Welcome to my epically delayed travel guide to Porto, Portugal. You may recall that I went to Portugal with my Mom in March 2018, just a month before I moved to the UK. I was able to cover off on many of the great things we did in Lisbon (including my top picks and our excellent food tour) as well as our trip to Sintra but somehow in the hustle and bustle of moving countries my review of Porto seemed to have gotten lost. My Mom and I only spent three days in this city to the North but we had a lovely time and here are my recommendations for what you should do, see, and eat while you are there.
(1) Take a Walking Tour -Walking Tours are is my favorite way to get oriented with a city and the three hour Essential Porto Walking Tour with Wine Tasting was great – we learned a ton about the history of the city on our first morning and got a good lay of the land!
(2) Visit Livraria Lello – This is the famous Harry Potter library and even though the line to get in often extends for hours and you have to pay just to enter, I thought it was worth it though!
(3) Go on a Six Bridges Cruise – There are many to choose from but we did this one hour tour and really liked it, try and sit up top for the best view!
(4) Pass through the São Bento railway station – It is unlikely you will make it to this station, even if you are arrving to Porto by train but it is worth visiting to see the beautifully tiled entry hall in all it’s blue and white glory.
(5) Book a Port Wine Tour in Gaia– I made the rookie mistake and did not book ahead so while we tried to go to a few we ended up at a tasting, but which was an interesting foray into Port but would have been better on on a tour or with a guide.
(6) Enjoy a coffee at the Majestic café – This1920;s cafe is beautifully decorated and perfect for an afternoon pick me up or sweet treat.
(7) Eat a Francesinha – This Portuguese sandwich is a combination of different types of meats and is served hot with sauce and cheese – it is definitely a heavier dish but it is originally from Porto so worth trying while you are in the city!
(8) Climb the Torre dos Clerigos – After you have eaten all the things and drunk all the port you will need to walk it off, or better yet, climb! This baroque church is massive and the view from the top of the Clérigos Church bell tower gives you a great view over the city!
(9) Stroll along the Cais da Ribeira – This is one of the prettiest stretches along the Douro and while you can walk along it on the North side (it is where the bridges cruise leaves from) I loved taking in the waterfront from the opposite bank.
(10) Take the iconic shot with the Carmo Church – Known locally as the Igreja dos Carmelitas the inside of this chruch is pretty but the most famous aspect is the azulejos (blue and white tiles) on the flank wall.
(11) Walk across the Ponte de Dom Luis I – Probably the most famous of the six bridges in Porto in connects the two sides of the city and there are great views!
(12) Visit the Mercado do Bolhao – This market is more than 100 years old and sells everything from fresh fruit and fish to clothing and souvenirs but it is not a tourist trap – watch your purse and get lost in all of the isles of goods for sale.
And as if those 12 Porto recommendations were not enough, here are a few tips of places to go / visit / eat from friends that we did not get a chance to do:
- If you can get a reservation, go to O Paprico for dinner. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Service is impeccable, the food is both beautiful and delicious. It’s not inexpensive, but I’d go back again in a heartbeat.
- Visit the Palácio da Bolsa – This Royal Palace is not only a national monument but also a UNESCO world heritage site and a gorgeous spot to visit if you can get tickets.
- Take a day trip into the country side and do a vineyard tour
- Visit the Church of Santa Clara (Igreja de Santa Clara) which is nearly interly gold and worth it if you can find the entrance located in a backyard, by the police station. (more here)
Do you have any top tips for Porto?