Are you looking for a European holiday destination, where you can have good rest, relax and get your strengths back? Try to consider sunny Porto. Why? Because apart of warm weather and ancient streets full of historical sights, Porto offers relaxing atmosphere and amazing port wine...



Porto for a weekend or longer

In some aspects, Porto resembles Barcelona: historical sights, beaches and the sea, lovely weather, famous football club. There is only one significant difference – Porto is smaller and more relaxing. Everything can be seen just by walking around without the use of city transport, and taverns, restaurants and bars, that spread over the historical streets or seafront promenades, tempt tourists to interrupt slow walks around the city.

The most beautiful part of Porto is around river Douro in an ancient quarter Riberia which belongs to UNESCO heritage. River Douro crosses Porto through deep valley and gives the city hillocky feel with a lot of gorgeous views. The dominant feature is steel bridge of Luis I. which connects historical Riberia with Vila Nova de Gaia. Both sides of the river are lined with promenades full of restaurants and bars and offer a peaceful place to rest with a beautiful view at tourist boats ploughing river Douro in all directions.

Porto Cais da Riberia Porto Cais da Riberia

Promenade Cais da Riberia

If you stay for more than a weekend it is recommended to visit beaches in quarters Foz do Douro and Matosinhos or go for a day trip to vineyard villages Regua or Pinhao on the river Douro. You can take a cruise boat to the vineyards [about 70 Euro] or take a train from Sao Bento station which is cheaper.



How and when to go to Porto

The best time to visit Porto is in between the start of April and end of October, because there is less rain coming from Atlantic during the summer months.

Francisco Sa Carniero airport is 17 kilometers away from the city. You can either get on a purple line of metro E with a transfer in Trindade or get a taxi from airport. In the first case the cost of a travel is 1.9 Euro, but for the taxi you'd have to pay between 15 to 20 Euro.

The ideal accommodation is on the hill of Riberia. The higher and further away from the river, the cheaper it is and the views are more impressive. Just as an example I want to mention DOURO Apartments in the street Rue de Sao Miguel.



Port wine and local specialties

What is the main symbol of Porto? Port wine of course. It is hard to resist samples while walking through the city. Every restaurant has its wine menu full of different kinds and brands and little glass costs 3-6 Euro, depending on quality and year of production. Grapes designated for production of port wine are harvested specifically in the fields around river Douro and in the past, port wine was transported on boats 'rabelo' on this same river. The typical wine grapes that are used to make port wine are touriga nacional, tinto cao and tinto barroca. After extracting juice from the grapes [the best quality wines still use traditional process of feet pressing] comes a process of fermentation in next 3 and a half days, which is then stopped by adding neutral grape spirit. This process is called fortification and it stops fermentation and increases the percentage of alcohol to 20 percent. After that, the wine is left to mature either in wooden barrels [Tawny] or in large stainless-steel tanks [Ruby]. Tawny is exposed to gradual oxidation over the years and gets lighter mahogany color. On the other hand, Ruby, which is left without later oxidation, keeps its dark crimson color. There is also production of white port wine. The most famous brands are for example Sandeman, Taylor's, Graham's, Ramos Pinto, Fonseca, Offley, Calem, Croft, Ferreira, Kopke, Gilberts or Barros.

Porto wine Porto 5

Port wine, Taylor´s wine cellars

Typical culinary specialty is a steak sandwich Francesinha. It seems like a meal designed for lumberjacks – sandwich with beef steak, ham, fried egg, covered with cheese with wine and beer sauce and usually served with chips. You can get it in restaurants for 8 to 12 Euro. The most renowned dessert is Natas do ceu, which is a combination of cookie crumbs, mousse and egg cream. Their regular sweet pastry is a cream filled base called pastel de nata and their favorite drink is Portonic, which is made from white port wine and tonic.

Porto francesinha sandwich Porto pastel de nata

Steak sandwich Francesinha, Pastel de nata

One of the famous signs of Porto are also hand-crafted tiles 'azulejo', which decorate exteriors of old buildings. There is a lot of old buildings and ruins in Porto, from some of which only facades are still standing.



Ten stops on a trip to Porto – what to see and visit

During your walks through the old town, you're bound to see the same old faces of other travelers – Porto is quite simply small. Even though, it is more than enjoyable to spend three or more serene days there. What to see and visit during your walks through Porto? Download app to you phone, have a look at Google route and read about individual stops:


1st stop – Tower and church Igreja e Torre dos Clerigos

Tower and baroque church Igreja e Torre dos Clerigos is the first stop on this itinerary. This tower was built in 1763, is 76 meters high and is the highest church tower in Portugal. There are beautiful views of the whole town from the top of the tower, where you can get by climbing 225 spiral stairs. Admittance is 4 Euro.

