Porto is a lovely and romantic old town known for gastronomy, wine, architecture and history.
A weekend in Porto will be intensive, you will discover main touristic attractions. Best in Porto is to discover what locals do and eat. Walk in the city, enjoy riverside Riberia, cruise on the river Doura or have a helicopter tour over Porto.
Start discovering Porto, walking is the best option, avoid the hop on hop off buses, really no need.
From airport, metro is option but very crowded. (line Z4) You arrive to Trindade and just walk down through the road Trindade, you will see the church Igreja da Trindade. Inside, the neoclassical interior has a huge panel representing the Baptism of Christ.
Next stop will be Pacos do Concelho, Porto City Hall. It is one of Porto’s landmarks, situated at the top of Aliados Avenue, at the heart of downtown.
Liberty or Freedom Square was a political, economical and social centre for Porto during 19th century.
S.Bento train station is unique with its tile (azulejo) panels that depict scenes of the History of Portugal.
Through road Clerigos, you reach the church and tower Clerigos. The Clérigos Church is a Baroque church from 1750s. Its tall bell tower, the Torre dos Clérigos, can be seen from various points of the city and is one of its most characteristic symbols.
If you want to climb to tower and watch Porto bird eye view, remember that there are very narrow stairs, hardly passing in two directions. Entrance 4 Euro.
Just next to Clerigos Tower is the famous book store, where Harry Potter movie was filmed: Livraria Lello. Incredible queue, even in the early morning around 09:00, there a kilometer of queue. The doors open at 09:45 in the morning.
Walking through Alfonso Henriques road, you will reach to Porto Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church located in the historical centre of the city. It was completed in the13th century.
Next to the cathedral, you can have a nice Porto city view.
Walking down to Henrique Square to Mercado Ferreira Borges and Palacio da Bolsa (stock exchange palace). At the market, there was an easter market, special hand made eastern presents.
Remember to book the time at the Stock Exchange Palace if you want to go in, there is a booking in advance.
Riberia, World Heritage by Unesco
The Ribeira district spreads alongside the Douro river and used to be a centre of intense commercial and manufacturing activity since the Middle Ages. Also since that time the Ribeira Square was the site of many shops that sold fish, bread, meat and other goods. In 1491 the buildings around the square were destroyed in a fire, and the houses were rebuilt with arcades in their groundfloors.
River Doura (river of gold) starts from northern Spain, crosses across Portugal and reaches the ocean at Porto. Ponte Luis I bridge spans between Porto and Gaia. This bridge is the symbol of Porto and offers good photography spots over the city and Riberia. Recommendation is to shoot blue hour photos from the bridge. (Unfortunately, I did not have the possibility)
The bridge has 2 levels, the lowest level is for the cars and higher level is for tram. You can walk at both levels.
The Gaia Cable Car construction began in March 2009 and the public operation started after two years, in April 2011. It is connecting Gaia riverside promenade to the upper deck of D. Luis I bridge over river Douro nearby Jardim do Morro Metro station and the belvedere of Serra do Pilar convent church.
Gaia – Porto Wine Cellars
I visited Burmester, the 1st wine cellar after the first level of the bridge. Entrance 9 Euro, special wine tasting, 3 wines and 2 chocolates
Port wine (also known as Vinho do Porto) is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red or white wine, often served as a dessert wine.
Port wine doesn’t go through a complete fermentation. Instead, the fermentation is stopped when the ideal sugar level is reached.
The addition of spirits stops the fermentation by creating an environment where the wine yeasts can’t survive. Most Port producers use about 30% brandy. Thats why Port wine is stronger and sweeter.
Aging Port in large oak balseiros or steel containers maintains the initial winey (or ‘vinus’) flavor of Port. Aging in smaller oak barrels called ‘pipas’ makes Port taste more nutty. Red Rubys are produced large wood barrels, darker red. Tawny Port Multiple vintages aged for 3 years in barrels, but usually 10-40+ years. Lighter color and stronger taste.
A vintage wine costs 655 Euro per bottle, they have only 2 bottles from 1963.
From Gaia, you can take a boat tour through Douro River.
An alternative little outside Porto is to go Castle Foz. (around 10 km) This is a quiter place to take a walk where the river reaches the ocean, a lighthouse and the castle.
If you prefer to stay at a quiter place, Hotel Boa Vista here is an option. It is quite easy to go to center from here. Take a tram from Alfandega to Foz. costs 3 Euro. Romantic trip around 20 minutes.
Serralves is a cultural institution, one of the most important of all the country. It includes a Contemporary Art Museum, a Park and a Villa, each one an example of contemporary architecture, Modernism, and Art Deco architecture
The gardens of the Palacio de Cristal
When it comes to green spaces in Porto, the Crystal Palace Gardens are the top-of-the-range choice for tourists who want to search out in depth the green heart of the city. The name of this park comes from a former structure made of glass and iron, the Crystal Palace, which was brought down in 1956 and replaced with a domed pavilion, the so-called Pavilhao Rosa Mota (often referred to as Pavilhao dos Desportos, meaning the Sports Pavilion), which is chiefly used to entertainment, cultural and sports-related purposes.
R das Flores
R de Santa Catarina (walking down from Mercado do Bolhao, busy street, Cafe Majestic is from 1921)
Mercado do Bolhao
This lovely market place is where farmers came to sell their fruit and vegetables. Nowadays you also find butchers and the inevitable souvenir shops. It was half under construction when I visited.
Photography museum (Centro Portugues de Fotografia): there was an exhibition of a princess in 17s, photographer.
Francesinha (meaning Little Frenchie or simply Frenchie in Portuguese) is a Portuguese sandwich originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries.Every street at Porto offers something to discover; you will enjoy the romantic and light city of Porto. Invented at 60s. Very heavy food but worth to try once…
You will enjoy Porto, full of surprises in every street.