Everything you need to know about Lello bookstore

Lello bookstore is probably THE most famous building in Porto, and no wonder why: it is a stunning neo-gothic building…

Sara Riobom
1 de December de 2019

Lello bookstore is probably THE most famous building in Porto, and no wonder why: it is a stunning neo-gothic building that will take you back in time.

Flash news: FINALLY, you can buy your online ticket to Lello bookstore!

This is really fantastic news because for YEARS you could only buy the ticket on the spot. This is one of the most popular monuments in Porto, so I recommend you to book your visit as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

With the online ticket to Lello bookstore, you have access not only to the bookstore itself but also to rare and valuable literary collection in the exclusive Gemma room.

Now that we are done with the news, …

Join me on a journey through the history of the Lello bookstore!


The booksore itself, excluding the building that now houses it, originated in the international bookstore of Ernesto Chardron, founded in 1869 in Rua dos Clérigos.
In 1894, after several acquisitions, the bookstore reached the hands of the Lello family. The Lello brothers started looking for a space where they could build a bookstore from scratch, and in 1906 the Lello bookstore was born, precisely where it is now, at the beginning of Rua das Carmelitas.
The opening of Lello bookstore was a highlight of the cultural life of twentieth century’s Porto.
Besides all the media coverage, extended even to Brazilian newspapers, great literary figures of Porto were present, such as the famous writers Guerra Junqueiro and Júlio Brandão.
(You probably never heard of them but they are both great. Portuguese literature is not all about Saramago and Pessoa, by the way).

It isn’t hard to imagine the impact Lello bookstore had in the city of Porto.
One only has to go back a hundred years to a time when the spread of information was very slow and the mediums for it few and, therefore, books and newspapers were the centre of the city’s cultural life, defining trends and driving the great debates of the twentieth century.
To this, one must add the style of the building itself which was absolutely ground-breaking, as well as the fact that it was the city’s first architectural structures built with reinforced concrete. A real luxury to nineteenth-century’s eyes, a charm that has lasted until today.

What is all the fuss about Lello and Harry Potter?!

Lello bookstore is widely famous – it was considered the 3rd most beautiful bookstore in the world by Lonely Planet – that some even claim that JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, wrote the first Harry Potter book inside the bookstore.
We just need to think about it for 30 seconds to realise that it couldn’t possibly be true. JK Rowling lived indeed in Porto. She was married to a Portuguese guy with whom she had her only child. But then they divorced (I bet he still regrets it up to this day!), and she had a really hard time.
Single mother, unemployed, with no family or friends support… why on earth would she go to Lello, that has no proper place to sit down, to write a book?! It just makes no sense. I hate to break the news!

Our bookstore is way prettier, eh? (© Vanity Fair)

However, one can easily understand why she would feel inspired by Lello bookstore to create Flourish and Blotts, the bookstore where Harry Potter buys his books before going to Hogwarts. I think Lello is way more beautiful than Harry Potter’s imaginary one… but let’s keep it just between us 😉

Common questions about the Lello bookstore

How to get the tickets to the Lello bookstore?

Until a few years ago the entrance was free of charge, but Lello bookstore was getting around 4000 visits a day and less than 5% would make any purchase.
Nowadays, you pay to enter the Lello bookstore, but it is a symbolic value, truly.

You can buy the online ticket to Lello bookstore. Currently the price is 10€ / adult.

Do children need to pay a ticket?

It depends on their age. If they are below 3 years old, their entrance is free of charge. If they are older than that, they pay a normal ticket.

Is there a way to skip the line?

Yes, but it is tricky and I am not sure if it is worth it.

In the past, people would buy the ticket to the Lello bookstore and show up at whatever hour they wanted to, so the queues would be immense.

Today, when you buy the online ticket to Lello bookstore you have to choose a time slot – for instance, [9h00 – 9h30], which means that you can only enter at the bookstore at the time slot you have booked your ticket for.

This measure has already drastically reduced the queues to get into the bookstore.

However, if you are a veeeeery impatient person you can always buy the skip the line ticket at Lello bookstore. However, it is more expensive (it currently costs 16€) and the queue to the priority ticket is non – existent, meaning that you show up, and there is always a bunch of priority people hanging around to enter. It’s a bit confusing, and hence I am not sure if it is worth it to buy the priority ticket to the Lello bookstore.

What are the opening hours of the Lello bookstore?

The Lello bookstore is opened every day of the week, from 9h to 19h.

Save this article for later:

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decus in labore vitral inside lello bookstore porto

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