When traveling, local bookstores are easily overlooked in favor of big monuments, museum exhibits and various must-see sights.
But cool book shops are a terrific way to get acquainted with the culture of a new city—and some, coincidentally, are actually located in the major monuments themselves (the Selexyz Dominicanen, for example, is actually housed in a 13th century cathedral in the Netherlands).
So whether you’re a literature lover or just looking for a place to cozy up with a cookie and hot cup of coffee (or even a cigar, if you’re visiting Porto, Portugal’s Livraria Lello), these 10 bookstores are guaranteed to make your next excursion more memorable.
What’s your favorite local book store? Share with us in the comments below!
NEW YORK: Claiming to house "eighteen miles of books and growing," the Strand is much loved by New York readers, with space dedicated to everything from art tomes to used current fiction and even a rare-book nook. 828 Broadway, New York City; strandbooks.com.
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PORTO: With a velvety, Harry Potter vibe emanating from the twisting crimson staircases and sky-high piles of books, Livraria Lello is easily one of the most spectacular book shops in the world. Upstairs, patrons can soak up the atmosphere with a cigar and an easy chair. Rua das Carmelitas, Porto, Portugal.
LONDON: Specializing in travel and natural history, Shapero Rare Books stocks an enormous collection of hard-to-find reads in a handsome red-bricked manor on Saint George street. Even if you can't afford to bring one home with you, the shelves of dusty tomes are well worth a snoop. 32 Saint George Street, London; shapero.com.
BUENO AIRES: In 1929, the first-ever "talkie" flick was played at the elegant El Ateneo, which was one of the world's most glamorous theaters long before it was converted into a book shop in 2000. Today, it houses thousands of titles—all lit, rather romantically, with stage lighting—where seats used to be. Avenida Callao, Buenos Aires.
LONDON: Outfitted with long oak galleries, skylights and William Morris prints, a trip to Chelsea's Daunt Books feels like you've gone back in time to the Edwardian era, when ladies and gents would peruse titles wearing white gloves. 83 Marylebone High Street, London; dauntbooks.co.uk.
NEW YORK: Known for its super-curated selection of new fiction, cookbooks and art reads, McNally Jackson in Nolita shows the personal touch of its owner, Sarah McNally, who hosts readings, signings and discussions each week. 52 Prince Street, New York City; mcnallyjackson.com.
BEIJING: Don't think we forgot about the little ones. Poplar Kid's Republic—designed for Japanese publisher, Poplar—looks like a Dr. Suess book come to life, with lit-up rainbow rivers, reading nooks and activities that just about any kid will go crazy for. Building 13, Jianwai Soho, 1362, 39 Dongsanhuan Zhonglu, Beijing; poplar.com.cn.
MAASTRICHT: House in a 13th century Dominican cathedral in the center of Maastricht, Holland, the Selexys Dominicanen is about as close to divine as a book shop can get. To preserve the interiors, developers used freestanding scaffolding and shelves. Dominicanerkerkstraat 1 6211 CZ Maastricht, Netherlands; selexyz.nl.
MEXICO CITY: Teeming with lush green plants and soaring shelves, the Pendulo in Mexico City may not be as architecturally insane or history-rich as some of the others on our round-up, but its impressive selection of titles and in-store cafe make it a terrific destination for literature-lovers. 126 Hamburgo, Mexico City; pendulo.com.