In April, I went on a vacation to Porto in Portugal and had a fabulous time. The city isn’t super big but really cute and it has a lot more to offer than I expected. You definitely don’t need two weeks to see everything, so a couple of days are ideal for this city. After putting together a photography post, I now want to go a bit more into detail about all the things you can do. The city is getting more and more popular and maybe this could be helpful.
01. Ponte Dom Luís I
The structure of this bridge is really pretty and also pretty cool, cause it has two levels and it pretty much gives you two different views. It connects Porto to Vila the Gaia on the other side of the Douro and taking a stroll there is definitely worth it. You have beautiful views on all sides. And it helps to overcome the steep walk from the lower to the upper part of the city.
02. Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia is on the opposite side of the Douro and absolutely beautiful. It is the center of the port wine production so if you’re up for a tasting in one of the wine cellars, this is the place to be. It’s definitely not my kind of drink, but I went cause my friend wanted to and it was really nice. I let her have my wine, so double the fun for her. That side of the river is beautiful for a stroll, buying some souvenirs or have a nice lunch by the water. There is also a Ferris wheel that gives you a nice view and definitely take a ride on the Teleférico de Gaia. It takes you to the upper part of the city. Unfortunately, the ride only lasts a few minutes, but it’s still nice. And if you make it there, walk up to the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar – an old abbey – for more beautiful views.
In Porto, there are lots of ways to get around the city. I honestly loved the variety and it was no problem at all to get where we wanted to go. The mentioned above Teleférico de Gaia was definitely a highlight, but also a ride on one of the old cable cars was really nice. I can also recommend booking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour that gets you everywhere. Especially all the hotspots you need to see. And it was just super easy and also pretty cheap. And another installation that is pretty unique is the Funicular dos Guindais – a kind of elevator that gets you from the lower to the upper part of the city. You know, for those people who are too lazy to walk. The ride is just a minute, but you really have to give it a try.
04. Livraria Lello
As a true book lover, this incredibly beautiful bookstore was obviously very high on my list of places to visit. It’s so popular that you even have to buy a ticket and get in line to get in. But it’s worth it. I’m not sure if there is ever a good time to go if you’re planning on taking nice pictures, cause it sure is crowded in there. My best friend and I tried really hard to get some good snaps, but it was nearly impossible. I also wasn’t on my A-game. But I still enjoyed seeing it and I bought a really cute copy of “The Little Prince”. There was also a whole section dedicated to Harry Potter, cause the store is rumored to have had an influence on the books since J. K. Rowling lived in Porto for a bit in the 90s. But I believe that most of these places claiming to be somewhat involved in the success are just doing it for the money. I mean, is there any city that doesn’t have this one place that helped create Harry Potter? But anyway, it’s definitely worth a visit.
05. World of Discoveries
Porto offers a lot of different museums, which are great for a visit on a rainy day. Also on any other day, but it just makes more sense. Unless you really, really want to go. Then just do it. Anyway, we had some rain to get away from, so the World of Discoveries was first on our list. The interactive museum and theme park re-enacts the journey of the Portuguese navigators, crossing oceans to discover a previously unknown world. It’s a lot of fun to press all the buttons, take in smells, play around with whatever is there, go on a little boat cruise through time and ultimately learn a little something about history.
If the weather is good, a trip to the beach is definitely worth it. Maybe not for swimming, but definitely for a nice long walk. A walkway right next to the coast takes you for miles and provides some beautiful views. If you want, you can stop by a little bar or restaurant and relax in a comfy sun lounger. There is also a Sea Life located by the beach, which we didn’t go to, but in case you feel like visiting an aquarium, it’s there. There is an old fort to visit and just some beautiful photo spots you shouldn’t miss out on. Like the lighthouse, where the Douro flows into the sea. The waves were insane, so we couldn’t go all the way to the front, but still really pretty. And just breathing in the lovely sea air is worth it.
I would say the best thing to do in any city you haven’t been to before, is walk around. I love coming across beautiful architecture and Porto has these beautiful blue tiles everywhere. Make sure to stop by the São Bento railway station and admire the art and tile work. Porto is super old, which becomes visible, cause the city was never destroyed in the war. Incredible churches like the Igreja do Carmo or the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso are worth checking out. And of course, there is also street art to be admired, the lovely bridges, and just everything. Simply keep your eyes open.
08. Casa and Parque de Serralves
Porto also has a Museum of Contemporary Art and personally, I enjoyed the visit. I mean, there was a chandelier made of tampons hanging in the entrance and I’m all for that. I just think it’s so cool what artists come up with, although some pieces I will never understand. That’s just the beauty of art. But it’s not only the museum that you should visit. The garden is absolutely stunning and we could’ve just roamed around forever. It’s a really big area with pretty plants, fun sculptures and nice spots to hang, relax and take beautiful pictures at. And a pink house.
09. Jardins de Palácio de Cristal
These gardens are so beautiful and the entrance is free, so there is truly no reason not to go. The whole place is full of incredible views. It’s really big, so we probably didn’t see every corner of it, but everywhere you look, it’s just pretty, pretty and more pretty. Oh, and the green thing that looks like a ufo is for events and just looks cool.
10. Centro Português de Fotografia
And finally, I would like to recommend the Center for Photography, which has its place in an old prison. Depending on from which side of town you’re heading toward it, there are some great views along the way, cause you have to go pretty far up. The entrance is free and you get to see beautiful photos and a lot of cameras from every century. The building itself is also stunning on the inside. It doesn’t really look like a prison, at all.