There are few travel companions better than books, especially those that already come dotted with thumbprints and do not need to be recharged. The beauty of used bookstores- other than the fact that they are budget-friendly- is that they provide an intimate record of people that have passed through them and share ideologies of a specific time and place. Rather than mere best-sellers, there’s local literature, foreign authors and topics that appeal to like-minded, backpack-wearing free spirits.
The following collection of Europe’s best used bookstores expand beyond the titles stacked upon its shelves (though those are pretty impressive as well). Born with a bold idea, they are built upon a passion for reading and cater to the curious intellectual. In addition to books, they also provide a space to relax, learn, converse and refuel. Full of personality and charm, these bookstores are great options when looking to adopt your next travel friend… no matter your preferred language of communication.
Massolit Books (Kraków, Poland)
A cozy café interior greets visitors to Massolit Books. However, its real treasures lie through a couple more doorways, tucked away from those that do not explore. The selection of English books is one of the best (if not the best?) of Central Europe, with a strong focus on the humanities. There are also current English-language periodicals, lectures, music performances, and delicious bagels. Find your favorite table in this labyrinth of rooms and while away the evening.
Richard Booth’s Bookshop (Hay-on-Wye, United Kingdom)
Complete with a café and cinema, Richard Booth’s Bookshop is a three-story paradise stocked with both new and used books. The rooftop studio, with its spacious windows, hosts a variety of workshops and events, while the downstairs kitchen keeps you fueled for all-day lounging and reading. The rest of the town, situated on the border between England and Wales, is world-renowned for its love of books. Worth mentioning is also the Hay Festival, an annual non-profit event dedicated to intellectual exchange with international writers.
Atlantis Second-Hand Bookstore (Oia, Greece)
Established by a couple of travelers that fell in love with Santorini, but mourned its lack of decent bookstore, Atlantis Books has an atmosphere and view that is hard to beat. Bring your dog, adopt a cat, browse the shelves of “pre-loved books” from all over the world, partake in a sunset reading on the terrace, and drop in to one of their film festivals. Oia’s sunset is rated #1 in the world and adding a book to the scenario will transport you to several new worlds at once.
Pequod Books (Berlin, Germany)
There’s certainly no shortage of quirky independent bookstores in Germany, but Pequod’s specialization in used international literature makes this a treasure chest for travelers. With over 25 different language sections, the clientele is as diverse as the store’s titles. Pick up your favorite classic in your native tongue or take this as an opportunity to expand your language palette.
Part café-bar, part culture hub, part bookstore, Espai Capra appeals with its clean design and latches on with its book selection. Whether you’re on the hunt for an inspiring book or a good conversation, you’ll be in good company. Freshly-squeezed juice in the morning, lunchtime tapas, and a glass of wine in the evening keeps guests curled up with a good book at all hours of the day. There’s an online catalog of the current book inventory, but we recommend unrushed browsing in person.
Mint Vinetu (Vilnius, Lithuania)
In the middle of Vilnius’s old town is Mint Vinetu, a refuge for weary travelers. Books come in all shapes and languages, and there’s even a comic books and magazine section for those that don’t have room for thick novels. In addition, there’s a piano and guitar up for use, plenty of interesting events, handmade crafts, charging stations, and delicious pastries. This literature nook was built on the belief that great ideas should be shared and available to the public, without restrictions or price tags. It’s doing pretty well with this philosophy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julia is an artist, avid traveler, theater geek, future bestselling author, and language teacher. Born in Germany to a Polish family, she grew up in Texas and has spent the last six years living out of her suitcase. Most of her travels revolve around Europe and the Americas, chasing the next adventure. Follow her @jgzaremba.
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