this architectural dream-space and browse shelves in Zhongshuge’s oval reading room sheltered by mirrored ceilings which creates a sort of illusion invoking the very essence of the bookstore itself.


12. La Cabane a Livres, Auvers-Sur-Oise, France


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Also a second-hand bookstore, enter this abandoned train and follow down-carriage to an old postal office who’s slots have now become home to over 5,000 books. A quintessential romantic union of books and trains and a passage through time in a most unusual way.


13. Carturesti Carusel, Bucharest, Romania


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Translating as “carousel of light”, this bright spot opened in 2015 in the heart of Bucharest. The bookstore is home to a bistro, a contemporary art gallery and is also used for concerts and cultural events.


14. Tsutaya Books, Tokyo, Japan


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Tsutaya books consists of three buildings interconnected by skyways. With its unique design, wood based interiors and seemingly never-ending collection of literary works, lose yourself and a few hours to this book emporium most capital cities could only dream of.



Featured Image Via Pinerest