Updated: Feb 11
I adore bookshops. I am the type of person who actually does what they call reading. So when I decided to go to Portugal, I knew I needed to make my way to the Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto. What I didn’t know was that it is more of an amusement park attraction than a bookshop.
You need to buy tickets to get into the Livraria Lello
When I arrived at Nice Way hostel, the woman who gave me the down-low of Porto informed me where the bookstore was and that it was 5 euros to enter. During my first glimpse of the city, I walked past the shop and notice there was a crazy line up so I decided to come back early the next day. I couldn’t see through the line where the tickets were sold but there is a shop on the corner of the same street where the bookshop is and a sign says Check In Levraria Lello.
Best time to go
Tickets went on sale at 09:00 and the next day, I arrived at 08:40. There are two separate lines: one to enter the bookstore and one to buy tickets for the bookstore. The bookstore line at this point had maybe 20 people- the line I was in to get my ticket, I waited for about 45 minutes and when I emerged from the downstairs ticket sales I nearly pooped myself, the bookstore line was 200 people strong. I walked to an employee and asked if I could use my ticket for the next morning and she said well it’s dated so technically no. She suggested I come back during (Portuguese) lunchtime at 14:00. I came back at 13:30 because I am impatient like that. I ended up waiting for about 45 minutes to get in.
What to expect inside
Inside was pretty… I think. The striking staircase inside Lello is apparently the one that inspired JK Rowling to have a moving staircase in Hogwarts. I say I think because I couldn’t exactly see much or get a good picture since the number of people in this ride was mental.
At my hostel, I was told that there are English books in the shop. To my annoyance, there were maybe 3 semi-new contemporary lit books and about 10 small format classics like Shakespeare and Peter Pan. These classics sold for the staggering price of 15.90 euros each.
The five euros you pay for a ticket can go towards the purchase of a book but I just couldn’t justify it. When I was about to leave, I noticed a stand of self-made brochures about the bookshop which sold for 5 euros so I just got one of them before I left to make myself feel better for spending the 5 euros to enter. I later found out you can purchase tickets online so that was cool.
What I should have done
Get your ticket/ voucher online beforehand.
Arrive at 08:45 or 14:00 to wait in the bookshop line up. Wait time should be around 45 minutes or less.