By Magalí Zaslabsky
To finish my Portugal trilogy, I want to share with you my 48-hour guide to the beautiful city of Porto. I felt in love with this city right off and I am still hoping to go back soon. If you have a couple of days in this Portuguese city, these is what you need to do:
You can arrive to Porto by train, bus, driving or by plane. The Porto airport, Francisco Sá Carneiro, which has many flights from all over Europe and is a great wat to get to the city, is located 6 miles away from the city center and is the second-busiest in the country after Lisbon. Besides taxi services and cars, the airport is accessible by metro, bus and shuttle. If you are flying to Porto, I recommend taking the Porto Metro to Campanhã. I remember enjoying the trip because during the first part of the trajectory the metro goes over the ground, like a tram, which allowed me to enjoy the views.
You don’t have to follow an order while visiting Porto. Mostly everything you need to see is on the city center and at a walkable distance, so a hotel in the center and comfortable shoes will be a good idea.
We stayed at Hotel Universal, very affordable with a good location and great views of the Town Hall or Camara Municipal do Porto.
Here are the things you must do:
-Visit Livraria Lello.
You will immediately recognize the iconic Livraria Lello because it was featured in the Harry Potter series. There is usually a line to get in, but if you are a Harry Potter’s fan. It will be worth it. This bookshop’s entry is 5 euros.
-Mercado do Bolhão
One of the best ways to get to know a culture, in my opinion, is by visiting their food markets. Bolhão is also very photogenic and a great place to buy some local goods. The market is open from 8 am to 8pm.
-Visit São Bento
Portugal is known for its white and blue “azulejos” and São Bento has a tile-adorned vestibule that is worth seeing. You can find some great souvenirs with similar patterns that will make the perfect treasure to take back home with you.
Another beautiful “azulejo” in Porto is the façade of Church of Saint Ildefonso and the Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls).
-Walk on the Luís I Bridge.
The iconic metal bridge that crosses the river Douro has some of the best views of the city. I personally recommend watching the sunset on the higher level of the bridge. The reflection of the lights in the river are amazing.
If you like views, there are many places that you should visit while in Porto. The cathedral, known as Sé, isn’t just an amazing building but also has great views of the city.
–Miradouro da Vitoria
These are without a doubt my favorite views of Porto. And I also love the walk to the miradouro because it is full of street art.
There are many miradouros in Porto and in most of the Portuguese cities. Miradouro means “viewpoints” and they are usually worth the trip to them (sometimes it can be hard to get here because of the hilly streets).
-Walk through Cais da Ribeira
This area is surrounded by cafes, shops and wonderful views of the boats loaded with Porto wine barrels. The colorful buildings are wonderful for photos.
Where to Eat:
For lunch or dinner, Café Santiago has the best Francesinha you can possibly have. If you don’t want to wait for a table, sin on the bar. From there you can observe how they make this traditional Porto dish. Their signature sauce makes the difference.
And for dessert, I loved Cremosi, an ice cream shop (that also sells other types of treats) located right next to São Bento. Having an ice cream while walking around pretty streets is one of my favorite things to do.
These are many things to do in Porto, from cellars to museums, street art tours or churches, this wonderful city has a lot to offer all year long. But if this is your first time, get lost, walk through the small streets, enjoy the local food and come back for more in the future.