About the City
The city of Porto, the second largest in the country, is located in the North of Portugal. Surrounded South by the river Douro, it is the city that gave name to Portugal and is also known as the capital of the North. Its historical centre, recognised by Unesco as World Heritage, it easily captivates all of its visitors by its beauty and uniqueness. It is impossible to come to Porto and not be tempted by its gastronomy: the famous ‘francesinha’, the tripe, the codfish, the smoked meat, the wine, among many other delicacies. The world famous Port Wine and its cellars are a must do in town, as well as all of the countless landmarks that are all over the city: the Clérigos Tower, the Cathedral, Serralves Museum, Casa da Música, just to name a few. In the beginning of Summer, you can have the time of your life in the most famous party in town: Porto’s S. João. FCPorto is the town’s club with several titles won.
Food plays a very special role in Portugal. From North to South, wherever you pass by, each village, each area has its own specialty. The North, especially the area around Porto, is not an exception to this and all around town you will find several different places where you can taste some of the best food in the whole region.
There are a lot of different types of food that you can eat in a city like Porto. From the very typical ‘tasquinhas’ and the local restaurants, very genuine and unique, to the most contemporary approach to the art of food, Porto has it all. And of course, everything needs to have a glass of good Portuguese wine by its side.
In these local restaurants, if you’re bold enough, you can have the chance of tasting ‘Tripas à moda do Porto’, a special course made of pork tripe. A very tasty course once you get past the fact you’re eating the inside of a pig. This is the most typical dish in Porto and it is claimed to have started in a very difficult time of war, when all the good meat had to go to the army fighting and all that was left was the inside of the pork. So the inhabitants of Porto had to come up with a way of not starving and they invented this recipe.
But with all the tourism, Porto is becoming much more international and less typical. There still are typical restaurants, but nowadays you can find almost anything in town, from pizza to sushi, from Mexican to Mozambican, you name it.
A huge trend in town is ice-cream. There are a few ice-cream shops downtown and they are usually very good. From local shops like La Copa and Neveiros to international brands like Amorino, the locals are crazy for ice-cream, in Summer or in Winter!
- Holy Friday
- 25th April
- 1st May
- 10th June
- 24th June (regional holiday)
- 15th August
- 5th October
- 1st December
- 8th December
- 25th December
Most shops in Porto open between 9 and 10am and close at about 7pm Monday to Saturday. Some of them open also on Sundays.
Banks are open from 8am to 3pm on weekdays.
Metro (Subway) runs from 6am to 1am. There is a special ticket that you need, called ‘andante’, which is also valid for buses. Trains and trams have their own tickets.
If you need a taxi, please let us know and we will book it for you.
Some tips to do / avoid in town
- Do not leave visible objects inside the cars.
- At night, avoid the less busy areas in the old town.
- To withdraw some money, choose the machines that are well lit or inside the banks.
- Wear comfortable shoes. A lot of streets downtown are made of cobblestone.
- In Summer, wear sunscreen and a hat.
Places to visit
Avenida dos Aliados
The very heart of the city. Its main square. Completely redone in 2006 by world famous architect Alvaro Siza. The top of the square holds the City Hall. Most buildings were designed by the same architect in the 1940s, Marques da Silva.
São Bento Train Station
Initially a convent, the building of the station has French influence. In 2010 there was a refurbishment of the station. In 2011, it was considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine.
GPS: 41.145003, -8.610919
Porto’s Sé, also known as its cathedral, is one of the oldest monuments in Portugal and it is located on a hill in the heart of the historical part of town. It was built in the XII and XIII centuries and its structure is roman-gothic, although, during the Baroque, some remodelling has been done.
GPS: 41.142826, -8.611184
Rua Santa Catarina
A very traditional street in the heart of the city, where some famous writers and poets have lived. Nowadays, it is one of the busiest streets in Porto, because of its many shops. During daytime, it is usually crowded and there is a lot of street performance on the street.
This is one of the most beautiful cafés in the world since 1921. Also with the signature of Marques da Silva, this magnificent Belle-Époque building will make you travel in time.
GPS: 41.147173, -8. 606740
This is Nicolau Nasoni’s (a famous architect from the 17th century) masterpiece. It is one of the symbols of the city. You can climb all the way to the top of the tower – all the more than 200 steps – and enjoy a breath-taking view.
GPS: 41.145849, -8.614626
Galerias de Paris Café
This café has the same name of the street it’s in and it’s a must see. It has an incredible collection of collections, including a real car on a wall. It is located in one of the busiest areas in town regarding nightlife. Originally, a glass structure was to be built in this street, to resemble the Galleries in Paris.
GPS: 41.147247, -8.614385
Centro Português de Fotografia
Located in an old prison, the Portuguese Centre for Photography is a public place (no fee) where you can see photography exhibitions and admire the building itself. If previously booked, you can have a guided tour to the building.
GPS: 41.145204, -8.616184
Palácio da Bolsa (Former Stock Exchange Market)
National monument. It is in this building that most of the official Government receptions in the North of Portugal are held. Don’t miss the chance of going in and admire its rooms and pateos.
GPS: 41.141674, -8.615259
St. Francis Church
St. Francis Church was once part of the Palácio da Bolsa (see above). Its altar is magnificent. Also, if you are into it, take a visit to the catacombs below the church. Truly outstanding.
Ribeira do Porto
This is the most famous part of town, the riverside. As it was built inside a Wall, all its houses were built up. This originated the beautiful façades that are now visible and famous. Take some time to admire the surroundings, the river, the bridge. And also, cross the bridge and watch it from the other side!
GPS: 41.140916, -8.613191
Palácio de Cristal
This public garden is almost outside the city centre, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Its green areas are beautiful and it has a privileged view over the river. A magical place for gardens / outer spaces lovers.
GPS: 41.146911, -8.626714
Fundação Serralves (Serralves Foundation)
Serralves, a former private villa, is internationally recognised as one of the most important cultural poles in the country. It holds the Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Alvaro Siza, with temporary state-of-the-art exhibitions. Its gardens won the ‘Henry Ford Prize for Preservation of the Environment’ in 1997.
GPS: 41.159897, -8.659931