18 de May, 2023
In recent years, Porto has stood out in numerous tourism awards, including the World Travel Awards the most important of its kind. In 2022, it received a record number of visitors, with almost 70 million overnight stays, according to official statistics. Known worldwide for its Port wine, the city has much to offer: its architecture, rich in baroque monuments, iron bridges over the beautiful Douro River, cobblestone streets, narrow houses decorated with colorful tiles, a diverse diverse gastronomy e and very tasty… All this without mentioning the the friendliness of its residents (yes, the northerners are much kinder than the Lisboners)!
If you are planning to visit Portugal’s second largest city, check out our one-day mini-route through the main points of the city of Porto . A tour that you can can do on foot ! That’s right: get to know the best of Porto by walking!
Let’s start with Bolhão area, a high point of the city that can easily be reached by subway. After all, you don’t want to go uphill, do you? From here on, you will always go down.
The stop of Bolhão Metro stop is in front of the Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls), a beautiful 18th century church with a stunning facade, covered with about 16,000 blue tiles depicting the lives of St. Catherine and St. Francis.
If you want to explore the region, be sure to visit Bolhão Market a centennial space where you will find a variety of Portuguese flavors. Upon entering Bolhão, you are enveloped by the fresh aromas of fruits, vegetables, fish and flowers as you explore the colorful stalls filled with local and handmade products. It is a place where local producers meet locals and tourists for fresh ingredients.
Next to it we find the pedestrian street of Santa Catarina. With about 1.5 km long, this is the most famous commercial artery of Porto. It is home to dozens of stores, mainly fashion stores, including the first branch of Zara in Portugal. Also situated here is the historic Café Majestic founded in 1921 and decorated in Art Nouveau. It is the most luxurious café in the city, which has been frequented by illustrious figures such as Harry Potter author J K Rowling, who lived in Porto.
When you get to the end of Rua Santa Catarina, look at the end of the street, on a slope that descends to the right: you can see the façade of the Igreja dos Clérigos, with its tall tower in the background.
Keep walking until you reach Batalha Square where you will see the statue of King Pedro V and the São João National Theater a 20th century construction, painted in red. A little further on you will see a section of the old Fernandina Wall from the 14th century.
The Porto cathedral will be further ahead, imposing like a fortress. A visit is recommended. Originally built in the 12th century in Romanesque style, it has undergone numerous changes over the centuries and today boasts different architectural styles, including Gothic, present from its famous cloister. Inside, be sure to visit the altar covered with about 600kg of silver.
Built in 1886, this is one of the six bridges that connect the cities of Porto and Gaia, being the second oldest (of those that exist today) and also the most photographed bridge in Porto. Crossing its upper deck is an unforgettable experience, especially at the end of a summer day when the city takes on an orange color. When you get to the other side, we strongly recommend going up to the Serra do Pilar Monastery to enjoy a breathtaking view.
At this point, you can take the cable car (located in the Jardim do Morro, in front of the Serra do Pilar) directly down to Cais de Gaia, or you can return by the path suggested here, as we will explain later.
Returning through the same Luís I Bridge, and walking straight, always going downhill, you will arrive at São Bento Station, considered by the British newspaper The Guardian one of the 10 most beautiful train stations in the world. You have to enter the station to see its greatest beauty: about 20,000 hand-painted blue tiles depicting historical scenes from Portugal.
Walk a little further in the direction of the Congregation Church. You will identify it by the blue tiled facade. Enter the street on the left to have a look at Avenida dos Aliados, the most beautiful avenue in Porto. Take the opportunity to visit the Imperial McDonnalds, installed inside an old café from the beginning of the 20th century and still decorated in art nouveau, with stained glass windows and statues.
With the works of the new pink line of the metro occupying part of the center, you will have to take a shortcut through Rua Conde de Vizela or Rua de Trás following Rua Nicolau Nasoni to find the Church of Clérigos . Going up a little bit you will see Clérigos Tower and, above that, the Jardim das Oliveiras also called Praça Lisboa. Take advantage of the view for a stop and enjoy a codfish cake or a custard tart.
The next stop is the historic Lello Bookstore which with its neo-Gothic facade will not go unnoticed by you. Even more so because of the long line of tourists who usually crowd in front of the shop window. This is a must-see destination for book lovers and architecture admirers. The space receives more than a million visitors a year. If you want to get in, we recommend purchasing tickets online in advance. Inside, we are transported to a magical world, thanks to its impressive red staircase, its colorful stained glass windows, stucco-decorated walls, and bookshelves filled with books.
When leaving the Lello Bookstore turn right towards the Gomes Teixeira square, where you will find the Leões Fountain and the Rectory of the University of Porto. Nearby you will also see another church with a facade of blue tiles. Get closer to contemplate the Church of Carmo (the one with the azulejos) and to your left the Carmelite Church . Also observe two little white windows that are between the two churches. They belong to the famous Hidden House. Yes, there in the middle is a narrow 3-story house that was once used, in different times, as a secret hiding place for dissident groups, citizens who gathered to conspire against the ruling political regime.
Walk back through Jardim da Cordoaria and observe the strange trees that decorate the garden. They suffered a disease in the past and became deformed, giving the space a very different look.
From there, walk in front of the old Cadeia da Relação the old prison where the Oporto writer Camilo Castelo Branco, who committed the “crime” of getting involved with a married woman, was imprisoned. Yes, infidelity was a crime! Have you ever thought about that nowadays?
Then, walk down Rua dos Caldeireiros, until the charming Flowers Street.
Rua das Flores, opened in the 16th century during the reign of D. Manuel, is an old and charming place that has become a mandatory passage for those who want to go down to the Douro River bank, the Ribeira. Besides its colorful and flowery balconies, the street has a variety of establishments, such as jewelry stores, cafes, restaurants, boutique hotels, and stores with century-old facades. The constant presence of street artists and their graffiti paintings make Flower Street an even more enchanting place. From this street, go to Largo de São Domingos passing by the Ferreira Borges Market until you reach Praça do Infante, where you can see the Stock Exchange Palace and the and São Francisco Church. It is worth visiting this church and continue walking along Rua de São Nicolau until you reach the Muro dos Bacalhoeiros and then follow the Ribeira towards the lower deck of the Luís I Luís I Bridge. This is the second oldest bridge in the city today (dating from 1886), and the most famous of them.
One of the most unmissable experiences in Porto is to visit a Port wine cellar in the Cais de Gaia (Gaia Quay). Most of them offer guided tours, providing their visitors an immersion in the history of Port wine, its relevance to the city, as well as learning about the entire manufacturing process. At the end of the tour, wine lovers will have the opportunity to try the different varieties available, such as white, ruby or tawny. Definitely, a unique and memorable sensory experience.
Taste the wines you wish and return home by cab. If you want to enjoy more, you can always use the cable car to go up to Praça da Batalha, from where you can see the remains of the Fernandina Wall.
Be sure to visit Porto and enjoy all that this captivating city has to offer. You will surely return home with unforgettable memories and the desire to return soon. And if you want to come back permanently, know that Portugal has different residence visas to make your stay here legal and much more relaxed. Our consultants are ready to help you!