Best Bookshops and Cafés for Bookworms in Athens
Traveling is understandably about getting connected with the culture, the mentality and the ideals of the place someone visits. Books are without a doubt the best medium of understanding a different culture and becoming a better-rounded person. Even during our travels, we have this yearning of keeping in touch with the magical world of words.
Athens is an ideal place to get connected to the world of literature. There are various bookstores where bookworms from abroad can easily discover their new favorite reads, and get a glimpse to the world of Greek literature. Reading is not an alternative to traveling; it’s the best way to learn about the destinations you are visiting.
In Stassinos Street in the region of Pagrati, exists a really bright and colorful space, with plenty of book titles that seem to have been carefully selected one by one. Its name is Lexikopoleio, which means the shop of dictionaries. It is literally the Eden of dictionaries! A huge variety of them from many European, Asiatic and African languages inhibits the selves of the bookstore. You would be really surprised by the number of dictionaries that are available there. Browsing its shelves, you will come across various bilingual, trilingual and multilingual editions of books with proverbs, slang as well as idiomatic expressions. These linguistic treasures aim to bring the world to Greece at reasonable prices, to open windows to different nationalities and share their vision of the world through the medium of words.
Odile Bréhier, the French owner of the bookstore, loves languages. Her passion for dictionaries stems from the idea that they have the power to make the reader fall in love with the world of languages and incite a longing for reading works from all over the globe. It is not surprising that gradually the area evolved into an international and multilingual bookstore where one can find books of English, American, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian and especially French literature and poetry, children’s books, magazines, comics and even essays in multilingual editions.
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Literary translation workshops are held from time to time in Lexikopoleio and writers are often invited to discuss their literary creations with their readers. Adding to that, within March 2019, a reading marathon in French will take place there to honor the spread of the French language and its impact in Greece. I have participated in multiple of these marathons in previous years and I can say without a doubt that this particular event can make you cultivate an interest in French literature. So, if you happen to visit Athens this particular period, make sure to pay a visit and witness the event on your own.
If you have a passion for languages and dream to discover linguistic gems of other cultures, Lexikopoleio invites you to show up at its doorstep, pick a book that might interest you and delve into its pages while sitting at one of its cute, little tables that occupy its inside.
Location: 13, Stasinou, 11635, Athens
Lemoni is a small bookstore in one of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of Athens, in the area of Thissio. Today it celebrates more than twenty years of existence and perseverance despite the ongoing financial crisis. It was named after the lemon trees hidden in the depths of the bookstore in its lovely and magical backyard. On its shelves you will find titles that may have not achieved a commercial success but have been selected carefully based on their rich themes. After all, fundamental criterion for selling a book, according to the store’s owners, is their quality and the importance of the message the book aims to transmit to its reader. They have bravely decided to step outside the structures the world of corporate publishing has established. Thus, they publish books that are important and need to be read. On the shelves of Lemoni, a world of ideals, meanings, philosophies of Greek and foreign literature is displayed: classical and Modern Greek literature, poetry, philosophy, interesting magazines, noteworthy children's books, but also theater! Surprisingly, Japanese poetry occupies an exceptionally great place in the bookstore.
The success of this place is mainly thanks to its authentic character. The owners have created this literary paradise to connect with the readers, to share their passion for books, discuss their multiple themes and learn from each other. When they talk to customers they do not feel like booksellers but like two readers having a chat over their favorite book. They sell solely books that they themselves have read, thus they can easily guide the customers to a piece of literature that matches their needs and taste; especially, those willing to get to know unexplored territories of literature.
Location: 22, Irakleidon, Thissio 11851, Athens
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Maps have a unique power to transport us to distant lands on wondrous travels. Every single time I visit a new country or a new city I have this tendency to look for small independent places for maps or travel guides… but not only the regular, conventional ones that can be found just with one click, but maps that disperse boundaries, make you feel this sense of wanderlust for new places and cultures; maps that showcase details and present an interesting vision for traveling. In Athens, such a place exists and its name: Travel bookstore, just a breath away from Syntagma square. The semi-circular facade provides plenty of light in the interior where you will find a small geographical and travel paradise. The bookstore displays various wall-sized maps and a wide variety of globes. The ground floor is dedicated to Greek maps, guides and books sorted by region. Some of them are translated in languages other than Greek. In the first floor, you will find a wide range of travel guides and maps of Europe and the world, in general. A visit to this place will ignite a wanting of choosing your next travel destination.
