Mexico City was a book lover’s dream, full of open-air bookstores, magical libraries, and fantastic places to read. I visited the city late this past January, and while I of course hit all of the classic tourist destinations—climbing la Pirámide del Sol at Teotihuacán; marveling at Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s home in Coyoacán; and standing starstruck in front of the murals at the Palacio de Bellas Artes—I also, naturally, spent a lot of time finding the best places for literary tourism in Mexico City.
The most beautiful bookstores in Mexico City, the libraries that blew me away, the hidden places to read that made me feel the most at peace. Here are my recommendations for anyone visiting Mexico City who plans to go home with a pile of books, or who just appreciates some great bookish places when they travel. To someone who, like me, spent their time pre-trip figuring out the best books to read when visiting Mexico City.
From one book lover to another, here is a guide to Mexico City’s best bookish places.
A bookstore with a tree inside of it. You heard me right—in Chapultepec Park, right across the street from the National Museum of Anthropology, is a branch of Porrúa where a tree grows through the building, and the back of the bookstore is open to the air, a lovely porch beside the lake where you can read to your heart’s content.
Centro Cultural Elena Garro
Named after Elena Garro, writer and poet, this gorgeous bookstore in Coyoacán is full of light, with a gorgeous brick balcony, shelves and shelves of wonderful books, and a substantive collection on gender theory. I also found the people there kind and very helpful.
Under the Volcano Books
Seeking libros en inglés? It might be a good idea to seek out this English-language bookstore. I didn’t make it over there, but I’ve read many wonderful things about this bookstore in the beautiful neighborhood of Condesa.
Librería Rosario Castellanos
Rosario Castellanos was a brilliant poet and writer who influenced Mexican feminist theory, and this gorgeous art-deco-inspired bookstore was named for her. This gigantic bookstore is located within the Centro Cultural Bella Época, and you can sit and read for hours in the natural light.
If there was one bookstore on this list where I wanted to spend more time, it was this one. This Condesa bookstore has a pendulum hanging from the 2nd floor ceiling, drawing sand patterns on a metal disc. It has a great selection—I purchased The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz there in English—as well as a beautiful café with a balcony on the upper floors. A really wonderful, colorful place.