Library books in a glass case

Museums, statues and gardens often top the lists of must-see sights across the world. And while they typically have a lot to offer, they’re usually packed with tourists or charge pricey admission fees. That’s why we prefer to visit libraries. 

With culture-rich architecture, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a calm environment that offers a nice break during a vacation, libraries are the perfect places to explore. Even if you’re not planning your next trip out of the country anytime soon, here are some of the most interesting libraries to add to your travel bucket list. 

1. Trinity College Library, Dublin, IrelandCeiling of Trinity College Library in Dublin Ireland

Trinity College Library looks like a set from a Harry Potter movie. Established in 1592, the academic library is home to over 7,000,000 volumes, including books, journals, databases, maps and manuscripts. As part of Trinity College, certain services within the library are only available to students and faculty, but visitors are welcome to tour the location in person or virtually. Be sure to check out the Book of Kells, a beautiful illuminated manuscript steeped in history.

2. Admont Abbey Library,  Austria

Ceiling of Admont Abbey Library in Austria

Admont Abbey Library, the largest Monastery library in the world, looks more like a museum than a library. With sculptures, painted ceilings and limewood carvings, this library has more than just books to offer.  It does require a ticket to tour in person, but you can also take a 3D tour online.

3. Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City, Mexico

Floating shelves at Biblioteca Vasconcelos in Mexico City

Biblioteca Vasconcelos looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. With floating shelves and a piece of art modeling a whale skeleton hanging in the main lobby, this library is much different from the conventional library. It’s a little out of the way from CDMX, but it is worth the trip for any book-lover.

4. Tianjin Binhai Library, Tianjin, China

The Tianjin Binhai Library, nicknamed “The Eye,” is one of the five central attractions of the Binhai Cultural Center. With five levels and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, the library is home to over 1.2 million books. At the center of the library is a 110-person sphere-shaped auditorium. Come for the architecture, stay for the books.

5. Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janerio, Brazil 

Inside the Royal Portuguese Reading Room in Brazil

From the outside, the Royal Portuguese Reading Room (or the Real Gabinete Portugues Da Leitura), looks like just another building––but once you step inside, it feels like you’re stepping into a king’s personal library. The calm atmosphere, floor-to-ceiling books and ornate skylight create the perfect atmosphere for cozying up with a book. 

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About The Author

Erica is a former digital nomad, having traveled the world as a freelance writer. She is now a writer at Scribewise and lives in Philadelphia. Her favorite travel destinations include London, Prague, and Bali.

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