The city of Porto is perhaps best known for the fortified wine that bears its name. Many visit the town to learn more about this type of wine and to sample it at the many port wine cellars that dot the banks of the Douro River, just across from the historic city center.
But Portugal’s second largest city has much more to offer than just its eponymous wine. The city has a special old world charm and enchantment that you can feel as you stroll along its riverfront, visit its monuments, or walk down its ancient narrow streets and alleyways.
Here is a list of some of the things to see and do during your stay in Porto:
- Visit Wine Cellars – no visit to Porto would be complete without touring and doing wine tastings at some of the wine cellars located across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia.
- Casa do Infante – built in the 14th C., the old custom house is where Prince Henry the Navigator was born in 1394.
- Cathedral – the Sé Catedral do Porto was built between the 12th and 13th centuries, and is one of the most important Romanesque monuments in Portugal.
- Igreja de São Francisco – 14th C. Baroque and Gothic construction, with an extraordinary interior that is considered one of the most opulent in all of Europe. For more information, click here
- Palácio da Borsa – 19th C. building with Neoclassical façade that was originally the stock exchange; don’t miss the ornate Arab Room, which attempted to copy the grandeur of the Granada’s Alhambra. For more information, click here
- Serralves Modern Art Museum – opened in 1999, the museum houses a collection of rotating exhibitions, showcasing the work of national and international artists. For more information, click here
- São Bento Railway Station – even if you’re not taking a train, be sure to stop in and see the 20,000 decorative tiles depicting scenes from Portuguese history that adorn the walls of one of the most beautiful train stations in the world
- Mercado do Bolhão – 19th C. lively market that sells everything from fresh fruit to household goods
- Café Majestic – take a break and have a coffee at this elegant café that opened its doors in 1921 and was the meeting place for Porto’s high society, intellectuals and bohemians during the Belle Epoque period. For more information, click here
- Livraria Lello & Irmão – the narrow façade of this Neo-Gothic style building, built in 1906, belies what can be found inside – one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The stunning spiral Art Nouveau staircase will surely capture your attention. Lello bookstore is said to have inspired JK Rowling. For more information, click here
- Monastery of Serra do Pilar – located across the Rio Douro via the Luis I arch bridge in Vila Nova de Gaia, this 17th C. church and cloister has a unique circular design. The panoramic views from its hilltop location provide the best views of Porto and Gaia.
Book a private tour! You may want to consider booking a private tour with an English-speaking guide. Your personal guide can provide you with information on the city and its historic sites. For more information, click here.
Photo credit: Georges Jansoone
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