We are ready for a new Portuguese adventure, this time we are heading to Porto, but before leaving, just a small introduction to the city we are going to visit.
The city of Porto is located on the northern bank of the Douro River, not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Porto is considered one of the most industrialized northern districts of Portugal and for this reason it takes the name of “a capital do norte” (the capital of the north). The city is connected to an extensive network of buses and other public transport that facilitate the communication and the movement in the city. Porto is a very dynamic city and certainly can’t miss the different events such as: St. John where there is celebrate the anniversary by eating and drinking the famous local wine “vinho do Porto” (produced with the grapes of the Duoro valley) and Queima das Fitas is a party of total fun for the students, that takes place in Queimódromo, where lessons are suspended to celebrate the end of the academic year with concerts, drinks and so on (so you can only imagine the level of fun and joy in the air on that day!) Moreover, in more recent years, UNESCO has recognized the historic center of Porto (dated back to Roman Empire and Middle Ages) as a heritage of humanity. Now that we have had this little taste of the great city of Porto we are ready to start exploring it, come on!
To know more ( what to eat, where to eat, where to have fun, things to visit…) continue to read.
Porto has so much to tell on the historical level that even if in a few lines we will try to know something about this going through the vision of its imposing structures (as a testimony). So are you ready? Let’s start the tour!
PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS…)
Chapel of Souls
- Torre dos Clérigos: it is a high baroque stone tower and it is considered the symbol of the city. Inside a narrow spiral staircase made up about 200 steps. It’s true, it is a climb and a great effort but for the symbolic price and for the wonderful view that can be enjoyed from up there it is absolutely worth it. It is also a great place to start your tour and to understand how to move in the city, having the opportunity to see how the city is structured.
- Sé do Porto: it is the cathedral of Porto in romantic style, born as a church-fortress. And it is one of the major attractions of the city, despite the simplicity of the interior. In any case it is a very interesting church to visit also for its decorative part with the typical azulejos (we remind you that they are decorated ceramic tiles) and the cloister. Beautiful and majestic! Just 2 minutes from the cathedral there is the Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro, a former residence, today a museum of decorative arts (furniture, ceramics and sacred sculptures) that offers the opportunity to meet many artists and important works but above all transmits the style of past life from a residence of the past.
- Chapel of Souls: just outside the Bolhão metro station there is this wonderful chapel. The interior doesn’t present substantial differences with the other churches, indeed it is very similar to them and it is very simple; but the outside is something that can’t be explained unless you don’t see it with your own eyes. The chapel is completely decorated with azulejos tiles that give it a very special look to stand out in that corner of the street. Impossible not to notice it! Very similar (but less flashy if we can say like this) to the chapel are the Igreja do Carmo equally beautiful to visit and the church of Santo Ildefonso classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
- Libreria Lello: it is a bookstore located in a building in the historic center, at Rua das Carmelitas. The beauty of this place is incredible, a true artistic masterpiece. You will feel like you have been catapulted into a fairytale thanks to the magnificent atmosphere with the amazing stairway divided in two parts, but it will lead you to the same place. The section dedicated to Harry Potter is interesting and unmissable for all the fans. We are sure that you will be fascinated by this very special and suggestive bookstore, it is impossible to remain indifferent to this.
- Palácio da Bolsa: is a historic building in neoclassical style and is located at Rua Ferreira Borges, right next to the Church of San Francesco (almost to make it seem like one building) and it is UNESCO World Heritage Site. The interior is very charming with its impressive chandeliers and beautiful rooms, including: the courtroom, assembly room and golden room and one of the main, the Arabian room. But there is more, the staircase and the courtyard called Pátio das Naçoes .All the magnificent decorations are the result of the work of several important artists who have made this place of great value.
- Serralves: this is a museum of contemporary art and already from its architecture you can guess its modernity and grandeur. However the building doesn’t look like a museum but wait to get inside. Here there is a definitely excellent permanent collection but also many other temporary and different rooms with original furniture and accessories. In addition to all this you can enjoy an open space, a beautiful and large garden, located at the entrance of the building and flanked by fountains, it is so ample to be considered a small park with so many works to admire.
- Fort of São Francisco do Queijo: it is a fortification located along the coast and that therefore flanks the ocean. The castle is surrounded by a moat and consists of two small sighting towers at the top of the sides of the structure. On the side at the entrance to the fortification there is a tunnel that leads to the courtyard. This is as concerned the inferior part while the upper part owns a huge space to admire the magnificent panorama, the cannons and the watch towers. Surely there is not a lot to see because the are just few rooms but for the symbolic cost and to know a lot about the history (and of course for the view where you can take beautiful photos!); it worths a visit.
- Episcopal Palace: this palace located near the Porto Cathedral is part of the historic center of Porto and is designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The palace is an important example of baroque and rococo architecture so much to be considered an important piece for the city’s panorama. On the interior the first thing you will see is the monumental staircase that will lead you to the different rooms, one more beautiful than the other, harmoniously decorated with paintings and objects of the century (predominant is the gold color and columns on the sides of the huge room that make the all elegant and evocative).
