So this post is our light-hearted view of Porto in PortugalIt has some of the interesting stuff, a few trivial facts, and our thoughts on this charismatic, welcoming city.
Let's Start with the truths about PortoPorto is Portugal’s second-largest city after its capital, Lisbon. It’s located in the north of the country on the picturesque Douro River banks and has a wealth of culture.
The LocationThe Three C's
As ancient history goes, Porto has a lot to brag about. Especially as it can trace its origins back to around 300 BC.
Prince Henry the Navigator, highly regarded for the “Age of Discovery” was born in Porto in 1394, to the Portuguese king John I. There’s a magnificent monument to the Age of Discoveries in Belém, Lisbon.
During the 15th-century Porto became prominent for shipbuilding in Portugal and developed as a major trading port.
One of the reasons I adore Porto is for its architecture. The beautiful churches with their inlaid façades of azulejo blue tiling are stunning. However, I love the vibrant streets with their intricate wrought-iron balconies clinging to the side of colourful homes. Ladies were peering across their washing lines, having a gossip with their neighbours opposite.
Yes, of course, Porto’s namesake needs a mention, it’s the delectable Port wine. This fortified wine is not only produced in red varieties, but you also need to sample the white too. They are amazing!
The Historic Centre of Oporto was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1996, followed by Alto Douro Wine Region in 2001.
Porto was a European Capital of Culture for 2001, along with Rotterdam.
Where's Porto in the world?
Porto Up Close
Porto makes a perfect location for a city-break, with centuries of history flowing through the streets. There’s magnificent architecture around every corner and spectacular scenic views along the Douro River.
Porto is a little hilly in places, so be prepared to get the heart racing. However, strolling amongst the intriguing, heartfelt lanes is the only way to appreciate Porto and its iconic cityscape.
It’s good to talk
Portuguese (English is widely spoken)
If you've yet to visit the charming and colourful city of Porto, then you're in for a treat.
I found this DK Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide invaluable.
They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you to discover more.
So what’s this Trivia then?Regarding Porto, a European city of culture, famed for port wine, charming praças and the francesinha. All with a smile from the warm-hearted locals.
Did you know?
- That the thin, narrow boats that have been transporting casks of Port wine along the turbulent waters of the River Douro, since the 10th-century are named Rabelos?
- The quickest way across the Douro is on the Rabelas River Taxi. For €3 and 5 minutes later, you could be sipping a beer from a riverside bar.
- Next to each other in Praça de Gomes Teixeira is the Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas. These two churches one built next for nuns and the other for monks are just separated by a 1-metre-wide house.
- The Portuguese Way or the Caminho Português is Portugal’s route to Santiago de Compostela. The route starts in Porto and winds its way north passing Portugal’s birthplace, the ancient city of Guimaraes.
- The Portuguese appear to love singing. Not only did we listen to ‘tunas universitárias’ the student troubadours on the streets of Porto, but we also observed an elderly local lady serenading the balconies above.
- Just a few miles south of Porto, in Miramar is the Capela do Senhor da Pedra. The tiny oceanfront chapel dating from 1686, is perched on a rock along the stunning Portuguese Atlantic coastline. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get there; however, this is undoubtedly one for next time.
It's famous for...
Food and drink
A sandwich like no other. Inside your two slices of bread are ham, smoked sausage, regular sausage, steak, cheese, and a tomato & beer sauce. If you’re feeling hungry, you can add an egg, and if that’s not quite enough, you can also have a side order of fries.
My friend’s Portuguese husband recommended Café Santiago, which serves one of the best in town. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure.
One to try
Douro Valley Tour
See & Do
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this is what I adored about Porto. The narrow streets’ lived-in feel, the unkempt edges, the vibrant tiling and the fluttering of Portuguese flags high from balconies above.
Discover the UNESCO Historic Centre and get lost in the streets.
Where to stay in Porto
We loved Porto, especially for its relaxed and welcoming approach to tourism. The city may not be immaculate to the eye and perhaps even a little rough around the edges, but that’s what we treasured.
I’d love to discover more of Porto 3-nights just wasn’t enough.
Value for Money
Our value for money index.
Don't forget we're Londoners, and that means our baseline is quite high.
Getting around town
What's it like discovering the city? Is it walkable? do you need to use public transport? did we leave with weary feet?
Porto is rather mixed in terms of getting about town, it is fairly reasonable to walk around the main sights. However, it’s when you get closer to the Douro River that the hills start emerging and you’ll need your crampons.
But don’t forget there’s always a tram to get you around town.
Janis's Hi's & Lo's
Gary's Hi's & Lo's
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