Porto is a historic mercantile city with business and trade written into its very name.This city has something mystical that is difficult to describe and which varies according to the place, time of day and light.Porto, the “Cidade Invicta” (unvanquished city) is history, is architecture, culture, gastronomy, trade, encounters and discoveries.Has all the charm of towns which happily cohabit with their river. You can stroll along the River Douro (river of gold) in the Ribeira, fly over it by helicopter or discover Porto ‘s architecture, its amazing landscapes and magnificent bridges by taking a cruise on this majestic river. Porto is also a sea city and in the briefest of time a tram will bring you to Foz do Douro’s gentle beaches face to face with the Atlantic.
Here is a little list of things you do not want to miss when visiting Porto:
Porto’s most iconic monument Clérigos Tower is something you need to see first. Built during the first half of the 17th century by Italian Nicolau Nasoni the tower is the city’s most important Baroque Era building. If you don’t mind the queue and the 240 steps you’ll be rewarded with a complete panorama of the city from the top.
Casa da Música
Casa da Música is the beating heart of Porto’s cultural scene and the home of the Porto National Orchestra. This is one of the rare music venues that is also worth seeing when nobody’s playing.On some days you’ll be able to hear the orchestra rehearsing, and if that whets your appetite for high culture you can dress up in the evening to hear famous soloists and the Porto Symphony orchestra.
Fundação de Serralves
A contemporary art museum with a 1950s mansion with wonderfully well kept 18-hectare garden (it’s really more of a park), filled with artworks.The landscaped gardens designed by João Gomes da Silva,on the approximately 18 hectars of land, preserved the most important species already existing on the site.
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
This was the site of Porto’s Crystal Palace, which lasted from 1865 to 1961 and was modelled on the monument in London.These gardens were devised to complement that palace with the showing beauty of gingko, pines, camellias, rhododendrons and beech trees.Something interesting about this garden is that your paths might cross with peacock or two
No matter where you visit in Portugal, fitting in time for the beach is a must. The coast in the north is a bit more rugged and very romantic, and Porto’s Foz do Douro also has the Pergola da Foz which adds an extra enchanting element.
Douro River Trip
You can go out for a whole day, or just do a short cruise to view the city and hear the history about Porto’s famous bridges.Around the Ribeira hour-long cruises are offered for around €15, and your guide will give you some insights about the port warehouses on the south bank, the Porto landmarks that soar high on the north bank and the various bridges.
Porto is a city famous for wine. The wine cellars, offer different bottles to sample and there are many cellars to choose from.A few, like Real Companhia Velha, Caves Sandeman and Taylor’s Port, have histories going back hundreds of years and come with museums documenting their story.
Church of Santa Clara
This church was completed in 1457 to replace a medieval convent.It has a similar story to other religious buildings in the city, undergoing an extravagant update in the first half of the 18th century.Shining against the red marble are gilded mouldings on the vaults, and gilded wooden carvings on the walls with such meticulous detail that it’s hard to take it all in.
Church of Santo Ildefonso
This gracefully baroque, early 18th-century, twin-towered church sits on the Praça da Batalha, stopping you dead in your tracks with its resplendent facade, clad in blue and white azulejos depicting scenes from the life of St Ildefonsus and allegories from the Eucharist.