Amsterdam is renowned for its historic canals, vibrant culture, and rich artistic heritage. In the midst of this enchanting city, book lovers can find solace in its thriving English bookstores. These havens for literature enthusiasts not only offer a diverse range of books but also provide a unique atmosphere that celebrates the love for reading.
On my many trips to Amsterdam, I’ve loved going to museums, walking the quaint streets, and experiencing Dutch culture. But, of course, because I’m me, I love to find bookstores anywhere I travel. And even though many places I visit aren’t English speaking, I still love shopping around for books (like in Prague, Paris, and Berlin). Luckily, many of these cities have English bookstores or English sections so that bookish travelers can still get their fill of new books.
If you’re looking to get more into the Dutch mindset, check out my post on books to read before visiting Amsterdam.
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So without going on anymore, let’s get into my list of the best English bookstores in Amsterdam.
The American Book Center (ABC)
Easily accessible in the heart of Amsterdam, The American Book Centre (ABC) is a mecca for English-language book enthusiasts. Established in 1972, this iconic bookstore is housed in a historic building and boasts an extensive collection of books spanning various genres.
The exterior of the American Book Center is modern and inviting, with large windows showcasing displays of books and attracting passersby. Upon entering the store, visitors are greeted by a spacious and welcoming interior, characterized by high ceilings, bright lighting, and a contemporary layout.
ABC offers a diverse and extensive selection of English-language books, covering a wide range of genres and subjects. From bestsellers and classics to niche titles and obscure finds, the bookstore caters to a broad spectrum of literary tastes and interests.
ABC also features a curated selection of magazines, newspapers, journals, and stationery items on the ground floor. The store prides itself on its knowledgeable and friendly staff, who are always available to provide recommendations, assist with inquiries, and engage in conversation about books and literature.
ABC often hosts author events, book signings, readings, and other literary activities, attracting a vibrant community of book lovers and enthusiasts. The store’s calendar of events is regularly updated with new and exciting opportunities for customers to connect with authors and fellow readers.
Address: Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam
Just a short 2-minute walk from American Book Center is Waterstones, a renowned British bookstore chain (that makes our list for the best London Bookstores). Located in the bustling Kalverstraat shopping district, Waterstones Amsterdam offers a curated selection of English books, including fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature.
The exterior of Waterstones Amsterdam is inviting and modern, with large windows adorned with displays of books and promotional materials. Upon entering the store, visitors are greeted by a spacious and well-lit interior, characterized by high ceilings, wooden shelves, and a contemporary layout.
With its cozy reading nooks and a stylish café, the store provides a relaxed environment for book browsing and reading. Waterstones frequently hosts book launches and signings, adding an extra layer of excitement for book enthusiasts.
Waterstones offers a diverse and extensive selection of books in English, covering a wide range of genres and subjects. From bestsellers and literary classics to niche titles and children’s books, the bookstore caters to a broad spectrum of literary tastes and interests.
Address: Kalverstraat 152, 1012 XE Amsterdam
New English Bookstore
The New English Bookstore, found in the city’s historic center, is a charming bookstore is a haven for book lovers seeking literary adventures in the heart of the Netherlands. With shelves lined with an extensive collection of books spanning various genres and categories.
The New English Bookstore caters to readers of all tastes and interests. From contemporary fiction to classic literature, from gripping thrillers to inspiring biographies – there is something on every shelf that will captivate your imagination and transport you into new worlds.
I’ve also seen the New English Bookstore Amsterdam called the English Bookshop or even the English Bookshop Amsterdam by some people, so if you happen to see either, they can be interchangeable.
If you’re looking for a new English book to try out, see my list of books to read before visiting the United Kingdom.
Address: Kalverstraat 223, 1012 XC Amsterdam
Boekhandel Van Rossum
While not exclusively an English bookstore, Boekhandel Van Rossum in Amsterdam Zuid boasts a well-stocked English section. Part of the Athenaeum Boekhandel family
This bookstore, housed in a beautiful corner building, offers a carefully chosen assortment of English-language books, including fiction, poetry, and travel literature. The store’s commitment to personalized service and its inviting atmosphere make it a delightful spot for book enthusiasts seeking a unique and diverse selection.
