If you're old fashioned like me, looking at screens all day can get boring and tiring, and nothing beats having an actual book in your hand. The magic of fiction can whisk you away from daily life and take you to a fun and fantasy-fuelled world. Books can even teach you more about the world we live in, influence your opinions and just educate us a little bit more.
However, nowadays with the ease of the Amazon kindle, online bookshops and the ever dooming computer/phone screen, we are taken away from the simple-yet-special sensation of flicking between pages and escaping reality. So, if you're a bookworm or even just a lover of all things fiction, you'll understand the importance of literature and the experience from start to finish that begins with the bookshop.
So, if you are travelling around Europe or just even in the mood for a bit of book browsing on your jollies, look no further as Spotahome has compiled a list of the 10 most magical bookshops in Europe that'll have you mesmerised.
1. Daunt Books, London
Did you honestly think I could get away with talking about bookshops without mentioning the big city itself? Home to Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and some of the best Anglophone characters/ works?
Of course, you guessed it... it's good ol'London.
Pictured above Daunt Books Marylebone- photo credits: Alexandra Kirr on Unsplash
Opened in 1990, Daunt is now a successful London chain that has maintained its charm throughout the years, but nothing beats the OG Marylebone High Street store. Daunt Books Marylebone is an Old Edwardian style bookshop that hosts some of the most classic and beautiful architecture- the perfect home for some of the most classic and beautiful pieces of literature. I'm a sucker for large stained glass windows- everything looked better through them- and this place is teeming with them, so I'm in heaven.
Additional Fact: In 2010 Daunt took an even bigger leap and entered the realm of independent publishing, so now not only is this literary powerhouse a great space to browse for books, but now it is also the very home of them.
84 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QW
Open Monday-Saturday 09:00-19:30, Sunday 11:00-18:00
2. Open Door Bookshop, Rome
Now, I mainly chose this one because we've all seen those American movies with a cute, quirky brunette browsing in a bookstore that you can't help but fall in love with at first glance. This is the real-life setting for that. Just a few blocks away from the River Tiber itself, this bookshop is in the most idyllic of locations and just walking through the front door you won't be able to help but get nostalgic and feel like you're part of an off-beat, US rom-com.
Pictured above the River Tiber- photo credits: Christian Nordmark on Unsplash
On the more practical side of things the Open Door Bookshop is full of second hand books in French, Italian, Spanish and English, which is ideal for any aspiring linguists. Although not your average, first-edition stocking, commercial bookshop, this place is a browser's paradise, as you never know what you're going to find.
Via della Lungaretta, 23, 00153 Roma RM
Open Monday-Saturday 11:00-20:00, Sunday closed
3. Shakespeare and Company, Paris
Having already mentioned some of the great European capitals, it's only fair that Paris gets a mention. Well, you're in luck because it is home to Shakespeare and Company; a large, Anglophone book shop in the heart of Paris. The bookstore is located near the Notre Dame, and with such a classic and central location, there is no excuse worth missing out on this whilst wandering around the French capital.
Pictured above Paris bookshop- photo credits: Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
The building and establishment itself has a great history which the owners and workers they pride themselves on. So much so that they let their readers and visitors really be part of the action, and they even go further than just selling books and take literature to the new level, just like the man it is named after himself. With frequent podcasts and events that really engage with the material that they sell, you can do a lot more here than browse for books here.
Hungry?... Don't worry, at Shakespeare and Company there are some great vegan and vegetarian treats for you munch on whilst you delve into a fictional realm. Open 10-10, it's great for all meal times as well.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris
Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-22:00
4 & 5. Shakespeare and sons, Prague & Berlin
Whilst we're walking about Shakespeare, I cannot not mention another Shakespearian inspired bookshop, but this time in the form of a double whammy. Founded and set up in 2002, in what used to be a brothel in Prague, Shakespeare and sons later set up in Berlin what is now an iconic, not-so-well-kept secret gem of a bookshop. Both locations quiantly combine the tranquility of being in a cafe/ bookshop with the comfort of also being in someone's front room. So, here you really do have both comfort and culture right at your fingertips.
Photo credits: Eli Francis on Unsplash
Both establishments stock new and old books of all genres in English and French, so you'll be spoilt for choice. Also, they both have great bagel bars where you can order fresh, yummy bagels all day- it'd almost be rude not to.
Prague- U Lužického semináře 91/10, 118 00 Malá Strana
Open Monday-Sunday 11:00-19:00
Berlin- Warschauer Str. 71, 10243 Berlin
Open Monday-Saturday 08:00-20:00, Sunday 09:00-20:00
6. Ocho y medio, Madrid
Ocho y medio is one close to my own heart and personally one of my favourites. After living in Madrid for a year, this was my go-to spot and I couldn't possibly write a blog post about bookshops without promoting or even mentioning it.
