Ignite some wanderlust for Portugals cool & creative ‘City Of Bridges’ Porto.
Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal, most famous for, you’ve guessed it, Port wine! Located along the Douro river in Northern Portugal, Porto is becoming a super popular European travel destination. The city is known as ‘The city of bridges’ and is famous for having 6 bridges which it shares with the city of Gaia on the south side of the river, where the port cellars are located.
Getting around Porto is very easy, with loads of public transport options – buses, trams and even Uber. As the city is very compact, we mostly explored the city on foot, though be warned, it is very hilly so maps can sometimes be a little deceiving! If you’re keen to hop on a tram we recommend taking Tram 1 from the Ribera district and staying on till the end of the line which takes you through traditional areas of the city along to Foz, a trendy coastal mini-city with lots of beachside restaurants and bars.
You can’t visit Porto without sampling some Port. There are many tasting tours that can be booked in advance or on the day, or if you are a fan of a particular brand, you can arrange a cellar tour with the wine house directly. We opted for a 4 hour walking tour with Porto Walkers and it did not disappoint. The tour guide was exceptionally knowledgeable and included in the cost of the ticket was a visit to 3 port wine houses and 7 samples of different Port wines. (27 Euros per person) We recommend doing a tour on the first day of your trip so you know what to drink for the remainder of your stay!
There’s a real variety of things to see and do in Porto and two of the most visited places are the Livraria Lello bookshop and the Sao Bento train station. The Livraria Lello bookshop is one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal. It is architecturally stunning inside and out, and is reported to be one of JK Rowling’s inspirations behind Harry Potter - she lived in Porto for years and often visited the shop. However, due to this the bookshop is extremely popular so be prepared to queue! If queueing isn’t for you, then you can admire the gorgeous exterior of the bookshop whilst sipping on a cocktail at BASE, the super cool outdoor bar opposite. Be sure to head over to the Sao Bento train station in the historic centre. Here you can walk straight in and admire the beautiful hand painted tiles in the magnificent entrance lobby and a piece of Porto’s history.
Located on the Northern coats of Portugal, Porto has mild, oceanic climate and is therefore cooler than the Algarve or Lisbon. Porto has rainy winters and warm sunny summers, with the average winter temperature around 14 degrees and the summer around 25 degrees. We visited in September and the temperature was in the early 20s – perfect for exploring.
Portuguese is the official language, but English is widely spoken by almost everyone in the tourism industry, so you won’t tend to encounter much of a language barrier. However, it’s always polite to learn a handful of Portuguese phrases in advance.
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO VISIT INCLUDE
The Ribeira district is the historic district and is full of beautiful cobbled streets. It has a lovely buzz and is a great spot for people-watching, with many bars and restaurants lined along the waterfront. Be sure to cross the Douro and spend some time on the other side of the river in Gaia – we recommend the roof terrace of Espaco Porto Cruz for spectacular views and delicious port-based cocktails!
VOYA FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY INCLUDE
Just a 10-minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the Douro, the Torel Avantgarde is an award-winning 5-star hotel. The hotel décor is stunning, and it boasts an outdoor swimming pool, rooms with balconies and amazing panoramic views over the city.
VOYA FAVOURITE DISHES TO TRY
Francesinha, meaning ‘Frenchie’ in Portuguese, is a famous sandwich that originates from Porto. Absolutely packed full of meat, covered with melted cheese and topped with a thick beer and tomato sauce - It’s not one to try if you’re particularly calorie conscious!