Notice: Function WP_Block_Type_Registry::register was called incorrectly. Block type "core/gallery" is already registered. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 5.0.0.) in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5835

Notice: Undefined index: viator_tour in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/10up-gutenberg-migration/includes/SmarterTravel/Gutenberg/ShortcakeTranslator.php on line 70

Notice: Constant WP_CACHE already defined in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-config.php on line 137

Notice: Function WP_Scripts::localize was called incorrectly. The $l10n parameter must be an array. To pass arbitrary data to scripts, use the wp_add_inline_script() function instead. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 5.7.0.) in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5835

Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/themes/smarter-travel/app/core/Locations/Types.php on line 166

Notice: Function WP_Scripts::localize was called incorrectly. The $l10n parameter must be an array. To pass arbitrary data to scripts, use the wp_add_inline_script() function instead. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 5.7.0.) in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5835
Libraries of the World: A Cultural Free-for-All

The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

X

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 5 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 6 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 98

Notice: Undefined index: pass_through_args in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 158

Notice: Undefined index: wrapper in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 159

Libraries of the World: A Cultural Free-for-All


Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 5 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 6 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 98

Notice: Undefined index: pass_through_args in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 158

Notice: Undefined index: wrapper in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 159

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 5 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 6 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 98

Notice: Undefined index: pass_through_args in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 158

Notice: Undefined index: wrapper in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 159

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 5 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 6 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 98

Notice: Undefined index: pass_through_args in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 158

Notice: Undefined index: wrapper in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 159

You’re in a new city and you have the near-unavoidable checklist of sights to see and things to do. Let’s review here: Museums, national parks, historic sites, art installations, so-and-so says this is the home of the world’s best wiener schnitzel — the list could seemingly go on forever.

And while many attractions are simply a case of beholding them (it’s free to stare at the Eiffel Tower but not to climb), entrance fees and related costs add up over the course of a vacation.

So what destination is available in just about every city you’ll visit, is a great porthole into local culture, offers spectacular people-watching as well as potentially free Internet access (handy in a foreign land) and is always free to visit? Libraries! I’m not just talking about Washington D.C.’s Library of Congress (on many actual to-do lists), but any community building for book loan. You probably grew up visiting your own, from time to time, and never even considered it as a tourist attraction. Admittedly, that’s because some libraries are a tad more impressive than others — not in what they stand for, but perhaps how they stand (picture a repurposed industrial complex in Germany shaped like a Tetris block and filled with books).

Flavorwire recently put together a slideshow of 15 standout libraries from around the world — including one in Denmark featuring a giant mouth that recites poetry aloud, as well as reading nooks resembling birdcages in an eco-retreat at a Thai resort.

Editor’s Note: Slides one and nine represent private, home libraries and while awe-inspiring, are not recommended for your next sightseeing list!

While attending college in Poughkeepsie, NY, I was drawn to study in the library of my friend’s alma mater, Vassar College — not for the millions of pages at hand, lying dormant in their many tomes, but for the Gothic architecture: the marble touches, hidden staircases and stained glass windows. This didn’t improve my grades as much as fuel my wandering imagination, and solidify my appreciation of libraries that appear as grand and mysterious as the knowledge within.

If the library you find doesn’t resemble a cathedral or a giraffe, don’t fret. The volumes you find abroad may not always be in your native tongue, but the communal library experience is guaranteed to be shared. Libraries are often used as a space for community announcements and events, so take advantage of tapping right into the source — find a bulletin board or events calendar (if you can read it) to get a pulse on the area.

What’s the best library you ever visited at home or abroad? Share your experiences in the comments below!

— written by Brittany Chrusciel

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From


Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 5 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 6 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 92

Notice: Undefined offset: 4 in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 98

Notice: Undefined index: pass_through_args in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 158

Notice: Undefined index: wrapper in /nas/content/live/stagingstmllc/wp-content/plugins/smartertravel-shared/includes/ads/includes/api.php on line 159