12 literary places book lovers have to visit in a lifetime

The best literary places to visit - together with addresses and Google Street View

Updated on 09.05.2023.

All the most beautiful literary places from around the world. Now you’ll know where they are and how to visit them.

We see lots of beautiful literary pictures on the web every day. Book sculptures, book fountains, beautiful old libraries, or cozy bookshops.

Our friends share them on Facebook or Twitter, usually with a short text such as “love it!” or “absolutely beautiful.”

The thing is these literary places exist not only on photos. They are real. You can see them. And sometimes they are surprisingly close to major attractions of the city you are going to visit quite soon.

We’ve made homework and found some of the most beautiful literary places on Google Maps. Seeing a location on Google Street View is one step closer to deciding to see it in reality.

You’ll know the address, and – thanks to Google Street View – you can immediately see the direct neighborhood.

As you will notice right away, even the most fantastic and picturesque places (such as Shakespeare & Company in Paris) look not so attractive on Google Street View. That’s why, below each Google Maps frame, we’ve added a photo or photos (most of them are also from Google Maps or Panoramio) so that you can recognize the place, and compare impressions.

The simple lesson is that there are lots of amazing literary spots in the cities we visit, but they may come unnoticed just because we haven’t had time or energy to go inside.

When you are planning a trip to any of the cities listed below, make sure to add to your list of things to do these beautiful bookish spots.

To enlarge each Google Street View image and start exploring the neighborhood, click on “View on Google Maps” link in the top-left corner.

Would you like to add a literary location to this list? Please leave a suggestion in the comments or on social media. Thanks!

12 literary places to visit in a lifetime

1. Shakespeare & Company bookshop, Paris

Shakespeare and Company in Paris
Image: Parole a Colori
Outside Shakespeare and Company in Paris
Image: Parispolis
Inside Shakespeare and Company
Image: Porao Cultural

A must-see spot for the book lover visiting Paris. Established in 1951, this tremendously beautiful and cozy bookshop & café offers English-language books. It’s located just 3 minutes away from the Notre-Dame cathedral, on the other side of Seine river.

You may consider visiting Shakespeare & Company in the evening, and the chances are big you’ll join one of the frequently held events.

Address: 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
Website: shakespeareandcompany.com

2. Book benches, Istanbul

Book benches in Instanbul - picture 1
Image: Ministry of Education and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey
Book benches in Instanbul - picture 2
Image: Book Porn / Tumblr

When you visit Istanbul, you’ll most probably see one of these beautiful book benches. They are spread across the city: in parks, boulevards, and squares.

The benches represent the works of eighteen most famous Turkish writers. Each bench reveals the most interesting page of the book.

Among other places, you’ll see the benches in the park on the Çamlıca Hill, as well as on the embankment along Kennedy Street (for instance, in Aytekin Kotil Park).

Address: Çamlıca Social Facility, Küçük Çamlıca Cd., Istanbul, Turkey
Address: Aytekin Kotil Park, Sakızağacı, 34142 Istanbul, Turkey
Website: bucakkutup.gov.tr

3. Hay Castle Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, UK

Hay Castle Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye - picture 1
Image: Roewa / Panoramio
Hay Castle Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye - picture 2
Image: Wandering Woman
Hay Castle Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye - picture 3
Image: Rob Around Books

Picturesque, little town Hay-on-Wye is the most famous book town in the world. It has just 1,500 inhabitants and as much as 24 bookshops.

Each bookshop in town is worth visiting, and one you definitely shouldn’t miss is the open-air bookshop in the Hay Castle. The town is especially worth visiting during Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, held between May and June.

Hay-on-Wye is located on the Welsh-English border, a little more than 3 hours by car from London, or 1,5 from Bristol.

Address: Castle St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5DF, United Kingdom
Website: haycastletrust.org

4. The Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin

The Long Room in Trinity College Library, Dublin
Image: Piers Dillon-Scott

The library serving Trinity College and the University of Dublin is the largest in Ireland. It consists of several buildings, but the one you have to see is the Old Library.

The building was designed by Colonel Thomas de Burgh and built between 1712–33. It incorporates the Long Room, one of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions. The 65-meter-long chamber houses more than 200,000 books and manuscripts.

