The iconic and historical places in Porto city
Porto is Portugal’s second most populous city, with narrow and colorful streets ,medieval townhouses stack up beside the Douro River like Legos, and churches wear their blue-and-white azulejo tiles outside as well as in. Porto is one of the oldest European centres, and its historical core was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
Settled by the Romans, and famous for its port wines, which became a favored export to England via the 1703 Methuen Treaty, Porto was a lucky beneficiary of its country’s vast, centuries-spanning empire — look to the Baroque, blinding-gilt interior of the Church of São Francisco. The city has seen an explosion of small, innovative businesses appealing to an influx of visitors — significantly, architecture-obsessed tourists who come to marvel at Porto’s mosaic of medieval, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, neo-Classical and Brutalist architecture, all built on Roman foundations.
In 2012 and 2014, Porto was elected The Best European Destination by the Best European Destinations Agency , 2015 was elected in third place (see http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/travel/what-to-do-in-36-hours-in-porto-portugal.html).
Don´t miss …. in Porto
Discover the best cultural, social an historical marks in Porto, its famous monuments, the best places to have stunning views on the City, the best cruises on the Douro, the most traditional port cellars and caro ships (Rabelos), the best museums but also the best shopping streets in Porto.
Portugal is mostly known for its beaches, mild weather and excellent wines. But nowadays, Portuguese cuisine is becoming one of the main reasons thousands of tourists travel to Portugal. With a great variety and diversity from region to region, Portuguese food is great both in meat, mostly inland, and fresh fish, by the sea.
The quality of the Portuguese core ingredients has contributed to the emergence of top notch restaurants in Portugal. If you are willing to taste the best flavours of the Portuguese food by nationally and internationally renowned chefs and have a Michelin Star meal in Portugal, just read our suggestions, book your restaurant and enjoy your meal!
Porto has two serious cultural centers such as “”, this icon of contemporary architecture inaugurated in 2005, is the brainchild of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Visitors come from all over the world to visit and to listen to its innovative musical programme which ranges from classical to urban trend. It houses 4 resident groups: Symphony Orchestra, Remix Ensemble, Baroque Orchestra and Choir. It plays an important educational role with the promotion of concerts and workshops for schools and families. There are daily guided tours of the building, several bars and a restaurant the rooftop, with a splendid view of the city.
The other one is the contemporary art museum “”. The headquarters of the “Fundação de Serralves”, a typical example of art deco movement of the 30s in Europe and now home to temporary exhibitions and the modern art museum (don´t miss the Miró collection) designed by the famous Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza Vieira (he is one of the references of the Porto School of Architecture and awarded with the renowned Pritzker Prize).Two beautiful buildings, one built in 1930, the other in 2001 seamlessly integrated into a vast landscaped park halfway between a contemporary French style garden and an English garden.
The Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis was the country’s first public art museum. Founded in 1833 under the aegis of Liberalism, it was created to receive the confiscated property of the dissolved monasteries both in Porto and those of S. Martinho de Tibães and Santa Cruz de Coimbra in its Episcopal See. The expoiliation occurred during the civil war in which the Liberals, led by the regent D. Pedro, Duke of Bragança, opposed the absolutism of D. Miguel.
A National Monument, the Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) is the property and headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto. Situated in the historical centre, it is one of the most visited monuments with the famous Arabian Room being its major highlight. A Cultural and Conference Centre, the Stock Exchange Palace is a venue with unique conditions for hosting events and excellent initiatives. Included in the Urban Wine Route. Accessible for people with reduced mobility through a side entranc
Lonely Planet considered Lello & Irmão Bookstore as the third most beautiful library in the world. The store has an excellent neo-gothic façade, where you can see two figures painted by José Bielman, representing the Science and the Art. This facade is only surpassed by its stunning interior, designed by Xavier Esteves.
Pay a visit to Lello and fall in love with the fabulous bookshop and the totally unique spectacle of an amazing interior architecture. This sumptuous bookshop inspired the Harry Potter’s library in Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling’s inspiration to write Harry Potter has begun in Porto, particularly at this library.
With origins dating back to the eighteenth century, the University of Porto has close to 32,000 students, 2,400 teachers and researchers along with1,600 administrative staff attend its 15 schools and 60 scientific research units, spread across 3 university campuses located in the city of Porto.
With 14 faculties and a business school, the University of Porto provides an exceptional variety of courses, covering the whole range of study areas and all levels of higher education.
