Porto Simply Unique
Porto, Portugal’s second largest and second most important city after Lisbon, grew up on the banks of the Douro river over a period of more than a thousand years. No wonder, then, that its historic inner city is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Indeed, its serene beauty never fails to move any visitor.
What You Should Not Miss – 10 + 1 Proposals
- Wandering through the Old Quarter is one of your first priorities if you want to appreciate the eternal beauty of medieval Porto. In the course of your stroll, you will come across splendid buildings in different architectural styles, notably the La Sé or Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace and the house of the Canon Domingos Barbosa, among others.
- Another stunning tour, which costs only 10 euros, is a ride in one of the rabelos (small boats) along the beautiful river Douro, especially at dusk; a tour which takes you under the city’s six bridges.
- Not to be passed up is a sunset stroll along the Dom Luís I Bridge. Built by one of Gustave Eiffel’s disciples, it links the Porto riverside to the harbour of Vila Nova de Gaia. At 178 metres high, it affords the best panoramas of the city.
- Also highly recommendable is a foray down Gustave Eiffel Street, flanked by multi-coloured buildings on the hillslopes. The street leads to the old Maria Piar ail bridge, built by Eiffel himself. You simply cannot leave Porto without taking a selfie on this spot!
-In the Boavista district stands the Casa da Música, one of the most modern buildings in Porto, designed by the Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas. Make sure you go out onto the terrace to enjoy a Portuguese-style coffee – a dense espresso which in Lisbon is called a bica, while in Porto it is known as a cimbalino –or treat yourself to a delicious brunch in their restaurant.
- Visit the Serralves Foundation Contemporary Art Museum. It lies within the so-called Serralves Park, Portugal’s largest urban park. Make the most of it by going on a relaxing walk. It is here that the well-known NOS Primavera Sound is held every summer.
- Go into the Lello Bookshop, one of Europe’s oldest and most picturesque book stores. J.K. Rowling, the authoress of “Harry Potter”,was captivated by it and, during her stay in Porto, drew inspiration from it for the backdrops to some of the scenes in her famous book.
- Very near the book store is the city’s most beautiful shop, A Vida Portuguesa. This is the ideal place for purchasing all types of Portuguese products – fashion, design, home furnishings, textiles… It’s a dream of a shop, stocked by its owners, who roam the length of Portugal seeking out the country’s most beautiful products.
- The most romantic and touristic quarter of Porto is Ribeira, located on the riverbank, which forms part of the historic city. The Cais da Ribeira street is lined by all kinds of terrace cafés and here the waterfront is buzzing with life. By night, treat yourself to a drink on one of the terraces while taking in the views of the Douro.
- You cannot leave without tasting the francesinhas, a sandwich of ham, cheese, fresh sausage, steak, egg and other ingredients. You will love it, we guarantee! And, if you have more of a sweet tooth, drop in on any pastry shop and ask for a nata, a traditional pastry which has its counterpart in the Beléms of Lisbon.
- Lastly pay a visit to Vila Nova de Gaia, a must-do outing if you’re visiting Porto. Situated on the banks of the Douro, it is the paradise of the famed Port wine. Over 15 certified Port labels offer guided tours of their wineries, which include tastings, to instruct visitors on the merits of their fine wines.
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Text by Tensi Sánchez of actitudesmgz.com
Photos by Fernando Sanzmore info
Across the romantic Porto
Gateway to the Atlantic and trade with Africa, Porto has a special beauty that you perceive walking the streets. Despite their current romantic decay, the early-century modernist buildings that rise on the sides will take you to better times when the city had its maximum commercial splendor.
Enjoy the terraces and restaurants of lively Ribeira
The historic center of Porto is also one of the most beautiful and colorful areas, a labyrinth of narrow medieval streets and alleys.
The Ribeira Square is in front of the Chapel of Our Lady of Ô, surrounded by bustling cafes. Come to eat to the traditional restaurants in Rua da Fonte Tauria. here you can take the Funicular Guindais aka Dos Guindais, or go up to the highest part of town in the district of Batalha.
The most emblematic of the six bridges of Porto is the Luís I, which crosses the city and Gaia, where the cellars of the famous port wine are. It was designed by a disciple of Eiffel, Belgian engineer Teofilo Seyrig, so the two metal structures are works very similar in style
It can be crossed to visit Gaia, a town full of wine cellars the boardwalks of its two floors. On the top floor passes the subway line and on the lower one, passes cars and other vehicles.
