The Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto was just another pin on our map, something to see during our honeymoon in Portugal. More than once, we passed the library, near the University of Porto, waiting for the relentless lines to subside. What was the big deal? I said I wouldn’t bother, refusing to waste precious vacation time standing in a line.
But I couldn’t help myself. If the Libraria Lello inspired any part of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, it was worth the wait.
On our last morning in the city, I bought an entrance ticket for €4 and waited in line before doors opened. I was perhaps the 50th person in line and within a few minutes of doors opening, I was entering the shop! I’ll let the photos do the talking.
Wooden detailing and bookshelves line the walls from front to back on both levels.
Worn, red steps of the wooden stairway split halfway up and circle back around to the second level. The steps are smooth from years of traffic – watch your step!
Stained glass ceilings dazzle the upper level.
If you’re looking for a relaxing, serious book browsing session, this place unfortunately isn’t that kind of experience. People will argue that the bookstore is too busy or packed to enjoy the experience, but that could be said about any destination.
Online sources say photography is forbidden inside the library, however, I saw no signs, was never approached, and was one of a million others taking selfies and photos of the space.
Though it seems straightforward, I do suggest the following tips when planning a trip to the bookstore:
- Hours: The bookstore opens at 10am every day and closes between 7 and 7:30 at night.
- Ticketing: Tickets must be purchased from a corner store two doors down from the bookstore. Do not stand in line without a ticket – they’re not sold at the door. I suggest buying a ticket when the ticket line is shortest, especially in the morning around 9am
- Waiting: If you’ve already bought a ticket, wait until the morning and stand in line before doors open.