Reasons to visit Porto

10 Reasons To Make Porto Your Next Destination

The initial plan for our trip to Portugal included only the Algarve. It was when I started reading different blogs that I realized we must add Porto to our itinerary and now that I came back, I can honestly say that I don’t regret it. Sure, it may have rained a little more than I would’ve liked it, but the city made up for it with its charming streets, interesting (and often weird) street art, delicious food and port wine. So here are 10 reasons why you must make Porto your next destination.

1. The history

The city that most likely gives the name of the country dates from the 4th century when, under the Roman occupation, it became an important commercial port, this status maintaining throughout the ages, when the city would start exporting port wine to England. But beyond all the guide books, the real history is discovered by wandering on its streets. Porto is one of the oldest cities in Portugal and this is seen everywhere you go. A skyscraper in the city would be as strange as a flying pig.

2. The architecture

Reasons to visit Porto - the architecture

From the old to the new, Porto is a city that you need to discover street by street and step by step. Many buildings decorated with the famous Portuguese azulejos (painted tiles), colorful houses and even a whole street, Avenida dos Aliados, that made me feel like I was in Paris, it’s the perfect place to wander and discover hidden gems.

3. The churches

Reasons to visit Porto - the beautiful churches

Speaking of architecture, Porto is home to many churches with an amazing facade and an even more beautiful interior. We have visited a few and each time I would say that the current one was my favorite. There even is a church (turned into a museum now) with the interior made of gold, where else are you going to see that? (okay, you can find one in Lisbon too) My favorite however was the cathedral, the azulejos inside were the most beautiful I’ve seen in the whole city.

4. It’s affordable

Portugal is cheaper than any other country in Western Europe and Porto is no exception, you can find perfect accommodation at decent prices, eat out every day and still have money for some souvenirs for the people back home. Also, many of the city’s top attractions are free or cost only a few euros so you can make the most of a city break without spending one euro for entrance fees.

5. The viewpoints

Whenever I visit a city for the first time, I look for places where I can see the city from above. But in Porto, as well as Lisbon, every street could lead you to a viewpoint. Some are more hidden, some are easily found, like the Don Louis Bridge that offers some fantastic views over the Ribeira (the waterfront, an UNESCO World Heritage Site), although if you have a fear of heights this place is definitely not for you. I’m usually not bothered by heights but up there I froze every time a train passed by. ๐Ÿ˜†

6. The Lello Book Store

Reasons to visit Porto - the Lello Library

Porto is home to the third most beautiful bookstore in the world. Yes, the one that inspired JK Rowling while writing the Harry Potter novels. It’s also a place so popular with travellers, that they only allow pictures before the store officially opens, between 9 and 10 in the morning.

7. The food and the port wine. But mostly the wine

Reasons to visit Porto - the food and the port

This is where you will fall in love with the famous port wine, made with grapes from the Douro Valley vineyards and aged in the wine cellars in Gaia. Most wine cellars offer tours and samples included in the price of the ticket, but if that’s not your cup of tea (or glass of wine), you can go to any restaurant or bar and order a nice glass of port (my favorite was the tawny one from Taylor’s). When it comes to food, on every menu you will find the Francesinha, a dish that should come with health warnings ๐Ÿ˜‰ A sandwich with bread, all kinds of meat mixed together (steak, sausage, bacon), covered with melted cheese, dipped in a sauce made with beer and served with french fries. What else could you ask for? A doctor maybe ๐Ÿ˜›

8. It’s chill

Compared to other European hot spots (including Lisbon), Porto doesn’t attract many visitors which can be a wonderful thing if you’re looking for a quiet getaway. Strolling around Ribeira may be just what you need to recharge your batteries before going back to work.

9. The street art

Porto Street Art

I loved how around every corner I would find some interesting, beautiful, or just plain weird street art. I had a quest of finding the most beautiful and while I did find some that I liked a lot, I’m sure there were a lot more just waiting to be discovered.

10. It’s just super pretty

Reasons to visit Porto

If I haven’t convinced you already, I will end on this note: Visit Porto, it’s a beautiful city!

If you need help planning your trip, the quirky Stop4Porto travel guide is a great resource, as well as Gail’s blog, Gail At Large, where she posts a lot of helpful information since she lives there. I would like to thank her for all the help she has given me prior to my visit.

