Chosen as one of the TOP 10 Best Cities in the World in 2024 by TimeOut, Porto is a true love gem on the coast of northern Portugal.
Its magnificent setting along the Douro River, flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, is so enchanting that it inspired the British author J. K. Rawling to write the best-selling book of our time – HARRY POTTER and the Philosopher’s Stone . The rumors are she started writing the story about the young wizard on a napkin in a coffee shop on Porto’s famous Nicholson Street. Could this be the magic behind the success of the fantasy series?
One fact cannot be denied and that’s the ancient town’s unique charm and historical heritage, for which Porto, also known as Oporto, was recently noted by CNN as ‘a great city for romance’.
Furthermore, this European wine capital is a popular holiday destination not only for couples, but for those looking for love too. It’s worth mentioning that, just like Lisbon, Porto is a gay-friendly destination with its own gay parade every summer.
Here’s a list of things you might want to know before heading to Porto:
GETTING TO PORTO
Being the second largest city in Portugal, Porto has a modern international airport (OPO) but you can also fly to the capital Lisbon or Faro international airport. It’s a Schengen zone and entering it as easy as any other destination in the European Union.
There are several websites about Porto Airport. We recommend porto-airport.com where you can find all the information you may need prior to your trip, including visa regulations, airport transport and accommodation.
When booking flights to Portugal (or to anywhere else in the world), it’s always worth checking for deals on cheapOair.com. Or if you’re travelling from afar, it’s usually best to book all your flights on a single itinerary, which is what kiwi.com are great for.
And if you visit Porto, do enjoy an authentic panoramic tram ride along the river to get to the city center!
FOOD AND DRINK
The well-known Port wine, that’s been made in Porto for centuries, is one thing that might tempt you during your holiday there.
This town also boasts one of the world’s best sandwiches – Francesinha, meaning ‘little French girl’. It’s made with cured meat, sausages, cheese and hot sauce! So why not spice things up?
If you prefer fish, you’re sure to love the fresh Atlantic seafood over there. Bacalhau, which is dried and salted Cod, is another local delicacy you might fancy trying.
And for dessert, visiting one of Porto’s fresh chocolate shops, called ‘Chocolataria’, could be the romantic food experience you’ve been craving for… ❤️
WHAT TO DO IN PORTO
To see the best of this historical town, start from the heart – Ribeira District. The legendary neighborhood, listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, comes to life at nightfall.
Traditional houses in vibrant colors, dancing along the river… Buzzing atmosphere, plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants, music and laughter. Love is in the air!
If you feel like going on a more peaceful outing during the day, embark on the fabulous ‘Caminhos do Romântico’ – 5 romantic walking trails, taking you back in time to nineteenth-century Porto. Starting from the ‘Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha’, which is a mansion with beautiful gardens by the river, through to the city museum and all the way to the rural part of Porto, where the natural scenery can take your breath away…
Whether you’re visiting Porto during the summer season or not, you can’t go to a coastal town without stepping on the beach, right? There are many sandy beaches a short drive from the city center. There’s also a regular bus service to most of them.
If you’re on the hunt for a truly unforgettable experience, then head to the Penguin Island and say ‘hi’ to the small Humboldt penguins. 😊 It’s part of the local aquarium – SEA LIFE Porto, which is definitely worth a visit.
For all book lovers, guess what’s considered to be the most beautiful bookstore in the world? Livraria Lello or ‘Lello bookshop’, as commonly known in English. It’s a stunning Gothic building in the center of Porto with intricate detail interior – unique wood carvings, fairytalelike bridges and a stained-glass roof are just a few of its charms. Its world-renowned beauty has turned the store into a museum and you need a ticket to get in. However, if you buy a book from the shop, the cost of the ticket is deducted from the price. What a great way to motivate people to read more!
You can’t leave Porto without walking through the upper deck of the famous Dom Luís I Bridge over the river. You can see the whole city from there and capture the moment! 📸📸📸
our pick is just a tiny portion of all the unique things you can see, do and taste in and around Porto! It’s no surprise TimeOut picked it as this year’s NUMBER 1 ‘Best City Break in Europe’.
To find out more about what’s not to miss over there, we recommend visiting Get Your Guide to Porto including visitor ratings and some lovely imagery.
Bon voyage or as they say in Portugal – BOA VIAGEM🐓