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Home » Livraria Lello, Porto: Tips For Visiting The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World
Livraria Lello, Porto: Tips For Visiting The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World

Livraria Lello, Porto: Tips For Visiting The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World


Imagine stepping into Livraria Lello in Porto, where every nook and cranny tells a story with its Neo-Gothic and Art Nouveau vibes. Straight ahead is an incredible staircase that winds like the neck of a dragon and a stained-glass ceiling that could rival the beauty of a Gothic church. We just returned from Porto, fresh off a visit to the Livraria Lello, and we want to share our tips on getting in, purchasing tickets, and having the best experience at this beautiful bookstore.

And hey, have you heard about JK Rowling and the Harry Potter connection? Despite her saying she’s never been, whispers about Livraria Lello being a muse for Hogwarts keep attracting Potterheads from all corners of the globe. In this article, you will learn about the celebrated history, cultural impact, and unique architecture that amplify its global allure, and plan your visit with our practical tips.

We did want to highlight that there are only 2 ways to get tickets to Livraria Lello. First, you can book a walking city tour that includes a skip-the-line entrance like this one, or you can purchase tickets from the library website online and reserve your desired time slot. The Libray website can be a little confusing, but we will cover how to navigate that below.

Exploring the Enchantment of Livraria Lello: A Porto Gem

Livraria Lello, also known as the Lello Bookshop, is celebrated for its enchanting design features that transport visitors to a different era. In this era, books and newspapers were primary modes of cultural exchange and public debate. Considered one of the world’s most famous bookstores, the Livraria Lello bookstore captivates everyone with its flowing staircase, dark wood bookshelves, stained glass ceilings, and ornate carvings. Weaving together an ambiance one would be hard-pressed to forget.

The Architectural Marvel of Livraria Lello

stained-glass skylight and majestic staircase at Livraria Lello
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Setting foot in Livraria Lello, you’ll be entranced by this visual masterpiece. Envisioned by the Lello brothers and architect Francisco Xavier Esteves, it was a pioneer of its time. It was one of the first buildings in Porto to utilize reinforced concrete in its construction.

One of the bookstore’s most distinguished features is the large stained-glass skylight adorned with the Lello motto, ‘Honour in Work.’ It is hard to miss as you head up the staircase; it dominates the room at the top of the stairs.

How to Visit Livraria Lello Bookstore

How to Visit Livraria Lello Bookstore
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The experience of stepping into Livraria Lello is really special, even if you are not a Harry Potter fan. It took us two tries to visit Liveria Lello. Our first try saw us leaving Porto without stepping foot in the most beautiful bookstore in the world, but when we returned this past Spring, we were prepared. And we will share a few tips that you can use to make sure that you skip the line, see it without the crowds, or actually get in.

Our #1 Tip: The Golden Ticket Advantage

The Golden Ticket Voucher is perfect for those who want a seamless visit to the famous bookstore. It offers priority access, a reserved book of your choice, and an experience free from queues.

We visited Porto last year and didn’t know this, but this year, we made sure to book in advance and get the golden ticket. We booked the first entry at the 9 AM entry and managed a few photos without any people—a real feat as the rest of the day is an endless stream of people. Considering it is only 8 euros more than the General Admission, I have no idea why everyone doesn’t book this ticket.

We also found out that when purchased as online tickets, the Golden Ticket gives you a choice of Romeo and Juliet or The Art of War, but you are not locked into this choice; you can select any book from the store that costs €15.90 (the cost of our Golden Ticket) or if you want a larger more expensive book you can pay the difference.

Navigating The Website

Livraria Lello Website.
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As we mentioned above, the website was very confusing. Here are a few tips on how to book your ticket online.

First, you should choose Ticket Voucher Gold for the following reasons.
When adding it to your cart, you will be asked which book you want to choose. You can choose either one, and you can change it at the bookstore itself if you like. When we checked out, we chose The Little Prince and Selected Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Once you add it to your cart and proceed to checkout, you can schedule your time. Choose early in the morning or a time near closing to avoid the crowds, and check “apply to all vouchers” if you have multiple tickets.
Next, you will asked to create an account or register as guest. We just registered as a guest and had no issues. Continue to fill out all the info for each ticket holder.
Once you pay, you will receive an email saying you were successful and another with your tickets. Load these on your phone and present them at the door.
Remember, Liveria Lello sells tickets weeks or even months in advance, so the sooner you know your travel dates, book your tickets.

