Oporto locations you have to experience!
Oporto locations you have to visit and experience!
I haven’t been to Porto since I was 9 years old. Returning to one of Portugal’s wonder cities after so many years was a mix of excitement and curiosity. I had no idea of what to expect.
After being contacted by the wonderful Pedro and Marta, owners of the beautiful guest house – Porta Azul – , I asked my self: “why shouldn’t I pass by for 2 or 3 days and find out all about the things to do in Porto?” and I’m so glad I did!
Pedro and Marta welcomed me with arms open and a huge smile. Pedro told me:” Marta once expressed the dream of living at a hotel. Just like a famous Portuguese actress did in the past. And look at what we’ve created!”.
After a chat about our passions, they offered me a map and helped me design the perfect route to experience the city and immerse into the culture and attractions.
This was also a place I enjoyed hanging out before and after my city walks. Where a hot cup of tea or coffee were always ready and available. I loved my stay here so much, I can’t disconnect it as part of the reason I fell in love with this city. And believe it or not, during my 16 years of traveling, this feeling only happened once before at the Clayzy house in Thailand, that became my second home away from home.
Oporto locations you can’t miss!
From Porta Azul guest house, you’re a stone thrown away from the river and all the action. Head to the Chrystal palace / Palacio de cristal, which is right in front of your door and enjoy the gardens and the views to the river. Bring your camera with you, you’ll want to register this moment.
There are many free things to do in Porto , so no matter what your budget is, this city will treat you well.
Then, head down and walk along the river. Enjoy the sights and smells, of the freshly hanged clothes adorning the old historical buildings along the way to the center.
The city center, by the river went through a series of rehabilitations and renovations. I was amazed by how vibrant and colorful that area was.
There are bars, restaurants, cafes with esplanades facing the river, street music. If the sun is shining, spending a couple of hours in that area, watching life happening in front of your eyes, it’s a must!
I put my map inside my bag for a bit, and had a blast exploring the little narrow historical streets, that can sometimes feel like a playful labyrinth game. Here the treasure are the incredible sights along the way.
The historical center of Porto, was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996. This city’s history dates back to the Roman Empire. It’s original Latin name “Portus Cale” is believed to have originated the name of Portugal as a country.
Yes, Porto is magic, filled with history and waiting to be explored by the world. No wonder in 2014, it was elected as the Best European destination by the most important travel agencies.
THE BEST OPORTO LOCATIONS FOR PORT WINE
What is Port Wine?
I crossed the lower deck of the bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia, where the Port cellars are located. Vila Nova de Gaia is one of the best Oporto Locations if you’re a wine lover. It seemed to me that Porto is even more beautiful when seen from the other side of the river, where you have a different perspective of the city.
As we all know, Port wine is considered one of the top wines in the whole world. Vila Nova de Gaia, hosts most of the old cellars and you should definitely explore them.
Made for centuries in the beautiful region of northwest Portugal’s Douro Valley, Port is a fortified wine that can be considered quite sweet and comes in a variety of styles ranging from youthful Ruby Port, to aged Tawnies, and Late-Bottled Vintage Ports down to the highly priced Vintage Port.
Generally speaking, Port can be split into two distinct categories: Wood Aged or Bottle Aged. Wood-aged Ports are typically ready for early enjoyment, designed to be consumed while still relatively young. The bottle-aged ones, like Vintage Port, are built to live a long life in a bottle, often requiring another decade or two to reach full maturity.
According to Taylors, a famous Port wine label:
“Ruby Ports are the ideal partner for a cheeseboard, chocolate dessert or even an intense Port wine reduction. Full flavoured cheeses such as a good farmhouse Cheddar or Red Leicester. A rich chocolate pot, or chocolate brownie accompanied with some red berries will tantalise the taste buds and make you reach out for the bottle to charge your glass again.
Reserve Ports such as Taylor’s First Estate crammed with luscious black fruit flavours cry out for a cheeseboard with a ripe and redolent Pont L’Evêque, a creamy and full bodied Brie de Meaux or why not try an Italian Taleggio.
Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage Port is elegant and fruity, displaying the heritage of the great Taylor’s Vintages it makes an excellent match for a goat’s milk cheese such as a fresh Valençay or a Sainte-Maure. As the thick crumbly texture of the chèvre dissolves in contact with the wine, the ripe and opulent fruitiness of the LBV merges with the rich tangy flavours of the cheese in sublime synergy.
ENJOYING PORTO FROM THE HIGHTS
Vila Nova is also one of the best Oporto locations to find good deals for a river cruise + visits to the cellars with a guide. You can also get the cable car that will take you to the upper part of the city. The teleférico (cable car) costs 5€ 1 way or 8€ both ways for adults, 2.50€ one way and 5€ both ways for children. It lasts between 3 – 6 minutes. For more info check the useful information section bellow.”
Alternatively, you can cross the brige once more and take the Funicular, a type of “tram / elevator” which costs 2.50€ and will take you up the hill. Check out the views from the upper deck of the bridge; you’ll be amazed!
