Porto – 21 Things to Experience and Enjoy

Everyone is heading to Porto nowadays – and who could blame them.  A huge regenerative programme over the past two decades,  along with an influx of budget airlines,  is bringing visitors by the thousands.  The challenge for the city now is to maintain the character and charm that people are currently enjoying.

Its a beautiful city to visit and perfect for a mini break.   There’s a metro in from the airport,  lots of accommodation options and its compact enough to enjoy over a few days.

The following is a sample of what you’ll experience in Porto.   After you look at this list,  I know you will be booking your flights!

 

1. Ribeira

This is the famous Ribeira – the riverfront district with its alleys,  houses,  restaurants and promenade.

20190623_140905

 

20190622_202521

 

Ribeira Square is a great meeting spot…..

20190623_170528

 

….for lunch….

20190624_144617.jpg

 

….or a late night tipple.

20190622_214351(0)

 

2. Vila Nova de Gaia

Vila Nova de Gaia is right opposite Ribeira – its technically a separate town but is easily accessed across the bridge.   Most of the wine companies will be found here.

20190623_134434

 

There’s a nice promenade on this side also….

20190623_161348.jpg

 

… and great views of Ribeira….

20190623_161613

 

20190623_143250

 

20190623_143208

 

3. Azulejo

The painted tiles – a legacy of the the Moors – can be seen everywhere.

This is the side wall of Igreja do Carmo

20190623_122659

 

The 20,000 tiles in Sao Bento train station depict battle scenes and tableaux of everyday life.

20190623_125944

 

Capela das Almas

IMG_20190624_114125192

 

Igreja de Sto Ildefonso

DSC_7670

 

Igreja dos Congregados

20190623_130623

 

Of course its not just the major public buildings that are adorned – there are plenty of examples in the facades or ordinary homes and shops…

 

 

 

4. Ponte de Dom Luís 1

Dominating the river,  this bridge is the main link for visitors between Ribeira and Gaia.   There are walking paths on two levels.

20190623_141047

 

The bridge was constructed by a student of Gustav Eiffel and is similar in style and design.

DSC_7825

 

There are great views from both levels but particularly the upper deck.   Try and get there for sunset!

20190623_140354

 

5. Red Roofs

20190623_131357

 

DSC_7748

 

DSC_7757

 

6. Squares and Fountains

DSC_7775

 

20190623_122554

 

7. Cable Car

From the Gaia side of Ponte Dom Luís 1,  you can take the cable car down to the riverfront.   The 5 minute descent brings you over the red roofs of the wine houses and offers great views of the city and river.

DSC_7896

 

20190623_140705

 

IMG_20190623_142054969_HDR

 

8. Pastel de Nata

You can watch them being made….

20190623_125020

 

…or just keep eating them!

IMG-20190620-WA0000

 

9. Clérigos Tower

Torre dos Clérigos dominates the skyline -its ideal for getting your bearings wherever you are.

20190624_162138

 

If you really want to,  feel free to climb the 240 steps for the view.

20190623_124454

 

10. Wine Tasting

The real reason you’re here!   Head over to Gaia and pick a wine house… Time to sort out your ruby from your tawny…..

20190623_143735

 

…..which was which????  Better have another go!!

20190623_144228

 

11. The River

The Douro snakes about 900kms from Northern Spain before it hits the sea at Porto.   There are several ways to enjoy the river – depending on how much time you have:-

You can take a day cruise upriver to the Douro Valley and enjoy the scenery and wine tasting.

20190623_141113.jpg

 

If you haven’t a full day to spare,  you could opt for something like the 6 Bridges tour – less than an hour and you still have your Douro cruise!!

DSC_7829.JPG

 

If all else fails,  catch the  ferry from one river bank to the other for €3!!

DSC_7899.JPG

 

12. Francesinha

I’ll be honest here – for me this is more experience than enjoyment!   Hard to define,  its described as a cross between a toasted sandwich and a burger… or a steak sandwich… basically its two thick slices of bread with layers of meat – sausage,  ham,  pork – doused in a sauce and cheese.  And yes – that IS a fried egg on top.  Makes for a substantial snack or lunch.

20190617_131859

 

13. Cathedral

The 12th century Sé is another building that dominates the skyline here.

DSC_7741

 

DSC_7686

 

20190623_132158

 

There is a lovely 14th century cloister with Azulejo tiles

20190623_132027

 

Great views from the terraces and upper cloister.

20190623_133718

 

14. Livaria Lello

It’s fitting that the last time I think I queued at a bookshop was for one of the Harry Potters.   This bookshop,  with its incredible staircase,  was supposedly an inspiration for J.K.Rowling who lived in the city for a few years.

20190623_121720

 

20190623_121230

 

IMG_20190623_121006407

 

20190623_120024

 

You must pay €5 for the privilege of getting inside but that is offset against any book you buy.

20190623_121832

 

15. Tourist Shopping

DSC_7833

 

DSC_7837

 

20190623_161221

 

IMG_20190622_185329174

 

16. Ice Cream

20190624_175831

 

17. Majestic Cafe

DSC_7666

 

18. Seasonal Treats

20190623_130123

 

DSC_7420

 

19. Sangria

20190624_142507

 

20. Beer

Its not only about the wine!!!

DSC_7905

 

21. Just Wandering Around..

In the end,  Porto is a city that should be enjoyed not just for the major sights and vino but for the alleyways and streets,  the architecture and colours,  the sounds and the smells…

DSC_7791

 

DSC_7764

 

DSC_7682

 

DSC_7714

 

DSC_7801

 

DSC_7739

 

DSC_7699

 

DSC_7662

 

dsc_7663.jpg

 

DSC_7613

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

Small Stuff

 

Getting There:

City folk admit that Ryanair put Porto on the map.   The company has been joined by other airlines to offer lots of flight options into the city.    Its easy to reach (e.g. less than 2 hours from Dublin) and you will arrive into a lovely new terminal.

A train journey from Lisbon will take about 3 hours .

 

Getting Around:

The city is very walkable and the best way to enjoy the sights is on foot.   There is a metro system with tickets costing €1.20 for local rides and €2.60 to the airport

DSC_7653

There are still a few tram lines operating in the city.

20190623_124829

 

Mobility:

The city is hilly,  and cobbly in spots,  and you will do a lot of walking  – be warned!

Sleeping:

There are plenty of options for all pockets.   We spent 3 nights in Porto Suites do Marqués.   We chose it because it offers free parking (there’s a public car park next door which has an arrangement with the owner of the suites) and although its about 2 km downhill to the river,  its right beside the metro so you don’t have to climb back up!!!  Don’t be put off by the facade – the interior is full renovated and you’ll get a good breakfast and plenty of advice from the owner.   Would we stay again?   absolutely!

20190622_143728

 

 

 

 

 

20190624_101900.jpg

 

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Porto – 21 Things to Experience and Enjoy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s