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A Guide to Porto


When I was planning our trip to Portugal for this past summer, I was mostly looking forward to discovering Lisbon and exploring the Algarve. Porto was kind of an afterthought, a place we decided to add to our itinerary only later on in the planning process. And, boy, am I glad we added it! My expectations were completely exceeded. Porto turned out to be an extremely interesting, beautiful and fun city, and one of our favorite spots in the country.

It’s one of those cities that you can explore on foot (which I love!), and that has so much to offer; from friendly and helpful locals, to fabulous food, amazing architecture, obviously THE BEST port wine, and beautiful scenery. Visiting Porto on your trip to Portugal is a MUST, and definitely not the place to skip. While our time there is still fresh in my memory, I’d like to recommend some places to stay at, eat at, drink at, and also how to make the most of your time there.

WHERE TO STAY

You can walk everywhere in Porto, so make sure you get a place in the middle of the city to make it easy for you to explore from. Your best bet is to stay in the Old City area around São Bento station. We recommend renting an apartment, like Ribeira Historic Apartments or SendMe2Portugal: Loureiro.

More places to stay: bnapartments Loftpuzzle, Casas do Teatro, Oporto Chic&Cozy-Ribeira

WHERE TO EAT

There are a few dishes you absolutely HAVE TO try when you’re in Porto, like Francesinha (a local sandwich topped with ham, sausage, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce), which you can order at most restaurants. Also, you must devour countless pastel de nata (a local egg tart pastry), and we highly recommend NATA and Manteigaria for the best ones! Seafood is also popular because it’s so fresh and plentiful here. At Palato, which is in the coastal area of Leça da Palmeira, you can enjoy delicious fresh fish grilled on the spot!

Palato

Porto also surprised us with countless amazing and healthy eateries. Out of all the places we ate at, I highly recommend Café Progresso, (apparently "the oldest café in town"!), Hungry Biker, Noshi Coffee and Zenith. (Hearty, but healthy meals!) If you enjoy people-watching while eating, get a table at Peter Café Sport, which is right on the riverfront and you’ll have a great view of passers-by and the bridge.

Café Progresso

Café Progresso

Café Progresso

Zenith

Peter Café Sport

Noshi Coffee

Noshi Coffee

For an afternoon pick-me-up, go check out the famous, but always busy, Majestic Café or Combi Coffee. If gelato is your thing, pop into Santini.

Go enjoy sunset drinks at BASE, which is a bar garden in the center of Porto, overlooking the Clérigos Tower. The vibe is lively, but relaxing, and the drinks are excellent!

More places to eat: Cantina 32, Brick Clérigos, ODE Porto Wine House

BASE

BASE

Santini

Combi Coffee

Combi Coffee

WHAT TO SEE & DO

There’s plenty to do in this city, and luckily they are all in walking distance from each other. You’ll be able to see so much by just wandering around. It’s also a super easy city to navigate, as there are lots of landmarks to guide you.

We suggest you start your day at Livraria Lello, a stunning bookstore which JK Rowling apparently frequented while living in Porto, and is alleged to be the inspiration for the Harry Potter series. Afterwards, go to the Clérigos Church where you can climb to the top for beautiful panoramic view of the city. A quick stroll from there is Igreja do Carmo, a must-visit baroque church. Head on over to the Chapel of Souls, another church with stunning architecture. In the area, you can take a walk through the Bolhão Market towards the Church of Saint Ildefonso.

Clérigos Church

View from Clérigos Tower

Igreja do Carmo

Chapel of Souls

Chapel of Souls

Chapel of Souls

Church of Saint Ildefonso

Visit São Bento Station, which is probably one of the most beautiful train stations you’ll ever see. Just a quick walk from there is the majestic Porto Cathedral, and I highly recommend you to pay the 3 Euro extra to visit the adjacent cloister. From here go to explore the Bolsa Palace for beautiful interiors and architecture. Afterwards, take a stroll along the Cais da Ribeira, where there are plenty of restaurants and cafes, towards the Funicular of Guindais, which is a cable car you can take up the hill.

São Bento Station

São Bento Station

Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral (cloister)

Porto Cathedral (cloister)

Porto Cathedral (cloister)

Cais da Ribeira

Cais da Ribeira

Once on the hill, you can walk over the Dom Luis I Bridge. You will have an incredible view of the city of Porto, the river, and Vila Nova Gaia, and once across the bridge you can hang out at the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar to take in the scenery. Now you are in the area where all the port cellars are. A port tasting at one (or more) of the cellars is a must! We recommend Sandeman, where they have a lot of different tasting options, and also a big outdoor area with tables to hang out and drink port. More popular cellars you can visit there are Croft, Taylor, Graham and Cálem.

Dom Luis I Bridge

View from Dom Luis I Bridge

View of Dom Luis I Bridge from Vila Nova Gaia

View of Porto from Vila Nova Gaia

Sandeman

Sandeman

If you have time, go on a scenic and relaxing river boat cruise with Yellow City Cruises. This ticket will also give you access to the Yellow Bus, which you can take all over Porto (and even to the beaches) and a free port tasting. You can also easily head to the coast and enjoy a day in neighboring Matosinhos. Have a relaxing day in Leça da Palmeira at the beach, or buy a ticket to swim at the adjacent tidal pools, Piscina das Marés.

6 Bridge Boat Cruise with Yellow City Cruises

6 Bridge Boat Cruise with Yellow City Cruises

Piscina das Marés

Beach at Leça da Palmeira

GETTING AROUND

Even though Porto is quite “hilly”, it’s a lovely place to explore on foot. There are also plenty of taxis, a great subway system, Uber, and even a tram that can take you from the city center all along the river to the coastal areas. If you want to make a quick journey to the other side of the river, you can hop on a convenient river taxi. And, of course, there's the convenient cable car that can help you get up the hill super fast.

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A Guide to Porto - MAP

We absolutely LOVED Porto and highly recommend you to visit it when you have the chance! Please feel free to shoot us an email if you have any questions about Porto or our guide, we are happy to help! Also check out our Guide to Lisbon to complete your Portugal travel itinerary.

Happy travels!

#AGuideto #Porto #Portugal #Travel #TravelGuide #Explore #PortTasting

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