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Why Go To Visit Porto?
Often referred to as Portugal’s “second city,” a common thing you’ll hear here is that when Lisbon shows off, Porto works. Located in the hills that look over the Douro, the visual impact of visiting this city is certainly breathtaking.
Reminiscent of what you’d find on the perfect postcard, its maze of cobblestone streets invites you to leisurely explore every corner of this community.
If you’re ready to experience sweeping views, a laid back pace of life, and the chance to explore classic works of art, then the City of Bridges is awaiting you.
What Makes Porto a Special Place To Visit?
While the southern and western portions of Portugal are known for their explorative personalities, the northern communities are known more for their traditions. Northern Portugal has been one of the world’s longest populated regions, dating back to even prehistoric times, giving this region a certain charm that dates back multiple centuries.
Porto is a UNESCO certified area, which in itself tells a visitor that a visit will have intense historical significance. From the vineyards that line the valleys surrounding this community to the ancient stone bridges that are a photographer’s dream, your soul will feel at home as you walk the streets of this community. Make sure you stop for a glass of local wine somewhere as you explore so that you can begin to really experience what makes Porto work.
As you proceed north, the vineyards and valleys turn into wide, sweeping beaches that are almost always largely vacant. In the distance are lush mountains that offer incredible hiking opportunities and even prehistoric rock carvings. Portugal’s first National Park, Peneda-Gerês, must be near the top of your Porto itinerary.
Make Sure You Allow For Plenty of Time To Experience the Boardwalk
For many visitors, the heart of Porto is the Ribeirinha. Nestled right up against the water, this boardwalk offers visitors and locals alike to experience the unique sights and smells that make Porto such a popular destination. It’s the perfect place to grab some lunch, get to know some folks, and enjoy a beautiful day in this valley that experiences a world-famous microclimate. Make sure you brush up on your Portuguese if you really want the best experience!
It is the oldest portion of Porto, which makes it a tempting place to explore. Who wouldn’t, with the skinny Renaissance-era townhomes dominating the skyline? Outside of the boardwalk, however, life goes on in Porto and tourists that wander can become targets. Keep your wits about you as you explore and you’ll join the throngs of people who visit the Ribeirinha for a great meal every day!
The Landmarks of Porto Are Breathtaking!
Architectural wonders dominate the landmarks of Porto. Not only do they catch a photographer’s eye, but they also beckon at the very heart of each person who gazes upon them. Wrapped up in these landmarks is the history of the region. It’s the sweat that built this city, the surrounding vineyards, and the foundation of many of this community’s creative endeavors.
Finalize Your Trip With a Unique Tour of the City
Whether you prefer to take a tour of Porto first or last, perhaps the best tour you can take is what you’ll see on Tram #1. Located near Praça do Infante square, it heads west to the Atlantic Coast. It’s got cracked leather seats and a lot of personality. You’ll even hear the train cars clack together like you would with the older steam engines!
It’s a 20 minute journey that will take you to Foz do Douro, one of the Porto’s seaside neighborhoods. Once there, make sure to enjoy some of the local seafood at a seaside establishment, get some shopping in, and find a great terrace to enjoy a sunset. Return trams run every hour at minimum, so you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the sea, enjoy Porto, and then return for the evening.
Porto might not be as popular as other European destinations, but it has its own charm that makes it worth visiting this city consistently. You won’t find a more inspiring city that can truly help you find a way to get in touch with your inner self and let you explore who you are as you explore this city
Travel and vacation in Porto, Portugal
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Porto cathedral (Se)
High above the river, on Penaventosa Hill, stands Porto`s cathedral, or Se, originally a fortress church. A noteworthy 13th-century feature is the rose window, while the upper level of the beautiful 14th-century cloister affords splendid views.
Palacio da Bolsa
This is often the first place that visitors come to see in Porto. It’s the Stock Market Palace and it is built in the Neoclassical style. It used to be the home of a convent of Franciscans in the mid 1800’s, but after fire destroyed the initial complex, it was converted into what can be seen today. The most famous room is the Arab Chamber, where many state receptions are held.
Ponte Dom Luis I
Linking Porto and Gaia, this bridge is one of the trademark images of this community. Walk along the upper part of the bridge to capture images of the river to get a unique perspective of the city. If you want a sunset image of Porto for your memories, this is the best way to get it!
Farol Molhe do Douro
For a unique view of the mouth of the river, this lighthouse is built out on a manmade berm to help control the incoming waves. You’re invited to walk around the lighthouse and get a good view of the sea as well, which can be very blustery on some days. Get on the Tram #1 tour to see this great sight!
Palacio de Cristal Gardens
As well as enjoying the lawns, fountains and giant magnolias of Porto’s best-loved botanic gardens, be sure to look up and take in the views. These stretch across the city and the river, offering fantastic vistas of the surrounding area.
Torre dos Clerigos
It’s not the tallest tower you may ever climb, but it is one of the best ways to get a unique view of Porto. It’s a 2 Euro cost to enter this landmark and from the top, you can see the city’s narrow streets, stunning beaches, and the river itself. Just be prepared to climb up 240 steps!
Church of Santa Clara
Renaissance church of Santa Clara
Sao Bento Station
Sao Bento Station was completed in 1916 and is decorated with spectacular azulejo panels.
Palacio da Bolsa
Sights close to the river include the Palacio da Bolsa, the city`s stock exchange, built in 1842. Its highlight is the Arabian Room decorated in the style of the Alhambra.
Sao Francisco church
Close by Palacio da Bolsa is the 14th-century Sao Francisco church. Its interior is richly covered in carved and gilded wood.
Igreja dos Clerigos
In the Cordoaria district, west of the Se, stands the 18th-century Igreja dos Clerigos. The church tower, at 75 m offers superb views.
Fundacao de Serralves
Situated in the lovely Serralves park, the Fundacao de Serralves, is dedicated to contemporary art. It presents temporary exhibitions in the Art Deco Casa de Serralves, and its art collection, from the 1960s to the present, in the Modernist Museu de Arte Contemporanea, designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira.
Events in Porto
May sees the ‘Festival of our Lord of Matosinhos’, it’s great for those wishing to experience Porto’s religious traditions. For three weeks the city hosts recreational, cultural and sports events and thousands of light bulbs decorate the church of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos.
If you are a literature connoisseur then head to Porto in June for its book fair when authors and publishers from around the world gather.
July sees the port wine festival take place on the banks of the river, where you will be able to try out a variety of port wines and food.
In August fans of rock music will love the Ritual Rock Nights, a series of gigs held in the gardens of Palacio de Cristo to promote up and coming local bands.