Best Times to Explore Livraria Lello

Best Times to Explore Livraria Lello
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Owing to its popularity, Livraria Lello frequently draws large crowds. However, there are ways to beat the rush. The best times to visit are during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn when the crowds are low and there are more time slots available. You can purchase tickets at the Lello’s bookstore adjacent ticket office, but we recommend booking online as it is easier and you have a better chance of getting your time slot.

To avoid peak times, it might be beneficial to plan your visit during quieter periods like lunchtime, late afternoon, or an hour before closing on a Saturday evening. That being said, if you can grab the first entry at 9 AM, that would be the best option.

When someone asked a staff member when the best time to visit, the answer was 3pm on a weekday in February.

Unveiling the Harry Potter Mystique at Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello with subtle Harry Potter references
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The charm of Livraria Lello reaches far beyond its captivating beauty and rich history. Its rumored connection to the Harry Potter series has added a layer of intrigue and mystique that draws in fans from around the world. JK Rowling lived in Porto in the early 1990s, where she taught English as a foreign language and frequented cultural sites like Livraria Lello.

Despite the profound ties between JK Rowling and Porto, the author herself has expressed that she never visited Livraria Lello during her time in the city. Nevertheless, stories persist of Rowling spending hours in the bookstore, even buying books from there.

The Hogwarts Likeness: Fact or Fiction?

Although JK Rowling might not have penned parts of the first Harry Potter book at Livraria Lello, the bookstore’s unique aesthetic bears a remarkable resemblance to her descriptions of the Hogwarts library. The grand, Neo-Gothic staircase at Livraria Lello, a Harry Potter bookstore in its own right, is often cited as the inspiration for the moving staircases of Hogwarts. When seeing the staircases of Liveria Lello with our own eyes, it’s hard to believe that this bookstore didn’t somehow inspire her writing.

The Complete Livraria Lello Experience

The Harry Potter Library experience
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A visit to Livraria Lello offers an unforgettable journey. From its iconic floating staircase, evoking images of Rome’s Sistine Chapel, to the ornate wooden shelves that remind visitors of the Flourish and Blotts bookshop from the Harry Potter series, it is easy to see why it is one of the top bookstores in the world (in lists by Lonely Planet and The Guardian).

The Lello Brothers’ Legacy

Lello Brothers Legacy
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The story of Livraria Lello begins with the Lello brothers, José and António Lello. In the late 1800s, they founded this bookstore, which soon became a cultural icon in Porto. Their intellectual spirit is captured in the stained glass window of Livraria Lello, featuring their motto ‘decus in labore’.

The brothers Lello were instrumental in the bookstore’s development, appointing a designer for the new bookstore and overseeing its expansion and renovation. Their efforts culminated in the bookstore’s inauguration in 1906, marking a significant milestone in its history. This period of growth and renovation was driven by their vision to create a space that was more than just a place to purchase books but a cultural hub that encouraged the exchange of ideas and intellectual discourse.

Over time, the Lello brothers’ legacy has endlessly inspired and enriched Porto’s cultural scene and beyond. Their vision for a bookstore in Porto that transcends just selling books and serves as a cultural hub, where the exchange of ideas and intellectual discourse thrives, continues to be the heart of Porto’s Livraria Lello.

Your Questions Answered

The Lello Bookstore Architecture
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Since returning from Portugal, we have had a lot of questions about how to best visit the library, whether it was worth it, and what the connection to Harry Potter is. We thought we would make it easy for you and answer them below.

Is Livraria Lello the most beautiful bookstore in the world?

Yes, Livraria Lello is widely considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world due to its unique architectural design and ornate interior.

Did JK Rowling write Harry Potter at Livraria Lello?

No, JK Rowling has stated that she did not visit Livraria Lello while living in Porto, but we believe otherwise.

Is Livraria Lello the inspiration for Hogwarts in Harry Potter?

While the interior of Livraria Lello resembles Hogwarts, it has not been confirmed as the direct inspiration for the series.

What’s the best way to visit Livraria Lello?

The best way to visit Livraria Lello is to purchase tickets online to avoid long queues or consider a city walking tour that offers skip-the-line access. Enjoy your visit!

What’s included in the Golden Ticket at Livraria Lello?

The Golden Ticket at Livraria Lello includes priority access, a reserved book, and the ability to skip the queue. Enjoy your exclusive benefits!

Why You Should Visit The Lello Bookstore

Why you should visit the Livraria Lello in Porto Portugal
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Livraria Lello is more than just a bookstore. It’s an architectural masterpiece, a cultural hub, and a living testament to Porto’s vibrant intellectual history. Whether you’re a book lover, an architecture enthusiast, or a Harry Potter fan, Livraria Lello offers an immersive experience that transcends time and narrates a tale of passion, creativity, and intellectual spirit.



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