Destination Food'n Road
A dive into Portuguese culture and traditions
Destination Food'n Road
A dive into Portuguese culture and traditions
Capital of Northern Portugal
Distances: Lisboa (313km), Coimbra (121km), Faro (549km).
The name Porto comes from the Latin expression “Portus Cale”, which means “the place where boats dock”.
Curiosity: The city is affectionately called “Invicta” and the residents are known as “tripeiros”.
Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport (OPO) is less than 20 minutes from the city centre. If you do not rent a car, the transfer from the airport to the central region can be done by metro, bus, transfer or taxi/transport by an app. There are also trains and bus lines that run from Lisbon to Porto.
You can get to know the main tourist spots on foot, by subway or by apps. There are trams, trains and tourist buses that also take you for tours all over Porto. Traffic is intense. It is only worthwhile to rent a car if you want to go further and see other cities in the region.
Porto is a year-round destination. July and August is when it gets hotter, but prices rise and the city is packed with tourists. September is grape harvest time being the best time for a tour around the Douro and its wineries. From November to February, it rains and gets colder, but most places are usually empty and cheaper.
Where to stay
In terms of location, it is the best area to stay in. It is right in the heart of the city, close to famous sights and subway stations. The charm is in walking through the streets and getting to know the traditional architecture of Porto. There are hotels for every taste (and every budget).
It is the place for those who want to get to know the more artistic and ‘young’ side of Porto. It has art galleries, concept stores and is within a reasonable distance of the city’s main monuments. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, don’t stay in the vicinity of Rua Galeria de Paris as this is where many trendy bars and restaurants are located. Cedofeita also has great options for couples.
Do you know those classic photos that show the Luiz I bridge and the colourful houses of Porto in the background? They are a portrait of Ribeira. The hotels are a little more expensive, but, on the other hand, you have the privilege of waking up with the view of the Douro River.
Foz do Douro is known for being one of the noblest regions of Porto, with excellent infrastructure and the advantage of being seaside. The hotels are more expensive, but the location is ideal for those looking for a more relaxed trip away from the tourist centre.
Porto is a city that balances between the traditional and the modern. You will notice this when walking through the streets and observing fancy buildings sharing space with century-old buildings rich in architectural details. Take a look at the traditional Portuguese tiles, on the threshing floors and banks of the street markets… Ah, if you can, take some time at the riverside and watch the boats come and go in the Douro without haste.
You eat very well in Portugal. At every corner, you will find more and more restaurants, emporiums, bars, taverns… The most traditional ones are faithful to traditional recipes and take advantage of those homemade seasonings that resemble grandmother’s house. Expect to find a simple (but very friendly) service, combined with hearty meals, authentic and entitled to a lot of wine and seafood.
For a few years now, the gastronomic scene in Porto has gained a new face. Hipsters cafes, good vegetarian options and restaurants by renowned chefs – with Michelin stars. Today the offer is quite democratic: from small taverns with popular prices to bistros that charge more than €60 per dish.
Porto gathers almost everything tourists look for in one place: historic addresses, good restaurants, viewpoints, river, beaches, wineries, museums, art galleries, popular festivals… The truth is that the city of Porto is full of dishes for every type of traveller and offers programs that suit all tastes. If you have available time, book at least three nights to get to know it.
Tip: Before assembling the itinerary, check that Porto.CARD is worth buying. The card guarantees free entry to some museums and gives a discount up to 50% at various attractions and restaurants in the city. Its price ranges from € 6 and can be purchased online or at physical points of sale.
The region is best explored on foot, going up and down the slopes and closely observing the century-old architecture. São Bento Station, Torre dos Clérigos, Palácio da Bolsa and Capela das Almas are unmissable. The famous Lello bookshop is also in the historic centre.
There are more than 20 museums around the city. A good part of them tells about the history of Portugal and its traditions, such as the Soares dos Reis National Museum and the FC Porto museum. Also, be sure to visit the contemporary exhibitions of the Serralves Foundation and check the Casa de Música (Music Hall) schedule.
No place is better to know Porto lifestyle than the popular markets and street fairs. The Bolhão Market is the most famous and traditional, but it is undergoing a renovation since 2018, for now, it is possible to visit the Temporary Market of Bolhão. There you will find flowers, fruits, meats, fish, bread… Now, to find antiques and trinkets, the right address is the Vandoma Fair, a flea market which takes place on Saturdays at Estádio do Dragão.
Navigating the Douro River is one of the “mandatory” programs for everyone who goes to Porto. There are several tour options from the Ribeira marinas. The most traditional is the “River Douro 6 Bridges Cruise”, a more compact tour, so to speak. But there are also options for more robust tours, that include lunch, visits to wineries and wine tasting.
Porto is even more beautiful if seen from above. There are more than 20 viewpoints spread throughout the city. Knowing this, keep your camera ready to get different angles of the city. The best views are from the viewpoints of Sé Cathedral, Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardim do Palácio de Cristal) and Passeio das Virtudes.
The Porto region has so many cellars that it is difficult to choose which one to visit. Just cross the Luiz I bridge to reach Vila Nova de Gaia and you’ll find what the Portuguese call “the highest concentration of alcohol per square meter in the world”. It is not really an exaggeration: the cellars are positioned almost in sequence, one close to the other. The most famous are Graham’s, Taylor’s, Sandeman and Real Companhia Velha. At Espaço Porto Cruz, you can find a bit of everything: the building has interactive exhibitions, a tasting room, a restaurant and a rooftop that serves cocktails based on regional wine – all with a view of the Douro River.
Not everyone knows, but the metro in Porto takes you to the beach. You can reach the coastal city of Matosinhos in less than half an hour from Trindade station. It is very popular with residents and tourists who want to go for a swim and enjoy the seafood, whether at the Matosinhos Municipal Market or at one of the many seafood restaurants. Another classic program is to visit the stores and factories of traditional Portuguese canned goods. Conserva Pinhais & Cia offers guided tours that tell about the tradition of fishing and show the production processes which the brand has been using for over 100 years.
No trip to Portugal is complete without a few days in Lisbon. Check out our tips for a 2-3 day itinerary in the country’s capital.
The film's story revolves around two foreigners who know each other in Porto.
One of the best work of the great Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa.
Delicious memories of Anthony Bourdain discovering Porto. Season 9 Episode 8.
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