I’m an avid reader and like entering at least one bookstore in every city I visit. If you’re here, reading this article, you’re probably doing the same.
I can only say that I’d be glad to join you on your bookish journey through Porto! So keep reading to learn about the best bookstores in Porto – some are famous for their history, others for their extensive collection of books. Either way, we’re sure you’ll find one (or more!) to your liking.
1. Livraria Lello
Location: R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How else can we start our journey if not by entering Livraria Lello, possibly the world’s most famous bookshop?
Besides the popularity it gained due to its absolutely incredible interior, Livraria Lello became any reader’s subject of fascination because, allegedly, the idea of the soon-to-be Harry Potter series came to J.K. Rowling while she was visiting Livraria Lello. Well, let us break the charm by saying that Rowling herself stated she had never even visited the bookstore…
Nonetheless, can we agree that Livraria Lello does seem like it’s been ripped off Hogwarts and placed in Porto?! Its interior is awe-striking, the atmosphere is almost magical, and the shelves are, simply put, enchanting! The forked staircase, the wood balusters, and the enormous glass windows – each ensure a completely out-of-this-world experience for any bibliophile. (That is, if you’re lucky enough to visit it outside the peak season!)
But enough about the interior, which you’ll discover yourself (after at least a few hours of touring, right?!) – let’s acknowledge the exterior as well since the building’s facade exhibits a combination of notable Neo-Gothic and Art-Nouveau architectural elements.
But the books… One simply cannot leave the bookstore without buying something, considering how many unique editions there are. Make sure to check out the Gemma space, which is dedicated to the most valuable works in the store – manuscripts, first editions, and rare books.
In addition, there’s a José Saramago Room, which is home to his first editions, as well as personal objects that once belonged to the author. Even if you don’t want to buy any books, the bookstore is worth it simply for its cultural richness.
However, we must mention that Livraria Lello has become overly popular over the last few years, so it can be very crowded, especially in the spring and summer.
2. Livraria Bertrand Porto
Location: Rua da Fábrica 90, 4050-246 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9 am – 8 pm; Sunday: 10 am – 7 pm
Livraria Bertrand is part of a larger Portuguese bookstore chain and a sister of the famous Livraria Bertrand Chiado in Lisbon, the world’s oldest operating bookstore! So, if you don’t have time to visit Lisbon this year, you should definitely check out the Bertrand location in Porto.
If you’re having a bookish tour through Porto, the better! It’s located very close to Livraria Lello, so you can visit both and maybe return to your hotel with some new titles on your to-be-read list.
In fact, we’re quite sure you’ll find at least one book to your liking, particularly since the shop has an impressive collection of books in English.
Besides this, Livraria Bertrand is an excellent choice if you want to avoid the crowded Livraria Lello. It is usually not that busy, has a pleasant atmosphere, and you can even spend some time there reading.
3. LeYa in Latin
Location: R. de Santa Catarina 2, 4000-441 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Every day from 10 am to 7 pm (but we recommend confirming with the store)
The LeYa in Latin bookstore is located close to Teatro Sa da Bandeira. Although not as popular as other bookshops among tourists (possibly because it doesn’t have a very extensive collection of English books), it undeniably deserves our attention. Any bookworm stepping into this bookstore will instantly feel at home! The wooden floors, the neatly arranged books, the pleasant atmosphere – can one wish for more?!
Even before entering LeYa in Latin, you’ll find yourself attracted to it due to its unique facade. It simply cannot not be spotted by any art and literature enthusiasts.
4. Livraria Poetria
Location: R. de Sá de Noronha 115, 4050-526 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Monday-Friday: 2 pm – 7 pm
Not far from Livraria Lello and quite close to Igreja do Carmo, Livraria Poetria welcomes readers with its cozy interior and excellent selection of books.
It has titles on more specialized niches, focusing particularly on poetry and drama, but not missing out on other genres as well. Arts, dance, architecture, photography, literary essays, biographies, history, philosophy, and others – Livraria Poetria has them all!
5. Moreira da Costa Alfarrabistas
Location: R. de Avis 36, 4000-407 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 10 am – 7 pm
If being surrounded by old books, vintage postcards (some with messages written on them, how cool is this?!), and other antique objects sound like something you’d enjoy, you should undoubtedly add Moreira da Costa Alfarrabistas to your must-visit list. Once you step inside the store, you’ll immerse yourself in a peaceful atmosphere filled with bits of history and culture.
This bookstore opened in 1902 and is now one of Porto’s most widely recognized second-hand bookshops. It is home to an extensive collection of old books, some being quite difficult to find elsewhere.
The staff is very friendly, can help you find anything you’re looking for, and will gladly tell you more about the shop’s history!
6. Livraria Flaneur
Location: R. de Fernandes Costa 88, 4100-240 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Every day from 10 am to 7 pm
Livraria Flaneur, located close to Casa da Música, has a welcoming atmosphere that charms any bibliophile! It has a rich collection of books and a cozy interior and hosts various bookish events regularly. It is also a publishing house, so you’ll find their own titles on the shelves.
If you want to practice your Portuguese, you can go for some of the authors published by Flaneur – who knows, maybe you’ll be on your way to discovering a talent you’ll end up calling your favorite?!
7. Gato Vadio
Location: Rua da Maternidade 124, 4050-369 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday: 4 pm – 11 pm; Thursday: 4 pm – 8 pm; Friday-Saturday: 1 pm – 11 pm
Within the Bonfim neighborhood lies Gato Vadio, an independent bookshop. It is your go-to choice if you want to spend some time exploring the bookshelves and then relax over a drink.
As you’ve probably already guessed, Gato Vadio is a bar-bookshop that often hosts various events designed to bring people together, share the local culture, and help both locals and tourists feel the truly authentic Portuguese vibe.
Needless to say, cat (gato) lovers are highly welcome there, as the store’s backyard garden often greets stray cats that need human affection!
Location: Edifício Palladium, R. de Santa Catarina 73, 4000-449 Porto, Portugal
Hours: Every day from 10 am to 9 pm
FNAC should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a place to buy a souvenir for yourself or a gift for someone you care about. Books aren’t the only thing the shop praises itself for – it’s filled with electronics, vinyl records, musical instruments, and even a wide collection of society games.
As for its book collection – no one can deny that FNAC has the newest titles on its shelves but also some incredibly beautiful collectible editions of classics and non-fiction books.