Is visiting Livraria Lello Harry Potter Bookshop on your bucket list? Then you got to read our detailed guide to the most beautiful bookstore in the world!
Livraria Lello is located in Porto. This is one of the oldest and most iconic in the country and is definitely worth a visit. The store first opened its doors in 1906 and has been impressing guests with its stunning architecture and an incredible selection of books ever since.
Visiting Livraria Lello Harry Potter Bookshop: Portugal’s Iconic Bookstore
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Livraria Lello is often linked to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, as it is rumored to be one of the inspirations for the Hogwarts Library.
While you won’t find any talking portraits or magical creatures roaming around, the store does have a very similar vibe with its grandiose staircases and stunning stained glass windows.
Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, a visit to Livraria Lello is an easy addition to your Porto itinerary. Keep reading for our top tips and travel guide on how to make the most of your experience.
When was the Livraria Lello built? History of the Harry Potter Bookstore
The Livraria Lello building, which was erected in 1906 by the engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves, has a lot of unique architectural features!
However, its origins date back to 1881, when two Lello brothers – José and António Lello opened an establishment to publish and sell books.
This was later bought by other owners including French publisher Ernest Chadron, who was responsible for publishing much of the work of the famous Portuguese writer Camilo Castelo Branco.
In addition to its history and most recognized elements of the location, there are art installations that contribute to the goal of recognizing and appreciating books and writers.
As you walk into the bookstore, you will see there is a lot of history in it!
The Architecture of Livraria Lello: Inside and Out
Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and its architecture is definitely a big part of that.
The bookshop is housed inside one of Porto’s most iconic neo-Gothic buildings, standing out in its immediate environment.
As you enter the Livraria Lello, you will find an artistic note “O Rosto do Porto”: which celebrates Porto through the faces of its people.
There are busts of Portuguese writers Antero de Quental, Eça de Queirós, Camilo Castelo Branco, Teófilo Braga, Tomás Ribeiro, and Guerra Junqueiro housed in this structure ‘s interior.
The inside of Livraria Lello is absolutely breathtaking. The main staircase is a work of art, and the stained glass windows are truly stunning.
Did you know, ‘The staircase at Livraria Lello was constructed in reinforced concrete, not in wood, as it appears’?
The color of the staircase was brown in color originally. But it is widely known for its stunning deep red or crimson color.
In 2021, in partnership with the world’s most renowned authority on color trends, Livraria Lello’s staircase was temporarily painted in grey and yellow color to represent 2021, a year of strength and optimism.
The stained glass window will also catch your attention at the bookstore.
A brightly colored and large stained glass window by the Dutch master Samuel Van Krieken adorns the ceiling of the Livraria Lello. “Decus in Labore” is written beneath the stained glass skylight, which means “Dignity in Work,” the golden rule followed by everyone who has worked at this site since 1906.
In 2018, the Livraria Lello stained glass window was reborn as a contemporary icon when it received a happy face.
To this day, this is now considered a kind of protector for the bookstore and an emblem of the happiness felt within its walls.
The ornate archways and enormous ceiling, as well as the walls and columns that rise from the ground floor with Art Deco accents, transport you on a journey through an otherworldly atmosphere within the bookshop.
Engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves and the team took two years to finish and were influenced by architectural trends of the time: exuberance was the watchword in a combination of styles.
Today, the site is designated a “Monument of Public Interest” by the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage (designated in 2013).
Even if you’re not particularly interested in books, a visit to Livraria Lello is worth it just to see the architecture.
Read: Best Porto viewpoints
The Harry Potter Livraria Lello Connection
Livraria Lello is often linked to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, as it is rumored to be one of the inspirations for the Hogwarts Library.
However, the author herself has denied such claims.
J. K. Rowling relocated to Porto after the death of her mother in 1991. She began writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone there.
The author taught English classes, got married, had a daughter, and it was here that she wrote the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Although the Harry Potter movies were never filmed at the bookstore, there are certain scenes and nuances that reflect Livraria Lello in some ways, such as scenes from Chamber of Secrets.
Is it a bookstore or library?
Livraria Lello is a bookstore or book shop. Livraria translates to a bookstore in English. Many call it the Harry Potter Library, referring to the Hogwarts Library inspiration!
Livraria Lello Tickets: How to skip the lines at the Livraria Lello
If you’re planning on visiting Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal, be aware that there is an entry fee.
