Wishing to visit a destination with romance, legends and charisma? Welcome to Porto, in Portugal! The city with fairy tale sceneries, history that never ends and streets filled with secrets. Porto is that place you think it only exists in movies by its unique beauty and architecture. Let me show you the ten best sites I would recommend you to visit in Porto, from the Douro Valley, where you can have a tour guide about Port wine, to the centenarian Lello Bookstore.
I lived in Porto for 15 years and I am thankful for having had the chance to get to know the corners of a city that day after day makes me fall in love more and more. Porto has a magical aura like any other place I have been so far. The palaces, the parks, the seaside create the perfect city break. Get to know the 10 sites that are a “must go” in Porto.
1)RIBEIRA DO PORTO + CAIS DE GAIA + PONTE D.LUIS I
The “trade mark” of Porto is the D. Luis I Bridge/ Ponte D. Luis I that can be admired by both sides of the Douro river: Ribeira do Porto or Cais de Gaia.
D. Luis I Bridge was designed by Théophile Seyrig, a disciple from Gustave Eiffel and since 1886 this bridge has been the main attraction of Porto. The bridge joins two big cities: Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
The Douro river is an emblematic river due to the Rabelo boats that carry the barrels of Port wine from the Douro Valley to Porto or Vila Nova de Gaia.
2)DOURO VALLEY + PORT WINE TOUR GUIDE
The famous Port wine is born in the Douro Valley, recognized as a World Heritage Site. A tour guide through the history of Port wine is a “must do” when you visit Porto. You can book a tour guide to Douro Valley with Get Your Guide or Magical Douro Wine Tours. Normally the tours include a Port wine boat trip, visit two different Port wine farms and lunch. The tour guide I did, took me to the following Port wine farms: Quinta de Marrocos and Quinta do Tedo.
Francesinha is not a site, obviously, but it’s a traditional dish that if you are a meat lover like me, you will love it. Francesinha is a “weighty” sandwich with cured meats, steak, melted cheese and egg (optional) on top and a special sauce made from beer and spiced tomato.
The Francesinha above is from Aqua Restaurante Bar in Vila Nova de Gaia. Another suggestion to eat Francesinha, being a very renowned restaurant for this recipe, is Restaurante Capa Negra in Porto.
Just a curiosity Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia might sound as the same city, although divided by the river, but reality is for the citizens of both cities, they are two totally different places, so never compared them in front of a resident.
4) LIVRARIA LELLO
Livraria Lello or Lello Book Store is a centenarian bookstore in the historic center of Porto. Dated from 1869, it’s one of the top bookstores in the world. The gothic red stairs design transforms this bookstore into a magical and romantic site worth to be visited, even after one hour queuing.
5)TORRE DOS CLÉRIGOS
Torre dos Clérigos or Clérigos Tower is a church founded in 1763, built to be the house of the clergy that had as its main mission support the poor. It has been considered since 1910 a National Monument.
6)ESTAÇÃO DE SÃO BENTO + IGREJA DO CARMO
São Bento Station or Estação de São Bento is a beautiful railway station in the historic center of Porto, where the tile murals tell the city’s history. The railway station was declared by Unesco a World Heritage Site and also a National Monument.
Igreja do Carmo/ Carmo Church is 10 minutes walk away from São Bento Railway Station, still in the historic center of Porto. Again you can see the tile murals representing the city’s history.
7)PALÁCIO DE CRISTAL
Palácio de Cristal/ Crystal Palace is known by its romantic gardens with view over Douro river. The building is a site for concerts and exhibitions and the gardens are open to public, so it’s very usual to see couples around enjoying a walk or taking pictures.
8)PARQUE DE SERRALVES
Parque de Serralves/ Serralves Park located in the Serralves Foundation is a masterpiece that combines art, design, culture and nature. The museum of Serralves is one of the most important in the world, being a remarkable point of contemporary art. The gardens have been considered part of the European Route of Historic Gardens.
9)TELEFÉRICO DE GAIA
Teleférico de Gaia or Gaia Cable Car starts on the top of the hill of Vila Nova Gaia and finishes at the Cais de Gaia riverside. It’s the perfect way to admire the beauty of the Douro river. Once you get to Cais de Gaia, there is plenty to do, from seating in a rooftop of a bar whilst enjoying the sunset or having a traditional Portuguese codfish cake matched with a Port wine.
Gaia seaside with an extensive sidewalk is an invitation to relax and get connected with nature. You can walk for hours always with a view over the beach. If you get hungry, there are several good restaurants around. Most of them have terraces, so you can enjoy a cocktail on the beach.
SHORT TOUR VIDEO
There is much more to do in Porto, but these 10 sites cover the most important points that should be visited.
If you would like to stay in the centre of Porto to be close to the main attractions, I would recommend the Hotel Pestana Vintage Porto. Some rooms have an splendid view over the Douro river.
A restaurant that I would really like to advise you to go, that works as a Tapas restaurant in the centre of Porto, is Folias de Baco.
Thank you for reading!
😊Enjoy the weekend.
Porto looks beautiful. As of now it is on my must visit list – which just keeps getting longer!
You’re right, my must visit list is always growing too. One of them is definitely Finland 😊
Another great post! Porto looks like a really beautiful city. I love all the sites you recommend, specially the Ribeira do Porto and the Livraria Lello. I hope I can visit Lisbon and Porto in the near future!
Either Lisbon or Porto, I hope when you visit Portugal, you’ll have a great time.