The 10 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World

By: ELIZABETH PRESKE | Pulished on 2023-12-27

Libreria Acqua Alta

The 10 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World-Trip AdviseNataliaDeriabina / Getty Images

C. Longa Santa Maria Formosa, 5176b, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy


What do you do when your bookstore lives in a flood-prone city? You place your wares in bathtubs, waterproof bins, canoes, and even a gondola, of course. Venice's Libreria Acqua Alta, which translates to "High Water Bookshop" in Italian, accepts the inevitable deluges with charm; in addition to its creative use of shelving, it has a "fire exit" that opens directly onto a canal and a courtyard whose walls are essentially made of books. Head out back, climb the staircase—which consists of ruined novels and outdated textbooks—and take in the picturesque views over the canal.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

The 10 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World-Trip AdviseMarginalmonkeys / Wikimedia Commons

126 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012, USA
PHONE +1 212-334-3324


Operated by Housing Works, Inc—a non-profit dedicated to ending AIDS and homelessness—this secondhand bookshop and café in New York City's Soho neighborhood may look familiar if you’ve ever seen Taylor Swift’s 10-minute “All Too Well” music video. And once you step inside, you’ll immediately understand why it served as a filming location for one of the biggest musical artists of all time. Its mahogany balconies and spiral staircase, and twinkly fairy lights lend a dark academic vibe that any wordsmith will feel right at home in, while its staff—which is mostly made up of volunteers—are very welcoming and knowledgable. Plus, 100 percent of Housing Works’ profits go towards providing services like housing, job training, and healthcare to those with HIV or AIDS.

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