I was in Porto for a day in my last Christmas trip. I really have to tell you how much I loved it!
Located at the west, Porto is the second most important city in Portugal, after Lisbon. Along the Douro river, just in front of Vila Nova de Gaia. This city is one of the most beautiful that I have seen in Europe. And I have seen already several cities, but Porto made me fall in love with its streets, castles, and colorful buildings. Only one and a half day was not enough to see the beauty of the city, but good enough to learn a little from the Portuguese culture.
I’m not the correct one to talk about the history of a city, but some things I can mention.
Back in 300 BC, the first known inhabitants were the Celtic people. Then during the Roman occupation, the city became a very important commercial port. The Moors controlled the city (Portus Cale, nowadays Vila Nova de Gaia) in 771 and it was lately reconquered by the kingdom of Asturias, León, and Galicia. In the 14th and 15th century, Porto contributed a lot to the Portuguese shipbuilding industry. Wine quality from the Douro’s valley also made Porto a well-known city in Europe.
Some gothic, baroque and romanesque styles all around the city. Neoclassicism and romanticism added by some monuments to the landscape. A lot of antique houses are at risk of collapsing, so you can imagine the beauty of these styles.
City of bridges
In 1806 was built the first permanent bridge “Ponte das Barcas”, which collapsed three years later due to the weight of hundreds of fugitives from the French invasions. Then they built the Ponte D. Maria II (Ponte Pensil) to replace it. The Ponte D. Maria, a railway bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel (yes, the same from the Tower in Paris) was inaugurated on 4 November 1943. The Ponte Dom Luis I replaced the Ponte Pensil and was made by Teophile Seyrig – a friend of Eiffel. In 1996, the UNESCO recognized the city center as a World Heritage Site.
What to do in Porto
You definitely have to give the city a chance by walking it. There are many things to see and enjoy. Maybe, renting a bike for a day is also a good idea. Just remember that it’s a steep city, then you will have to pedal uphill several times. The best website to have some idea about what to see in Porto is the
The best website to have some idea about what to see in Porto is the Cultural Patrimony. There you can see more information about the museums and monuments you can visit. Here is the list of things that most websites recommend. I did some of them.
- Walk around the Muralha Fernandina to cross the Ponte Dom Luis I.
- Once at the other side, take a look at the Igreja da Serra do Pilar
- Walk along both sides of the Douro river
- Eat in a traditional restaurant. I ate at Bacalhau -in Porto and Beira Rio – in Vila Nova de Gaia
- Drink a coffee or a beer at the riverside. I did it at Café do Cais
- Walk through the city center little streets
- Visit the Livraria Lello (You’ll have to pay 3 euros to get in)
- See the main train station
- Get a boat trip (Normally about 12 euros)
- Visit the famous churches and cathedral. Also the Palacio da Bolsa
- Get on the funicular and cable car
- Buy cork souvenirs
- Drink some famous Porto wine. For example some Sandeman
All this is something you can do in one or two days. Visits to museums and churches might need more time because it is a city full of history.
Just don’t pass by without looking around. It is such a beautiful city that you would regret not visiting it.