On my solo trip to Porto, I got a chance to visit one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, Livraria Lello. This bookstore is over 100 years old, and many people say it was an inspiration for J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books.
Here’s my brief guide to Livraria Lello, including the history, architecture, ticket prices as well as how to visit, and other tips.
The history of Livraria Lello
Livraria Lello is undoubtedly one of the oldest and most beautiful bookshops in the whole world.
The origin of the book store dates back to 1881 when the brothers José and António Lello opened a business dedicated to publishing and selling books.
In 1894 they purchased the Chardron Bookstore, founded in 1869 by the French publisher Ernest Chardron.
The business expansion encouraged the Lello brothers to build a new house for their shop. Thus, in January 1906, they opened the Livraria Lello. The building was designed by the engineer Xavier Esteves.
In 2016 & 2017, the shop was renovated.
The architecture of the bookstore is stunning. I’m in love with the beautiful red spiral staircase that winds up from the ground floor to the first floor.
The center of the ceiling is dominated by a stained-glass skylight inscribed with the store’s motto “Decus in Labore” or “Honor in Labor.”
Entrance Fee Livraria Lello
The entrance to Livraria Lello currently costs 5€, and You can get the money off your ticket if you purchase a book inside (not required, though).
If you don’t buy anything, you can exchange your entrance ticket for a small brochure about the bookstore’s history at the exit.
How to buy Livraria Lello tickets?
You can pay for the ticket next door in a separate ticket shop.
You can also purchase the voucher online to skip the line. Present the coupon printed on digital (smartphone or tablet).
My visit to Lello Bookstore
Although I knew that the book store was famous, I didn’t expect such a big crowd.
I had already arrived at the place relatively early in the morning, a bit before 10 am, but I still had to wait for my turn.
After a short wait, I finally got in. I’ve heard so much about Livraria Lello, and it’s undoubtedly not disappointing. The architecture is stunning, and the atmosphere is quite cozy.
There was a big crowd, especially at the staircase, but generally not so much pushing.
It was impossible to take pictures without others, though. So make sure to check out all the book collections, including the fiction, travel guides, and more. And, of course, Harry Potter books!
Best time to visit
The bookstore opens daily from 10 am to 7 pm. It’s better to go a bit earlier than the opening time, so you don’t have to wait in a long line.
I visited Lello bookstore in May, and it was crowded, but I heard that winter and spring would be emptier.
Also, you should book your tickets online to avoid waiting in a long line.
Other things to do in Porto
Near Lello Bookstore are plenty of Porto attractions worth checking out.
Also, you can read my other articles about the city of Porto with useful information and secret tips for your trip.