Welcome to my complete city guide to Porto. I was born and raised in the “city of students”, Coimbra. Since I can remember I have loved photography and the way you can capture a moment and freeze it in time. I love to travel and discover new places in Portugal (my home country). One of the places I love is the great city of Porto. I consider it my second home.
Porto certainly differs from the rest of the country. The people from the north of Portugal are very proud of their heritage and culture, especially those from Porto. They are more open and tend to say what they think without reservations.
They use a lot of slang that you can’t find anywhere else in Portugal. For example: carago (it has no translation but they always use it); morcão (moron); azeiteiro (douchebag); totil (cool); jeco (dog); fino (beer) and they also switch the V for the B (for example: Viva they say Biba).
The culture of Porto is just awesome. First of all, you have to try a “Francesinha”, the typical dish in Porto and a delicious one at that! I would also recommend visiting Porto during our greatest party: Festa de São João. The best thing about Porto, though, is just getting lost in the typical alleyways and narrow streets. You will love every minute of this city!
The Best Places to Visit in Porto
There are so many special places that I love in Porto and one that I would like to mention right away is the São Bento Train Station. A train station is always a photogenic place and when you are photographing one you can see the hustle of people coming and going by, just imagining the places they will come or go.
The São Bento Train Station is special because it’s one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The entrance hall covered in Portuguese tiles is a photographer’s paradise, especially at the end of the day when the sunset light enters the station.
The famous Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello) is another fantastic place to visit – one of the places that inspired J.K Rowling when she lived in Porto. Despite always being full of people, it’s worth the wait in line to see it. Just a 5 minute walk from Porto’s city center, it’s one of the most magnificent book shops one can imagine.
Clérigos Tower is another must-see place because you have a 360º view of the city and you can also see Gaia (the city on the other bank of river Douro). The tower sits atop the beautiful Clérgios church which was built between 1735 and 1748 in a baroque style.
Largo da Pena Ventosa is a colorful square and one of the most famous instagrammable places in Porto. Another instagramable place in Porto is the Igreja do Carmo, a XVII century Portuguese tiled church. Both these places are well worth a visit.
Make sure you visit Ribeira. It’s one of the most important things you can do in Porto because Ribeira is the heart of the city and it’s a great place to just relax by the Douro river and to taste some typical Portuguese dishes. Speaking of the Douro river, a stroll along Foz do Douro or a Rabelo boat tour is a great way to spend a sunny day too.
A few final places to visit are the Porto wine cellars in Gaia, Café Majestic, Santa Catarina street, 31 de Janeiro street, Guindais neighbourhood and the D.Luís I bridge.
Porto City Guide: Architectural Wonders
There are plenty of buildings with some incredible architecture all around the city. I have a top seven structures/buildings you have to visit and photograph. The first one is the Clérigos Church and Tower. You can’t miss it because it’s the symbol of Porto.
The second one is right next to the Clérigos Tower and it’s the Lello Bookstore. It’s considered the most beautiful library in Europe and one of the most beautiful in the world. The facade and the wooden staircase and shelves are so magical that you feel you are entering Hogwarts.
Third on my list is Casa Da Música. The giant polygon is an architectural masterpiece and its an amazing concert hall. The fourth one is São Bento Train Station. This gorgeous station is a marvelous place to visit and photograph (as mentioned above).
The fifth place on my list is the Sé Catedral do Porto (Porto Cathedral), arguably the most important religious building in Porto. The interior and the cloister are worth taking a photo, or two or ten.
Sixth in line is Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace), the mid-nineteenth century former church. Inside it you have a main central hall known as Pátio das Nações (Courtyard of Nations) and a lot of different rooms with different styles. The top attraction is the Arab Room, a room decorated in a moorish style.
Last but not least you have the most famous area in Porto, the Ribeira. Located in the riverbank of Douro, with its colorful houses and façades, is a tourist attraction. You have plenty of restaurants with typical Portuguese food and the nightlife is awesome.
Try the Delicious Cuisine of Porto
My Porto city guide wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the amazing food. You have a lot of typical dishes but my favourite one is the “Francesinha” – a sandwich made with ham, linguiça, sausage, steak or roast meat, and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce. It’s typically served with french fries. It’s heaven on earth.
Another heaven on earth dish is the “Cachorrinho” at Gazela. This delicacy was tried and enjoyed by Anthony Bourdain the last time he was in Porto. Cachorrinhos are hot dogs with a spicy sauce and cheese. If you want to try one like in that episode of Parts Unknown, this is the place to go.
Esplanada Marisqueira Antiga is another place that Anthony Bourdain visited in Matosinhos, Porto. It’s a great place to eat seafood like shrimp, barnacles, clams, oysters, crab, and langoustines and robalo ao sal (sea bass cooked in salt).
In Cozinha do Martinho you can eat two typical dishes, the Petingas (fried sardines) and Tripas à Moda do Porto (tripe, a stew of beef stomach and white beans). People from Porto are usually known as Tripeiros because of this dish.
Having a glass of Porto wine on the wine cellars in Gaia with some petiscos (small snacks like Portuguese cheeses or cured meats) is a magnificent experience and a great way to relax and just enjoy the moment. There’s also an endless number of bars, pubs and tascas (typical places to eat good and low-cost food).
Thanks for reading my complete city guide to Porto!