Hello from Barcelona! I’ve been lucky enough to escape the cold winter of Melbourne and travel across to sunny Spain and Portugal for a little vacation. But what would a trip be without doing some bookish things abroad? I always love checking out bookstores in different countries, but when I decided to visit Portugal, I knew going to Porto was a must. Not only is it a gorgeous little city with a wide river, steep, winding streets, and it’s famous for its port, but there are some Harry Potter attractions to see there too.
Now I know it’s no London with its Harry Potter Studios or Osaka with its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but it’s pretty damn cool to say the least. J.K. Rowling lived in Porto in the early 1990s, and she frequented many places that undoubtedly inspired her in the creation of the series we all know and love today. In my two days in Porto, I was lucky enough to check out some of these places. So here’s my list of must-see Harry Potter places in Porto!
Livraria Lello (Lello Bookstore)
With a curved red staircase, bookshelves that extend from the floor to the ceiling, and even ceramic faces protruding from the spines themselves, it’s not difficult to see where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration from. It is the Lello Bookstore that sparked the idea for the moving staircases in Hogwarts and let me tell you, this bookstore is a magical place to explore. You could spend hours perusing the shelves, admiring the signed first editions of Harry Potter, and dreaming up your own stories that this enchanting place inspires. Entry costs 5€ (which can be used as a voucher on all literature sold at the Lello Bookstore) and is sold at the store on the corner a few doors down. Get there early, because the queues are always massive!
Escovaria de Belomonte (Brush of Belomonte)
Hidden down a small alleyway that could easily be a street that leads off from Diagon Alley is a tiny broomstick shop. Away from the crowds of Harry Potter fans at the Lello Bookstore, this shop has broomsticks hanging on an old wooden door where you walk in and from the ceiling above. It’s rumoured that J.K. Rowling was inspired by this very store – which was established in 1927 – in her creation of Quality Quidditch Supplies. Be sure to admire the store sign as well, which boasts the same magical font as is used for much Harry Potter paraphernalia.
Café Majestic is a must-see in Porto for witches, wizards, and muggles alike. In the middle of a busy shopping street is the old cafe, which was opened in 1921. J.K. Rowling was a regular occupant of this magnificent establishment during her residency in Porto, and it’s rumoured she began writing notes on napkins about a wizard boy and a magical world. Sit down and soak up the ambience in this stunning cafe, which is adorned with hanging chandeliers, aged wooden beams, and an unmistakable atmosphere of class. It can get pretty busy at times, so be prepared to queue!
Fonte dos Leões (Fountain of the Lions)
Passersby could easily miss this fountain amongst the glorious architecture and bustling streets that surround it, but J.K. Rowling most likely did not. Look closely and you’ll be able to see that the statues that surround this water feature are lions with wings, which may have inspired J.K. Rowling in her creation of the Hippogriffs. Whether or not J.K. Rowling was directly inspired by this fountain has not been confirmed, but the whole city of Porto is so magical and enchanting that stories start conjuring themselves in one’s imagination the second they step onto the small, steep streets.
Torre dos Clerigos (Clerigos Tower)
The Clerigos Tower is a structure that can be seen across the city, piercing into the mist above the surrounding sea of orange-tiled roofs. It’s rumoured that this very structure inspired J.K. Rowling in her creation of the tower used in the famous scene that takes place between Snape and Dumbledore (no spoilers!). Entry to the tower costs 5€ and is well worth it for the gorgeous 360° views of Porto.
Have you ever been to Porto? Have you visited any other Harry Potter places? What are some of the places on your bucket list? I’d love to know!