25 May TOP THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN PORTO
Porto wasn’t on my list of cities to visit in Europe until my dad discovered his love for Port wine one year ago while having Christmas lunch in London. Since that time he couldn’t stop telling me how great that glass of wine was, he had to go to Porto and taste the wine in the land where its made. So we did.
And now I regret not putting Porto on my travel bucket list, as it is one of the most charming and authentic cities I’ve ever visit. I’ll travel there again and again.
So I made a list of the best things the city has to offer to make sure you put Porto on your travel plans next time you visit Europe, and to not commit the mistake I did.
CAPELA DAS ALMAS (Chapel of Souls)
Located on the shopping street we find one of the most striking and beautiful chapels of the world.
Magnificent blue-and-white hand painted tiles here depict scenes from the lives of various saints, including the death of St Francis and the martyrdom of St Catherine.
While in the area, don’t miss the daily life in Mercado do Bolhao, nor A Pérola do Bolhão, a little traditional grocery store with a large variety of quality and delicatessen Portuguese products. Before the products catch your eye, the façade will: beautiful Art Noveau entrance covered in Portuguese tiles.
Ribeira is Porto’s biggest heart-stealer. Its Unesco World Heritage maze of medieval alleys zigzags down to the Douro River and a promenade lined with slender, pastel-hued houses and hole-in-the-wall tascas (taverns), with front-row views of the spectacular Ponte de Dom Luís I and the port-wine lodges across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia. Jam-packed with sights, shops, and restaurants (and flocks of tourists), this historic neighborhood is postcard Porto.
AVENIDA DOS ALIADOS
Avenida dos Aliados is generally regarded as Porto’s city centre and is, as such, the most grandiose avenue. Flanked by ornate buildings in a range of architectural styles, from neoclassical to French Beaux-arts, this avenue was built to impress. As such it is home to some of the city’s most prestigious hotels along with a number of banks.
SAO BENTO RAILWAY STATION
Probably one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, if not the most!
Its inside is covered with thousands of painted tiles that depict the history of the Portuguese transportation.
Let’s catch up on clichés! Rumour has it that J.K. Rowling got inspired by that twisting staircase for the Harry Potter Books while she was living in Porto back in the 90s.
Either if that is true or not, the library itself it’s gorgeous and totally worth the visit.
Be sure to go there early in the morning cause it gets super busy and jam-packed with tourists, that taking a photo or just walking into the library trying to look for books can be a pain!
CRYSTAL PALACE GARDENS
There’s nothing better than taking a break after a full day walking the cobbled streets of Porto. Crystal Palace Gardens are the right place.
Luxurious greenery, romantic nooks, and belvederes with astonishing views over the river, the Atlantic ocean and the city itself.
The Porto Romantic Museum and the Port Wine Museum are also located inside the gardens.
IGREJA DO CARMO AND IGREJA DAS CARMELITAS
Another church that caught my attention was Igreja do Carmo. Well, in fact, these are two churches that stand almost side by side.
The two churches are separated by a very narrow, 1m wide, house built so that the two churches wouldn’t share a common wall, and to prevent any relations between the nuns of Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks of Igreja do Carmo. Curious, right?
Igreja dos Carmelitas is the one in the right, and Igreja do Carmo, the one in the left. And you are going to recognize them because this last one has an impressive facade made with, again, blue and white tiles.
TORRE DOS CLÉRIGOS
Climb its 225-step spiral staircase for phenomenal views over Porto’s tiled rooftops, spires and the curve of the Douro to the port wine lodges in Gaia. It also harbors an exhibition that chronicles the history of the tower’s architects and residents.
The price of the entrance is 5€.
GRAHAM’S WINE CELLAR
(VILA NOVA DA GAIA)
We came for the wine, so this couldn’t miss on the list. The wine that had my dad astonished my dad was a Graham’s so it made sense we decided to visit that house. And it didn’t disappoint.
Tours last approximately 30 minutes and conclude with a tasting of three to eight port wines (tour prices vary according to quality).
Plus, it boasts a fancy restaurant with lovely views over the city.
I hope you enjoyed that little guide and wish you a pleasant time in Porto.
I’m already planning a next visit there caurse I missed on some spots.. 😛