Visiting Livraria Lello, Porto
The building that houses Porto’s most famous bookstore was built all the way back in 1906! The Lello brothers, who were running a bookstore at the time, hired the engineer Xavier Esteves to construct the Livraria Lello on Rua das Carmelitas.
The gothic exterior of the building is so detailed with its stone carvings, and religious-looking paintings, that it looks more like a church from the outside than a bookstore. However, once you walk through the door you see art-nouveau style design in everything from the walls and columns to the curves of the staircase.
Climb the iconic red staircase at Livraria Lello and see all the incredible curves and angles of the architecture. Most impressive of all is the bridge which sits in the center of the bookstore. The bridge was designed to curve and dip in the middle but is completely safe for people to walk on.
Tip: Don’t forget to look up! There is a huge stained glass window on the ceiling with the words ‘decus in labore’. This was the Lello brother’s motto, meaning ‘honor in work’. Also, you’ll see carved wood across the ceiling. However, this is actually a clever technique of painting plaster to make it look like wood.
Livraria Lello: The Inspiration for Harry Potter?
The story goes that Livraria Lello is actually the inspiration behind some of the famous Hogwarts scenery in Harry Potter. This story began when JK Rowling used to live in Porto as an English teacher, visiting the bookstore at the weekend. It’s easy to see how this story could be true, with the magical feeling of the bookstore, the bookshelves, and the ‘floating’ staircases and bridges.
Ticket Price Livraria Lello
Tickets cost 5 EUR and visitors can buy them online here. You can either print your ticket or show it in digital format on your phone when you get there. Alternatively, you can buy tickets on the day from the ticket counter next door to the bookstore or skip the line via an organized tour.
Good to know: If you buy a book from Livraria Lello, the 5 EUR will be discounted off the price.
Organized Tours to visit the Porto bookstore
Livraria Lello is internationally renowned as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world! That, and its Harry Potter fame, means it is extremely popular. Because of this, queues to get in can be very long.
A great way to get priority entrance and skip the queue is to join an organized tour! These tours are a little bit more expensive but well worth it to have immediate access to the bookstores. You’ll also get to see Porto’s other highlights, like the cathedral, Sao Bento train station, and the Clerigos Towers.
Opening Hours Livraria Lello
Tuesday to Sunday: open 10:30 AM – 7:30 PM
Especially in the summer, queues can be very long because it’s high season in Porto. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are the perfect time to visit! However, the benefit of the ticket system is that the staff can control the number of people inside. As a result, it’s much easier to enjoy the atmosphere of the bookstore and get some great photos.
How to get to Lello Bookstore in Porto
This is the location of Livraria Lello. It is located next to the University and the Clerigos Towers and is just a 10-minute walk from Sao Bento Station.
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