EXPLORE THE IMPRESSIVE TILES
Covering the buildings with tiles, is an old Portuguese tradition of Moorish influence and can be found all over Lisbon and Porto. These old tiles, are part of the uniqueness of the Portuguese architecture, something most visitors find absolutely beautiful.
The Estação de S. Bento is one of the best Oporto locations to explore and admire the unique Portuguese tile work.. This station was inaugurated in 1916 and it’s probably one of the most impressive in the world.
Tiles, seem to be part of the constant display of art in Porto. The Igreja do Carmo & das Carmelitas, are another outstanding display of our traditional tiles, representing scenes relevant of the Portuguese history.
THE NIGHT LIFE IN PORTO
Porto is a young vibrant city, with a great night life. People here love to go out when the weather is nice and you’ll find many bars and cafes, inviting you in for a good time.
In the evening, you’ll find street art and performances by several artists too.
THE ART GALLERY AREA
An artsy area, showing the world the best of what is done here, for the art and culture lovers. Stroll around the streets of the art gallery area and don’t be put off by the odd opening and closing hours! Remember, these places are run by artists, so no early mornings.
The best Oporto locations to eat and drink like a local
I was warned by Pedro, from my guest house, that people here are so friendly, I could potentially end up making friends around. My mother used to say the same thing. So, there seems to be something special about the” Tripeiros”, a nickname we give the people from Porto.
Fortunately, my good old buddy Duarte, a good friend I met many years ago while living in Barcelona, is from Porto and currently living here. What a nice surprise!
I met Duarte and Yanna, his friendly Greek girlfriend (and Pirata, the most famous dog around) on a sunny afternoon and we went around the city, exploring things to do in Porto, I would have never thought of in places I didn’t know. What a blast.
Apart from the typical jokes and anecdotes we do when we meet, we spent quite some time correcting each other’s accents – mine from Lisbon and his from Porto. Yes, we have different accents and we always think our is the best, although I have to agree, the people in Porto speak better Portuguese than we, Lisbon folks do. (See Duarte, you win this one!)
Going around various cafes and bars, Duarte left a few tips for all of you, wanting to experience Porto like a local.
For coffee and pasteis de Nata: NATA CAFÉ in Rua das Flores, 107
For a fresh beer, with a nice vibe: A TENDINHA DOS POVEIROS – Praça dos Poveiros
If you’re not fortunate enough to have a Duarte in your life, to show you around all the cool spots, check out Couchsurfing and contact the locals. People here are very friendly and will be more than happy to meet with you and hang out. You don’t need to host and be hosted to use Couchsurfing. It’s a channel for which you can meet people.
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN FOOD IN PORTO – WHERE TO EAT?
As for most of Portugal, Porto has a very strong meat eating culture. Surprisingly, it also offers world class vegan and vegetarian restaurants for all budgets. I explored a few of them and even found a place to eat the typical “Francesinha” vegan style!
I’ve explored a few vegan and vegetarian places, as well as vegetarian friendly ones that offered interesting meat free menus. I’m now preparing the vegan and vegetarian guide to Porto, so stay tuned!
WHERE TO STAY?
Only one answer to that: In Porta Azul, of course.
I truly believe in small, family oriented businesses that can offer you a personalized experience of your destination, where people know your name and build a connection with you. This is becoming rare. As I said before, in over 16 years of traveling and many hotels and hostels later, I only felt at home, surrounded by new friends in 2 locations: one was in Thailand and now again, in Porto.
Part of my positive experience in this incredible city was the friendship and connection I developed with Pedro and Marta. All the tips they gave me according to a local’s point of view and of course, staying in a 150 year old small palace, is a one of a life time experience.
An impeccably clean guest house, offering the best breakfast I’ve seen (vegans and vegetarians, you’ll be happy to find hummus there!), great gardens, comfortable and cozy high sealing bed rooms, you’ll be in heaven.
Enter as a stranger and leave as a friend. You can reserve your stay directly through their website.
The teleférico (cable car) costs 5€ 1 way or 8€ both ways for adults, 2.50€ one way and 5€ both ways for children.Summer time schedule from 10:00 – 20:00h and winter time from 10:00 to 17:45h. You can contact them on the phone: +351 222 000 045
The Porto card can give you 10% discount.
An excellent way to reach the upper part of town, this elevator connects the lower and upper city. Tickets cost 2.50€ each direction.
STCP’s historic tram network – Porto Tram City Tour – is an undeniable symbol of the city of Porto. Its history dates back to 1872 when the first line of “american cars” was opened in the city of Porto. STCP’s Tram network is currently made up of 3 different lines running through Porto’s most iconic landmarks.
PORTO AIRPORT – HOW TO COME AND GO
Porto is extremely well connected with Portugal and Europe by rail and air.
Low cost Airlines like Ryanir, EasyJet and Vueling connect Porto and Europe daily. Tap and other classical airlines, also flight to this city.
For the most comprehensive guide to fly to and from Porto, check the Low cost flights guide to Porto.
Now that you’ve experienced the city and explore all the things to do in Porto like a local, you can share your adventures with us on the comment section below. If you’re planing to go and have an question, just leave your questions down here. Some of Oporto locations are absolutely unique in the world and are well worth exploring!