Pictured above Gran Via, Madrid- photo credits: Daniel Alvarez Sanchez Diaz on Unsplash
It can easily be described as a small and simple independent bookshop, a description that really doesn't do it justice nor doesn't make it any less special. Nicely tucked away in the centre, Ocho y medio is situated on a side street behind the cinema and away from the busy hustle and bustle of Gran Via. One of Madrid's best kept secrets.
Full of film and theatre memorabilia, this is not only a great place to browse for books, but it's also a great place to have a nice drink and catch-up and make use of the outdoor terrace- a truly magical experience.
Calle de Martín de los Heros, 11, 28008 Madrid, Spain
Open Monday-Thursday 11:00-00:30, Friday 11:00-01:00, Saturday 12:00-01:00, Sunday closed
7. Cook & Book, Brussels
Pictured above Brussels- photo credits: marius badstuber on Unsplash
This, without a doubt, is the mother of all bookshops. Home to some of the quirkiest designs that are in accordance with the genre of book that the room houses, you won't know where to look. This extravagant decoration is nothing short of spectacular. There is even books on the ceiling!... Yes, I am easily impressed.
The shop itself is huge and has a great range of first edition books and a wide variety of genres and sections, so there really is something for everyone here. If that wasn't enough, to top it all off, it's like a maze... so I can't promise you that you won't get lost.
Additionally, there are plenty of places of eat here and multiple restaurants and cafes situated all over the bookshop, so you really can spend all day here and enjoy a bit of variety. There is even a Sunday brunch option- this is literally a millennial’s paradise... or mine at least!
Place du Temps Libre 1, 1200 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert
Open Monday-Wednesday 08:00-22:00, Thursday & Friday 08:00-23:00, Saturday 09:00-23:00, Sunday 09:00-21:00
8. Livraria Lello, Porto
Probably one of the most iconic and inspiring bookshops in Europe has to be the Livraria Lello in the lovely Portuguese paradise that is Porto.
Pictured above Porto- photo credits: Jens Moser on Unsplash
Livraria Lello got its name from the brothers that set it up and has its origins back in the 19th century. This year it celebrates its 112th birthday, and although it has been recently restored, its integral and precious character has been meticulously maintained. The incredible architecture combines the neo-gothic with the art-deco, and the stunning interiors can only be described as resembling that of a fantasy novel. So, even if you don't like reading, it's worth a visit for the aesthetics, and if you don't believe me, you'll really have to check it out for yourself.
Be warned, you will have to pay a small fee of €5 to be able to enter the bookshop, but don't worry! If you buy a book, the €5 will later be deducted from the original book price. So, you might as well get yourself a souvenir, not that you'll have much trouble remembering this breath-taking establishment.
Harry Potter fact: It is rumoured that many elements in J.K. Rowling's international award-winning novel series Harry Potter were inspired by the stunning interiors of this bookshop, when Rowling lived in Porto. So, not only is this fine establishment home to some of the finest works of literature in the world, but it also inspired them.
Rua das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto
Open Monday-Friday 10:00-19:30, Saturday & Sunday 10:00-19:00
9. Livraria Bertrand, Lisbon
Since we're already talking about Portuguese bookshops, it would be criminal not to mention Livraria Bertrand. Now one of Portugal's biggest bookshop chains, with almost over 50 branches throughout the country, Livraria Bertrand is the world's oldest and longest-serving bookshop.
Pictured above: Lisbon, photo credits: Viktor Pinto on Unsplash
Opened in 1732 by Pedro Faure, it is still a day-to-day run establishment on a beautiful street corner of Rua Garrett in central Lisbon. Although initially it may not seem like anything out of the ordinary, there is obviously something special keeping this fine shop open for so many years. There's definitely something magical in that.
Rua Garrett 73, 1200-309 Lisboa
Open Monday-Saturday 09:00-22:00, Sunday 11:00-22:00
10. Librería AltaÏr, Barcelona
I'm assuming if you're reading this... you like nothing more than to read and travel- in no particular order. This next one, combines the two in the simplest of fashions. Librería AltaÏr is home to the largest travel book collection in Europe- any jetsetter's or aspiring Geographer's paradise. With books dedicated to every country and corner of the globe, even if you're not a keen traveller, you'll want to be after a visit here.
Photo credits: Chris Lawton on Unsplash
The interior of the bookshop is beautifully decorated with quiant decoration that celebrates a great wealth of world nations that you won't know where to look. There is also a cafe that is full of hidden gems for you to read and feast your eyes on. So, not only will you get access to potentially the largest travel information base in the world (minus the internet of course), but you will have serious holiday envy and inspiration for your next trip.
Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes, 616, 08007 Barcelona
Open Monday-Saturday 10:00-20:30, Sunday closed
Photo credits: John Michael Thomson on Unsplash