The quality of its teaching staff (81% of which PhDs) ensures a high quality of training that makes the University of Porto the most sought-after University in Portugal and the chosen university for candidates with highest grades.
Around 3,700 international students, from 111 different countries, attend the University of Porto each year. Half of them arrive through international cooperation agreements and the other half are students that choose attending a full-time programme at the University of Porto.
It's a remarkable baroque landmark designed by the Italian architect Nasoni, who also designed the adjoining church. It has become a popular tourist attraction for the aerial view of the city from the top (76 meters up -- after a steep flight of 240 steps). Inside the church, the highlight is a polychromatic Baroque-Rococo marble retable.
Opposite the tower is Cordoaria Gardens and an imposing Neoclassical and Pombaline building that is the city's former prison.
According to the GlobalGrasshopper, Café Majestic is one of the 15 best historic cafes in Europe . The Fans of Art Nouveau will adore the glorious Majestic Café, Porto which exhibit’s a stunning façade, exquisite interiors and a delightful winter garden. Famed for its Belle Epoque atmosphere it is perhaps one of the most photographed and aesthetically pleasing cafés in the world, let alone in Europe. In the biography of J. K. Rowling, written by Sean Smith, it states that when the writer was living in Porto, she spent much of her time at the Majestic working on the first book of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" Do go in, imagine J.K. Rowling sipping coffee next to you, unaware at the time that her Harry Potter books would change her life.
One of the world's most beautiful train stations, beaux arts São Bento wings you back to a more graceful age of rail travel. The visual impact of the living architectural museum is evident whichever way you turn, no few places more so than at the Sao Bento Train Station.
The station is built on the site of an old Benedictine monastery, named Sao Bento de Ave Maria, dating back to the 16th century, though the original building burnt down in 1783 and its replacement was poorly cared for, it too finding itself in a serious state of disrepair at the end of the 1900s.
Check out the art galleries down Rua Miguel Bombarda.
Shop at the retro shops downtown, many preserving wonderful Art Nouveau façades. p.ex “A Vida Portuguesa” and “Pérola do Bolhão”
Browse through the colorful Bolhão Market.
With photogenic traditional boats floating at the quayside overlooked by colorful ancient houses, this is the most picturesque spot in the city . There are dozens of cafés, bars, and restaurants sheltered under medieval arches, making it the most popular district in the city for eating and drinking. In the center of the square is a bronze cube surrounded by café tables, and just around the corner on Rua da Alfândega is "Casa do Infante" (or "House of the Prince"), where Prince Henry the Navigator was born in 1394.
From Ribeira you can also see the emblematic Luis I bridge and the series of Port Wine houses across the river.
Porto is renowned all over the world for its delicious fortified wine, and no trip to the city would be complete without taking part in a Port wine cellars tour. Port wine is specific to the region, and refers to grapes that have been cultivated and harvested on the designated banks of the Douro River valley, and transformed into this delicious nectar at one of the area’s many Port wine estates.
In recent years, downtown Porto has changed completely. Restaurants, bars and clubs for every taste are pretty much everywhere, on every corner, in every street and square. This effervescent movement has turned the heart of the city into the hub of nightlife. Moreover, the historical places are also brimming with life. Regardless of where you are, you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself (see http://visitportoandnorth.travel/Porto-and-the-North/To-do/Porto-by-night)
Porto Six Bridges Cruise
The best way to discover the six magnificent bridges is probably to take a riverboat cruise on one of the old boats which used to carry Porto ‘s wine cargoes.
The bridges have their very own distinctive styles : the emblematic Luis I bridge and its spectacular arch, the Arrábida bridge once the longest reinforced concrete bridge span in the world, the Infante D. Henrique bridge, one of the most elegant of its type, the Maria Pia bridge, Gustavo Eiffel's first masterpiece, the São João bridge with its span of 250m, a new world record among bridges in "portico" and, finally, the Freixo “double”bridge.
Wine has been produced by traditional landholders in the Alto Douro region for some 2,000 years. Since the 18th century, its main product, port wine, has been world famous for its quality. This long tradition of viticulture has produced a cultural landscape of outstanding beauty that reflects its technological, social and economic evolution. This beautiful landscape was proclaimed World Heritage in 2001 by UNESCO.
The Rio Douro, the River of Gold, is one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe, and the journey upriver one of the most scenic routes on the continent. It is also central to the idea of Portugal. It carried explorers bound for the Cape of Good Hope, and Portuguese settlers bound for outposts of empire. And far upriver the Douro defines Portugal’s most critical boundary – its border with Spain.