Location: 71, Solonos str., 10679, Athens
Novelist Anthony Trollope once famously said “What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?”. His statement could not be any less true. There is a certain indescribable delight in tasting a flavored coffee and simultaneously escaping in the comfort of a book. Athens proposes various places that combine both of these elements, which invite you to hang out and get lost in the pages of a book.
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Located at the foothills of the Acropolis across Herodion Hotel in Athens, Little Tree Books & Coffee is a beautiful and warm place, being at the same time a quiet café and a cute little bookshop. You can actually see the Acropolis Museum through those large windows or, even better, the welcoming tables outside when the weather allows it. Its vintage furniture, its wooden libraries and its attention to details create Parisian-like aesthetics.
This coffee shop/bookstore at the Acropolis area is a hidden gem for all bookworms. A café-bar with a library, what a chance for book lovers, to read at their leisure, drinking a good coffee, or ordering a good piece of delicious pie, tea or homemade lemonade. The place is full of colors, ideas and happy people. It is certainly a rare phenomenon to find nowadays. The store was created by a bunch of friends coming from different business ventures. Shelves upon shelves of beautiful publications ranging from children’s books, YA novels, Greek literature, poetry, philosophy and politics, among many others. This is best place to find English translations of Greek novels, while being surrounded by the aromas of warm coffee.
Location: 2, Kavalloti, 117 42, Athens
The philosophy of this space is summed up with the words bibliophilia, delight, tranquility and warmth. Poems n’ Crimes is a bookstore and the residence of Gavriilidis editions, a breath away from Monastiraki square. Here you will find books about the arts, psychology, international editions of Greek poetry, Greek and foreign prose, philosophy and more. Poetic collections and crime books are the main production of the particular editions. The 1850’s building serves at the same time as a bookstore, a print shop, a coffee bar and the corporate offices of the Publishing House. At the ground floor, you will find both the bar and the bookstore with the crime titles section. On the ground floor, a century ago there used to be stables and the marble horseshoes of the horses are still maintained today. The details make this place more appealing than expected. The upper floor hosts the poems section, and from time to time various exhibitions, book signings, poetry recitals and presentations take place. However, the thing that makes this place magical is the hidden backyard, where weekly live music gigs are organized. Make sure to search for hidden art around and take a good look at the walls covered with pretty graffiti. The third floor hosts the printing press of the building, where the magical process of production of books takes place.
Location: 17, Agias Irinis, 105 51, Athens
The first Evripidis bookshop was founded in 1955. The building is situated in the region of Chalandri and has in total 4 floors. There is a second newly founded bookstore in the region of Kifissia. It combines both the comfort of a modern bookstore and the sophisticated environment of a coffee place. The customer feels a sense of familiarity, as if he or she was picking books from their own library. Two cozy coffee spaces, one in the bookshop on the first floor and the other in the backyard, offer sweet and savory delicacies for endless readings. The perfect setting to rest, get away, enjoy reading a book and taste a coffee full of aromas.
The international section of the bookstore can be found on a separate floor. Special attention has been paid to foreign literature (mostly English and French), something that showcases that the owners care to fulfill the needs and demands of their readers. The combination of the above elements has crowned the legendary Evripidis bookstore as one of the world's most beautiful bookstores, according to the Publications Pan MacMillan.
Location: 11, Andrea Papandreou, 152 32, Chalandri and 310, Kifissias Avenue, 145 63, Kifissia
Jorge Luis Borges once wrote: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” So, if you have a profound love for books, if you are fond of reading while traveling and have this urgency to discover Greek literary treasures, Athens is the ideal destination to rekindle your passion for literature.
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Are you a book lover? Which bookstore or book café do you suggest in Athens for all bookworms? Let us know in the Comments section below!
Text: Olga Georgousi