The city of Porto may be overlooked by many. With only 237,591 inhabitants, you may not think that Porto is a must visit when you’re travelling in Portugal. However, this city offers so much more to the country than it is given credit.
In many countries, you can see varying differences between the north and the south, therefore getting a perspective from both is a great way to get a closer feel to the country. Porto does not disappoint, even if the weather may be milder than in Lisbon and the South of Portugal. In this article, I have curated a list of my favourite attractions in Porto, and some which I believe should not be missed when you go.
Dom Luís I Bridge
Possibly the main reason why many visit Porto, equal to the why everybody wants to go to and experience Paris and the Eiffel tower, is to witness the incredible design and metal structure that was created by Gustave Eiffel. Built over the river Douro to join the city of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, at 172 metres in length it was the longest of its type when it was inaugurated on the 31st of October 1886.
If Porto was not photogenic enough, this bridge sure allows you to take gorgeous photos. From below and above. You can climb to the top, Porto is renowned for its hills and steps; alternatively, you can select the option of the cable car which offers you a free wine tasting at a cellar. With one-way tickets at €2.50, it is a great way to relax and take in the sights.
Palacio Da Bolsa
The stock exchange Palace is mesmerising in the interior. With its room decorated in a neoclassical style to suit the 19th century’s Commercial Association and attract European countries to attract potential European investors. This building was the core to Portugal and is vital to its history. Only guided tours are offered here, and they last 30 minutes. They are very informative, and you learn a lot about the country of Portugal, for only €9.50 per adult, and €5.50 for children, it sure is a must see.
São Bento Railway Station
A railway station may not be everyone’s main interest when visiting a city; however, this 19th-century train station is exuberant in design. Porto is famous for their tiles (azulejos), and it is beautifully depicted in the interior design of São Bento. Perfect if you either arrive in Porto by rail or leave to another city.
Igreja do Carmo
Famous for its tiled side façade, this church is the embodiment of what Porto is. The interior does not disappoint either, as its 18th-century late baroque style exude vibrancy and beauty. With free entry, you can marvel at this church as much as you like.
Possibly just as famous as the Dom Luís I Bridge, thanks to JK Rowling, this marvellous bookstore is a pleasure to visit. Although there will most likely be a queue, you do not have to wait long to enter. Tickets cost €5, and that is deducted if you buy a book. With a vast selection of books for everybody of any age, you’d be missing out if you didn’t get one. This bookstore sure is a highlight of a visit to Porto, but if you don’t like huge crowds, try visiting as soon as they open.
Church of São Francisco
Declared a world heritage site, the Church of Saint Francis is the most prominent Gothic monument in Porto, also noted for its outstanding Baroque inner decoration. It was initially a small church and convent, which in later years was altered extensively. In 1832, a fire destroyed a part of the temple and in its place was built the Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio Da Bolsa). Adult fare is €4, and this also gives you access to the museum and catacombs.
Porto is a beautiful place full of culture and great aesthetic. I hope this has inspired you when you plan your trip to Porto and you have a fantastic time. As always, I wish you all happy travels, wherever it may be.