Portugal was another not really on my radar country (much like Sweden, until I visited Stockholm) but knowing I was booking a trip in May, after my cold February one, I wanted somewhere that would definitely be a bit warmer. I’d seen a few bloggers talk about Porto and that it was full of street art-so that was me sold. I was actually in the city for 72 hours but planned plenty of downtime, so everything I did would fit nicely into 48 hours in Porto, and I’m writing as if that’s all I had. One thing to note about this city-if you have mobility issues, be aware there are A LOT of hills. With my Fibromyalgia, 48 hours in Porto became pretty exhausting, and I’m glad I had enough time for a lot of rests.
I started my first day in the city with a walk down to and along the Douro River, which runs through Spain and Portugal. I took lots of gorgeous photos and stopped for a Mojito when I got to the centre of the city-it was a long, warm walk.
Ponte de Dom Luis I is a ‘double decker’ bridge going across the river. The next bridge along is the Dona Maria Pia bridge, designed by the same architect as the Eiffel Tower. Both bridges are great to people watch, and are the obvious places to cross the river, too.
The old city walls (Muralha Fernandina) are honestly not that spectacular but if you appreciate some of the history of a place, they’re worth seeing. Officially you can walk along some of them, but if you have any sort of mobility issues, I wouldn’t try.
Ribiera is the area down by the river, narrow cobbled streets and beautiful houses. I stopped for a drink down here and took lots of photos-definitely one of the prettiest parts of the city.
Vila Nova de Gaia is across the river from the Ribiera area of Porto, and actually a different city. I went across here with my photographer, and was thrlled when he took me to see the Half Rabbit, a sculpture by Bordalo II.
Igreja de Sao Francisco is Porto’s most famous church, and most of the inside is coated in Gold. It’s strictly forbidden to take photos inside so just ignore this one!
I didn’t plan to do the open top bus tour but it was a good excuse for a sit down. I saw a lot of the city in a couple of hours and the audio commentry was brilliant-I’d really recommend. Buses stop all over the city and you can just look out for one when you’re ready for a rest.
City Hall is always on my list in whichever city. You usually find the building is pretty impressive, though I never try to go inside, grabbing a photo is a must. I sat here for a while playing with different angles and I love this shot.
When I realised Porto had a Photography Museum, and that it was in an old jail, I had to go. I spent a couple of hours here and really enjoyed it but if you’re not into Photography, there’s probably better things you can do in the city.
The University Gardens were just across from the Photography Museum and a good place to sit and rest for a while. I loved this tunnel of trees going across the park.
Rua das Taipas Fountain wasn’t on my list but I passed it on my way back down to the river. If you head past that you’ll walk through a non touristy area, which is always nice.
The Funicular was, I’ll be honest, a way to avoid walking back up the giant hill to the station before my next stop. But a little tram/train style vehicle slowly raising itself up a track to the top of a steep hill, whilst the platform you are on stays level, was pretty cool. It was only a couple of Euros and worth it for the experience, some cool photos, and not having to do the hill.
Sao Bento Station is worth seeing for all the gorgeous Portugese tiles on the walls. The white and blue tiles, which you see a lot across the city, are absolutely stunning, and I’m sad I didn’t bring one home.
My Street Art Tour was booked via Air B n B and cost me £20 for a three hour tour, including a drink stop. It was 100% worth it to see more of the city, and find out the stories of the Street Art there, both legal and illegal. If you’re into street art, definitely do one of these tours.
Other than the things listed in this post, with Porto I really recommend just walking around, getting lost in those colourful streets. This is a city where there’s always something cool to find, and if I ever make it back (too much world to see for me to return just yet) I would spend far more time wandering.
Have you been to Porto? What would you recommend I see next time?