No wonder J.K. Rowling is said to have been inspired to write her Harry Potter books in this bookstore! The Livraria Lello in Porto is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Even if you are not a book nerd, you will be highly impressed by the intricate interior. Porto itself is already a fascinating city. Still full of history of when Portugal was a majestic country of seafarer, Porto is now one of the new trendy destinations in Europe. It’s welcoming, charming and young – and with its new fame it’s now keeping quite well with the ever-popular Portuguese capital Lisbon.
What you should do in Porto:
➜ Book a Harry Potter tour through Porto and see more locations related to J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter universe*
➜ Top 10 sights in Porto you shouldn’t miss!
➜ My hotel recommendation in Porto: Classical old building with high ceilings & design interior*
Livraria Lello: From Harry Potter to worldwide fame
While J.K.Rowling was most likely often able to browse the shelves of the old Livraria Lello alone in her Porto days, today it’s so crowded that you even have to buy a ticket before visiting. You’ve read it right: Livraria Lello is probably the only bookstore ever to charge an admission fee. There was no other way to cope with the crowds of visitors in what is actually a small bookstore! On many days, there is even a queue outside the bookstore because the store’s capacity is exhausted.
Livraria Lello: One of the Instagram hotspots in Porto
I would have loved to have a look around Livraria Lello with more time, because the selection of books across all genres is absolutely gorgeous . But somehow you don’t feel much like browsing when people are pushing right and left to get the best Instagram photo in that limited space. Especially a place on the stunning red spiral staircase, which goes from the first floor to the second floor in the middle of the store, are highly sought after. But who could blame them? It’s really beautiful.
The secret of the Livraria Lello
The entire bookstore is completely paneled in ornately carved wood from top to bottom. At least it seems so. Because in addition to the Harry Potter story, the Livraria Lello also hides a small, not very well-known secret: The wood carvings, such as the imposing ceiling with its many scrolls, are in many places not made of wood at all, but of painted plaster, a technique that was also used in the Palácio da Bolsa in Porto. (Read more about the Palácio da Bolsa in my Porto Guide!)
Information & Admission Livraria Lello Porto
The entrance fee to Livraria Lello is currently 5€. You need to buy the ticket this next door in the separate ticket store, where you can also get lots of Harry Potter merchandise. Which is actually absolute unnecessary, because Livraria Lello is an amazing location even without all the hype around Harry Potter. The entrance fee can be offset against a purchase, but often you won’t be able to browse in peace or finding something for exactly €5. If you don’t find anything, you get a small brochure about the history of the bookstore of the Lello brothers for your 5€ at the exit. Well, at least it’s something. :)
Harry Potter in Porto
If you are even more interested in Harry Potter, then this small but nice tour is definitely worth a visit. The admission fee is already included. Also great with kids, who will definitely remember their Harry Potter experience for a long time, because Livraria Lello is truly magical.
Special bookstores in the world
It should be no secret by now that I’m a book nerd – and in foreign cities I’m usually drawn to bookstores or libraries. Books are just so fascinating. And by books I mean “real” ones made of paper! I couldn’t get used to eBook readers and PDFs until today. There’s nothing like the feel of books on paper, is there?
Here you can find more about another very special bookstore that also fascinated me:
More tips for Porto
Do you like the Livraria Lello? Porto has so much more to offer. Maybe you’ll find more inspiration for a little trip to Porto in my other articles:
Where to stay in Porto
Great hotels aren’t rare in Porto, but I can especially recommend the Porto Republica Hostel & Suites* Don’t be put off by the hostel in the name: There are also nice double rooms with a private bathroom! Porto Republica is located in a large old building with high ceilings, herringbone parquet flooring and stylish ambience. Perfect for a city trip when your budget is limited but you don’t want to miss out on eyecandy!