Porto, a great destination for a city break
In a nutshell:
Why come to Porto?
Portugal's second city, Porto, is not as well known as its sister city, beautiful Lisbon. However, the city's virtues are certainly not lacking and can be discovered by strolling through its city centre. You will love wandering through its cobbled streets, contemplating its baroque churches, exploring its gardens, walking along the banks of its river, or shopping in its ultra-trendy vintage shops... It’s an ideal destination for a city break and appeals to couples looking for a romantic weekend as well as friends looking for a festive stay!
Who is this destination for?
Porto is an ideal European capital to visit for a few days. Suitable for families with children, Porto is still a destination where you will have to walk a lot. If you have children in prams, make sure you bring a pushchair as there are a lot of stairs. This destination is also ideal for travellers who want to stay for a week and take the opportunity to visit the Douro Valley and its many vineyards. The region offers many curiosities for those who want to spend more than just a weekend in the north of Portugal.
What to eat in Porto
Porto has many restaurants, including one starred in the famous Michelin Guide. Have lunch or dinner on the banks of the Douro River. The quays are full of small eateries.
Be sure to try the many local specialities: Porto-style tripe (beef tripe with beans), Gomes de Sá-style cod (potatoes, cod, eggs, parsley), fresh fish in summer (grilled sardines, but also sea bream and whiting), roast kid, seafood panade or rice and octopus with rice and, of course, francesinha and pasteis de nata.
And of course, always in moderation, a visit to Porto is also an opportunity to taste its wine and learn more about its history and production in one of the many cellars on the other side of the river. Douro.
Porto: what to do?
- A guided tour of the Casa da Música, house of Music, designed by Rem Koolhaas. Having become an architectural and cultural symbol of Porto, it reveals to the public its most important halls, including the famous main auditorium.
- A visit to the Art Nouveau House, the museum and a stroll through the gardens of the Serralves Foundation.
- A typical boat cruise on the Douro River.
- A shopping session in the Miguel Bombarda district. There are many trendy shops and malls, like the CCB (Centro Comercial Bombarda).
- A tour of the swirling Bolhão market where you come across a jumble of fish, seafood, charcuterie, olives, flowers...
- The colorful facades of the buildings. Some have “azulejos” panels, the famous blue and white ceramic tiles.
- The old districts of Porto where you will come across traditional shops: grocery stores, old bookstores (including the famous “Lello”), cafes (Guarany and Majestic), etc.
- The many churches (Clerigos, Carmes, Carmel, Saint Francisco...) scattered all over the city.
- The old administrative buildings, like the court and the prison which has been transformed into a museum of photography.
How to get there?
Porto is serviced by almost all major airports in the UK for very affordable prices. You can fly with a range of companies, including easyJet, Tap Air Portugal, Ryanair, and Wizz.
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Where to stay?
For accommodation, it is best to book a hotel in the city center or an aparthotel if you want to have a kitchen to have a few meals on site and save on the restaurant budget. Many hotels will offer you a unique experience for your stay in Porto.
When to go to Porto?
The best months to visit Porto and enjoy all its tourist attractions are May, June and September. In July and August it is quite hot, but this is the best time to enjoy the beaches of Foz Do Douro. The city is also pleasant in winter, when you will find a mild temperature*.
How do you get around Porto?
Most sightseeing can be done on foot, but if you want to get around more quickly, you can use public transport.
You can take a 24-hour pass that covers the metro and bus, it costs between £3.60 for the city centre and £7.30 for the furthest area. You can also buy the rechargeable Andante card, which costs £0.50. To get to the airport from the city centre you'll need to take line E (purple).
A day's journey in the city centre costs around £4.30 to £6.10 and £18 to £22 from the airport. You can also travel by bus, tram (two of which are vintage) and funicular railway. Find all the maps and fares on the STCP website.
If you're planning to do a lot of sightseeing in Porto, there's a great card for discounts in many places: the _Porto Card_, on sale at all tourist offices (1/2/3/4-day card for £11/17/22/29). It allows you to use public transport free of charge, to have free or very preferential access to museums, to have discounts on cruises and even in certain restaurants and shops.
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