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Livraria Lello Book Shop Porto – Our Complete Guide

Shows the inside of a beautiful Porto book shop

Welcome to our complete guide on the worlds most beautiful library, Livraria Lello, located in Porto, Portugal. This small book shop is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city, and for good reason! Tourists queue up every day for a chance to wander around the old interior of the store, marvelling at the spiral staircase, stained glass windows and intricate collections of books. It’s an attraction that’s had news coverage worldwide and is regarded as one of the most beautiful book stores on planet earth.

Does it live up to its grand reputation? In this guide, we talk in detail about Livraria Lello Porto, its history, ticket prices and FAQs, telling you everything you need to know about visiting the famous Porto book shop. We hope you enjoy and find this guide useful and can use it to prepare an upcoming trip. 😊

What is Livraria Lello?

The Lello & Irmão bookstore is considered as the third most beautiful library in the world, according to Lonely Planet. Other online travel guides rate it as number one, and we have to agree! It’s definitely the most picturesque, quaint book shop we’ve ever been in. Others think it’s slightly overrated… The bookshop has a Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau façade, standing out from the other buildings on the street.

Inside, it’s even more impressive. It boasts a grand spiral staircase with red carpets, stacked bookshelves that stretches from the floor to the tall ceiling, and stained glass windows throughout. Its gothic, classical and moody interior makes it such a magical place to explore. It reminds a lot of people of the Hogwarts Castle, as featured in the Harry Potter movies.

Livraria Lello Porto was founded in 1906, and has since then become a national treasure whereby thousands upon thousands of tourists visit every year.

Livraria Lello book shop Porto
Interior of Livraria Lello

Where is Livraria Lello located?

Livraria Lello is located a short walk away from Clerigos Tower, the University of Porto building and Carmo Church. Its city centre location makes it an easy spot to visit whilst exploring the many other attractions in the area.

The best time to visit

As with many tourist sites, it’s always best to visit during off-peak times, avoiding the summer months, and visiting in the morning where possible. If you are planning on visiting during peak times, expect long queues and larger crowds in the book store. We personally recommend visiting on weekdays over weekends, and as early on a morning as possible.

How much does it cost to enter Livraria Lello?

Once free to visit, the book store now charges an entrance fee of 5 euros per person. As thousands of people pass through its doors, the owners decided to set up an orderly queuing system, and as with any popular tourist attraction, this meant charging an entrance fee.

The entry fee for the bookstore starts from 5 euro, with different ticket options available. If you reserve your entrance ticket online, you’ll choose an arrival time. This can help reduce queuing time compared to paying on the day.

It’s also worth noting that the 5 euro entrance fee can be redeemed as a discount on a book, if you choose to buy one during your visit.

Entrance to Livraria Lello Porto is free for children up to 3 years old.

Shows the old interior of the book store

What are the ticket options?

We recommend buying your ticket online ahead of your visit, as it’ll save you a lot of time on the day. Alternatively, you can purchase your ticket on the day at the book store. We recommend against doing this as you’ll often wait longer.

There are two ticket options available on the official Livraria Lello Porto website. These are:

  1. Ticket-only-voucher: this ticket costs €5 and you’ll need to book a specific arrival timeslot as part of the order process. The €5 is also redeemable against any book you buy in the library.
  2. Priority ticket-voucher: this ticket costs €15.90 and entitles you to priority entrance to the book store, so you’ll spend even less time waiting. It also includes a classic novel from a specific collection, in your chosen language.

You can buy your ticket online here.

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Things to do inside the book store

One of the main things to do when visiting this stunning book store is to simply admire the architecture from both inside and outside. As the store has two levels, you can spend time on both the ground and upper floor. Each floor has unique design features and rows of different genre books to browse. The star of the show is without a doubt the spiral golden staircase that looks like something from a Harry Potter film. Our personal favourite aspect of Livraria Lello was the colourful stained glass windows, which can be seen on the ceiling and side windows.

The other reason to visit Livraria Lello is for the actual books! It is indeed a fully functional Porto book shop with the latest and classic titles to choose from. They sell fact and fiction books in a variety of different languages and we found prices to be very reasonable. You can use your entry ticket as a 5 euro discount on any book you buy.

Even if you’re not looking at buying a book, the inside of the store is still a great place to see.

Livraria Lello book shop Porto - Winding wooden staircase
Colourful stained-glass windows

Our top tips for visiting Livraria Lello

  • Buy your ticket online ahead of time and choose an arrival time slot, especially when visiting during the peak summer months.
  • Try to visit Livraria Lello first thing in the morning for an early time slot. The shop will be less crowded and you can walk around at your leisure.
  • Plan an itinerary that includes the other nearby attractions before or after your visit to the Porto book shop. There’s a lot to see and do in the area.
  • Visit on a weekday over a weekend for less crowds.
  • Don’t forget to redeem your entry voucher for a 5 euro discount on any book you buy.
  • Struggling to find a book? Ask a member of staff – there are always a few walking around the store.
  • Allocate around 30-minutes (plus queuing) for your visit to Livraria Lello book shop.
Our top tips for visiting Livraria Lello Porto - Unique lamp inside the store

Other FAQS:

Is the fast-track ticket worth it?

If visiting during the busier months (July-August), we highly recommend buying the fast-track ticket. It’ll save you so much time waiting in line, which could be very hot the summer.  Note that you still may need to wait in line if you opt for the queue jump, but the queue will be much shorter. The time it’ll save can be spent on seeing another attraction. Time is money!

How can I buy a ticket for Livraria Lello Porto?

You can purchase your ticket either online on the official website or on the day at the stand next to the book shop.

Did JK Rowling initially find inspiration for the Harry Potter books here?

There’s a lot of myth around JK Rowling supposedly gaining inspiration to write the Harry Potter books after visiting Liveria Lello. However, she confirmed on Twitter that she never visited the library before. We can see why this story exists; the library looks like a scene off a Harry Potter film.

Is it always so busy?

Due to its popularity and being one of the most visited attractions in Porto, the library is always going to be busy and it’s very unlikely that you’ll be the only one in the library. It’s usually busier during the peak months June-August. Some times and days are busier than others but expect crowds no matter when you visit.

When’s the best time to visit Livraria Lello?

You can indeed! The library is actually a fully functioning book shop. They sell a range of different books, from classic novels and the latest chart titles, to factual book, autobiographies and travel books. They also sell books in a variety of European languages.

Do they sell books in other languages?

The bookshop sells books in languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and English. The languages available depends on the title.

We hope you enjoyed our complete guide to visiting one of the world’s most beautiful book shops, Livraria Lello Porto. Be sure to leave a comment down below to tell us about your visit, or if you have any other questions.

By Susie

Author bio:

I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.

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