When planning our Portugal itinerary, we knew Porto had to be included since we’d heard so wonderful praises about it. Porto, known as the “Capital of the North”, is such a pleasure to discover, a little less modern than Lisbon, with old fashioned charm and laid-back way of life. It is such a perfect destination for a weekend getaway to escape your hectic life and let yourself relax and wander around Porto’s charming neighborhoods. Here are some tips and recommendations for your perfect weekend getaway!
Must-See Attractions for your Perfect Porto Itinerary
Visit the Historic City Center
You can find many of Porto’s main tourist attractions in the historic city center. Depending on your time and interests stroll around and get familiar with the city center and visit some of the most famous and historic buildings of Porto such as the Porto Cathedral, São Bento Station, the Clérigos Tower, Palácio da Bolsa, the Church of St. Francis, Praca da Liberdade and many more.
Admire the Azulejos in São Bento Station
This train station is such a busy place, always filled with people on their way to work but unlike most train stations, it is also filled with groups of tourists who come to admire the white and blue tiles that depict the history of Porto. It is a MUST to pay a visit here and see the azulejos work of art.
Take the Barredo Stairs
Barredo is one of the oldest areas of Porto and the Barredo Stairs connect the upper area of town with the Ribeira Neighborhood. Just next to the Porto Cathedral, the top of the stairs provides great views of the city and lets you explore the winding streets and back alleys of Barredo and Ribeira. For truly charming picture-perfect backgrounds, you’d better put it on your Porto itinerary!
Explore the Ribeira Neighborhood
This river-side neighborhood is one of the oldest ones in Porto. Cobbled streets with colorful houses, plenitude of restaurants and coffee shops and many locals and tourists alike. Just stroll around and get lost in the narrow and steep alleys and then grab a drink in one of the waterfront cafes/bars. Try and come early to avoid the crowded hours and have a chance to enjoy a more authentic experience, and don’t forget your camera because this neighborhoods is one of Porto’s most instagrammable spots!
Stroll Down Rua Das Flores
Flores is a charming little street that will lead you from São Bento Station to the river front. Dotted with inviting coffee shops and bistros with local delicacies and unique boutiques. It has such a relaxed atmosphere accompanied by old charms and trendy vibes at the same time. Pay attention to the street art that decorates the electricity boxes and walls.
Admire the Unbelievable Views from the Dom Luis I Bridge
This huge bridge connects Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood. It was built by a student of Gustav Eiffel (as in the Eiffel Tower) and it is one of the most impressive landmarks in the city. Cross the top floor of the bridge and don’t forget to bring your camera! It is surely one of the most amazing viewpoints Porto has to offer and a MUST for your Porto itinerary.
Enjoy a Glass of Port Wine or Sangria at Sunset in Vila Nova de Gaia
To truly catch the wonderful charms of the Ribera waterfront, with the boats and Dom Luis I Bridge you need to cross over to Vila Nova de Gaia just before sunset, with your camera (maybe a tripod) and a bottle of wine. Sit in one of the numerous bars all along the river front, order the famous local Port Wine or Sangria and some snacks and have a wonderful laid back afternoon.
Enjoy Some of the Local Port Wine and Wonderful Cheese
The local Port Wine is the pride and joy of the locals and you can visit one of the wine cellars or take a tasting tour in Vila Nova de Gaia. And those cheeses…WOW! Our first day here we happened to try some grilled goat cheese with oregano, olive oil and honey, needless to say we were hooked from the start! Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local cheeses which are used in savory and sweet dishes alike.
Porto is such a wonderful and magical place; don’t dare to miss it when you visit Portugal! No matter what you choose to do, you will surely enjoy your time here. Especially if you let yourself relax and for a few days adopt the Porto way of life… eat, drink and have a great time. Want to know where to eat in Porto? Check our Portugal Foodie Guide and if you happen to visit Lisbon next, here is the perfect Lisbon itinerary!