As Portugal’s second largest city, Porto is sure to capture the hearts of most travelers! It’s coastal location, rich history, steep hills, and famous azulejo tiled buildings make it the perfect city for a weekend getaway. From the beautiful gardens, to the breathtaking viewpoints, Porto has plenty to offer! Below we have compiled a list of top things to see, and do while visiting Porto for an unforgettable trip!
Livraria Lello in Porto is one of the most magnificent bookshops you will probably ever step foot in. In fact, it is constantly listed as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world! The bookshop dates back to the late 1800s, and the centerpiece is the winding art nouveau staircase. For any Harry Potter fans, this is a must-stop, as many believe that the fairytale-like bookstore was one of J.K Rowling’s inspirations behind the world of Harry Potter. There is indeed an entrance fee, but it is redeemable towards any purchase in-store.
Climb the Clerigos Tower
If the steep hills of Porto aren’t enough, climb up the 240 steps of the Torre dos Clerigos for some of the most breathtaking views of the city! The bell tower, dating back to the 18th century, is a symbol of Porto, and provides 360-degree views over the red-roofed houses, and Duoro River. The ticket allows access to both the tower and the church itself.
Port Wine Cellars
Whether or not you are a fan of wine, trying Porto’s famed Port wine is a must! Port is usually served as a dessert wine, as it is rich and sweet, bursting with raspberry, blackberry, caramel, cinnamon, and chocolate flavors. However, when in Porto feel free to enjoy this local specialty at any time of day! The best place to try this wine is at one of the many wine cellars on the other side of the bridge in the Gaia district. Inside the cellars you will learn all about the history and production of Port wine, while also enjoying a few glasses.
The Porto Cathedral is one of the most important religious buildings in the city, and is now declared a National Monument. Its construction began in the 12th century, but has undergone numerous renovations since then. As a result, the Cathedral currently has a large mix of architectural styles. Inside, you will also find the entrance to the cloister, which is decorated with tiles painted with some of the scenes from the Bible.
Sao Bento Train Station
Whether you are planning to take a train or not, a stop by the Estacao Sao Bento is a must. This historical landmark is popular for its beautiful mosaics and azulejo tiles. Azulejo tiles are unique in Portuguese architecture, especially in Porto, and are used to decorate buildings, streets, and homes. The tiles in the train station beautifully illustrate some of the most important events in Portuguese history.
Cross the Luis I Bridge
The twin-level metal bridge stands as a modern industrial symbol of Porto. German engineer, Theophile Seyrig, constructed the bridge in 1886. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, and rises almost 45 metres above the banks of the Duoro. Cross the top deck for some of the best views of the city! Not to worry, as there is also a lower deck for those with a fear of heights!
Foz de Duoro
Take the tram down to the mouth of the Duoro River for some seaside strolls, and a visit to the Farol Molhe de Douro lighthouse. Foz de Duoro is a trendy district with a long promenade lined with palms and pines, and modern restaurants. Enjoy a coffee at one of the many seaside terraces, or a walk along the beach.
Crystal Palace Gardens
Jardins do Palacio de Cristal is the perfect place for a romantic stroll, or a breath of fresh air. The gardens were designed in the 19th century, and consist of luscious greenery, charming nooks, and belvederes with breathtaking views over the river. Enjoy the roaming peacocks, rose gardens, various fountains, and free Wifi spots, and stop by the Romantic Museum for a bit of culture!
Day Trip to Aveiro
If you have some time to spare in your busy itinerary, head over to the charming city of Aveiro. Located only about an hour from Porto, this quaint city is dubbed the ‘Venice of Portugal’. Take a ride along the canal, check out a few museums, or simply admire the beautiful pastel colored buildings.
If you’d like to visit Portugal, pack your bags, study up on the amazing country and join us on one of our fully planned adventures! From the gorgeous cities and breathtaking coastlines to amazing history, culture and delicious cuisine, we love Portugal and we want you to as well! So come explore Portugal this year, and experience all it has to offer! Before you go make sure to check out our Lisbon bucket lists!