Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and the capital of the Northern region. The climate is typically temperate with mild, rainy winters and dry, hot summers. Porto has a diverse landscape; the urbanized area extends along both sides of the Douro River estuary, being flat on the left bank and hilly on the right bank. There are many amazing things to do in Porto including Palaces, Bridges, Churches and Port tasting.
6 Bridges Cruise
One of the most popular things to do in Porto is the 6 bridges cruise down the river Douro. The cruise is relaxing and a chance to see Porto’s amazing bridge architecture — it’s not to be missed. The bridges that you will pass under are:
- Dom Luis I Bridge
- Maria Pia Bridge
- Arrabida Bridge
- Infante D. Henrique Bridge
- São João Bridge
- Freixo Bridge
Churches to visit in Porto
São João Baptista de Ajuda Church
São João Baptista de Ajuda Church is a 17th-century gothic church. The church was built over a Roman temple and many artefacts have been found while excavating around it. It has three bell towers with baroque decorations on them. It is truly amazing to see how much detail went into making this church.
Church of Misericórdia
The Church of Misericórdia is a church brought from the 14th century. It was built in the gothic style and it has many sculptures on it.
The Porto Cathedral is one of Portos most famous landmarks. The cathedral dates back to the 16th century and it is one of the largest buildings in Portugal. Also behind the cathedral there is Palhavã, a street that marks out an area where houses were built at different times and have different kinds of architecture on them.
Palaces in Porto
Palacio de Cristal
The Palácio de Cristal is a beautiful crystal palace built next to the river Douro. It was built by an Englishman, Edward Dashwood, in 1892. The palace was made of glass and has over 2500 mirrors on its walls. After the death of Mr Dashwood, his sister-in-law inherited it and used it as a residence for herself and her children. She then donated it to the state because she wanted it to be open to the public and also used as a museum. It is now a cultural centre and still houses the same furniture and objects that were bought by Edward Dashwood.
This palace was built between 1792 and 1808 in a neoclassical style. The palace was built for Baron of Guilherme Vaz de Sampaio, who came from an immensely important family in Porto. The palace is now owned by the state and it is used as a site for various cultural events.
Palacio da Bolsa
The Palácio da Bolsa is an impressive building with two curved towers at the corners. It was built in 1903 and is one of the most important buildings in Porto, signifying the rise of Porto to one of Portugal’s economic centres. It was built in the neogothic style and it houses many different national businesses.
This is an incredible building built in the neoclassical style by José Mariano da Silva. The building was built to be a place to store old wines and it has a pyramid-shaped top.
Torre dos Clérigos
The Torre dos Clérigos (or Leaning Tower of Porto) is one of the main landmarks in the city. It is a 40 metre high tower with seven floors, built in the gothic style with many symbols on it. It was built to be a part of a church, but it was never used in the end. It is now a symbol of the city and it is on top of one of the highest hills.
Museums in Porto
There are many museums in Porto.
Espaco Porto Cruz
The Espaço Porto Cruz is a museum dedicated to contemporary art and photography, it was built in the 20th century.
This museum is dedicated to natural history. It contains many different exhibitions and it has an auditorium, library and observatory. It was the first museum of natural history in Portugal, founded by Joaquim Rodrigues Ferreira Júnior. The collections include over 50 million items from all over Portugal and around the world.
Port Tasting in Porto
What is it about the fermented wine that makes it special? Well, let me tell you. Port is much more than a drink. It’s the product of a long and exciting history that has made it into one of the symbols of Portugal.
And Porto is the BEST place to try it!
The secret of Port wine is in the grapes that are used to produce it. The special grapes are white and they have a remarkable ability to develop rich flavours when they are subjected to careful ageing in oak casks. Port is produced exclusively in Portugal and it’s surely one of the nation’s most famous exports.
My favourite port cellars to go tasting are Croft Port, Taylor’s and Calem. It’s a good idea to take some extra money along as you will of course have the opportunity to buy a bottle of your favourite port at the end of the tour. If you would like to find out more, read this guide to port tasting in Porto.
Bars and Nightlife in Porto
Bars are a common site in any city, but there is always one that stands out. For Porto, this honor goes to Café Majestic. As a small piece of history, it was designed by French architect Louis Boileau and based on the best cafés of Paris. It is known for its rococo décor, sumptuous banquettes, and fine wines. The café also has an elegant tea room which serves famous Portuguese finger sandwiches. Whether one needs a place to debate over politics with their friends or just want to escape the rain drenched streets for some time, Café Majestic makes for a great stop on any Porto tour.
Another unique place to grab a drink is called Bom Jesus, which is a restaurant and bar that serves drinks with a view. The name literally means “Good Jesus” and every hour it rings the church bell which can be seen from the top of the building. The food here is great but, instead of ordering your drink with your meal, you order them separately and pay for them separately as well. It takes some getting used to but once you do it feels more like an American style setting. If you are looking for a more lively nightlife, there is no better place to go than the Bairro Alto.
This is the area famous for its nightlife and it is easy to understand why. It is packed with bars and clubs all at different prices ranges so that anyone can fit into their style of night out be it a cheap student style bar or a high end dance club. Whatever your tastes, you won’t leave disappointed here in this great city.
If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read about Things to do in Cascais.