A country known for its many famous exports – Port, Cork, Soap and Cristiano Ronaldo…
Along the banks of the Douro River, you’ll find Portugal’s second largest, and most beautiful city – Porto. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to see why it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
If you’re only stopping by for a short time, we’ve pulled together some of our favourite experiences that can’t be missed!
You’ll walk in the footsteps of Emperors and Kings…
As you wander the streets of Porto, you’ll hear tales of Inês de Castro, and stories her forbidden romance with King Pedro I of Portugal. And that’s not to say his story is any less interesting; He once said his heart belonged in Porto – and if you look hard enough, you’ll find it resting in The Church of Our Lady of Lapa..
From religion to football…
Depending on the time of year you’re travelling to Porto, try to see the local football team, FC Porto, play in their home stadium, Estádio do Dragão. The atmosphere is electric!
If you’re feeling inspired, head to the church of Santa Clara. Don’t let its façade fool you; Once you step inside, the beautiful gothic style of architecture will take your breath away.
A delight for the tastebuds…
In the restaurants and cafes lining the Douro river, you’ll discover many unique tastes that are hard to find anywhere else in the world!
To quench your thirst…
· Try a glass of Vinho do Porto (Port), a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley. Named after the city, and one of the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, it’s one of the country’s most famous exports!
· Try Vinho Verde – a light, fresh wine. Vinho Verde (young wine) does not refer to a type of grape or a blend, but the region where it’s produced. Traditionally, the grapes are picked before they are ripe, with the wine released 3-6 months after harvest.
· And if you’re not a fan of wine, try a glass of Super Bock; it’s the most popular Portuguese Cerveja (beer)!
To satisfy your appetite…
· Try the Portuguese twist on the classic French croque-madame, the Francesinha. The sandwich is filled with cured ham, sausage, and steak, covered in molten cheese, with hot tomatoes and beer sauce. It’s usually served with a fried egg on top, and a side of chips!
· Or if you’re looking for something a little less heavy, try Bacalhau à Brás. It’s a traditional Portuguese dish made from shredded cod, onions, and thinly sliced potatoes.
· Or for a meal with a bit of history, taste the Tripas à Moda do Porto. It’s the iconic Tripe dish of the city, which symbolises its people’s generosity.· And if you’re a lover sweets, you can’t go past a Pastéis de nata. While this famous Portuguese tart was born in Lisbon, it can be found all over the country!
You won’t believe your eyes…
Take a stroll across the bridge over the Douro river. Going from Porto to Gaia, this walk will give you a unique perspective of the city, and allow you to discover which side has the best view… and which side has the best Port! You’ll also discover the stone buildings which house some of Porto’s oldest wineries.
The Livraria Lello Bookstore in Porto, is one of the oldest and most magnificent bookstores in the world. It’s not hard to see how it inspired author J.K. Rowling when writing the Harry Potter series. With an average of 4500 visitors a day – it can get a little crowded, so we recommend an early visit. But the stunning architecture inside, and its unique stained-glass windows make the short wait worthwhile.
After climbing over 200 steps to reach the top of the Clérigos Tower, you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular, 360° view of the city. The 75-metre high baroque-style bell tower dates back to the 18th and houses over 49 bells!
The São Bento Railway Station is one of the most impressive stations in Portugal. As you walk through the main entry, you’ll be struck by the ornate azulejo, spanning from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, sharing the history of Portugal. The mural is made up of over 20,000 tiles, taking 11 years to complete! As you wander the streets of Porto, you’ll see many more of these beautiful azulejo scattered through the city.
If you’re looking for something a little greener, head to Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, where you’ll find breathtaking views, and gorgeous gardens.
And as you wander the streets, you’ll discover art everywhere. And here, in the tiny laneways, is where you’ll see some of the world’s greatest urban art.
If you have some time to spare…
Brown paper packages tied up with string….
Portugal is known for its creamy soaps – Claus Porto, Castelbel, and Ach Brito – two of which were born in Porto. Claus Porto, the most popular of the three, sell handcrafted soaps infused with fine local fragrances; they’re also a favourite of Oprah! The soaps are beautifully wrapped in deco-designed paper and made with 100% natural ingredients!
The Portuguese cork industry is one of the biggest in the country, and the world! They produce more than 50% of global supply; and while a lot of it goes to wine, it’s also made into tiles, furniture, shoes, handbags, and so much more!
Interested in spending some time in Portugal’s Northern City? Check out our Cosmos Lite Portugal Explorer itinerary – where you can choose how you spend your days in Porto.