Why Porto Should Definitely Be On Your Travel Bucket List
Porto is a city of contrasts, charm and the home of port wine. Its rich character and lively soul will lure you in and leave you hooked.
From the brightly coloured buildings and famous azulejo tiles to delicious food, intriguing history, magical sunsets and emerging nightlife scene, this quaint seaside city in Portugal is where the new and old collide, making it a must-see destination for every traveller.
Not sure how to fit everything in? Here’s our insider’s guide to Porto.
Porto Is Seriously Instagram-Worthy
We’re not joking when we say Porto is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Vibrant buildings shine at the water’s edge while the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge towers across the River Douro connecting Porto with Villa Nova de Gaia.
Roam the incredibly photographic streets of UNESCO World Heritage–listed medieval town Ribeira before winding through the maze of alleys to make your way to the waterfront.
You Can’t Go Past The Azulejos
Hundreds of buildings are covered in these ceramic tiles which date back to the 13th century Moorish occupation. You’ll find them in a multitude of colours and patterns but few are as a grand as those on the side of Carmo Church in downtown.
The ornately decorated blue and white panels coupled with the façade of the 18th century building are enough to stop every traveller in their tracks. For more, head to the São Bento Railway Station. It’s too easy to lose track of time while admiring the 20,000 grandiose tiles depicting Portugal’s history, just be careful not to miss your train!
There’s History Everywhere
Stop number one for the history and culture buffs is São Francisco Church. The ornate gilt baroque carvings and statues inside are seriously something else. It’s impossible to take every detail in but it’s work a try.
Next door is Palácio da Bolsa, the city’s stock exchange. It’s only used in part today and a guided tour will take you through a selection of richly decorated rooms, heavy with Arabic influence.
Porto Is The Birthplace Of Port Wine
Where better to taste port wine than the city for which it’s named? This is where port wine ages and is shipped across the world so a tasting session is mandatory on every itinerary.
The Nightlife Is Buzzing
Thirsty or just looking to show off your dance moves? No problem. Most bars and clubs are concentrated in the downtown area, known as Baixa, and many are historical buildings which have been refurbished with a modern touch.
For an afternoon beverage or two in an outdoor setting, head to Base. Café Candelabro offers drinks amongst bookshelves and head to Galeria de Paris after midnight when the dancefloor really opens up.
Harry Potter Lovers, Rejoice
Even if Harry Potter isn’t your thing, you can’t go past this magnificent bookstore – Livraria Lello. A huge wooden staircase dominates the inside with stained glass windows and detailed ceilings. If the whimsical staircases look familiar that’s because they it inspired J.K. Rowling’s creation of the Hogwarts library.
Rumour has it she used to roam the shelves and write in this very store while she lived in the city in the ’90s. Entry costs €3 (AU$5) and you may find yourself waiting in quite the queue but rest assured, it’s well worth it.
The Sunsets Are Hard To Beat
As dusk settles on the horizon the city literally glows under the golden light. The river sparkles and the buildings shine. One of the best spots on in the Ribeira for a sundown cocktail or beer is Bar Da Ponte Pensil next to Dom Luis bridge.
For a birds-eye view of the waterfront, head up to Jardim do morro or climb the Torre dos Clérigos bell tower.
It’s Not As Well-Trodden As Lisbon
Every summer hoards of travellers soak up the sun, culture and lively atmosphere of Lisbon yet few travel north, instead favouring the southern Algarve Coast. Although Porto is growing in popularity you still won’t find the number of tourists here than in other regions, as a result the authenticity and charm of the city are something you can’t find anywhere else.
Read more here about the best cities in the world for Instagramming.
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(Lead image: Kinga Cichewicz / Unsplash)