Porto Clérigos tower Porto Praca Gomes de Teixeira

View from Clérigos tower, Praca Gomes de Teixeira square with church Igreja do Carmo


2nd stop – Library Livraria Lello, Praca Gomes de Teixeira square with church Igreja do Carmo

Near the church Clerigos is a small bookshop Livraria Lello with a beautiful interior made from dark wood and spiral staircase in the middle. It is said that it inspired J.K. Rowling when she was writing Harry Potter books, and is visited as a tourist attraction these days. Admittance is 4 Euro.

This bookshop neighbours Praca Gomes de Teixeira square, which is dominated by a fountain and church Igreaja do Carmo. One whole side of the church is decorated by blue azulejos tiles from 1912.


3rd stop – Sao Bento railway station

If you walk past Praca da Liberdade with its Avenue dos Aliados, you get to one of the most beautiful railway stations – Sao Bento. It was built in 1903 and its interior is decorated by twenty thousand light blue azulejo tiles, forming historical scenes.

Porto Livraria Lello Porto Sao Bento railway station

Library Livraria Lello, Sao Bento railway station


4th stop – Se de Porto cathedral

Se de Porto is the main cathedral in Porto, it was built in 12th century and used to be a residency of Portuguese kings. It was a place of royal wedding of king John I. with Philippa from Lancaster in 1387 and their son Henry 'Navigator' was christened here in 1394.


5th stop – Dom Luis I. bridge

It is not far from the cathedral to Dom Luis I. bridge. It was built by Theophil Seyrig, a student of Gustav Eiffel himself, in 1881 and it is the most famous bridge in Porto. Gustav Eiffel built a bridge in Porto too. Unlike the rest of the bridges in Porto, this one has two decks, the top one is designated for metro and the lower one is for other forms of traffic. Both decks can be used for walking. There are beautiful views of the town from the top, which is 45 meters high.

Porto Se de Porto cathedral Porto Luis I. bridge

Se de Porto cathedral, Dom Luis I. bridge


6th stop – Avenida de Diogo Leite promenade and Taylor's wine cellars

There is a cable car going from the bridge to Avenida de Diogo Leite and to Vila Nova de Gaia. There is a number of restaurants and bars, but especially little wine cellars of different brands of port wine makers. They offer tours with tasting, but one of the best ones is from the brand Taylor's. You can get a tour for 12 Euro, with audio guide and two samples of wine which you can enjoy in a beautiful and tranquil garden.


7th stop – Porto Cruz Terace lounge 360

If you walk back to Dom Luis I. bridge through Avenida de Diogo Leite promenade, there is an exceptional bar Port Cruz with roof terrace. The atmosphere here is serene and there are amazing views on the river and Ribeira quarter.

Porto rabelo ships Porto Bar Porto Cruz Terace lounge 360

Ships „rabelo“ on Avenida de Diogo Leite, Bar Porto Cruz Terace lounge 360


8th stop – Cais da Riberia promenade

Walking back through the lower deck of Luis I. bridge will get you back to Riberia quarter to Cais da Riberia promenade, which is lined with beautiful houses, restaurants and bars. Center of the promenade is a romantic square Praca da Ribeira. If you want to enjoy the river Douro, you can take a boat tour along six local bridges [60 mins, 15 Euro].

Porto Promenade Cais da Riberia Porto Promenade Cais da Riberia

Promenade Cais da Riberia


9th stop – Palacio da Bolsa and Igreja e Convento de Sao Francisco church and convent

It is close from Cais da Riberia to stock exchange palace Palacio da Bolsa [ticket for 8,5 Euro]. It was built between 1842 – 1862 and has gorgeous interior. Halls are paneled by dark wood and one of the halls was inspired by Alhambra palace in Grenada.

Neighboring with the palace is a gothic church and Franciscan monastery Igreja e Convento de Sao Francisco [ticket 4 Euro]. A hundred kilo of gold was used to decorate the interior of this church and you can take a tour to its catacombs and charnel house, where they buried people till 1845.

Porto Palácio da Bolsa Porto Igreja de São Francisco

Stock exchange Palácio da Bolsa, Franciscan monastery Igreja de São Francisco


10th stop - Foz do Douro promenade

Beside the church Igreja e Convento de Sao Francisco is a stop of historical tram, which ends its route on a start of beach in Foz do Douro quarter [3 Euro]. A bit further is also a bus stop [bus number 500] which stops on a more remote beach in Matosinhos [1,9 Euro].

Porto Foz do Douro Porto Foz do Douro

Seaside promenade Foz do Douro

The walk along seaside promenade in Foz do Douro is really enjoyable: you can see bits of sand through the rocky shore, where you can go swimming if the weather is nice, or you can use the relaxing atmosphere to visit one of the restaurants or coffee shops.




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