The ten best book venues around Switzerland

From historic libraries to modern chain stores, these are the country's top draws for literature lovers
Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen
Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen
By Katharina Sand |
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In these digital times, real, beautifully designed books have become badges of authenticity that people seek out, share and celebrate. From mammoth chain stores rammed with the latest English-language titles to quirky independents perfect for an afternoon’s browsing and architecturally amazing archives to humble literary retreats, here’s our pick of the best stores, sights and hangouts across the country for fans of the printed word

Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen

The stunning rococo-style library of the St Gallen monastery does not just house an awe-inspiring collection of books, but also hosts conferences and classical concerts. 

Oraibi + Beckbooks

This radical little Berlin-esque book space sits next to Geneva’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and promotes feminist and critical writing. 

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Orell Füssli The Bookshop
Markus Lamprecht

Orell Füssli

They’ve thought of everything here: all the latest Booker Prize-nominated novels, a Starbucks next to the mouthwatering cookbook section, WiFi and comfy chairs everywhere – it's like a Swiss Barnes & Noble.

Pile of Books

Browse the expertly edited selection of titles, then ask owner Daniel Nufer about the regular performances and readings at this gem of a bookshop. 

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Kosmos Buchsalon
© Vera Hartmann

Kosmos Buchsalon

Housed next to the cinema, the Kosmos cultural centre’s bookshop is open until 10pm most nights and offers food, drinks and a cosy seating area. In all, it can be a pretty hard place to leave. 

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Ringel Refugium

Rent one of the simple rooms at this refuge/antique bookshop in the mountains and get lost in the collection of over 100,000 vintage books belonging to its founder, Romansh singer-songwriter Walter Lietha – a kind of Swiss version of Bob Dylan with a touch of Timothy Leary.

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Librairie de l’Ile

Chat with owner Vincent Bidoyet to find out about the selection of art and architecture books, art exhibitions, writing workshops and other events at this shop on an island in the River Rhône.

Fondation Martin Bodmer, Bodmer Library, Geneva, Time Out Switzerland
Alpra ArazeL/Wikimedia Commons

Fondation Martin Bodmer

Catch an exhibition or join a guided tour at this modern temple to books. One of the most important private libraries in the world, it includes first editions of Shakespeare, Molière and the Gutenberg Bible among its 150,000 volumes.

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Payot

With 12 bookshops in six cantons hosting events galore, Payot is an institution – though its Geneva Rive Gauche space with its light-drenched café, English-language section and Saturday storytelling events for children deserves a special mention.

Fondation Jan Michalski
© Leo Fabrizio

Fondation Jan Michalski

Opened in 2014, this stunningly designed library houses a multilingual and multicultural collection of 65,000 books as well as hosting exhibitions, literature events and writers in residence. 

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