What does a library in Porto and Harry Potter have in common? Umm.. have you SEEN photos of the Livraria Lello in Porto yet? From its red, spiraling staircase to its stained glass window and neo-Gothic architecture, this bookshop just oozes magical Hogwarts and Harry Potter vibes! ⚡️
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While I couldn’t find any official statement from JK Rowling herself on the resemblance between the Hogwarts Library and the Lello Library, she did live here in Porto for several years and was known to visit both Livraria Lello and Majestic Café, where it’s rumored that she wrote the very first words of the books we all know and obsess over today.
In this short and sweet guide, I’m going to take you on a little peek inside the now-famous Livraria Lello. As one of the top things to do in Porto, I’ll share my top tips on how you can visit this magical bookshop, often honored with the title of being the “prettiest library in the world.”
Guide to Lello Library — the Harry Potter Bookstore
While Porto has many cute “livrarias” or libraries, arguably none enchant its visitor more than the Livraria Lello. However, because of this, and especially because of its connection with JK Rowling and the Hogwarts Library in Harry Potter, it has become somewhat a victim of its own success!
Livraria Lello — Visiting Hours & Entrance Ticket
Gone are the days when you could simply waltz inside the Lello Library and silently browse through its collection. Nowadays, you need a ticket voucher to enter; purchase yours online at Livraria Lello’s website in advance for €5 or pay €6 on arrival in the queue.
Tip: A regular (€5) ticket voucher is discountable on the purchase of a book. If you buy a priority ticket voucher (€15,90–€17,90), you’ll get priority entrance to the library before everyone else and it includes the purchase of a book (the one marked on your ticket voucher–so choose wisely!)
Currently, the books you can purchase with the priority ticket voucher include editions of classics produced by Livraria Lello: The Jungle Book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Los Lusiadas, The Art of War, and Sonnets. Check back on their website as they may rotate out which books are available with the ticket. The prices of the books that I picked up, such as Alice in Wonderland, cost around €16 without the voucher.
Children under 3 years old enter free, but you still need to add their ticket voucher to your cart when booking online.
To be the very first in line at Lello Library, you need to show up at its doors even before it officially opens at 9:30 am (every day hours are 9:30 am to 7:00 pm).
It’s better to go on a weekday rather than a busy weekend. For reference, I went off-season, in mid-January on a Wednesday, and was the first out of 10–15 people in the library. I quickly took my photos and videos first before the crowds arrived not even twenty minutes later.
Secrets to Know About Livraria Lello
Livraria Lello has many secrets hidden in plain sight, starting with their royal, crimson spiraling staircase.
Although it gives off the look of real wood, it’s in fact all reinforced concrete and painted plaster. (Gasp, I know!) And in summer 2021, they painted over the red in yellow and gray, in collaboration with Pantone’s colors of the year — “Illuminating” and “Ultimate Grey.”
You can find other traces of Livraria Lello’s history by keeping a curious eye open. On the ground floor, for example, you’ll see trolley tracks that were leftover from the building’s publishing era (1906–the 1990s).
The current trolley cart is a replica of the original and is on display in the back left corner of the library, where you’ll also find the Harry Potter books in English and the Sorting Hat perched on the top shelf.
Also to your left on the ground floor is the Face of Porto installation in the upper glass windows. These clay busts and faces represent over 400 figures important to Portugal’s culture.
Up the majestic and iconic staircase, you’ll find thousands of books and likely a temporary exhibition or artistic installation. When I toured, they were showcasing “Livraria Lello X Time: What Makes A Nobel?” with a room dedicated to José Saramago who was the only Portuguese-language writer to have won a Nobel Prize for Literature.
As if that wasn’t enough, the library also boasts the Gemma Room, which holds the bookshop’s most rare and unique collections of works. (It was closed when I went.)
Before you go, don’t forget to look up!
The stained glass window adorning the ceiling is just stunning. In its center, you can spot the motto “Decus in Labore” (meaning “Dignity in Work”).
So… Is Visiting the Harry Potter Bookshop in Porto Worth It?
Yes — Livraria Lello is definitely worth visiting; especially if you are a Harry Potter fan, you’ll love it! 🪄
And even if you don’t consider yourself a part of the fandom, you can still appreciate the bookshop for its absolutely stunning architecture, artistic exhibits, and its historical and cultural significance to Porto and the Portuguese.
Lastly, if you want to follow in the footsteps of JK Rowling in Porto, you should head to Café Majestic right after your visit for brunch or tea service with a warm pastéis de nata!
I did, and even if it was overpriced, it was definitely worth it.
Also Read: The Ultimate Lisbon, Portugal Bucket List
Let me know if you have any questions about visiting Porto! More guides coming soon! ✨
Here are some final practical tips to make the most of your trip to Porto.
- 👀 Livraria Lello is nearby the Clérigos Tower, you can’t miss it!
- 🏡 Use Booking.com and save on hotels in Porto nearby Livraria Lello for easy convenience.
- 🖼 GetYourGuide has awesome tours in Porto — I’ve been on two!
- 👣 You don’t need to rent a car to get around Porto! You can quickly get around on foot, or if you’d like, by using the Porto City Card (metro/tram, discounts on museums, etc).
- 💛 If you’re traveling abroad, make sure to protect your trip with SafetyWing — it only costs $40/4 weeks and starts the day of!