Pret a Porto: Portugal’s second city is ready for the limelight

A decade ago, the city’s historic centre was badly rundown. Now, having been carefully restored, it’s filled with culture, cafes and unusual shops

Something odd is happening in Porto’s most famous bookshop. We arrive in the middle of the morning, after a leisurely breakfast of coffee and custard-filled pastéis de nata. The queue to get inside runs around the next block. At the ticket office, where access to the bookshop can be achieved by purchasing a ticket for €5, we are assured that it will take only 30 minutes until our turn. You read that correctly: people pay €5, and wait half an hour, just to get into a bookshop.

Mind you, Livraria Lello is not any old bookshop, which helps to explain the partyish atmosphere among the people waiting, with a busker playing jazz on the steps of a neighbouring department store.

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