Some travelers seek out authentic street food. Others heart-stopping adventure tours or sun-soaked beaches.
I’m all about books.
I’ve been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. My love of books, of stories, not only inspired me to pursue English in college and graduate school, it inspired me to shape my entire life around the written word.
So it’s not a surprise I make visiting bookstores, authors’ homes, writers’ museums, etc. priorities on my travels.
Books have the unique ability to transport us to another world when we open its pages, and fortunately for readers everywhere, we’re able to take our love of literature on the road when we travel.
From beautiful old libraries to modern buildings there are so many literary-themed destinations worth seeing out there.
Better yet, they are usually budget friendly.
So whether you’re finally taking that summer vacation you’ve been dreaming of or randomly jet setting off on a much-needed trip away from the office, check out these 10 places that are sure to bring delight to every bookworm’s heart...
Shakespeare & Company Bookshop, Paris
Shakespeare & Company, the legendary Paris bookstore, offers visitors the unique chance to step back in time with its antique typewriters and age-worn books, making it can feel something like a literary utopia.
Established in 1951, Shakespeare & Company was founded by George Whitman on the site of a medieval monastery.
Since then, this Parisian gem has grown to become one of the most famous independent bookstore in the world.
Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece
Located in the basement of one of Santorini’s “white houses,” Atlantis Books was started by young American and European book lovers who had a dream of creating a haven for readers and writers in one of the most beautiful destinations in the Mediterranean..
Since opening its doors in 2004, this quirky bookstore now houses thousands of titles and has become a cult destination for travelers.
Hay Castle Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, UK
Often described as “the town of books” Hay-on-Wye, Wales is a must see spot for book lovers.
Founded by Mr Richard Booth in 1961, Hay-on-Wye is the world’s largest second-hand and antiquarian book centre, thanks in part to the magnificent than Honesty Bookshop, a 24-hour open-air bookshop on the grounds of Hay Castle.
The books, which are kept in bookcases against the castle wall, are paid for through a small letterbox. Just don’t forget to bring an empty suitcase for all those books you’ll be flying home.
Homenatge al Llibre, Barcelona
In 1994, Catalan poet and visual artist Joan Brossa created Homenatge al Llibre (Tribute to Books) after being commissioned by the Catalan Guild of Bookshops.
Located at intersection of Paseo de Gracia with Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona this must-see sculpture stands as the centerpiece of the yearly LIBER International Book Fair.
Fun fact - on the pavement around the sculpture one can see tiles engraved with the names of Catalan writers that have been honored for their work.
Book Benches, Istanbul
When you’ll visit Istanbul, it’s nearly impossible to miss one of its unique book benches.
An artist in Istanbul, Turkey, erected these larger-than-life book benches around parks, bus stops, and other high-traffic areas as a brilliant way to promote national classics.
Spread across the city: in parks, boulevards, and squares, the benches represent the works of eighteen of the most famous Turkish writers.
Each “book” is opened at the most interesting place, the texts are quotes from the books of eighteen well-known Turkish writers.
Fontana dei Libri, Rome
Designed by a young architect, Pietro Lombardi in 1927, Fontana dei Libri (The Fountain of Books) is one of the most wonderful fountains of Rome, but also the one that can be easily missed.
The books in the design harps back to the oldest university in Rome, called Studium Urbis, which was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII; the fountain is attached to the building that once housed the university.
Ptyx Bookstore, Belgium
After opening it’s doors in 2012, Ptyx Bookstore in Ixelles, Belgium quickly became one of the web’s most adored bookshops thanks, in part, to its unique decor.
Its beautiful facade that pays homage to some of the most famous authors in history.
This literature-themed travel spot reflects the owner’s love for good literature is far from your typical cold bookstore chain!
Like it’s facade, inside the ceilings are covered with the faces and names of prominent writers and books are carefully sorted into sections to make sure you’ll find exactly what you need and please even the most demanding readers.
Open Door Bookshop, Rome
Not does this unique Roman bookstore live up to it’s name, it’s also one of my favorite travel spots in all of Italy.
This lovely crammed second-hand bookshop -the only one in the entire city, in fact - is a great place to browse and happen on a classic, with novels and nonfiction in English, Italian, French and Spanish.
The bookshop is located in Trastevere, a 1-minute walk from Piazza di Piscinula.
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice
Speaking of my favorite spots in Italy, this unique book-themed destination is another one of my favs.
This self-proclaimed “most beautiful bookstore in the world” is packed to the gills with wall-to-wall with books, magazines, maps and other book-themed items.
Now, what makes this destination is so unique is how it stores it’s collection.
Thanks, in part, to Venice’s constant flooding, this unique store piles it’s books inside bathtubs, waterproof bins, and in one room a full-size gondola.
The Library of Congress, Washington DC
Now, spending a day perusing the aisles of The Library of Congress in our nation's capital might sound like a school trip gone wrong, to some.
But for book lovers, there is nothing quite like seeing the the world’s largest library (since 1800) for yourself.
The collection, housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill, consists of more than 162 million items — including books and other printed text in 470 languages.