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Top Ten Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
For many decades Portugal has been one of the most loved travel destinations in whole Europe. Although many travellers choose to explore Lisbon, the beautiful country’s capital, Porto, located in northwest Portugal, is worth visiting too. Thanks to its convenient location, it is one of the oldest European centers. Taste the famous port wine, wander around the charming streets and don't forget to take a bite of Francesscinha. Here is a list of the best things to do in Porto.
Explore the Port Houses
It is no secret Porto has excellent architecture. That is also one of the many reasons people choose to visit the city. If you are seeing it for the first time, make sure to stop by Port Houses. Along the banks of the river and up into the hillside, you will find dozens of them, open to curious visitors. Soak in the scenic views and learn more about the history of the port houses. However, if you decide to go up to the hillside, bear in mind it is pretty steep, so the hike won't be easy. Along the river, you will find Sandeman, Kopke, Calem and other well known Porto houses.
Try the Francescinha Sandwich
When visiting Porto, eating the Francescinha sandwich – made with bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage, steak, tomatoes and melted cheese – is a must. The famous sandwich originated in the 60s. It was created by a French emigrant, so you could say the meal is pretty similar to Croque-Monsieur. For an even better experience, pair the sandwich with some french fries and the local beer. Where can you find the yummy meal? Almost any restaurant in the center has the hearty sandwich on its menu.
Visit the Mercado do Bolhão
Probably one of the most authentic activities you can do in Porto is to visit the Bolhão Market, which opened already in 1850. As soon as you see the market for yourself, you will immediately fall in love with it. Take in all the fascinating fragrances, enjoy the vibrant colours and buzzing energy. There are plenty of yummy foods to try, so heading to the market with an empty stomach might be the best idea.
Discover the Lello bookshop
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you probably remember the incredible Hogwarts library featured in the movies. You will be excited to find out – the inspiration behind the fascinating library was actually the Lello bookshop. It is no surprise since it is a truly magical place. Search for a book for yourself or choose a unique souvenir for your friend at the fantastic gift shop. The Lello bookshop is a place you won't want to leave for hours, so make sure to include it in your travel itinerary.
Explore Cais da Ribeira
Famous for its narrow and colourful houses, the Ribeira neighborhood is worth the visit as it is one of the oldest parts of Porto. Make sure to see the Dom Luis bridge, which has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don't forget to explore the quirky streets along the riverside to get an authentic feel of the city.
Have a cruise around the Douro river
A fun idea for a day in Porto is to go on a cruise that takes you along the Douro River. Depending on how much time you have, you can choose either a longer or quicker tour. The longer tour will take up a full day, and you will get the chance to see beautiful hills, green vineyards and charming villages. What is more – you will arrive at the Douro valley, which was the birthplace of Port Wine. If you decide to go on the quicker tour, reserve about an hour to take in the beautiful views of the city. What makes the experience even more interesting is the fact you will probably go on a traditional boat that was previously used to transport Port wine barrels.
Stop by the Igreja do Carmo
When visiting any city for the first time, it is always fun to sightsee its most significant and most impressive churches, even if you are not religious. The Igreja do Carmo will charm you both with its incredible tiled murals and its complicated construction. If you pay attention to the details, you will notice there are actually two adjacent churches that have merged together. Historically there used to be a rivalry between both of them. Nowadays, it is a fascinating site to see.
Hop on a tram
You might think there is nothing interesting in riding a tram, but you are wrong. Porto has quite many vintage trams that still operate and provide ways of moving around the beautiful city. It is a genuinely cool experience that will take you back in time as everything is still performed manually. If you take the tram in line 1, you will enjoy a scenic ride along the Douro River. It is also a great transport choice if you decide to see the beaches of Foz do Douro. Those who prefer to wander around the old city should take Lines 18 or 22.
Enjoy seafood in Matosinhos
Looking to taste some local foods? Then there is no better place to see than Matosinhos – a neighborhood that is loved both by tourists and locals for its yummy cafes and restaurants. All around the streets, you will notice many outdoor grills used to prepare freshly caught fishes. What should you taste? It depends on your preferences. Locals admire Matosinhos for its amazing codfish, sardines or octopus, however, there are many other options you can choose from. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, have a bite of goose barnacles. It will be quite the experience. Although Matonsihos is not located in the centre, you can access it easily – simply take the metro to Mercado or Brito Capelo station.
Ride the cable car
If you have decided to visit the famous port cellars, you will probably end up in Gaia – the opposite side of the river. There you will find the Teleférico de Gaia cable car, which offers spectacular views of the river and will take you up the hill to Luis I Bridge. Although the experience is fantastic, it is relatively pricey too – the short ride costs 5 euros. Luckily, the ticket also allows you to do a complimentary wine tasting near the cable car depot.