Situated on Spui Square, Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum occupies a prominent position in the city center. The store’s exterior is sleek and modern, with large windows that allow passersby to glimpse the bustling interior. Inside, visitors are greeted by a spacious and well-organized layout, with shelves neatly stocked with a wide array of publications.
Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum caters to diverse interests, with sections dedicated to literature, art, design, politics, science, and more.
The atmosphere in Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum is typically vibrant and lively, with customers browsing, reading, and engaging in conversations about various topics. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, providing assistance to customers seeking specific titles or recommendations.
Overall, Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum is not only a bookstore but also a cultural hub in Amsterdam, where locals and visitors alike can immerse themselves in the world of literature, journalism, and ideas from around the globe.
Address: Spui 14-16, 1012 XA Amsterdam
Het Fort van Sjakoo
Het Fort van Sjakoo is an independent bookstore located in central Amsterdam, just down the street from the Rembrandt House Museum. Specializing in radical and alternative literature, this bookstore has a unique and distinctive atmosphere that sets it apart from mainstream bookshops.
The exterior of Het Fort van Sjakoo is often adorned with colorful posters and displays, reflecting its commitment to counterculture and activism. Situated in a historic building, the store exudes character and charm, drawing in visitors with its eclectic facade.
Inside, visitors are greeted by shelves filled with a diverse range of books, zines, pamphlets, and other printed materials. The selection at Het Fort van Sjakoo covers a wide range of topics, including anarchism, feminism, environmentalism, anti-capitalism, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. Whether you’re looking for radical political theory, grassroots activism guides, or obscure zines, you’re likely to find your next read here.
The atmosphere in Het Fort van Sjakoo is often buzzing with activity, as the store serves as a meeting place and resource center for Amsterdam’s alternative and activist communities. Customers are encouraged to browse, linger, and engage in discussions with like-minded individuals.
The staff at Het Fort van Sjakoo are passionate about their work and are happy to offer recommendations or engage in conversations about the books and topics available in the store.
Overall, Het Fort van Sjakoo is more than just a bookstore; it’s a vibrant hub of radical thought, activism, and community in the heart of Amsterdam.
The Book Exchange
The Book Exchange is a well-known second-hand bookstore located in the heart of Amsterdam. Situated on the Kloveniersburgwal, near the famous Nieuwmarkt square, The Book Exchange occupies a charming historic building, adding to its unique appeal.
The Book Exchange specializes in English-language books, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists seeking affordable reads in Amsterdam.
Inside, the shelves are filled with a diverse selection of used books spanning various genres and subjects. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, with books piled high and arranged in a somewhat haphazard yet organized manner, giving the store a distinctly homey feel.
One of the unique features of The Book Exchange is its trading system, which allows customers to exchange their own used books for store credit or new-to-them titles. This system not only encourages recycling and sustainability but also fosters a sense of community among book lovers.
Scheltema Boekhandel is one of the oldest and largest bookstores in Amsterdam, located in the bustling heart of the city on Koningsplein, near Dam Square and the Royal Palace. Founded in 1853, Scheltema has a rich history and is an iconic institution in Amsterdam’s literary scene.
The exterior of Scheltema Boekhandel is distinguished by its grand facade, adorned with large windows that showcase displays of books and attract passersby. Upon entering the bookstore, visitors are greeted by a spacious and modern interior, with high ceilings and multiple floors dedicated to different genres and categories of books.
Scheltema offers an extensive selection of books in various languages, including Dutch, English, and other foreign languages. The store caters to a diverse range of interests, with sections dedicated to fiction, non-fiction, literature, art, history, travel, children’s books, and more. Whether you’re searching for bestsellers, classics, niche titles, or local publications, Scheltema is likely to have what you’re looking for.
