Porto is on its way of replacing Lisbon as the destination of choice in Portugal. While it is smaller than Lisbon, it accumulates a lot of different attractions within walking distance, like the famous port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia and the highly instragrammable historic Ribeira district.Anzeige*
|How I got there||Ryanair, return flight from Cologne|
|Where I stayed / Recommendations||Hotel Ibis Porto Sao Joao: very decently priced: approx. 55 Euros per night per double room, including a good breakfast; location close to the university (where I needed to go) and close to the metro stop IPO. However, it takes about 20 minutes to get to the city center. For vacation, I’d rather stay in the city. There are numerous offers on Tripadvisor, Airbnb and the other portals for nice and affordable apartments.
Hotel recommendations in the city Center:
The House Ribeira Porto Hotel: nice 4 star hotel in the heart of the vibrant old town “Ribeira”; costs approx. 170 Euros per night.
Apartments Sobro O Douro: nice old building directly at the Douro river promenade, great view of the river! Around 100 Euros per night.
And here a very reasonably priced 3 star hotel: Hotel Da Bolsa, a beautiful old building next to the Palacio das Artes and thus centrally located; double room per night is around 70 Euros.
|If you want to, you can eat and drink in Porto for very little money – here examples:
A great grilled ham and cheese sandwich with Crisps for only 3 Euros in the bar/restaurant Esplanade just below the Jardim do Morro – best view of porto included.
Or a great vegetable soup, the best sandwich ever and two glasses of excellent white wine for 10 Euros in “A Sandeira”, a tiny restaurant with wooden
Of course, there is also ample opportunity to spend a lot more. We tried Taylor’s, the supposedly best port wine cellar – first a port wine tasting and then a great dinner. Taylor’s is located up the hill in Vila Nova de Gaia, but the great view and the best port wine is worth the climb.
And last but not least: a great place to enjoy a Portuguese wine with a view of the Douro river: the Wine Quay Bar, located above Cais da Estiva. You will have to enter the upper way, passing the tables of the corner restaurant Farol Da Boa Nova. The Wine Quay Bar offers many different wines and some small dishes like ham or cheese on the side. You may sit inside, but it’s a lot nicer to sit outside directly at the small wall, looking over the Douro river.
|Things to do||Visit the numerous churches of the city and enjoy the magnificent view from the cathedral or the Torre dos Clerigos, visit the touristic hot spots like the library Lello and the Station Sao Bento, enjoy the small bars and restaurants in the Ribeira Quarter, cross the Douro river and visit a port wine cellar, watch the sunset from Jardim do Morro|
|Recommendations in a nutshell||Discover the city highlights with a walking tour
If you’ve got more time: rent a car and ride along the Douro river into the countryside.
|recipe||Pasteis de Chaves, see below|
Porto is a wonderful city in a nice climate. However, when packing don’t forget a warm coat for the evening. I didn’t and had to apply the “onion technique”: one layer on top of the other. But this being the only downside, there’s not much to complain, but many positive features to report – see below!
City Hall of Porto
When discovering the city, I went from north to south, starting with the City Hall of Porto, close to the Metro Station “Aliados”.
The City Hall sity on top of a huge square called flanked by the Avenue dos Aliados:
Close to the City hall you’ll find the famous Livraria Lello, the (supposedly) most beautiful bookstore of the world. Be prepared to bathe in a crowd: even early in the morning (they open at 9:30) there was a considerable queue first at the ticket office around the corner, and at the library entrance as well.
When I left, the queue went down the street for more than 100 meters.
Inside the building there really is a special atmosphere:
…despite the crowd.
Very special is indeed the central staircase – and very popular among bloggers and intragrammers.
It is fun to watch the coming and going from upstairs:
And they even sell books:
“Twin Churches” Ingreja do Carmo and Ingreja Do Carmelitas“
From Lellos it is only a stone’s throw to the “twin churches” Ingreja do Carmo
and Ingreja Do Carmelitas. They are so close to each other that you have to stand in front of them to see the “connection” between them:
Particularly nice are the tiles, the famous blue Azulejos, on the outside of Ingreja do Carmo:
Praça de Carlos Alberto
Just a few meters to the north, there’s a beautiful square, the Praça de Carlos Alberto:
In February, the blooming Magnolias surrounding the square add a nice pink color to the picturesque scenery:
Jardim da Cordoaria, Parque do Horto das Virtudes and Miradouro da Vitoria
A bit more south there’s the large square of the Jardim da Cordoaria:
This green Oasis in the City Center is used by many People to rest – and feed the pidgeons:
And to the west the particularly nice and calm Garden Park of Virtues – Parque do Horto das Virtudes. This garden is arranged in several levels, and from the southern side you’ll enjoy a nice view of the Douro river.
This parc is really a quiet Oasis where you can easy find a place for your own:
Leaving the parc via the Passeio das Virtudes and heading east, there’s a great viewpoint, the Miradouro da Vitoria, providing a nice view of the Ribeira rooftops and the Cathedral of Porto:
Pretty close, but unfortunately closed during my stay, is the quite impressive Palacio da Bolsa:
Torre dos Clerigos
Following the Rua de Sao Bento da Vitoria, you’ll get back to the Jardim of Cordoaria. From there to the east you can’t miss the tower of the Clerigos church, the Torre dos Clerigos, famous for it’s great view of Porto from the top.
The Tower belongs to the church “Igreja dos Clerigos”, and church and façade are quite impressive as well:
From there you can stroll along the small streets and admire the traditional buildings.
