If you haven’t got your letter to Hogwarts yet, this is the place to go!
Located in the European’s westernmost country, the city that gave the country its name, Porto, is the 2nd biggest town of Portugal.Thanks to its breathtaking views, incredibly rich gastronomy and ever-welcoming locals, Porto has become one of the favorite destinations in Europe being in fact considered the Best European Destination in 2014 for holiday or city trip. Since then the tourism has grown exponentially and the city has not disappointed!
Porto is one of the few cities in Europe that offers an extensive range of activities. Don’t be surprised to meet tourists that traveled all the way to Porto only for its food, or for the well-known Porto Wine. But it does not stop there; the city of Porto is home for one of the most famous bookstores in the world Lello & Irmao, which is rumored to have served as inspiration to J.K Rolling when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. In fact, it was held in this very same bookstore the World Premiere of the most recent book of the Harry Potter series in July 2016
The absolute “must see” when in Porto
Porto isn’t what I would call a big city, which makes it possible to turn any long weekend into an unforgettable trip! Another great advantage is that Porto is a very INexpensive city…. Does this sound like a perfect combination? I thought so too!
Here are just a few of the many places you should see when visiting Porto
- The Historical center – located in Douro’s riverside, the historical center of Porto has over 2000 years of history and it is alongside the D. Luis Bridge, which is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen my entire life!
- Foz and Matosinhos – Though many would not consider this a top priority, I personally must recommend a walk from Foz to Matosinhos beach. It can take up to 1-2 hours but its great views make this one of my favorite places to see the sunset in the whole city.
- Lello & Irmao bookstore – Despite being a very small space, the bookstore receives thousands of visitors a day and it is almost a mandatory stop when visiting the city. The entrance used to be free but due to the affluence of people, now it has a cost of 3€ which, in case you buy a book, is later deducted as a discount in any purchase.
- Main catholic points (Clerigos, Se Cathedral, Carmo church and Chapel of souls) – Either you are catholic or not religious at all, it is impossible to be indifferent to the great beauty and architecture that is visible everywhere you look! It’s completely worth of visiting or just climbing all the way for great pictures and viewpoints!
- Boat trip + Wine Cellars – One of the coolest outdoor activities you get to do in Porto is the Boat trip+ Wine Cellar visit, which often includes wine tasting. The costs can vary between 10-15€ and it includes both boat trip and the entrance to the wine cellars
- Discoverers Museum – This is not just any museum. It is one of the most interactive museums you will ever see. Having one of the Portuguese discovers as your guide, you get to explore and learn while enjoying the feeling of being in an amusement park. Definitely worth the experience! The price for the entrance to the Museum can vary depending on whether you buy the ticket online.
- Crystal Palace – If you are a fan of great view points, this is the place for you! The gardens are often used by students and couples as a location to relax, enjoy the nature and have picnics while enjoying one of the best views to Douro River.
- Serralves Museum – The great thing about this place is that, much like the Crystal Palace, it has a particularly beautiful garden. However, if money is an issue, you should save the Sunday morning to visit this place (free entrance!).
Round is also a shape, right?
When it comes to the gastronomic aspect of your trip, I must warn you: you are going back home with some extra kg! But don’t worry, it is totally worth it!
Porto, much like Portugal itself, offers great variety of the so called “typical dishes”. In fact, you could spend your whole trip walking from restaurant to restaurant and be able to eat a different and delicious caloric bomb after the other.
One thing particularly stands out! The Francesinha is one of the most iconic dishes in Porto and, even though it can be found in many places in Portugal, it is in Porto that you can find the original and best options in the country! Don’t let the first impression fool you! Despite its “sandwich” appeal, the dish is too complex and it has a very unique taste mostly due to the sauce – Porto’s top secret recipe!
- Bring comfortable shoes – It’s absolutely pointless to bring uncomfortable shoes to Porto. Apart from all day long walks, it’s completely socially acceptable to go with simple shoes pretty much anywhere. In Portugal it is common to use sport’ shoes in clubs so enjoy it!
- Bring a jacket – Even during the summer, sometimes nights can get a bit chilly!
- Ask advice from Locals – Portuguese people are very friendly and most of the population speaks English. That being said, being advised by a local on where to eat could help you saving those extra €.