Something different for your next getaway
Life | 06.18.2018 | Lara de Miguel
Thinking about taking a different kind of getaway? Porto is a lesser-known tourist destination, but this beautiful city never fails to leave visitors pleasantly surprised. Home to an extensive range of tourist and culinary attractions, the first thing you need to know about the city is that it’s built on a hill: make sure you pack a good pair of walking shoes to handle the hilly terrain.
Keep reading to find out more about the must-see attractions in this one-of-a-kind destination.
We recommend that you start your tour of the city here, at the plaza at the end of the avenue, since it’s at the top of the hill and it’s easier to walk downhill rather than the other way around. Here you’ll find the Câmara Municipal do Porto (the town hall), a building reminiscent of northern Europe’s grand palaces. Directly opposite is the Praça da Liberdade (Liberdade Square), Porto’s main square, which connects the old town with the more modern part of the city. The equestrian statue of King Peter IV stands in the middle. If you are in the area around lunch or dinner time, check out the Palacio das Cardosas hotel and its Astoria restaurant for delicious food at a very affordable price.
The São Bento Railway Station is located at the end of Avenida Dos Aliados. Built in the early 9th century on top of the ruins of the old San Bento convent, this fascinating building maintains the traditional essence that characterizes the entire city. You can’t miss its hall decorated with over 20,000 tiles that tell the history of Portugal.
The 75-meter-high tower of this Baroque church, located in Porto’s old town, can be used as a point of reference while you walk around the city. We highly recommend climbing its 240 steps for some of the most stunning views of the city. This tower was declared a National Monument in 1910 and can even be visited at night.
This bookstore ranks among the world’s most beautiful, and its meticulous design and luxurious details make it one of Porto’s must-see attractions. Its staircase to the second floor is a masterpiece lined with shelves stacked with all kinds of books in a range of languages. The stain-glass ceiling features the bookstore’s central motto, “Decus in Labore” (There is honor in work), and lets in ample natural light. We recommend pre-purchasing tickets online; the library is one of the most visited attractions in Porto and the ticket lines can take up to an hour. If you buy a book, the ticket price will be discounted off the price.
Rua Santa Catarina is Porto’s main shopping street, a picturesque thoroughfare packed with a host of street vendors, shops, cafes and restaurants. Stop by the Café Magestic, famous for its singular elegant 20s’ style. This café was the meeting point for illustrious figures of the time and a source of inspiration for writers. Take a seat, try any of their cakes or sweets with a Port wine, and enjoy!
As its name indicates (ribiera means riverbank in Portuguese), this quarter is in the southern part of the city, which ends with the views of the Douro River. The quarter is best known for the colorful facades of the houses, and this is the perfect place to go in the afternoon for the sunset paired with a vibrant atmosphere. We suggest dinner at any of the restaurants with a terrace overlooking the Douro, where you can enjoy typical Portuguese dishes. Of course, if you like fish, all you have to do is ask: the area is known for its cod. And don’t worry, it’s easy to get back to the city center by cable car!
This bridge is built across the Douro River and connects the city of Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. Spanning 400 meters, this is one of the most iconic spots in the entire city. Cross it and visit some of the wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
These are just some of Porto’s main attractions, but the city has endless and activities and proposals to help make your visit your own. The best time to go is in the spring, although the city has hidden surprises at any time of the year. As a last tip: treat yourself to as many pastéis de nata (custard tarts) as your heart desires; they’re worth it!
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