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Top 3 Café-Bookstores in Canberra for Students

Café-bookstores can be great place for students to study or just hang out, but with so much choice in Canberra it can be hard to know which ones are the best. Using the criteria of: price of coffee, parking, quietude of store for studying, access to plugs for charging, and available study nooks I have found the top 3.

3.) Muse- Food, Wine, and Books, Kingston

Image credit: Robyn Skea
Image credit: Robyn Skea











Muse had a lot of great looking books, and a nice spacious environment. But the bustle of the place was distracting and very noisy, which ensured it was not an atmosphere conducive to study. Outdoor parking was good and only required a walk to the next street. Overall, the place was modern, well-presented and included easy to access plugs for charging, and a cheap $3.80 for a regular cappuccino, but it felt too busy a place to be focused on studying.


2.) Smith’s Alternatives, Civic

Image credit: Robyn Skea
Image credit: Robyn Skea











Smith’s Alternatives is a relaxed, cosy place, with couches spread out in the large outdoor area. Couches and comfortable-looking seats line the main wall inside the small café. It felt warm and friendly and was quiet. People were sitting with their laptops, or half asleep in the corner with a good book. The coffee prices are a little steep at $4.20 for a regular cap, but the atmosphere is worth it. The only significant downside is a lack of books, one shelf isn’t much variety, and there is a desire for closer parking than the Canberra Centre, a good 20-minute walk away.


1.)   Beyond Q, Weston

Image credit: Robyn Skea
Image credit: Robyn Skea











Beyond Q easily hits number one and is highly recommended not just for a study-cram, but for any and all booklovers. It is the perfect place to get some quiet study done. A little two-story bookstore in a crevice in the wall, is Beyond Q, a hidden treasure. Parking is easy as there is a parking lot very close by, at the end of the street. The ground floor of the store is warm and welcoming; lined with rows of bookshelves, stacked with modern novels at second-hand prices, the smell of the worn pages is intoxicating. A small gap in the shelves, shows a sign: “Café upstairs & rare, old texts”. Up the stairs, the quiet open-floor café is set out, lined with neat bookshelves and treasured writing equipment. On the wall is the front of the café, behind which stands a friendly, quiet waitress, doubling as a barista.

On the far wall is a very large selection of pre-loved penguin books, behind which are rusted typewriters, lined across more bookshelves of old poetry and classics, faded and fragile.

The entire middle part of the large room, the open-floor space, is set with tables of two or three with comfortable armchairs. In the corner seats, there are plugs for charging electronics, where no one would mind the cords. The room looks old, but is warm and welcoming, comforting and quiet. A perfect place to study, to hunker down and spend several, pleasant hours. A regular cappuccino is a cheap $3.50, and comes with a healthy serving of shaved dark chocolate on top.


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