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Porto, our 10 favourites: Weekend ideas Porto Portugal

Porto, our 10 favorites

Porto © Sergii Figurnyi – stock.adobe.com

The Douro, the cobbled and steep streets of the Ribeira, the Baroque churches and the famous wine known all over the world… The crazy and somewhat old-fashioned charm of Porto leaves no one indifferent. To succumb to the attractions of the 2e city ​​of Portugal and discover the best of it, we give you our 10 favorites. Boa viagem!

The Ribeira: stroll through old Porto

The Ribeira: stroll through old Porto

Ribeira district and cathedral © joyt – stock.adobe.com

Porto is a delight for urban walkers. Of the bank of the Douro which skirts the city, the historic center of Porto, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, rises on the steep sides of the river, veined with narrow streets and topped by its cathedral. Starting from the quays of Ribeira districtwith its spruce houses and welcoming cafes, you stroll happily, quietly, towards the upper town, up to the train station of Sao Bento or the cathedral (Sé). The walk can also be done in the other direction, from the upper town to the lower town.

We venture randomly through the sloping cobbled streets of another age lined with buildings with facades covered with azuleijos. Don’t miss the rua das Florespedestrianized and lively, which goes down to the Palace of Bolsa. It is here, where the maritime memory of the city seems almost palpable, that we discover a secret and endearing Porto, both popular and timeless.

To note : from the São Francisco church, tram n°1 leads to the mouth of the Douro.

The Palacio da Bolsa, jewel of Porto

The Palacio da Bolsa, jewel of Porto

Arabic Hall of the Palacio da Bolsa © eldeiv – stock.adobe.com

In the heart of the Ribeira, this imposing monument, built in the 19e s, is a splendor. Former headquarters of the Stock Exchange, the neoclassical style building houses rooms of extravagant luxury that transport us to the golden age when Portugal reigned over the seas of the globe. The Cour des Nations, designed as a skylight, dazzles, but not as much as the large Arab Salon, decorated in the Moorish style. This luxurious room inspired by the Alhambra in Granada required 18 years of work. A splendor.

The Port trader, around the praça da Liberdade

The Port trader, around the praça da Liberdade

Capela das Almas on Santa Catarina Street © Alena – stock.adobe.com

After the Ribeira, explore the upper town! It is the beating heart of Porto, bounded by the Praca da Liberdade, the Praca da Republica, the Passeo San Lazaro and the Rua Miguel de Bombarda. A more modern (but not too much…) and above all very lively district where the town hall is located, the shopping streets like Santa Catarina and the Bolhao market. Another high place of the district, the Paris Gallery, lined with cafes and music bars, attracts night owls on weekdays. To explore the upper town, do as in Lisbon: take the tram, such as line noh 22, which gives a nice overview of Porto.

Lello and Irmão, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world

Lello and Irmão, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world

Lello e Irmao Library © eldeiv – stock.adobe.com

An exceptional place to recommend to all bibliophiles, but not only. Founded in 1869, the Lello and Irmão bookstore is considered the most beautiful in Europe, if not in the world! Its modernist-style white façade has been listed. Inside, a double convolution wooden staircase evokes the galleons of the age of the great discoveries. Its finely carved wooden shelves are impressive. A real temple of very photogenic literature.

The treasures of Baroque Port

The treasures of Baroque Port

Dos Clérigos Church © lite – stock.adobe.com

Porto has inherited a beautiful heritage from the golden age of Portugal where the Baroque takes pride of place. For example in churches like Sao Francisco where the interior, very richly decorated, accumulates curves and gilding, with a magnificent and incredible Tree of Jesse of biblical inspiration. Dos Clérigos Churchwith the tallest tower in the country, amazes with its monumental dome and very theatrical boxes. Santa Clara is a fine example of the talha dourada technique, a style combining fine carving and gilding. Even the Sé (cathedral) embellished its original Romanesque style with Baroque touches. In Porto, nothing is too magnificent for the divine…

Casa de Musica and MAC: Contemporary Porto

Casa de Musica and MAC: Contemporary Porto

Casa de Musica © gustavofrazao – stock.adobe.com

Porto is not just about nostalgia for a bygone past, far from it. Elected European Capital of Culture in 2001, this agglomeration of nearly 2 million inhabitants is a very lively city, where buildings in the contemporary style offer an attractive counterpoint to the venerable buildings of the Ribeira. For an overview of today’s Port, visit the Centro Portugues de Fotografia or the Fundacao Serralvesthe ultramodern Museum of Modern Artdesigned by Alvaro Siza Vieira, Pritzker Prize in 1992. Finally, an emblem of the modern city, the House of Musicathe glass, stone and concrete concert hall built by the architect Rem Koolhaas, proves that Porto does not rest on its beautiful laurels.