Ticket vouchers start at €5 per person. This ticket can be paid for online, or in person at the gate. You can pay for tickets online here
Keep in mind there are long queues to enter the bookstore with this ticket as well.
I paid for the priority ticket that starts at €15.90 euros online. This ticket allowed me to get in without waiting in line.
With this ticket, you can also grab a book (for that amount). If the book is expensive or higher than €15.90, then you will have to pay the difference for the book.
When you arrive at the Livraria Lello, you will see 2 lines – one is for the priority ticket holders, which is always empty.
At the door entrance, a store representative will check your ticket (digital ticket or a printout), and you will be let in.
You can buy a priority ticket online here.
I wanted to get the Romeo and Juliet book with the Livraria Lello logo on it, however, this book was all sold out. So I opted for the Peter Pan one! (I bought a few more things, keep on reading!)
Good to know: Credit cards are accepted online, and in store at the ticket shop.
How to get to Livraria Lello in Porto
Livraria Lello is located in the city center of Porto, Portugal. The easiest way to get there is by taking public transportation.
The bookstore is a 5 -10 minute walk from both the São Bento train station and the Trindade metro station. Google Maps link here
You can also make connections from the Campanha Train Station, details here
If you are taking a taxi from the center like Bolsa Palace or in and around the Riberia, expect to pay about 10 euros.
When you are in the city centre area, you can walk to the bookstore. Google Maps here
Read: 2 weeks in Portugal itinerary
Hours of Livraria Lello Porto
Livraria Lello is open every day, except for Christmas Day (December 25), New Year (January 1), Easter Sunday, May 1st, and June 24th.
Operating hours are from 09:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Things to see and do at the Livraria Lello Porto
Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. When you are at the bookstore admire the gorgeous architecture and take in its beauty.
There are more than 400 clay busts of prominent citizens of Cuiabá, including the architect Siza Vieira, the writer Richard Zimler, and the filmmaker João Botelho to unnamed individuals like vendors at the traditional Bolhão Market, as well as students at Nossa Sr. da Esperança College.
The Lifestyle Room, which features cuisine, fashion, art, and travel, is one of the most popular attractions here. The best readings for finding the positive side to life in small pleasures are on display in this themed room.
You should also visit the ground level, which has some rather unique books. These volumes commemorate illustrious publishers and bookshops that have been bought by Livraria Lello over time.
The Livraria Lello has a good book selection, so pick up something to commemorate your visit.
What to buy at Livraria Lello
Okay, so this is a bookstore so books are what you should buy from here.
We highly recommend getting the priority ticket so get a book for up to 15.90 euros. Most Livraria Lello mini-books can be bought for that price, and it makes for a nice souvenir as well!
I got 2 books actually, a coffee table book with images from Porto (it was about 16 euros). You can also buy bookmarks, reusable bags, and postcards.
Photography tips for capturing the staircase and others at the Livraria Lello
Many plan a trip to the Livraria Lello for an Instagrammable shot in Porto. And yes it is super pretty and perfect for that.
We have got some important tips (and warnings) to help you get great photos:
Try to get in as soon as the doors open with a priority ticket for that crowd-free shot. Livraria Lello gets very busy during the day, so try to visit first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Stand in the middle of the room and look up. The architecture of Livraria Lello is really incredible, so make sure to get a photo from the center of the room to fully appreciate it.
Especially the ceilings and you won’t find any flying creatures (or photo bombers) there.
The red staircase is one of the MOST captured shots at the Livraria Lello, and it is possible to get that shot, as long as you are patient.
- People will keep going, up and down the stairs. But you will find quick moments to capture it without anyone in the frame
- Use a postcard or a prop to cover people when photographing the stairs
- You won’t be able to use a tripod and timer for staircase photos (when traveling solo). There is too much traffic and people including kids around, so avoid placing your tripod and camera/phones by themselves. Go with a friend or ask someone to take a shot
- Don’t miss the upper levels of the bookstore with the staircase. The lower level has more people waiting for a photo to be taken, than the upper levels.
Capture the bookshelves, bursts, and other structures inside the Livraria Lello.
Tips for visiting Livraria Lello in Portugal
The first thing is that Livraria Lello is a popular spot in Porto. People come here for books, and photos and many will be Harry Potter fans with their wide eyes looking for those magical nuances!
Livraria Lello gets very busy, so it’s best to either arrive first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the peak times.