Address: College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Website: tcd.ie/library

5. Livraria Lello & Irmão Bookstore, Porto

Livraria Lello & Irmao bookshop in Porto - picture 1
Image: The Vortex Magazine
Inside Livraria Lello bookshop
Image: The Vortex Magazine

Considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, Livraria Lello was opened in 1906 and quickly became an inspiration for famous writers, and a center of literary gatherings.

The bookstore’s Art Nouveau architecture design lures tourists from around the world. In Trip Advisor, it’s among the top 10 tourist attractions of Porto. Located only 100 meters north of Clérigos Tower.

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

6. The Kansas City Public Library

The Kansas City Public Library - picture 1
Image: Anton Volkov
The Kansas City Public Library - picture 2
Image: The Larken Photo & Video Co.

If you are going to Kansas City, make sure to add a stop at the city library, between the visits to Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and National World War I Memorial.

The central library, the one with the outstanding front looking like books on the shelf, is located in the Library District, at 10th Street, between Baltimore Ave and Wyandotte St.

Address: 14 West 10th Street, Kansas City, MO 64105, USA
Website: kclibrary.org

7. Book Fountain, Rome

Fontana dei Libri in Rome
Image: David Cherubini

Fontana dei Libri (The Fountain of Books) was designed by a young architect Pietro Lombardi and built in 1927. It’s one of the most beautiful fountains of Rome, but also the one that can be easily missed.

The book fountain can be found in the direct neighborhood of Piazza Navona. From the square, walk eastwards in the direction of the Pantheon.

Address: Via degli Staderari, 00186 Roma, Italy
Website: sovraintendenzaroma.it

8. Ptyx Bookstore, Ixelles, Belgium

Ptyx Bookstore in Belgium
Image: Ptyx Bookstore

The bookstore opened in 2012, but thanks to its original and highly involving façade it soon became one of the web’s most adored bookshops.

On the façade, you’ll see portraits of famous authors, accompanied with short bios.

Ptyx is located in Ixelles Municipality, within Brussels-Capital Region. It’s only 15 minutes by foot from Horta Museum.

Address: Rue Lesbroussart 39, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
Website: librairie-ptyx.be

9. Brattle Book Shop, Boston

The Brattle Book Shop in Boston
Image: The Brattle Book Shop
The Brattle Book Shop in Boston - picture 2
Image source: unknown

The Brattle Book Shop was established in 1825 and is one of the oldest and largest antiquarian and used bookstores in the United States.

In addition to the three-story building, you’ll find books in the outside sale lot.

Address: 9 West St, Boston, MA 02111, USA
Website: brattlebookshop.com

10. Book Statue, Barcelona

Homenatge al Llibre
Image: Silly America

Homenatge al Llibre (Tribute to Books) sculpture was created by a Catalan poet and visual artist Joan Brossa in 1994.

It was commissioned by the Catalan Guild of Bookshops, and it stands in the place where book fair is being organized every year.

Address: intersection of Paseo de Gracia with Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona

11. Open Door Bookshop, Rome

Open Door Bookshop in Rome - picture 1
Image: TouTiao
Open Door Bookshop in Rome - picture 2
Image: Chrisa Greece

Established back in the 1970s, this beautiful bookstore offers carefully selected books in English, French, Spanish, and Italian. Its name intends to testify to an open mind and a consuming curiosity for ideas of all kinds.

The bookshop is located in Trastevere, a one-minute walk from Piazza di Piscinula.

Address: Via della Lungaretta, 23, 00153 Rome, Italy
Website: books-in-italy.com

12. Municipal Library, Lyon

Municipal Libray of Lyon
Image: Municipal Library of Lyon

This beautiful fresco on a wall of Lyon Municipal Libray’s branch is a tribute to writers of Lyon and Rhône-Alpes.

Besides the library, you’ll find in the building the bookshop and a workshop on the 21st-century printing. On the opposite side of the street, you can rest in a brasserie.

The municipal library is located on the bank of Saône river, 7 minutes by foot from Part-Dieu Train Station.

Address: 4 Rue de la Platière, 69001 Lyon, France
Website: bm-lyon.fr

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Published by Piotr Kowalczyk

Geek and book lover who has been recently updated to the latest beta operating system which is still full of bugs. Blogger by day, designer by night. Founder of Ebook Friendly and Geek Updated.

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