Porto up in the north, by the Atlantic Ocean isn´t as crowded with tourists, as Lisbon – except for the river banks – and has a lot to offer as well. To be honest, it might have captured me more than Lisbon, if that is even possible. And if you follow my Instagram or Twitter you know just how much I loved the Portuguese capital.
How to get there
Porto has an airport, which connects to the metro as well. There are daily flights from Madrid and other European cities. Moreover, as always – unless you´re going to an island of course – you can arrive by car. Why not make it a whole roadtrip from Lisbon through the Algarve, up the Atlantic coastline until you reach this truly marvellous place? Or take the train or bus, just choose whatever way of transportation you like best.
How to Get Around
Just two things about this. To get to the city center take the metro. Once you´ve arrived there use your feet.
What To see
Cais da Ribeira and Avenida de Diogo Leite in Vila Nova de Gaia
The two only touristy places in Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia would be those two streets right by the banks of Rio Douro. Cais da Ribeira is just really nice to sit outside by the water, while on Avenida de Diogo Leite you´ll find the companies making Portwine and there are many offers for tastings. Here you can also see the little wooden boats, that are used to bring the wine casks up, from where the beverage is produced.
Ponte Dom Luís I
This bridge actually connects the two parts of the river banks, mentioned beforehand. It was built by the architect Théophile Seyrig, who had worked with Gustave Eiffel – we all know his most famous building in Paris – and you can tell, once you see the huge metal structure.
Sé do Porto Cathedral
Since I´m in love with Portugal´s architecture I also think, that this huge cathedral is a sight worth seeing.
Wander without a plan, stop for some coffee and just enjoy
Porto hasn´t been completely oriented in tourism yet, which makes it one of the most authentic places I´ve visited so far. And you should really – I know I could just copy and paste this point from a lot of my guides – take some time to soak up this atmosphere and get lost. The special charme also comes from the ton of abandoned houses, which obviously show the struggles of the country over the last years, but at the same time gives it this very intense, different atmosphere.
Rua das Flores
Slowly but steadily life is coming back to one of the main commercial streets in Porto, after the financial crisis. It is really nice to see, how the people make an effort for building up a new and appealing central street, with a lot of very cute shops and restaurants, that seem to be arranged with a lot of love and details.
Train Station São Bento
I find the train station worth a visit for two reasons. First, the entrance hall is really pretty, with its typical tiled walls and once you walk through the door to the tracks you´ll notice, that the train station is open to both sides and offers a neat view of the houses climbing up the hill to both sides.
Torre dos Clérigos and Praça de Lisboa
This project from the year 2013 now offers a nice mix of commercial area (lower level) and park (upper level) right next to the Torre dos Clérigos, which offers one of the best 360° views of the city – but more on that later. Around the square you´ll also find some interesting businesses, such as the book store Lello & Irmão – there´s an entrance fee, that´s how popular it is – or the big open store A Vida Portuguesa, that has all sorts of things and also makes for a great place to get something to bring home with you, that will actually be useful.
Where to get the best views over Porto
Due to the fact, that I was visiting Porto with my aunt and uncle, who already know the city very well, I got to look at it from three very nice viewpoints, all offering a different perspective of the city, that they took me to. One of them is actually quite hidden.
Torre dos Clérigos
As mentioned beforehand from the top of the tower you have a 360 degree view of Porto and its surroundings and with 3€ it isn´t very expensive, you just have to walk quite a few narrow stairs to get to the top. The only thing, that can be a little annoying, is that the balcony, from where you get the view is extremely narrow. So narrow that two people oftentimes have to walk sideways in order to pass each other, so if you´re claustrophobic better skip this one.
Vila Nova de Gaia
The street by the river mentioned earlier is also the place, that offers the typical view of Porto, that you´ll probably know from city guides – if you´ve ever researched Porto of course. The hill full of houses, the bridge to your right and the river leading towards the ocean to the left, this is just the perfect shot.
And then there is this abandoned house at the end of Rua de São Bento
If you walk down Rua de São Bento da Vitória all the way towards the river, after a short time you´ll walk right onto the patio belonging to the abandoned house to your right. Yes, it´s the one with all the garbage in it, but the view is great. Just make sure you wear some sneakers or at least something with more fabric than flip flops, in order not to cut your feet.
Have you been to Porto before? Did you like it as much as Lisbon or maybe even better? Let me know what you think!