A quick 'petite' post today to spill a few of the MUST-SEE Porto places. Porto is the gastronomic capital and famous Port wine region of Portugal, and is divided by the Douro river. This historic city is your classic European riddle of cobblestone streets and passages from the historic centre that is painted with Emmanuelle/Moorish style churches, monasteries and castles, to bohemian cultural villages with galleries, museums, and hole-in-the-wall eateries and bars, to sophisticated boutique and local artisian shopping districts. It is the NEW up and coming city to visit in Portugal as Lisbon and the Algarve are now teeming with tourists.
The most iconic attraction is the 'Vila de Gaia' Port Wine region which simply overwhelms with so may Porto tasting houses to choose from to begin with and then surprisingly so many Port variations to try; and if your not a Port fan before, you will be after. It’s an easy stroll over the famous Pont Dom Luis bridge from Ribeira (old town), which is over the Douro river where traditional wood Port barrel boats await to take you on half or full day steams down the river deep into the Portuguese country-side.
Add to this enchanting picture the gastronomy scene that is noticeably the finer and best in Portugal thanks to Porto’s proximity to local farms and fresh produce; and beautiful beaches only 20minutes away and Porto is one rich and promising destination. Add it to your travel bucket list today!
1. Ribeira (the old town by the river): wander the winding narrow maze-like cobblestone streets, enjoy coffee in one of the many cafes, you will inevitable end up at the Praca de Ribeira main square) (Map), but don’t miss the Sé do Porto (map) – oldest church and Romanesque monument in the city, and the Neoclassical and breath-taking Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange palace) (map). Approx map location of the Ribeira village
2. Dom Luís I Bridge - cross this iconic bridge over the Douro River, from the old town 'Ribeira' to the Port wine region and tasting houses in Vila de Gaia. MAP
3. Vila de Gaia – No trip to Porto is complete without Porto tasting! We loved best wine cellar 'Ramos Pinto' (map) (website) which sits right along the river banks, for their very generous and diverse tasting platters served to you in private booths for you to enjoy either with host or without (tip: one tasting serve is enough for 2). You do not need to book a reservation simply drop in. BUT if you only have time for one tasting cellar, make it Taylor's Port Cellars - Website (map). Its a short 10min walk to reach this beautiful mansion with gorgeous garden setting to enjoy your various Taylor's Port wines overlooking the city and river. 12euro for a tour with tastings or 4euro by the glass. Taylor's Wine Cellar Address: Rua do Choupelo, nº 250 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal (map)
TIP: Try to make sure you have enough time to wander around this magical medieval Port wine cellar village of Porto. It's an enchanting labyrinth of cobble stone streets and hidden cellars that transport you to another time.
4. Livraria Lello Bookshop – one of the most beautiful libraries in the world with an excellent neo-gothic façade. It as the inspiration for JK Rowlings Harry Potter books and usually has a line to get in as well as an entry fee (MAP)(Website)
5. Majestic Café – The most beautiful Belle-Époque café in Porto with ornate interior featured carved wood, mirrors and chandeliers; it was where JK Rowling spent most of her time writing her Harry Potter books (MAP) (Website)
6. São Bento Railway Station – the most beautiful train station in the world known for its tile (azulejo) panels that depict scenes of the history of Portugal. Extraordinary to see over 20 thousand tiles put up from 1905. (MAP)
7. Ingrejas: The incredible ornate tiled churches, which are in so many corners of the city, you are bound to run into one at almost every turn. Our favorites: Ingreja do Carmo (map), Ingreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso (map), and the Ingreja de Sao Lourenco (map).
8. Clérigos - A spiral staircase climbs the inside of this 76m-high baroque bell tower, offering citywide views. Tip: Go at sunset for spectacular lighting over the city (map).
9. Eating: you wont miss all the regional specialties on display on your walking routes, but a secret spot ideal for cheap, filling and delicious lunch is Casa Guedes (map) – the locals choice and famous little eatery with outdoors seats overlooking Jardim de S. Lazaro, offers the best pork sandwiches in the country with a beer for 7euro. Across the Jardim is a cosy terrace café ‘Duas de Letra’ (map) with all the Pasteis de Nata you can eat for dessert, as well as breakfast and lunch menu for cheap prices, friendly locals and free wifi. (website)
10. Chocolate shop Chocolataria Equador - Looking like a
shop out of Harry Potter, Wallpaper magazine listed this chocolataria as
one of 20 reasons to visit Portugal! It's a treasure trove of bon bons,
truffles, macaroons, and chocolate bars are there for tasting, plus
coffees, cappuccinos and hot chocolates to accompany the treats.
11. Nightlife: Porto has a vibrant nightlife and is packed with trendy bars and clubs. Its safe to be out until late and you can walk anywhere downtown. Nightlife also caters for every age and taste. Whether you are in search of sophistication, soulfulness or out and about hedonism, you won’t be disappointed. There are two main areas for nightlife in Porto – the historic Ribeira district (as mentioned in point 1) and the Cais de Gaia (map) on the opposite banks of the Douro. But our favourite classier night spot destination is around the Rua Galeria de Paris (map) and parallel Rua Candido dos Reis (map) in the downtown district where you will find plenty of beautiful bars.
Alternatively for a bar with a rooftop view go to: Douro Lounge (Map) open from 10.30am so you can enjoy the gorgeous view by day too.
How to to Porto:
Flights as low as 15euro one-way between Lisbon and Porto daily with Ryanair. Porto is an easy 30min direct train ride from the Airport to the city centre. Purchase tickets at the airport from the English machines.
Where to stay
Why in a Petite Porto B&B of course. Visit www.petitebnbs.com/porto