After our past tips on Lisbon, this time we’re moving to another favourite spot in Portugal: the lovely – and much smaller – northern city of Porto. Charming, historic and beautiful, Porto has both small town and cosmopolitan vibes. The Douro river creates the perfect background to its cobblestone and hilly streets, making it the ideal post-card site. Holding the post of Portugal’s second-largest city and one of Europe’s oldest centres, it comes as no surprise that Porto has much to offer not only in terms of beauty but also in culture. Scroll down to check our top 5 unmissable attractions in this captivating city.
Sightseeing cruise along the Douro river
River cruises can be quite touristy, we get that, but sometimes they’re totally worth the hype – which happens to be the case in Porto. There are plenty of options and destinations for you to choose from – visiting other towns, immersing yourself in the Douro valley experience, or even just going for a shorter cruise to see amazing views of Porto from a different perspective. If you haven’t got much time, opt for the latter and you’ll be able to learn more about the city and delight yourself with the scenery aboard a classic, Rabello style boat.
Stroll around the Ribeira area
One of the most famous spots in Porto is the Ribeira. From there you can see the magnificent Dom Luís I Bridge, the neighbouring Vila Nova de Gaia and last but not least, the Douro river. This combination couldn’t result in anything other than a pleasant and fascinating walk. Add to the mix traditional restaurants, lovely bars, great shops and you have the perfect itinerary for a day out.
Port tasting in Gaia
If you hop on a 5-minute boat journey from Ribeira or walk across the Dom Luís I Bridge, you will arrive at Vila Nova de Gaia, known as the Port wine town. There are over ten traditional and celebrated wine cellars – some of which you can spot from the Porto side of the Douro river. Believe us, you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to delve into the history of this heritage wine, why not try a couple of different labels too? We’d advise you to choose the one you like the look of the most and book in advance as they can get really busy.
Visit the São Bento railway station
European railway stations can be quite grand and richly detailed and the São Bento station is no different. If you’re arriving by train in Porto, chances are this will be your first – and amazing – impression of the town. São Bento is decorated with 20,000 traditional Portuguese azulejos – or ceramic tiles – which happen to tell ancient stories in the most beautiful way possible – and took 11 years to be completed. Some historical scenes portrayed there are the Battle of Valdevez (1140) and the Conquest of Ceuta (1415). We promise you won’t regret this stop.
Climb the Clérigos Tower
Another famous historical building is the Clérigos Tower, which can be spotted in Porto’s skyline from a distance. The Clérigos Tower is the bell tower of the Clérigos Church, which is less well-known but still worth the visit. The Baroque-style church was built in 1750 and is decorated with opulent details and materials. It wasn’t until 1763 the tower was built and since then became a symbol of the city of Porto. If you’re feeling active, you can climb the 240 steps to reach the top and check the scenic views.
Have you been to Porto? How many of these spots did you visit? Let us know!
By Manuela Rio Tinto