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  • Chris Cunliffe

Exploring Europe's Most Enchanting Bookshops: A Literary Journey from Harry Potter to Venice

This is a compilation of the most fascinating bookshops in Europe, each with its own charm and allure. These locations, spanning from historic sites to tranquil passageways, provide more than just books; they calm the soul and let the imagination run wild. Bookshops provide a peaceful sanctuary where we can unwind and explore for a moment after being stuck in crowded cities and a busy working life. Whether you're wandering the hilly streets of Porto or in an industrial northern English city, don't miss an opportunity to step inside these bookstores that offer a literary experience within their walls, as well as their books. Let us guide you into the world of some of the most beautiful bookstores in Europe, which will transport you to a bookworms heaven.

Discover with us:

Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Located in the heart of Porto, Portugal, Livraria Lello is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful bookshops globally. With its ornate carvings and stained-glass windows, the neo-Gothic façade is just the beginning of this iconic store. Once you enter, a magnificent staircase plays centre stage leading to a second floor where ornate bookshelves tower above you. It's no shock that J. K. Rowling was captivated by this magical place. Yes that’s right this book store has been stated by J. K. Rowling to have inspired her writing of the Harry Potter books as she used to frequently visit Livraria Lello to be transported to another world, whilst she lived in Portugal for a short time. Furthermore, you can provide limited and totally unique versions of classics here, with one of a kind hardback copies decorated with the book shops own logo. The store is very popular and is one of the must visit places to go in Porto for Harry Potter fans, literary lovers and just admirers of great architecture. Therefore, the bookstore actually charges for entry to control its queues and popularity, so be sure to check out its website and book a place online to guarantee your visit.

Waterstones, Bradford, UK

Despite its modern design and unique features after it’s latest renovation work, Waterstones in Bradford is much more grand than the other stores this large company has around the UK. The Wool Exchange building, a historic icon in Bradford once boasted being the place to go to for wool merchants to trade their goods. Now this bookstore occupies this lavish space with arched ceilings and beautiful windows providing a warm, inviting atmosphere to browse, read and even indulge in a coffee or too in the café on the second floor. Here you can get a birds eye perspective and watch the public wander this beautiful building. This store is surrounded by grade listed buildings, an industrial heritage and a rich cultural scene, which has allowed Bradford to host the UK city of culture 2025.

Selexyz Dominicanen , Maastricht, Netherlands

A true architectural wonder, Selexyz Dominicanen is a unique bookshop situated in a former Dominicans church from the 13th century in Maastricht, Netherlands. A grand staircase with a modern steel design leads to the balcony overlooking the store, offering views of the ambundant landscape of books. The merging of a church with a book store may seem out there, but Selexyz Dominicanen leaves you wondering why has nobody done this before as it really provides a unique atmosphere to get lost in its many novels. With a wide range of titles available in all languages and genres, Boekhandel Dominicanen has something to please every taste. If you're looking for something different to explore or simply to unwind among the classics, Boekhandel Dominicanen is a firm favourite with locals and tourists are starting to discover this wonder too.

Carturesti Carusel, Bucharest, Romania

Nestled in the centre of Bucharest, Romania is Carturesti Carusel, a literary paradise that means "Carousel of Light." The 19th-century building where this book shop has been beautifully restored and is a work of art and design. As you walk up the spiral staircase in the grand white interior building, you'll find shelves of books from floor to ceiling displaying a great selection of languages and genres. The interior is illuminated by a large skylight, adding to the atmospher. There are several levels of the bookstore that offer visitors a chance to enjoy cozy reading rooms, plus vibrant artwork too so you can really stay here for a while. Whether you're a fan of books or simply looking for enlightenment, inspiration, or just escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, Carturesti Carusel is the place to be.

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

Nestled amidst the winding canals and historic streets of Venice, Libreria Acqua Alta, in Italy, is a must visit for those visiting this popular destination. In English "High Water Bookstore" is a symbol of Venice’s innovative approach to showcasing books in the midst of flood-prone urban areas. Upon entering, guests are met with bookshelves spread out in gondolas, tubs and even a full-size dinghy boat, all carefully designed to withstand the rising sea levels. The selection includes a diverse array of books, from old-school favourites to new and popular bestsellers, with something for everyone. While navigating the maze of book-filled corridors and hidden alcoves, you'll encounter photo-taking opportunities at every corner, such as cats roaming among the books and a flight of stairs made entirely out of old encyclopedias. The charming and enchanting atmosphere of Libreria Acqua Alta embodies Venice's ageless literary heritage.

We've reached the end of the article Exploring Europe's Most Enchanting Bookshops. So whether you're a seasoned bookworm or a curious traveller seeking something more than the usual tourist sights, we encourage you to check out some of these literary delights. If you are travelling in Europe, make sure to read our previous blogs. In case you are traveling to Portugal or Poland in the future, you should try out our tours in Porto, Lisbon, and Warsaw. Remember to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be continuously updated on the new releases. We will be back soon with a new article!

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