When we were children, bookstores were these magical places where we would be transported to various mystical realms and fantasy worlds thanks to the array of literature available.

If you’re an avid reader but also a design connoisseur looking to visit unique independent bookstores which are not the typical run-of-the-mill retail shops, check out our compilation below for your next travel adventure!

1. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

The Livraria Lello, commonly known in English as the Lello Bookstore, has recently become incredibly popular with tourists. It’s easy to see why, as its interior is dripping in old-world splendour, and it’s the oldest bookstore in the city of Porto, Portugal.

Established in 1906, this neo-Gothic building, with its ornate wood carvings, stained glass skylight, and red spiral staircase, is definitely a charmer. Lello not only features thousands of selections of books, but it also houses a quaint coffee shop. Fun fact: J.K. Rowling’s Hogwarts was inspired by this magical architecture!

Address: R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal

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2. Higginbothams, Chennai, India

Higginbothams was founded in 1844 and is India‘s oldest bookshop, located on Chennai’s Mount Road. That’s right, it’s 176 years old and still in existence. Although you may find the interior simple, the colonial building exudes a rich history.

Its architecture is admirable, with heavy oak doors, whitewashed brick walls, and stained painted glass on the windows. You will find yourself back in the early 1900’s as its atmosphere breathes quiet nostalgia. And not to forget their amazing collection of the written word!

Address: LIC Building, 116, opp. to LIC near REGIONAL PASSPORT OFFICE, Anna Salai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600002, India

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3. Carturesti Carusel, Bucharest, Romania

Romania isn’t just famous for Transylvania and Count Dracula–it also has one of the most Instagrammed bookstores worldwide. The Carturesti Carusel in the heart of Bucharest was originally built in 1903 as a bank, then converted into a beautiful palace.

This three-story high majestic beauty consists of Greek columns, undulating railings, and elegant white spiral staircases. You can enjoy a nice cuppa from the third floor whilst admiring the wide landscaped view of its massive book collection!

Address: Strada Lipscani 55, București 030033, Romania

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4. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dubbed as the world’s most beautiful bookstore by National Geographic, this former grand theatre is a must-visit. Opened in 1919, it staged many tango and theatrical performances in the 1920s. Later, it was converted into a cinema showcasing the first sound films.

The original architectural details remain, such as the enchanting fresco on the domed ceiling, the red velvety curtains, the auditorium lighting, and the theatre boxes, which have been converted into customer seating. Subsequently, its massive stage is repurposed as a cafe.

Address: Av. Sta. Fe 1860, C1123 CABA, Argentina

5. The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, USA

Last but certainly not least, the Last Bookstore is a rather ‘new kid on the block’. The bookstore was established in 2005 in a hundred-year-old bank building. It’s a visually charming space containing vaults and gravity-defying bookshelves containing new and used books.

In its 22 thousand square feet space, it houses a record store, a comic book store, five art studios, an epic yarn shop, a famous book tunnel, a mammoth head, and hidden gems to discover.

Movies such as Ben Affleck’s Gone Girl was filmed here, and as their tagline suggests, they won’t be here forever, so what are you waiting for?

Address: 453 S Spring St, Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013, United States

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