Porto Wine Cellars
Crossing the bridge, you get to Gaia. Here is where port wine gets older, right next to the city, and you will find most wineries that are producing it. But do not stay only with the idea of their wine; Porto is very interesting to try sardines, fresh saloios cheeses or Cabreiro and some of their delicious desserts.
Another interesting option is to cross the Douro River on typical Rabelo boats, formerly transporting Porto wine. You will be fascinated by the magnificent views.
Livraria Lello. One of the most beautiful in Europe
It is no wonder that it chose to this library to film some scenes from the Harry Potter saga. It breathes a magical atmosphere. Its art deco details and neogothic style, the access ladder to the top floor, the large stained glass windows of the roof or the wooden bridge that crosses it, make this place more than a simple library to buy books.
The Livraria Lello e Irmao, called Livraria Lello to simplify, located in the Centre of the city in a beautiful building of neo-Gothic style, it is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe and is, with the bookstore Bertrand in Lisbon, one of the oldest in Portugal. Located in the Centre of the city, in a beautiful neo-Gothic style building.
Maus Hábitos or bad habits is not a conventional place. Since 2001, year when Porto was European Capital of Culture, this mix of restaurant, bar and art gallery gives adequate room for the expression of all kinds of artists and organises workshops. Additionally, you can enjoy a mix of traditional and modern Portuguese cuisine overlooking the old town or you can relax in its gorgeous courtyard garden.
Image: Małgorzata Kaczor
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Bacalhau, broth and guts
Porto welcomes its visitors with the best of its rich cuisine. It is placed in an exceptional location, on the banks of the Duero and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. That favours that in Porto you can eat good seafood, taste the best wines and delight your assorted pastries.
You can find restaurants to suit all tastes and all pockets. You can eat very well for only 5 € in its houses of meals, or in Michelin-starred restaurants, like The Yeatman.
One thing to consider when you sit in a restaurant is that the appetizer being served first, and without asking, is not a present. It has to be paid. This leads sometimes to misunderstandings.
Also, it's common to start a meal at any restaurant with a soup, preparing rich and in many different ways.
One of the areas with more choice of restaurants is Ribeira. It is a very lively place, from which you have the best views over the city. Here you can come to eat the grilled octopus or cod Chez Lapin and "Guts Oporto" da Filha da Mãe Preta.
In the Rua de Aviz there were many of the bookstores in the city. Today it is a hive of trends. Among the new art galleries we found the Book restaurant, where once was sited Livraria Aviz. You will see that all around this place reminds its past as a library.
Wine tourism is one of the best options for the city and its delicacies. To do this it is advisable to cross to the other side of the river, where we can find wineries like Vila Nova de Gai. On this side of the river you can also taste many recipes for cod, which are so famous throughout Portugal, El Bacalhoeiro (Avenida Diogo Leite, 74).
The Café Santiago has a good reputation in serving the best francesinhas, one classic of Oporto´s cuisine. You know that it is true when you see the big queues at their gates in order to get one in Rua Passos Manuel 226. Francesinha is a slice of bread filled with different types of sausage and meat, and covered with melted cheese and bathed in hot sauce. You can imagine that with these kind of ingredients it is a very heavy dish that will fill you with lots of energy; even more if you accompany it, as usual, with a few chips and a cold beer.
In order to know what products are popular in Porto, approach the Bolhao market. It was built in 1914, and it is one of the emblematic buildings to live day by day of tripeiros (gutties). Curious adjective, right? Citizens of Oporto are know tripeiros because, during preparations for the conquest of Ceuta in 1415, they had to turn to the issue all the meat and keep only the gut. Now, as tripas à moda do Porto is in the dish in town!
Francesinha by jfcfar| Tripas a moda do Porto by MariaCartas
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Destinations for the November bank holiday weekend
There are lots of clichés about travelling in autumn: that it's low season, the weather's still mild, cities look nicer... But the truth is that it's an ideal time of year to take a break from your routine. Besides, there's a bank holiday weekend at the beginning of November, which means you can enjoy these wonderful places even more. Let us guide you with a few recommendations on places that are particularly charming at this time of year.more info