A 3-hour train ride or car ride from Lisbon is the second-most populous city in Portugal – Porto! Nestled on both sides of the Douro River, this hilly and historic town is the second-largest city in Portugal. Located in the northwest of Portugal, the city is known for its picturesque cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and charming atmosphere!
One of the city’s most notable attractions is its stunning historic district, Ribeira. This neighborhood, located along the Douro River, is characterized by colorful buildings and winding streets. Here, visitors can take a stroll along the riverfront promenade, enjoy a meal at one of the many outdoor cafes, or simply admire the view. The Ribeira is also home to several historic landmarks, including the Sao Francisco Church, which features ornate baroque interiors and an impressive collection of religious art and artifacts.
Another must-see attraction in Porto is the port wine cellars. This beverage, which is unique to the region, is made from grapes grown in the Douro Valley and aged in the cellars along the river. Visitors can learn all about the production of port wine by taking a tour of one of the many cellars, and can sample the different varieties of port on offer. For those looking for a more active adventure, Porto offers plenty of outdoor activities as well. One popular option is to take a bike tour of the city, which allows visitors to see the sights while also getting some exercise. Another great option is to take a boat tour of the Douro River, which offers stunning views of the city and its surroundings.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Porto is the Clérigos Tower, one of the tallest towers in Portugal. Visitors can climb the 240 steps to the top for a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings. Another must-visit attraction is the Livraria Lello, a historic bookstore that is a favorite of book lovers and Harry Potter fans alike. The bookstore’s stunning Art Nouveau architecture and winding staircase inspired J.K. Rowling’s depiction of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Finally, no trip to Porto would be complete without sampling some of the city’s delicious cuisine. Porto is known for its seafood dishes, including grilled sardines and bacalhau (salt cod), as well as its meat dishes, such as cozido (a hearty stew) and francesinha (a sandwich filled with meat and topped with cheese and a spicy sauce). Wash it all down with a glass of local port wine for the full Porto experience!
- *Cantina 32 – small plates with a cool ambiance & vintage decor. Lots of good options for vegetarians.
- *Porta 4 – a (tiny!) hole the wall spots that only seats 14 people. Super intimate, you feel like a friend is cooking in his house for you! Great food, small menu – make reservations in advance!
- Terra Nova – great seafood right along the waterfront. Get the oysters!
- Taberna Dos Mercadores – a hole-in-the-wall traditional Portuguese spot with a great wine selection.
- Bacalhau – Cozy restaurant with a nice view of the river, delicious dishes especially the bacalhau (codfish).
- Cremosi – delicious gelato spot with some uncommon and interesting flavors.
- Quay Wine Bar – we loved this experience. The perfect spot to sit and look out towards the Douro river while tasting wine and trying different meats and cheeses.
- Graham’s Port Lodge – wine tour & tasting. Beautiful cellars with lots of history, the best of the tasting tours!
- Mirajazz – A hidden treasure ~ great spot for a nice sunset with a live jazz band, wine, and beer.
- Bar Ponte Pensil – riverside bar at the foot of the Dom Luís Bridge, a great spot for drinks with a view.
- Igreja do Carmo – connected to its twin church by one of the world’s narrowest houses, this baroque church has a well-known blue & white tiled side facade.
- Igreja da Serra do Pilar – Catholic Monastery with the best aerial view of the city. Be sure to have a drink at Esplanada Transparente before your hike back down!
- Dom Luís Bridge – Porto’s iconic bridge -~ a double-deck metal arch bridge that spans the River Douro between the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
- Livraria Lello – this bookstore is one of the most beautiful in the world – and is famous because it was one of JK Rowling’s favorite spots when she lived in Porto. Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts Castle was inspired on the Lello bookstore!
- Palácio da Bolsa do Porto (stock exchange building), one of the most beautiful buildings in Portugal.
In conclusion, Porto is a beautiful and historic city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in art, history, food, or outdoor activities, you’re sure to find plenty to love in Porto. So why not book your trip today and experience all that this charming city has to offer?
– John Philp