Porto

Portugal’s second largest city, best European destination of 2017, city of Port wine and home to the Francesinha. But what makes Porto so special? Is it the food, the history, or the culture? Truth be told, it’s a combination of all of these things. To really discover the city you need to park your car and put on your walking shoes.

Best place to park your car is at Parque da Trindade, as it’s reasonably priced and right at the start of the city center! There’s also a metro stop there, for those who are travelling by public transportation. From there you should really follow the highlights in the order below.

Things to see in Porto:

Avenida dos aliados *

The main street in Portugal which, if you’d keep following it to the south, leads straight to the Douro river. You’ll find some old, important, buildings (like city hall) and statues. A great place to start your journey through Porto.

Livraria Lello **

Why would a book-store be on your to do list? Well, because it’s not a regular book-store, it’s one of the cutest little stores you will ever see! The beautiful wooden stairs and shelves were an inspiration to J.K. Rowling herself, when she was teaching English in Porto!

I have to note that you need to pay an entrance fee of 4 euro’s, but if you buy a book you’ll get it back. Tickets can be bought in a separate building in the same street (last house, on the corner).

Torre dos Clérigos ***

Now it’s time to start experiencing Porto! Torre dos Clérigos is one of the most iconic buildings in the city, you will see it on most of the postcards. You can go up if wanted, but you’re not missing anything if you won’t. This is a must-see, but it won’t take much of your time

 

Palácio da Bolsa **

A world heritage site build in the 19th century by the Commercial association in Porto. Every 30 minutes there’s a tour leaving that lasts for about half an hour. One of the highlights is the room with Moorish designs (Salão Árabe), which contains 18kg of gold!

Igreja de São Francisco ***

Another world heritage site is the church of San Francisco. From the outside it doesn’t look that impressive but once inside you’ll understand why it’s a must see. The display of decorations and gold is just overwhelming and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. You can choose to visit the smaller ‘museum’ as well, but you should only do this if you have time to spare.
Unfortunately it’s not allowed to take pictures inside the church.

Douro river & Ponte Luis I ***

If the weather is good you’ll notice that the waterfront is a great place to relax and contemplate life. Besides the people you can watch the traditional boats sail by, or look at the Port wine factories on the other side of the river. You also have a great view of the Ponte Luis I bridge and can easily cross it from here! Nothing else to do here except relax and enjoy the weather.

Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar *

Only if you have time to spare it’s nice to cross the bridge and visit this unique round monastery. The round shape of the monastery was built to the likes of the Santa Maria Redonda church in Rome, but covered by a hemispheric vault with a narrow balcony. You’ll also have a great view of the city from the garden of the monastery.

Sé do Porto ***

A Roman Catholic church that should be on the top of your things to see in Porto! It’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the area and a historic landmark. Beautiful from the outside and from the inside! It’s also nice to visit the small monastery next to it. Be warned though, there will probably be someone who wants to take a picture of you and then try to sell it when you go out.

Mercado do Bolhao *

On your way back to the car, and you have time, walk through the market of Bolhao. It’s nice to just walk past the stands and see what they have to offer.

 

*     = nice to visit if you have time
**   = really nice to see and you should visit
*** = a must see!

Places to eat:

Piolho ***

If you’re feeling hungry it’s time to go to Piolho (the official name is “Café Âncora D’Ouro”) for an authentic dish from Porto, the Francesinha! It looks like a croquet monsieur with sauce, but it’s totally different. It’s basically bread, steak, egg, cheese, fries and some sauce, but the outcome is awesome! You can get a Francesinha pretty much everywhere in Porto, but people recommended Piolho.

Type: Lunch
Food quality: ***
Serving time: **
Staff friendliness: **
Price: **

*     = poor
**   = okay
*** = great

Places to sleep:

Hotel mar azul **

A great place to spend the night if you are coming from, or going to, Porto by car. There are some public parking spaces around the area, but there’s a chance that you need to walk for a few minutes. The hotel feelds a bit old, but you get good value for your money. The restaurant is okay at best, I would suggest finding a different spot in the town center.

Type: Hotel
Beds: **
Bathroom: **
Staff friendliness: **

*     = poor
**   = okay
*** = great

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