Porto, a historic mercantile city with commerce and trade etched into its very name, is located on the slopes above the Douro Estuary. You’ll be astounded by how rich and varied this legacy may be when you visit the center, which is a World Heritage site: The Romanesque Cathedral, the Ribeira district’s narrow alleyways, sparkling Baroque churches, and medieval fortifications are just the beginning.
On the south side of the Douro, fortified port wine is still kept in warehouses. If you follow the river all the way to the sea, you’ll reach the chic Foz do Douro neighborhood, home to trendy restaurants and beaches.
Let’s explore the top activities in Porto:
Cais da Ribeira
Porto’s riverbank district is a very attractive piazza where tourists and locals mix, a touch chaotic but a lot of fun to explore.
Every corner has a bar or restaurant, and the riverbank stroll is no exception.
If you slip through the arcades, you can find a perplexing maze of steep stairs and stairways between pastel-painted houses in various states of repair. From here, you’ll have a fantastic view of the famous Lus I Bridge.
In recent years, the Cais da Ribeira has undergone a little sprucing up, and information boards have been set up to teach you about the people and companies that called this area home when it was Porto’s commercial hub.
Luís I Bridge
This twin-level metal arc bridge, a prominent industrial landmark for Porto, was built in 1886. Théophile Seyrig, a German engineer and cofounder of the Eiffel Company, came up with the idea.
The nearly 45-meter-high bridge spans the Douro’s stony, steep banks. From the top level, you can see the Cais da Ribeira, which is where the light train of Porto stops.
Then, to descend to the water’s edge, you may board the Funicular dos Guindais. If you’ve still not seen enough, you can cross on the lower deck to avoid hitting any oncoming pedestrians or local cars.
Praça da Liberdade
The wide open areas of this Santo Ildefonso square and boulevard feel like a world away from the winding streets of the Cais da Ribeira.
The Neoclassical Palácio das Cardosas, an 18th-century convent turned hotel, borders the Praça da Liberdade to the south. The Praça da Liberdade was planned as a new urban arrangement in the 18th century.
A statue of Pedro IV of Brazil, who is regarded as a democratic reformer, is mounted on a horse.
The area’s streets are among the most upscale in the city, featuring grand municipal structures, upscale shops, and the Belle Époque Majestic Café on Rua Santa Catarina.
Casa da Música
In the past thirty years, architects have made a number of desperate attempts to break free from the “shoe-box” music hall’s dominance. The Casa da Musica seeks to revitalize the conventional performance hall by changing the interaction between the hollowed-out interior and the general public outside rather than battling the unavoidable acoustic superiority of this classic shape. The Rotunda da Boavista’s new Casa da Musica, the National Orchestra of Porto’s new home, is situated on a fresh public square. In an era of too many symbols, it has a distinctive faceted form constructed of white concrete that is yet strong and convincing. The inside of the Grand Auditorium’s elevated 1,300-seat (shoebox-shaped) façade are made of corrugated glass.
You might overlook Porto’s beaches if the Douro and the Ribeira receive all your focus.
On a sweltering day, you can cool yourself in the air and put your toes in the chilly Atlantic.
There are at least 10 options to pick from, several of which display the Blue Flag each year, if you want to include some of the remote beaches only a few minutes from the city.
The closest is Matosinhos, which is just past Parque de Cidade and has a sizable bay that appears to have no end during low tide.
Don’t discount Miramar, which boasts a charming 17th-century chapel on the rocks between its enormous golden sandy beaches, if you’re willing to drive a little.
Church of Santa Clara
The parish of Sé in Porto, Portugal is home to the Catholic church known as Igreja de Santa Clara. For usage by Poor Clares nuns, the church’s construction began in 1416 near the Santa Clara Convent. In 1427, nuns moved into the church, which was eventually finished in 1457.
Douro River Trip
From its headwaters in Castile and León, the Douro has flown about 900 kilometers to the Atlantic at Porto.
And the majority of those that visit the Douro believe that there is something unique about the river.
Hour-long excursions around the Ribeira are available for approximately €15, and your guide will share information with you about the bridges, the port warehouses on the south side, and the towering Porto monuments on the north bank.
The Maria Pia Bridge, constructed by Gustave Eiffel and built ten years earlier than the Lus I, is located above on the eastern edge of the city.