The Best English Bookstores in Rio de Janeiro

The Best English Bookstores in Rio de Janeiro

While on our travels, anytime we make it to a big city the first thing we do is go on a comprehensive book tour. Who knows when the next time will be that we can find a decent selection of English books? In our opinion, it’s best to stock up.

Here’s our guide to bookstores in Rio de Janeiro- the ones you can’t miss, and the ones where you’ll spend the whole time sifting through hundreds of Portuguese novels in the hopes of spotting one in English.

6. Leonardo da Vinci

A quaint bookshop located in the basement of a building in Rio Centro, Leonardo da Vinci is great if you can read in Portuguese. It has a nice little café where you can enjoy some pastries, but unfortunately you won’t find a single English title among its polished-wood shelves. We included it here because it is a great bookstore, and so that you can go ahead and cross it off your list if you only read in English.

Location: Marquês do Herval – Av. Rio Branco, 185

Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 7pm
             Saturday: 9:30am – 1:30pm

Bookstores in Rio de Janeiro
Leonardo da Vinci Bookstore, Rio de Janeiro                                                   Image credit: Boletim Leituras

5. Berinjela

Berinjela is a small sebo, or used bookstore, directly across the hall from Leonardo da Vinci. It has a couple of shelves of English fiction and all of the books cost only half the price that is written on the inside covers (which is already very cheap). It was undoubtedly one of the cheapest bookstores in Rio de Janeiro that we found, but the selection is limited.

Location: Av. Rio Branco, 185

Hours: Monday – Friday: 9am – 7pm
             Saturday: 9:30am – 1pm

4. Baratos da Ribeiro

Another used bookshop, Baratos da Ribeiro looks like a tiny place from the outside, but as soon as you walk in you’re plunged into rows of shelves that stretch deep into the building. The cashier pointed us upstairs into a small room where piles of English, German, and French books were stacked on the floor and in boxes. We spent an enjoyable half-hour flipping through dusty novels, and walked out with Woody Allen and Malcolm Gladwell for a mere R$10.

Location: R. Paulino Fernandes, 15

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11am – 8pm 

Bookstores in Rio de Janeiro
Baratos da Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro                                                           Image credit: Dy Colares

3. Livraria Saraiva

This modern bookstore chain has a bit of everything. Whether you’re looking for a book, a pair of headphones, office supplies, or even a Samsung Galaxy, you can find it at Livraria Saraiva. There are a few shelves dedicated to popular titles in English, but don’t expect to stumble upon any rare finds.

Location: R. do Ouvidor, 98

Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 7:30pm
             Saturday: 9am – 2pm

2. Livraria da Travessa

Livraria da Travessa is located in a beautiful historic building in Rio’s Centro district. Its English section includes classics, Latin American and Brazilian authors, as well as a pretty random selection of books that we didn’t see elsewhere. You probably won’t find the new blockbusters here, but if you’re looking for some variety, this is the place. A café sits atop the staircase, so if you’ve got any money left from all the book shopping you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and some food.

Location: Av. Rio Branco, 44

Hours: Monday – Friday: 10am – 7pm

Bookstores in Rio de Janeiro
Livraria da Travessa, Rio de Janeiro                                                                Image credit: Guia Cultural Centro do Rio

1. Livraria Cultura

Livraria Cultura is a chain of bookstores in Brazil. The one we went to in Rio has three floors, complete with a rising spiral of books from a variety of disciplines which you can leisurely stroll through. Of course, most of these are in Portuguese, but you can find the occasional English book in topics varying from marketing to mythology, as well as a whole section devoted to history. There is also a very respectable English fiction section towards the front of the store, which includes plenty of classics and popular authors. It’s organized a bit chaotically, and you may be wandering back and forth a bit to find the same author on multiple shelves, but it’s definitely the largest selection we managed to find in Rio. There’s also a buffet-style coffee shop on the third floor, which contributed to our conclusion that this was the best bookstore that we visited (despite the fact that it was a bit expensive). Personally, we usually prefer used bookstores to new, but it’s difficult to beat the selection in new bookstore chains when you’re abroad.

Location: Rua Senador Dantas, 45

Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9am – 9pm

Bookstores in Rio de Janeiro
Livraria Cultura, Rio de Janeiro

– Iris & Roi

Can you recommend any other good bookstores in Rio de Janeiro? Let us know in the comments!