Sometimes, there’s an interesting mixture betwen old and Young, and you might see how facades are kept while removing the entire buidling behind:
Estacione Sao Bento
Also quite famous and worth a short visit is one of the most beautiful train stations, the Estacione Sao Bento, that you’ll reach via the Praca da Liberdade, coming from Irgeja dos Clerigos. The Grand Hall of the Station is nicely decorated with the typical blue tiles, the Azulejos.
At night, the Station and the square in front are impressive places:
Cathedral of Porto
Up the busy street Praca da Liberdade and the hill, the Cathedral of Porto is another must-see:
When I arrived, just by chance a wedding party left:
From the southern side of the square in front of the cathedral there’s a great view over the Ribeira quarter and the Douro river:
Inside of the 12th century cathedral, there’s a nice cloister:
You can climb the tower, which is not too high, but the stairs have unusual and varying heights, which makes the descent more strenuous than the climb. But the view is worth the effort:
Inside the large cathedral hall you will find numerous small chapels, one more elaborately decorated than the other, and several different nice views:
From the cathedral you can either directly get to one of the major tourist attractions of Porto, the Douro bridge “Ponte Luis I”. Via Av. Dom Afonso Henriques you will end up on the upper level of the bridge, providing nice views:
Alternatively, you may visit the Ribeira quarter with its narrow alleys, old Buildings, small shops and nice squares.
You’ll end up of the river banks of the Douro river, which has been transformed into a nice pedestrian zone, including café and bars – have a break and enjoy the sun, the view of Vila Nova de Gaia across the river, and the busy boats on the river.
Stroll the riverbank…
Ponte Dom Luis I
… and cross the Douro on the lower level of the Dom Luis I Bridge – a great sight also from the lower Level:
On the other side of the river, there’s also a nice banks path, including lots of cafes and restaurants, many of them belonging to the famous Port wine producers of Vila Nova de Gaia.
Taylor’s Port Wine Cellars
I particularly liked Taylor’s, a bit up the hill. They offer Port wine tasting, a wide variety of exquisite Port wines, a very good restaurant and a great view of Porto from their restaurant. We had an organzied tour through their cellars (including the visit of one of the biggest port wine kegs in Europe), a port wine tasting during an evening, followed by an excellent dinner.
They have a small Exhibition of ancient pictores of the early prot wine days:
If you just would like to stay during the afternoon, there’s a very nice small garden:
From Taylor’s it is just a small walk down some narrow alleys…
… to the river bank, and from there you can either climb the hill or take the furnicular, here called “teleferico” de Gaia…
Teleferico de Gaia and Jardim do Morro
…up to Jardim do Morrow and the impressive medieval fortress-like Claustros do Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar, here seen from the Porto riverbank, next to the Dom Luis I Bridge. A nice view by day and night:
Jardim do Morrow is a very popular viewpoint, particularly around sunset:
Then the entire small grassy hill is occupied by hundreds of – mostly younger – tourists.
The small bar/restaurant Esplanade just below the Jardim do Morro is a good alternative, if you don’t want to sit on the ground. They offer the same great view, and food and drinks are very reasonably priced, like a delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwich with Crisps for only 3 Euros.
After sunset, you’ll have lots of different options to spend the evening, either in an expensive restaurant (like the one of Taylor’s) or in an inexpensive small place in Ribeira, like the tiny “A Sandeira”, offering “the best sandwiches of Porto”. We tried the one with goat cheese and walnuts – delicious! And if you’re looking for a great view, a good Port wine and just some small food items, the best place to go is the “Wine Quay Bar”, located above Cais da Estiva. You will have to enter the upper way, passing the tables of the corner restaurant Farol Da Boa Nova. If you’re lucky, there’s still some place directly at the path outside, or in the window frames. The view of the river at night is amazing!
And if you’re lucky, you might even see some midnight rowers on the river:
Overall, Porto offers many nice places to see and go, and all basically within walking distance. It’s a great location for just a weekend visit (you may see all the mentioned attractions within one day), but of course you may stay longer and just enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. Or take a rental car and visit the Douro wine region. Or the cost north and south of Porto.
Of all the local culinary attractions, I likes best the small sweet and hearty pastry pieces. Of course, the Pasteis de Nata is absolutely great. But also the non-sweet ones with meat/cheese fillings are delicious. I tried to figure out the recipe and came up with the following one, which comes pretty close to the original:
Pastéis de Chaves – traditional meat pastry
The pastry from Chaves is a traditional specialty made of a very fine filo dough in the shape of a half-moon and filled with minced meat, preferably lamb.
- 500 g puff pastry squares
- 500 g ground beef, or lamb
- 1/4 c chopped onion
- 1 clove chopped garlic
- 1 tsp chopped parsley
- 1/4 c shredded portuguese cheese (optional)
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
- salt and pepper
Fry meat until browned, then add onions and chopped garlic and cook until golden brown, then let it cool. If necessary, cut the mixture in a food processor to give it a fine texture. Add parsley and – if you like – a bit of a spicy cheese.
Roll out dough and cut into rectangles of about 5 to 10 cm. Place 1 tablespoon meat on the left side of the rectangle. Fold over the other side to end up with a square. Scratch lines into the upper layer – this will make the pastry even more crispy.
Place the pastries on baking sheets on a baking tray and brush with the mixed egg. Bake the pastry in the preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Greetings from Porto!
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts. I pay for all my trips myself.