Scheltema Boekhandel also features a cafe where visitors can relax and enjoy a coffee or snack while browsing or reading. The bookstore often hosts author events, book launches, readings, and other literary activities, making it a vibrant hub of cultural and intellectual life in Amsterdam.
Address: Rokin 9, 1012 KK Amsterdam
NOTE: As of right now, Mendo is temporarily closed. There’s no expected date for when they will be open.
Mendo is a boutique bookstore located in the heart of Amsterdam, renowned for its curated selection of high-quality books on photography, fashion, design, architecture, lifestyle, and visual arts. Situated on the famous Berenstraat in the picturesque Nine Streets neighborhood, Mendo exudes style and sophistication from the moment you step inside.
The exterior of Mendo is sleek and modern, with large windows showcasing displays of beautifully designed books and magazines. Upon entering the store, visitors are greeted by an elegant and minimalist interior, with shelves meticulously arranged to showcase the stunning book collection.
Mendo offers a carefully curated selection of books sourced from around the world, featuring works by renowned photographers, designers, and artists. From coffee table books and limited editions to niche publications and collector’s items, the bookstore caters to discerning customers seeking inspiration and visual delight.
Mendo also features a range of lifestyle products, including stationery, accessories, and gifts, carefully selected to complement the aesthetic and ethos of the bookstore.
Henk Comics is a specialized comic book store in Amsterdam. Situated in the vibrant De Pijp neighborhood, Henk Comics caters to comic book enthusiasts, collectors, and casual readers alike.
The exterior of Henk Comics is inviting and colorful, often adorned with displays showcasing comic book artwork and characters. Upon entering the store, visitors are greeted by a cozy and welcoming interior, with shelves lined with a diverse selection of comic books, graphic novels, manga, and related merchandise.
Henk Comics offers a wide range of comics in various genres, styles, and formats, catering to different interests and age groups. Whether you’re a fan of superhero comics, indie comics, European bande dessinée, or Japanese manga, you’re likely to find your favorite genre. The store stocks both mainstream titles from major publishers and niche titles from independent creators, ensuring that there’s something for everyone.
Henk Comics also features a range of related merchandise, including action figures, collectibles, posters, t-shirts, and accessories. The store prides itself on its knowledgeable and passionate staff, who are always available to provide recommendations, assist with inquiries, and engage in conversation about comics and pop culture.
Address: Zeedijk 101, 1012 AV Amsterdam
Happy Bookieman Amsterdam
Happy Bookieman Amsterdam is a delightful bookstore known for its charming ambiance and extensive collection of books. Whether you are a bookworm or simply enjoy exploring literary treasures, this cozy bookstore is a true haven for all bibliophiles. Upon entering Happy Bookieman Amsterdam, you will be greeted by shelves upon shelves filled with an impressive range of books covering various genres and subjects. From classic literature to contemporary fiction, travel guides to cookbooks, there is something for everyone’s reading taste.
The knowledgeable and friendly staff at Happy Bookieman Amsterdam are always eager to assist visitors in finding their next great read. With their passion for books and vast knowledge about different authors and genres, they can provide excellent recommendations tailored to your preferences.
One of the highlights of Happy Bookieman Amsterdam is its commitment to promoting local talent and supporting independent authors. The store proudly showcases a dedicated section exclusively featuring works by local writers. This not only allows customers to discover new voices but also nurtures the literary community within Amsterdam.
The cozy seating areas invite visitors to relax with a cup of coffee or tea while flipping through the pages of their latest find.
Address: Herengracht 267A, 1016 BJ Amsterdam
Amsterdam Book Markets
Book lovers from all over the world flock to Amsterdam to explore its numerous book markets, where they can discover rare editions, second hand treasures, and literary gems. From bustling street markets to quaint canal-side stalls, Amsterdam offers a diverse range of book markets that cater to every bibliophile’s taste.
Spui Book Market
The Spui Book Market is a popular outdoor book market held in the heart of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Located on the picturesque Spui square, surrounded by historic buildings, cafes, and shops, the market provides a charming setting for book lovers to browse and shop for new and second hand books.