People line up the doors from 08:30 am onwards (half an hour before the gates open). They have bought the 5 euros tickets, and are waiting to be let in.
Pro tip: Arrive early or late to avoid the crowds. Get the priority tickets to get inside and avoid waiting outside.
Take some time to explore. The bookstore is absolutely stunning, so make sure to spend some time wandering around and taking it all in.
Good to know: People will always crowd around the red staircase. But the upstairs area and even the payment counters aren’t too busy and they clear up fast!
Pick up a souvenir. The bookstore has a nice selection of mini books with the Lello logo, so be sure to pick up something to remember your visit by.
Pro Tip: The priority ticket gives you a book for that price. Get that as a souvenir. You can also buy a postcard, bookmark, reusable shopping, etc.
Keep in mind, that this is a popular spot, so not all books will be available during your visit.
Snap some photos. Livraria Lello is one of the most photogenic spots in Portugal, so make sure to have your camera ready.
Pro Tip: Be patient when you are trying to capture the red staircase minus the crowds. Ask a friend to join you!
Enjoy the experience. Livraria Lello is a truly unique place, so make sure to savor every moment of your visit.
Good to know: Livraria Lello is busy – outside and inside, even with the priority ticket. But the bookstore is beautiful, so admire those architectural gems when you are in Porto.
Is Livraria Lello worth it?
Livraria Lello is worth visiting to see what the hype is all about.
The store is stunning with its art deco, art nouveau, gothic interior, grandiose staircases, and beautiful stained glass windows, and it’s definitely worth spending some time exploring.
It is definitely well-known due to its rumored connection with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series, and the inspirations behind it (which was actually denied by the author herself in a tweet).
But, it is TOO CROWDED! The crowds were definitely a dampener. Sort of hyped up too!
To enter the bookstore there is an entry ticket. I was okay paying 15 euros because I was getting a book (as a souvenir), and also because I am a content creator so I wanted to experience the place myself before writing about it.
Now the place is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it is always going to be crowded inside and outside – even if you pay 15+ euros to get in.
Getting a decent photo minus people is difficult.
As a book lover, you will be bothered by crowds everywhere – there is no room to sit and browse through shelves. It can feel pretty claustrophobic for some.
The book collection is also not the greatest and many titles were also not in stock.
When I visited Livraria Lello, it was raining in Porto. There were many people lining outside in the rain with their umbrellas. I took this opportunity to go inside and check out the place with the priority ticket.
If you are pressed for time, you can skip this! And instead opt to visit the Bolsa Palace and check out its stunning Arab room, and learn about the history of commerce in the city.
This was my honest opinion, and we leave it up to you with more travel tips for visiting Livraria Lello!
More Livraria Lello tips
9:30 am-7:30 pm daily (except for Christmas day, New Year, Easter, May 1st, and June 24th).
No. There is an entrance fee or ticket of 5 euros (at a minimum).
Arrive just before 9 a.m with a priority ticket to get in, beating the huge line-ups. Lunch hours, and or mid-week days are also great to get in the bookstore. With the basic entry ticket, you will be waiting in line for a bit before you are allowed in.
Plan to spend anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.50 hours at the bookstore (not including wait time at the gate) – admiring the architecture and browsing through bookshelves.
What to see and do near Livraria Lello Bookstore in Porto Portugal?
Livraria Lello is conveniently located in the historic center of Porto. When you are in the city centre area, you can walk to the bookstore. Here is the Google Maps link
These are some of the places you can check off before or after visiting the Livraria Lello,
- The fountain of the lions at the Gomes Teixeira Square (Fonte dos Leões) is a monument from the 19th century, and it is located just a minute’s walk away from the bookstore
- Iglesia de los Clérigos is located just 2 minute walk away from the bookshop. The baroque church was built in the 18th century and is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. You can climb their towers for panoramic views of Porto. The church is open to the public and admission is free, tower access is paid
- Igreja do Carmo, which is also famed for azulejos is located 2 minute walk away from Livraria Lello
- Igreja de São José das Taipas, another church is about 4 minute walk away
- São Bento Train Station is one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The building was completed in 1916 and features stunning azulejos tiles throughout. It can be visited from the bookshop after a short walk.
- There are lots of cafes, and shops near Livraria Lello where you can eat, or just hang out
Have you visited the Livraria Lello in Porto? How will you rate this place? Rating out of 5?
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