- Centro Portugues de Fotografia: it is a museum composed of exhibition halls entirely occupied by temporary exhibitions and then there is the magnificent collection of cameras (from the oldest to the most recent) once used by people who performed important roles. The museum is free and worth visiting even if you are not lovers of art and photographs because the ancient palace is worth a lot.
- Soares dos Reis National Museum: it is a museum housed in the Carrancas Palace and was the first Portuguese national museum to exhibit art collections, including that one of the Portuguese sculptor António Soares dos Reis (hence the museum takes its name). So the museum has a vast collection (of painting, sculpture, ceramics…) focused on Portuguese art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. So nice is its courtyard with trees and flowers that give the garden a cheerfulness of colors. Another museum of art considered a hidden gem is the Casa-Museu Teixeira Lopes, a small world of art and history (and very inviting from the outside!).
- The Walls of D. Fernando is part of the city landscape, a former medieval castle whose today we have the remaining walls with two towers at the end and the entrance gate. It is located on a plateau with houses next to it and to reach it you have to walk the stairs along the fortification (which will make you feel like you were transported in medieval times!). The castle overlooks the river, which makes it even more beautiful and evocative. It is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
- Now we want to offer you three other special and specific museums for enthusiasts: FC Porto Museum, for all football fans this is the museum of the homonymous football team. The tour includes a visit to the stadium and of course the museum. You will breathe a nice atmosphere definitely appreciated by fans. Museu da Farmácia, this particular museum is the pharmacy museum and shows the evolution of the knowledge of products with medicinal properties in the most varied parts of the world, from antiquity to the present day. Very interesting. Museu Interativo & Parque Temático, this will make the kids happy. It is a museum that tells the story of Portugal’s discoveries and navigations in a fun and interactive way. You will also get on a boat that runs along a river recreated inside the museum where you can relive the whole history of these discoveries.
About the major theaters, we have three: Teatro Nacional São João, Rivoli Theater, Coliseu do Porto.
As much as culture, also the fun is guaranteed here!
- Ribeira district: part of the UNESCO heritage, this beautiful district is the most typical of Porto with its colorful houses and boats along the Douro river. Here are so many options to choose from: the excursion on the river in one of the typical boats (the barcos rabelos, symbol of the city) or an healthy walk and get lost in the magnificent streets full of shops, bars, shops, then return to the point of departure and admire the small port once again.
- Dom Luis bridge: the first thing to say about this bridge is that it was built by a pupil of Gustave Eiffel (yes, you got it right, it’s him, the builder of the Eiffel tower) and in fact with a bit of attention you could deduce it. The bridge is located on the Douro River and has two floors, separated by an arch. The city’s subway passes upstairs, while the lower one is reserved for trams, buses and pedestrians. Amazing is the walk on the bridge (even if you have vertigo!) that is the emblem of Porto. In addition, the bridge connects the city of Porto with another city, Vila Nova de Gaia also very important, especially at the commercial level and with different attractions (the cable car one of these) and beaches. If you have time available you know how to use it!
- São Bento station: ok, surely you will be passing through this station, but from the outside it might seem like a normal building but wait to get inside and then you will see how particular it is. You will breathe a lot of art thanks to the decorations of the white and blue azulejos on the walls. Think that the tiles tell a story that of the means of transport from the origins to the invention of the railway. The only flaw? Its beauty distracts so eyes at the time if you have a train to take!
- Mercado do Bolhão: a must to see is this market to smell and see all the specialties of the place. In this case, the place is worth visiting even just for the beauty of the structure. And it’s an open-air market despite being in a structure… Then you’ll understand!
- Among the things to do and see in Porto must be mentioned the boat trip on the Douro River one of the most famous is the cruise of the six bridges. This allows to watch the view from the sea from different points of interest and of course the ride is on board in the typical “barcos rabelos”. Porto Tram City Tour is an electric tramway that crosses the most characteristic streets of the historic city center. Rua Santa Catarina, a few meters from the Bolhão Market, the street of shops with big names where you can buy some souvenirs, go shopping or simply admire the shop windows. Rua das Flores, this street is famous mainly for the Claus Porto store, a historical brand of Portuguese cosmetics that produces fragrances and soaps from the very special and colorful packages that you will jealously keep if you decide to buy them. However, if you simply want to have a walk on the top floor you can visit the small museum focusing on the history of this historic signature. Rua das Carmelitas, another street, another important store, A Vida Portoguesa. This is the perfect place to shop and buy some souvenirs. The interior is so beautiful of a great atmosphere of the past. Rua de Miguel Bombarda, the “rebel” streets of Porto, a hipster neighborhood, with its own charm, full of small art galleries, boutiques, craftsmen’s workshops. Nearby also a small center, Bombarda Shopping Center, for a some good shopping with many names of local designers and not and vintage stuff.
