The second biggest city in Portugal is Porto. It has a bit more relaxed atmosphere than the capital Lisbon and is beautifully located by the river Douro. It is famous for its Port wine, which together with the whole country got its name from Porto.
All over the city the buildings are covered with beautiful mosaics that makes the city colorful and pretty. The city centre is quite small and it doesn’t take that much time to walk from the centre of Porto and over the bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia, unless you stop and admire the buildings and sights, which you should.
I was staying at a hotel in the western parts of the city centre so I had a good starting point everyday to see the city. I was staying there for three nights and I feel like Porto has much more to offer than what I got to see.
The first thing I did when I arrived was to check out the Parque do Horto das Virtudes that was quite close to my hotel. It is a small garden from where you have a view over the river.
After the park I made my way to another smaller park close to the University of Porto.
Right next to the park is the square Gomes Teixeira. Here you can hop on the tram and travel around the city.
The square is named after a well known professor in Porto, Fransisco Gomes Teixeira. It has a beautiful fountain with lions and is surrounded by beautiful buildings. One building is the Carmo church which is covered with blue and white tiles on the outside wall and inside decorated with a lot of gold.
In this area you’ll also find Livraria Lello, a famous bookstore which I will tell you more about in another post. Here are also other small squares and many places to hang out and enjoy the sun while having a coffee.
As I said the centre is quite small, I kept walking and suddenly reached another landmark of Porto, The Clérigos tower.
And from here I started walking downhill along Rua dos Clérigos…
…and reached the Liberty square.
From the Liberty square it’s just a short walk to Sao Bento railway station. The photo below is taken just outside and from here you can see the Sé Cathedral on the left and Rue das Flores to the right. Rue das Flores is one of the main pedestrian streets with stores, cafés and some museums.
The Sé Cathedral lies on one of the tops in Porto and is seen from many of the view points in the city. From here you get a view over the river, over the rooftops and the Clérigos tower.
From the cathedral you can make your way to the upper level of the Ponte Luiz I. This is one of many bridges that connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. The bridge has two levels, the top for trams and pedestrians and the lower one for cars and pedestrians.
From the bridge you have a pretty good view over both sides of the river.
The Ribeira is the biggest tourist spot in Porto. This area has many restaurants, bars, cafés and craft shops and is quite lively during both day and night. People are gathering here to eat, drink and hang out. It has many traditional restaurants where you can have your meal facing the river and watch the Port houses lined up on the other side.
Vila Nova de Gaia
“The other side of the river” mainly has two things to offer; Port wine and the waterfront with the view over Porto.
As I said in the beginning of the post and as you might know, Porto is famous for it’s Port wine. The wine is produced in the Duoro Valley which is up the river from Porto. In the old days the wine was transported to Gaia by small wodden boats called Rabelos. In Gaia the wine was stored and aged before it was sold. There are still many pretty Rabelos with wine barrels belonging to the port wine companies along the waterfront. Even though nowadays the wine is transported on land.
In Gaia you’ll find plenty of Port houses, big and small, where you can explore wine cellars and do a tasting tour. Many of them also have an outside seating where you can enjoy your wine, have a snack and just enjoy the beautiful view over Porto. It’s especially pretty at sunset.