Matosinhos: Porto by the Atlantic

Matosinhos: Porto by the Atlantic

Matosinhos © Dudarev Mikhail – stock.adobe.com

The center of Porto, “the port” in Portuguese, is on the edge of the Douro, about ten kilometers from the Atlantic. The city also extends to this ocean frontage which can be reached by bus (n° 500) or metro (line A). It is Matosinhos, the maritime, seaside and port district of Porto. You can swim there on the large beach of the same name. Further north, it is an invitation to travel with the cargo ships and cranes of the port itself. Among the attractions of this residential and popular district, the small restaurants around Serpa Pinto Avenue allow you to feast on grilled fish in clouds of smoke.

Learn about Port wine in Vila Nova da Gaia

Learn about Port wine in Vila Nova da Gaia

Port cellar © teddyh – stock.adobe.com

You will surely go to Porto for that too… to taste the local nectar, Port wine, which is not produced in Porto, but in Vila Nova de Gaia, in the cellars located on the other side of the Douro. The oldest cellars date from the 18e s and contain miles of old barrels where this precious nectar matures. To get there, take the spectacular Dom Luis iron bridge, which spans the river and dominates the old town. Enchanting!

The Calem, Taylor’s, Ferreira or Graham’s houses open their doors to you with several guided tours a day, followed by a welcome tasting. Now is the time to learn about the subtleties of tawnies, rubies, colheitas and others late bottled vintage ! After or before visiting the cellars, enthusiasts can go to Port Wine Institutewhich houses a small museum dedicated to viticulture.

Read also our article on Port wines

Douro River Cruise from Porto

Douro River Cruise from Porto

Cruise in Porto © joyt – stock.adobe.com

Porto can also be visited from its river. The city occupies an exceptional site in a deep valley joining the Atlantic, a few kilometers to the west. The cruises, which depart from quay of the Praça da Ribeira, allow you to appreciate all the beauty of the place. The Six Bridges cruise (about an hour) offers a superb overview of the Ribeira and the city. One can also opt for long cruises of one or two days that go up the Douro to Pinhão, in the Alto Douro Valley (see below).

The Upper Douro Valley to Pinhão

The Upper Douro Valley to Pinhão

Douro Valley © Simon Dannhauer – stock.adobe.com

Finally, know that you can reach the magnificent landscapes of the upper Douro valley (read our report), where are the vineyards of the famous Portuguese nectar! A day trip, very easy to do. Along the way, we admire the hills covered with terraced vineyards, fields of olive, orange and almond trees and, at the bottom of the valley, the Douro, the main artery of this valley blessed by the gods.

The valley, whose landscapes are classified as World Heritage by Unesco, goes up to the pretty town of Pinhao, where you should not miss the station covered with polychrome azuleijos. Superb views of the Douro and the surrounding vineyards. Casal de Loivos, Valença do Douro and Provesende are among the most beautiful villages in the valley.

Factsheet

Find all the tips, addresses and practical information in the Routard Porto bookstore.

View our Porto online guide

Portuguese Tourist Board

Porto and North Portugal Tourist Office

Read also our articles Porto and Minho, Green Portugal and Discovering Port Wines

How to get there ?

Direct flights with TAP Portugal, Transavia, EasyJet, Vueling from Paris-Orly and other French airports. Book your plane ticket.

Or sleep ?

– Cats Hostel Porto: rua di Cativo 26-28. Superb private AJ, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Europe! Splendid terrace with a view in the heart of the Ribera district, dormitory and well-equipped double rooms, kitchen, laundry, restaurant, nothing is missing!

– Grande Hotel de Paris: Rua da Fabrica, 27-29. In a beautiful building from 1853, this charming hotel, located right in the center, has beautiful rooms with retro decoration. Hearty breakfast in a magnificent dining room opening onto a pleasant garden.

Find and book your hotel in and around Porto

Where to eat and have a drink in Porto?

– Confeitaria do Bolhão: rua Formosa, 39. Opposite the market of the same name, a pastry shop in a beautiful Art Deco room. We love the sandwiches, quiches and cakes, at pre-war prices. To eat some bacalhau (cod) at a low price, go toAbadia do Porto (rua do Ateneu Comercial), a large, crowded and noisy canteen located a stone’s throw away.

– Cervejaria Brasão: Ramalho Ortigao street, 28. In the district of the town hall, a local institution with good value for money. Dishes €7-15.

– Escondidinho: rua Passos-Manuel, 144. Classic decor, even classy, ​​for a restaurant that exudes the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, Portuguese version. The cuisine, with all the great local classics, is at the height of the place. Count 30-35 € for a meal.

– Café Majestic: rua Santa Catarina, 112. The most famous café in the city, with turn-of-the-century architecture. Classy and intellectual atmosphere, ideal for sipping uma bica (a coffee) daydreaming.

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