- Avenida dos Aliados e Liberdade Square, two of the most important squares in the city. Moreover a good experience to do is to reach the lighthouse of Porto or riding a bike or on foot or on any other means you can reach it but do it!
- And more at Rua Santa Catarina the almost obligatory stop is at the Majestic Cafè. A legendary café, one of the most loved and well-known of the twentieth century Portuguese that reminds Paris and the “Belle Époque”, one of the most beautiful and elegant examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Porto.
- About the belvedere (the famous “Miradouros” in Portuguese) there are several, including the Miradouro da Vitória. As well as the belvedere, Porto also has beautiful and lots of beaches: Praia de Matosinhos, Praia do Ourigo, Praia dos Ingleses, Praia do Molhe, Matosinhos beach, Praia de Fuzelhas, Espinho, Praia da Granja, Praia do Senhor da Pedra.
- Palácio de Cristal: it is a park as nice as it is relaxing, it is very well cared and full of many attractions like, the big dome, the little tower (where you can climb and admire the view), lakes with ducks and peacocks in total freedom. It owns many beautiful gardens and breathtaking views of the city from the highest parts of the park, thanks to the fact that the park is spread over a terrain with many gradients. Nice for real!!
- Another beautiful park and such a pleasant place to stop, especially because it is located near the ocean, that so makes the view better is the Jardim do Passeio Alegre; without forgetting Jardim das Virtudes with a stupendous viewpoint. Other parks but more wild and suitable for cycling are: Parque da Cidade do Porto, Jardim da Rotunda da Boavista.
Dom Luis bridge
Porto in addition to have what has been said so far, it also has a lively and sparkling nightlife. The most popular places are: those located along the river bank in Gaia and in the Ribeira, then Baixa di Porto, Bairro Alto, Foz do Douro.
To get more specific, among the famous places there are:
- Gare Club: nightclub
- Plan B Club – Port: nightclub
- Tendinha Dos Clérigos: nightclub
- Indústria: disco
- Zoom Porto: cocktail bar
- Moreclub, Lda: disco
- Swing Club: locale notturno
- Hotfive Blues & Jazz Blues CLub
- Disco 80’s: disco
And then there is Cinema Batalha for those who prefer to spend a quieter evening.
We have heard only good things about the typical foods of the city, now we just have to make sure about it!
Among the various specialties of Porto occupies a fundamental place the fish (such as cod, swordfish, hake tuna…) that is prepared in the most varied ways: fried oven, boiled and so on and combined with different ingredients (such as eggs for example). In addition to fish of great importance are the white and red meat (especially pork) and then there are soups of all kinds.
- Francesinha: this is the typical dish of Porto. It is a particular Portuguese sandwich, it is prepared with two slices of bread stuffed with sausage, meats (like ham) and a beef steak; all covered with abundant (but really abundant) melted cheese and also an abundant tomato sauce and other seasonings (your dish will be overwhelmed by the tomato sauce!). Some variants also include the addition of egg and fries. What a dish!
- Bacalhau à Gomes da Sà: this dish consists of a casserole with cod inside, onions, boiled eggs and potatoes and sometimes black olives.
- Carne de porco alentejana: this other dish is based on pork meat that is spiced and stewed and is accompanied by clams. A combination not to be underestimated and to try before judging!
- Queijadas de Sintra: these sweets, served in cups, are mainly prepared with fresh cheese, eggs and sugar. A real treat!
- Nata do céu: dessert consisting of a double layer of cream and crumbled biscuits, all covered with zabaglione… So good!
- Porto is the most famous and well-known wine in Portugal, a true institution of the nation. Its flavor is so strong and decisive and served as an accompaniment to desserts or as an aperitif.
Queijadas de Sintra
WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)
We have verified and had certainties that the food is really delicious, now we just have to get into some good place and… Eat!
- Petisqueira Voltaria: Mediterranean, European, Portuguese, vegetarian cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
- Wine Quay Bar: wine bar with Mediterranean, Portuguese, vegetarian cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
- Ribeira Square: Mediterranean, European, Portuguese, vegetarian cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
- Intrigo: Mediterranean, European, contemporary, Portuguese, vegetarian, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
- cáBARé – Restaurant & Wine Bar: Mediterranean, European, contemporary, Portuguese, vegetarian cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
- Restaurante Rito Cozinha Regional: European, Portuguese, vegetarian cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
- Taberna do Barqueiro: Mediterranean, European, Portuguese cuisine.
- biker: international bar, European, vegetarian, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
- Taberna dos Mercadores: Mediterranean, European, Portuguese cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
- Restaurante Casa Viuva: Mediterranean, European and Portuguese cuisine.
- Restaurante Estrela Do Lima: European, Portuguese and vegetarian cuisine.
- Bacchus Vini: wine bar with European, Portuguese cuisine.
We explored Porto in all is aspects and now it’s time to welcome to another Portuguese destination. What will it be? Travel with us and you will discover it.
Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.
A big kiss to everyone.
Below we will list the accommodations that you can find in Porto.