Have you been to Porto or would you like to visit it?

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  • Ugh, so jealous. I made it to Lisbon and Algarve but not Porto, or Sintra for that matter. They are my two Portugal’s “still-to-do.”

    • They are both great, you should see them as soon as you can! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Andreea

    Nope, but I’ve been to Madeira. ๐Ÿ™‚ Lisbaon and Sintra and Porto maybe … next year?

    • Madeira is next on my Portugal list, isn’t it lovely?

  • It’s a shame about the weather but apparently Mother Nature was looking after the farmers and not the tourists while you were here. I was away all last week in Poland and my husband said it was 27-30C in Porto the whole time I was gone!

    I’ve photographed a lot of bridges around the world, but the Luis I Bridge has become my absolute favourite, anywhere. But I warn everyone about the height ๐Ÿ™‚

    Glad to see you enjoyed yourself, despite the rain!

    • 30C! And mom complained that I chose September and that’s why it rained so much in Porto!
      It wasn’t even the height, it was the vibration every time the metro was passing by, I felt disoriented and my parents made fun of me for standing still until it was gone. ๐Ÿ˜†

  • This is one of the greatest cities I have ever traveled to. Beautiful, inexpensive, and full of the most lovely people. I am so glad you enjoyed it.

    • It’s indeed a lovely city, no wonder I heard only good things about it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I now wish I had the chance to see that amazing bookstore! Clearly, I need to return to Porto for a much longer period. Such wonderful photos, Vlad. And hope you enjoyed your Croft Pink ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • You have to! And if you go in the morning, it’s even better since there is no one around and you can take as much time as you please.

      I did enjoy it, but I haven’t had the chance to drink while I was there so I bought a bottle from the airport (at your recommendation), took it home and opened it on my birthday ๐Ÿ˜€ I have one more bottle of pink port (different company) at home, what am I going to do once that one is gone? ๐Ÿ™

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  • Great post! ๐Ÿ™‚ We visited Portugal about 5 years ago, but skipped Porto (limited time), and I’ve always regretted it. We only visited Lisbon and Lagos, and I’ve been wishing to return to Portugal for quite some time now…

    • I’ve visited Lisbon and Sintra the first time I was in Portugal, and after I came back, I kept seeing pictures from Porto and made me regret not going. It’s a beautiful city, I hope you can visit it soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Porto has been on my bucket list for ages, but have not been there yet. Your posts gave me few more reasons to visit it asap… maybe next year ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Last summer we almost booked a trip to Porto but eventually we choose another destination. After reading your post I’m feeling a bit sad we didn’t go. But: next spring for sure! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • I agree with all of this! Porto is one of my favorites, I’d love to go back. Great shots of the bookstore, we mistakenly went during the no photo period.

    • I didn’t know that they don’t allow photos anymore but I was warned about it before my trip so I arrived at the bookstore on a very rainy morning, haha.

  • Love, love, love your images! And, thanks for sharing this. Portugal never seems to make it on to our radar.

    • Thank you, Portugal is one of my favorite destinations, I would return every year!

  • I see street art is something that spread all over the world now. Port looks really beautiful, I wish I could visit Portugal someday. Sights look great, food looks great, weather seems always beautiful…. Oh, well… We all need more time and money (ha, ha, ha!)

    • I definitely agree about needing more time and money for travel, haha. Hope you can visit Portugal soon, I have no doubt you’d love it.

  • I *Love* Porto. It’s a such a beautiful city and affordable too! Thanks for sharing your impressions.

    • I loved it too, especially the colorful district of Ribeira ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Thanks for giving me an extra boost to make a visit to this city a reality next year. I am seriously considering going back to Spain and add Portugal to the plans. I am going to check your other Portugal posts for inspiration and advice.

    • It’s super easy to go to Portugal from Spain, we actually went the other way around and took a day trip when we were in the Algarve region in Portugal to visit Seville.

  • Omg, I have been wanting to go here forever and your post is the first to show me so much more of Porto than just the wine (which is always great!) I think Porto just jumped up on my list! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I recommend Gail’s blog ( http://www.gailatlarge.com ), she has a lot of useful information about Porto. It’s a beautiful city and definitely worth visiting for more than just the wine ๐Ÿ˜‰

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