The Spui Book Market typically takes place on Fridays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, offering a diverse selection of books in various genres and languages. Visitors can find everything from fiction and non-fiction to children’s books, art books, travel guides, and more. The market features both Dutch and English-language books, catering to a wide range of interests and tastes.
Stalls at the Spui Book Market are manned by independent sellers, including bookstores, antiquarians, collectors, and individuals, each offering their own unique selection of books. The atmosphere is lively and bustling, with visitors perusing the stalls, chatting with sellers, and discovering hidden gems among the books on display.
The Spui Book Market often features other literary-related items, such as posters, prints, postcards, and literary-themed merchandise. Visitors can also enjoy snacks and refreshments from nearby cafes and food stalls while exploring the market.
The Spui Book Market is not only a place to find great deals on books but also a vibrant cultural hub where locals and tourists come together to celebrate literature, exchange ideas, and immerse themselves in the rich literary heritage of Amsterdam. Whether you’re a book enthusiast, a casual reader, or simply looking for a unique shopping experience, the Spui Book Market offers something for everyone amidst the charming surroundings of Amsterdam’s historic city center.
Address: Het Spui, 1012 WX Amsterdam
Oudemanhuispoort Book Market
The Oudemanhuispoort Book Market is a beloved destination for book lovers in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Situated in a historic passageway near the University of Amsterdam, the market offers a charming and atmospheric setting for browsing and buying books.
It features a long row of stalls lining the picturesque Oudemanhuispoort, each manned by independent sellers offering a diverse selection of new and second-hand books. The market specializes in academic and scholarly books, with offerings ranging from textbooks and research papers to rare and antiquarian volumes.
Visitors to the Oudemanhuispoort Book Market can explore a wide array of subjects and genres, including literature, history, philosophy, science, art, and more.
The atmosphere at the Oudemanhuispoort Book Market is vibrant and bustling, with visitors perusing the stalls, chatting with sellers, and discovering hidden literary treasures. The market is known for its friendly and knowledgeable sellers, who are passionate about books and eager to assist customers in finding specific titles or making recommendations.
The Oudemanhuispoort Book Market often features other literary-related items, such as prints, maps, postcards, and ephemera. Visitors can also enjoy snacks and refreshments from nearby cafes while browsing the market.
Address: 1012 CN Amsterdam
Literary travelers who love finding the best bookshops, Amsterdam is an amazing city. These Amsterdam bookshops provide a haven for literature lovers, offering a diverse range of books, knowledgeable staff, and a welcoming atmosphere. Whether you’re seeking the latest bestseller, a classic novel, or a niche publication, these bookstores cater to a wide range of literary tastes.
The sense of community fostered by regular events, book clubs, and cozy reading corners adds an extra layer of charm to the literary scene of Amsterdam.
So, the next time you find yourself in this enchanting city, make sure to explore these literary havens and immerse yourself in the joy of reading. And don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Facebook if you happen to visit any shops on my list of bookstores in Amsterdam so I can see what you all are getting up to and prepare for my next trips!
Map of Bookstores in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Bookstores FAQs
Are there English bookstores in Netherlands?
Yes, there are English bookstores in the Netherlands, particularly in cities like Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. These bookshops cater to English-speaking residents and tourists, offering a wide selection of books in English, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, and more. Some popular English bookstores in the Netherlands include ABC Amsterdam, American Book Center (with locations in Amsterdam and The Hague), and Waterstones (with locations in Amsterdam and The Hague). These book stores often have a diverse range of English language books and provide a convenient option for English speakers looking for books in the Netherlands.
What is the most beautiful bookstore in the Netherlands?
One of the most beautiful bookstores in the Netherlands is often considered to be the “Boekhandel Dominicanen” in Maastricht. Housed within a former Dominican church dating back to the 13th century, this bookstore is renowned for its stunning architecture and unique atmosphere. The church’s grandeur, with its high vaulted ceilings, intricate frescoes, and majestic columns, provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for browsing books. The bookstore features a vast selection of titles across various genres, and visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack while perusing the shelves. The combination of history, architecture, and literature makes Boekhandel Dominicanen a truly enchanting destination for book lovers and visitors alike.
