I was in Lisbon recently for a couple of weeks and decided to visit Porto for 2 days, I took a train from Saint Apolonia Station in Lisbon and 3 and ¼ hours later, I was there.
Keep in mind when visiting any city in Portugal, there are many tourist’s year around due to its great location that make a visit in any season a very pleasant one. This is important when deciding where to stay and considering when to make reservations, so plan ahead, especially if you want to score that great location.
My trip was spear of the moment, so when I tried to make a reservation using points thru one of my loyalty memberships like Hilton, Marriott and IHG, there were not many choices and I ended up having to book a hotel that was about an hour walk (and 15 minutes away from the nearest metro station) from all the places I wanted to visit. The hotel I stayed at was The Crown Plaza , even though nice and comfortable, it was more suited for the business traveler than the leisure travel, especially for its location.
Porto has a “je ne sais quoi “that is difficult to explain and that can only be described by being there and experiencing it yourself. Like Lisbon, there are some places that cannot be missed.
If you like wine and food, Porto is the city for you. Portugal is famous for its Port wine and Porto is where you want to go to experience Port wine first hand. Portugal also has a booming wine region and if you have not heard of Portuguese wines, you need to start looking for them at your favorite local retailer and if they don’t carry it, ask them to get in your local store.
Porto is not only a beautiful city, it’s an easy gateway to the Douro valley, where you can find many wineries where you must try Portugal’s Port wine and Vihno Verde (Green Wine) and enjoy a local favorite cocktail, the Port and Tonic while you are there.
When in Porto, you need to make your way to the River Douro and experience both banks, marvel at its bridges, monuments, tile work, and picturesque balconies while taking as many pictures as you can and enjoying some fantastic shopping will be a breeze.
The historic center of Porto and the River Douro on the Gaia side, where the Port Wine lodges are located, are classified as World Heritage so you are assured to make fantastic memories and magnificent photo opportunities await you in this unique city.
Here is a couple of places worth a visit while in Porto: S. Bento Station, see its atrium, which is lined with amazing tile work. Close is the Cathedral, where you can view the river, the houses on the hill and the opposite bank. From there you can descend the steps and streets to Ribeira, with its picture ready café terraces and views of the river and opposite side.
Sit in a café and enjoy some Portuguese cuisine, a café and or a cocktail like a port, vino Verde or a port tonic, while you take in the view of the river, the opposite bank and the D. Luís Bridge, which you can cross on foot after you finish taking it all in, then, once you get to the opposite side, repeat. When you catch your breath, consider taking the chairlift, which follows this side of the river.
Visit Cordoaria, a beautiful garden full of sculptures and surrounded by churches and monuments. For another great view of Porto, climb the Clérigos Tower. If you like books, or if you are a Harry Potter fan, nearby is the Lello bookshop, which it’s said to have inspired J. K Rowling to write some of the Harry Potter stories.
After, walk towards Aliados, do some shopping along the way and admire the and art nouveau buildings and end up along the pedestrians-only Rua de Santa Catarina for more shopping.
For those who like the arts, consider visiting the Casa da Música, which always has a plethora of cultural events, its located-on Rotunda da Boavista, an area that is opposite of the river bank, but easily accessible by public transportation and there is some good shopping in the area as well.
If you visit any location in Portugal, you are sure to have a good time, good food and good wine, so I suggest you start researching and planning your next trip there as soon as possible and see what all others have already discovered and why they keep going there time after time.
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