Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, while moving briskly into the modern world still retains Old World charm. Here are some great things to see while visiting Porto.
Azulejo TilesThe thing that stuck out to me most in Porto was the number of buildings covered in tiles (known as azulejo). There were even buildings I thought were brick, that upon closer inspection, were actually tile. Just walk anywhere and you will see them.
Sao Bento Train Station
Even the train station has azulejo tiles.
The Ribeira waterfront district has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Simply stroll along the Douro waterfront district and you will have your choice of numerous restaurants, bars and shops.
Walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge to get an iconic view of Porto.
Walk the narrow cobblestone streets.
Be sure to see Placa da Ribeira. You may want to stop and eat.
Porto Cathedral (Se’ do Porto)
If you like churches (we do) you have to visit the Porto Cathedral. It’s free. Plus there is a great view of Porto and the River Douro from the plaza in front.
Church of St. Francis (Igreja de Sao Francisco)
Though it has a plain stone facade, it’s much nicer inside. €3.50. Though, for free, the Porto Cathedral is nice too if you just want to see a church.
Church of Clerigos
Ok, I guess you can tell I like churches. You can climb the tower in this one. It’s worth going inside even if you don’t climb the tower.
Placa Dom Henrique
Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa)
next to Placa Dom Henrique and Church of St. Francis. €7 to enter to see the beautiful interior.
Old City Wall (Muralha Fernandina)
Cross the Dom Luis I bridge and you get a look at the only remaining part of Porto’s city wall.
Avenida dos AliadosWith city hall at the far end, take a stroll along this grand avenue. (There was a concert when we were there; normally that tent isn’t blocking the view)
Crystal Palace Gardens
Unfortunately, the Crystal Palace, after which the park was named, is no longer there. However, if you want to get away for a quiet stroll at a park, this is the place to go. The closest Metro stop is Aliados on the D (yellow) line.
The gardens are free to roam until dark.
Porto is the home of port wine, so you should consider a wine tour or at least a wine tasting. Opportunities abound all over Porto, but the best cellars are across the Douro river on the south bank in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Lello Bookstore (Livlaria Lello)
An amazing old bookstore with with a grand staircase. It’s like something you would see in a movie.
We arrived when it opened at 10:00 and there was a huge line two blocks long.
At the front we noticed a sign that said vouchers €5. I think that means you can get a voucher to skip the line but I don’t know where you get it.
Apparently J.K. Rowling would frequent Lello when she was living in Porto. That’s probably why the line was so long.
Rua das Carmelitas 144 (Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 19:00; free)
To be honest, I just flew into Porto as a place to start my Portugal trip other than Lisbon. . I admit I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed Porto much more than I thought I would. I’m glad I went.