Porto is one of Portugal’s foremost cities and is a truly breathtaking place. Its streets are full of churches with tiled façades, beautiful buildings of various styles, such as the Baroque and even brightly painted houses alongside the river in Ribeira.
Named European Best Destination in both 2012 and 2014, Porto has much to offer and you will no doubt want to explore every corner of this increasingly cosmopolitan city.
Only have enough time for a weekend stay? Don’t worry because here are a few tips on some of the city’s must-see places, even if you are only here for a couple of days. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!
Day 1’s itinerary takes you along the Avenida dos Aliados and then on to Ribeira, Vila Nova de Gaia and the Port Wine Cellars.
The Avenida dos Aliados is one of the most beautiful and busiest places in Porto. The Câmara Municipal building and a central square make this one of the city’s highlights. No doubt you will notice the old Café Imperial, which is now home to a McDonalds and has been recognized as the chain’s most beautiful restaurant. Even if you aren’t an aficionado of this type of food, take the chance to go inside and have a look at the building’s magnificent stained glass windows.
Continue your journey through the city streets by heading down towards the river and Ribeira, one of Porto’s best known areas. Situated alongside the River Douro, Ribeira has various stores and restaurants, as well as lots of terraces where you can grab a café and take in the hustle and bustle.
The city’s incredible bridges are guaranteed to impress. In Ribeira, you will find the Dom Luís I Bridge, which was built by a follower of Gustave Eiffel. The bridge has two levels, with one for cars and the other for the metro and pedestrians. After taking in the view from the bridge, continue walking towards Vila Nova de Gaia. Once on this side of the river, don’t miss a visit to the Port Wine Cellars and, needless to say, the chance to try some locally produced wine.
While waiting for your turn to visit the Port Wine Cellars, take some time out to enjoy the fantastic views of the city from the water’s edge.
As the day draws to a close, this is your chance to savor some local cuisine. One of the city’s best loved and most famous dishes is the ‘Francesinha’. Don’t leave Porto without trying one!
Day 2 is reserved for visiting the Crystal Palace Gardens and Baixa do Porto. Begin the day with a stroll through the Crystal Palace Gardens. Located towards the west of the city, its design was inspired by Kensington Gardens in London. Currently, it also houses the Rosa Mota Pavilion. Thanks to its location in the highest part of the city, the Crystal Palace Gardens provide visitors with a privileged viewpoint, including superb views of the Arrábida Bridge and, of course, the River Douro.
While in Baixa do Porto, don’t miss a visit to the Igreja do Carmo, a very important church to the city of Porto. You are sure to fall in love with its façade of blue tiles and will be pleased to know that it’s not the only one of its kind in the city.
Another beautiful place is Livraria Lello. This bookstore was founded in 1906 and built in the neo-gothic style. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was inspired by its exquisite staircase to such an extent that she created a similar one in the Hogwarts School found in her books. Its beautiful ceiling is also another reason to pay a visit. But, beware! Photography is unfortunately not allowed inside. However, by taking the time to observe the various details of this magnificent building you are sure to take home some unforgettable memories.
The Torre dos Clérigos stands at 76 meters and is one of Porto’s tallest buildings. Your reward for braving the steep climb to the top is a breathtaking view of the city. The Palácio da Bolsa is also a must-see for anyone visiting Porto. There is an entrance fee but you are certain to enjoy the guided tour.
Also, put aside some time during your day to visit the São Bento Station and Sé Cathedral.
Our two-day guide inevitably leaves us with the same feeling… that there are so many beautiful places to see in Porto. Nevertheless, wanting to discover more is always a great reason to return. You will always discover something new in Porto, a city that is always ready to welcome you with open arms!
Now it’s time to pack your bags and return home. We’re sure that you’ll be taking some excellent mementos with you, not just in your suitcase but also in your heart. Promise that you’ll come and see us again soon. We’re always on hand to help you chose what to see when you do. Have you already booked that next trip of yours?