Are there English bookstores in Europe?
Yes, there are English bookstores in various cities across Europe, catering to English-speaking residents and visitors. Major cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, and many others have English bookshops offering a wide range of titles in English, including literature, non-fiction, children’s books, and more. These bookstores often serve as hubs for expatriate communities and tourists looking for English-language books.
Some well-known English bookstores in Europe include Waterstones in the UK, Shakespeare and Company in Paris, Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus in Berlin, and The Anglo-American Bookshop in Rome. These bookstores provide a familiar space for English speakers to browse and purchase books while abroad.
Where is the most beautiful bookstore in the world?
Determining the “most beautiful” bookstore in the world is subjective and can vary depending on individual tastes and preferences. However, one iconic and frequently cited contender for this title is the Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal. This bookstore, with its striking neo-Gothic facade, intricate woodwork, stained glass ceilings, and a magnificent red staircase, is often praised for its stunning architecture and unique ambiance.
Another notable mention is El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Housed in a former theater, this bookstore retains its grandeur with ornate balconies, plush seating areas, and a stage that now serves as a café, all surrounded by towering shelves of books.
Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France, is also highly regarded for its charm and literary history. This English-language bookstore has welcomed famous authors and poets over the years and exudes a cozy, old-world atmosphere.
Is English common in Amsterdam?
Yes, in Amsterdam, English is very common. The Netherlands has a high level of English proficiency, and many Dutch people, especially in urban areas like Amsterdam, speak English fluently. English is taught as a second language in schools from an early age, and the Dutch are generally proficient in it.
In Amsterdam specifically, you’ll find that most signs, menus, and public transportation announcements are also available in English. Additionally, many businesses, restaurants, and tourist attractions in Amsterdam have English-speaking staff and materials. As a result, English-speaking visitors should have no trouble communicating and navigating their way around Amsterdam.
Is it rude to speak English in Amsterdam?
No, it is not rude to speak English in Amsterdam. The Netherlands has a high level of English proficiency, and English is commonly spoken and understood throughout the country, particularly in urban areas like Amsterdam. Many Dutch people speak English fluently, and it’s often used in business, education, and everyday communication.
In fact, English is widely accepted and welcomed by locals in Amsterdam, especially in tourist areas and when interacting with visitors from other countries. Most Dutch people are happy to converse in English and may even switch to English if they notice that someone is not a native Dutch speaker.
However, it’s always polite to make an effort to learn a few basic Dutch phrases or greetings, as this shows respect for the local culture and language. Overall, though, speaking English in Amsterdam is not considered rude at all; it’s a common and practical way to communicate in this cosmopolitan city.
Are you ready to Travel?
- Book Your Flights– To find the cheapest flights, flexibility is a must. Some great options are Google Flights for the calendars to find the cheapest options, Skiplagged, and Skyscanner. For more options, see our resources page.
- Find Transportation- If you’re driving, look into Rentalcars.com before arriving to find the best rates. Also check for rail or bus routes as they might be cheaper than renting a car.
- Book Your Accommodation– Look at Booking.com, Hotels.com, or Expedia for hotels. You can also look at AirBnB or VRBO if you want a bigger space.
- Book Tours and Experiences- Check Viator or Klook for some of the best tours and attractions for a great price.
- Stay Connected– If your phone’s data plan is going to be expensive, order an eSIM card before you go.
- Buy Travel Insurance- I always recommend World Nomads for insurance. It’s better to protect yourself in case of mishaps. Learn more about World Nomads in this FAQ post.
- Pack Your Bags– Check out my packing lists, or my favorite travel gear to help you remember all of the essentials.
- Learn About Your Destination: Learn about your location with guidebooks like Lonely Planet, or, novels and books about the country, or, shameless plug, search around my site for more info.
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