This Charming Bookstore Has The Most Incredible Views Of The Venice Canals

acqua alta bookstore


When they say books can open your world famous places, they don’t usually mean you get an incredible view. But at Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, Italy, the best seat in the house is reached via book staircase.

Acqua Alta is beloved by book lovers and photographers alike for its only-in-Venice charm. See, the bookshop opens right onto the canals โ€” you could fall into the water from the window.

However, proximity to the canals also means the store floods. To protect the hundreds of titles in Acqua Alta’s collection, many books are kept on high shelves, stored in buckets and stacked in boats. The dewy decimal system, this is not. But part of the romance of Acqua Alta is browsing books without purpose. You won’t find Gone Girl, but you might find a beautiful Italian novel from the 1940s to add some dolce vita to your bookshelf at home.

Outside, the waterlogged staircase is made from gigantic vintage tomes, and if you’re lucky, you can spot a gondola sailing past from the top step.ย 

If you’re going for the photos, the best time to go is early afternoon. Much earlier than 11 a.m. or later than 3 p.m. and the light won’t cooperate. You’ll be sitting on a book staircase โ€” still coolย โ€” but the background will be so washed out or so dark that you could be in Kansas instead of Veniceย โ€” less cool without the canal backdrop.

But don’t be that tourist who walks into the shop only for the photo op or it won’t remain free for long. If you can’t fit an entire book in your suitcase, at least grab a few postcards or a vintage map for your wall back home.

Acqua Alta can be found in the Venetian neighborhood ofย Castello, if you can find your way through the maze-like city a little bit outside the main tourist track.

When you go, don’t forget to say hey to the resident snoozing cat. The kitty’s favorite perches are second only to the book stairs in terms of Instagrams per square foot.

This story is part of a series highlighting the real deal behind the hottest destinations on Instagram and best hidden photo ops in your favorite destinations.