PORTO : A SECRET GUIDE TO PORTO


 

PORTO

Category : the second largest city in Portugal

Time difference : one hour slower than Paris

High season : The mild climate from April to October is the best time to visit Porto. Especially from June to September, there are various festivals to experience the local customs.

Recommendation : You can take a tour of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, or travel to Santiago de Compostela in the Galician region of northwestern Spain to embark on a pilgrimage route.

City Card : https://www.portocard.city/en/porto-card-the-official-city-card/

 

WHY TO VISIT

Porto's reputation truly precedes itself. Often named the most beautiful city in Portugal, it exhilarates and stimulates you in all your senses. As Portugal's second largest city, it holds the perfect combination of vibrant city life, and small-town charm. Let us show you the hidden gems of this city, including unique sightseeing spots, the most “instagrammable” spots and the trendiest places to go out so that you can travel like a local and experience Porto in the best way you can.

Built on two rolling hills and nestled in the winding meanders of the river Douro, the "Port" of Douro, as the name "Porto" suggests, exudes southern European sophistication in all its glory. The historical center of the city was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, which houses some of the most noteworthy monuments and architectural masterpieces in the Iberian Peninsula.


HOW TO GET THERE

FROM PARIS TO PORTO : Getting to Porto by plane is a breeze from any major European destination, with round-trip flights from budget airlines (departing from Paris) usually under 100 euros. Popular itineraries also include visits to Portugal's capital, Lisbon, and the pilgrimage attraction, Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. 

FROM AIRPORT TO CITY CENTER : The city's airport is 50 minutes away by car and 40 minutes away by metro. Both types of transportation are conveniently accessible at the airport complex itself and tickets range from 8 to 10 euros. We would recommend taking the metro, which takes you directly to the centrally located Trindade station. 

INSIDE THE CITY : While the buses and the metro/tram system connects you conveniently to the city outskirts, the historical center of the city is completely accessible by foot. However, take note for the elegant Parisian, as Porto's hilly landscape is best enjoyed with comfortably padded shoes. But don't worry, we'll find a better occasion for you to show off those shiny Louboutin’s you just bought in Paris.

  

THE MUST EXPERIENCE

1. SUNBATHE ON THE SIDE OF A COLORED BALCONY 

Porto's city center is an attraction itself, as Madonna puts it "look around, everywhere you turn is heartache".  Every corner is “instagrammable”, so take your camera out and don't shy away from getting close. Every wall can serve as a color backdrop and it might just be the perfect material for your next Instagram hit. On the balcony, people sit quietly and basking in the sun. The flowers and plants that spread on the railings reflect the attitude and taste of the local people's exquisite life.

 

2. DOURO RIVER CRUISE AND STROLL

Douro is a river that runs across Spain and Portugal. Take a stroll around the river banks of Duoro at Bairro da Ribeira and take in the traces of the architectural highlights leftover from the Baroque and Romantic eras. If you want to feel the different river style, the boat tours take you along the river Duoro and cruises under the numerous bridges connecting the two elevated parts of town.

 

3. THE AFTERNOON TIME OF OPEN-AIR COFFEE

It is most enjoyable in the afternoon as the sun shines from the west on the southern bank. Cafés are open throughout the day to make it a perfect spot for a short coffee breaks. 


4. APPRECIATE THE CITY MURALS

Porto is a place where all the streets and alleys with hidden surprises. As soon as you look up, you will find realistic city murals just in front of you, as if there really is such a group of people living on the wall.

 

5. DRINKING PORT WINE TO SEEING THE STREET ART

We recommend taking a bottle of port wine and going there to enjoy a beautiful sunset while enjoying Bossa Nova performances by local street performers.  

 

WHERE TO VISIT

1. PONTE LUIS I

An attraction not to be missed is the Ponte Luis I built by Gustave Eiffel (yes, the same architect that built the Eiffel Tower), it was an architectural wonder of its time. From Bairro da Ribeira, cross the river and climb up to the upper section through the stairs or the tram. 

 

Address : PTE Luiz I, Porto, Portugal

Transportation: Metro D- Jardim do Morro/Sao Bento

 

2. IGREJA DO CARMO 

Portuguese tile architecture is world famous. The 18th-century Igreja do Carmo is a must-see point! Located in the heart of the old city, the church's exterior tile decoration is exquisite and amazing, and the paintings above tell the story of the time. The classical architecture is matched with the gorgeous murals on the outer wall, which makes it impossible to stop and take pictures! At the same time, there is a magnificent gold-plated decoration inside the church, as well as a Baroque-style sacristy collection, which is worth to see.

 

Address: Rua Carmo, Porto 4050-164, Portugal

Transportation: Tram 18 - Carmo

Opening hours: 10:00 - 18:00

 

3. JARDIM DO MORRO 

This park situated on the other side of the river Duoro offers one of the best viewpoints in Porto. It is also accessible by tram or bus. 

 

Address: Av. da República, 4430-148 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Transportation: Metro D - Jardim do Morro

Opening hours: all day

 

4. MOSTEIRO DA SERRA DO PILAR 

Next to the Jardim do Morro is the Monastery of the Serra do Pilar (Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar). Go up the stairs and get an even better viewpoint of Porto. It just gets better and better.

 

Address: Largo de Aviz Santa Marinha Norte, 4430-329 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Transportation: Metro D - Jardim do Morro

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, October to March 10:00-17:30; April to September 10h00-18h30 (closed on January 1, Easter, May 1, December 25)

Price: € 1, € 3 for climbing on the top (free for children under 12 years old)

 

5. MATOSIHNOS BEACH(COSTA NOVA BEACH)

The nearest beach from Porto. If you wish to escape the crowd, many picturesque beaches are scatters along the coast. Take the double decker bus on your way back to Porto that goes along the boulevard along the coast. You might be tempted to get off mid-way and finish the journey by foot.

 

Address: Avenida General Norton de Matos, Matosinhos 4450-208, Portugal

Transportation: Transdev bus (L5951) in the Rossio area or near the Train Station, which will take you to Barra or Costa Nova in around 40 minutes.

Ticket cost: €4,80 (round-trip)

**the bus stops are called either “Barra” or “Costa Nova”, not “Forte da Barra” which is far from the beach.

 

WHERE TO EAT 

1. Zenith Brunch & Cocktails 

Having fun is tiring. So, what's better than waking up to brunch after a good night of sleep? The Zenith Café's signature brunch has a special take on the 「classic Eggs Benedict」 with its breaded poached egg and homemade hollandaise sauce. Mouthwatering. 

 

Address: 86, Praça de Carlos Alberto, 4050-158 Porto, Portugal

Transportation: Tram 18 - Carmo

Opening hours: 9:00-19:00

Tel: +351 22 017 1557

Website: https://www.zenithcaffe.pt/ 

 

2. Lado B Café

Every guide to Porto will tell you to go try 「Francesihna」, the traditional Portuguese sandwich which consist of 3 layers of bread, stuffed with double roasted sausage, ham and beef, baked in the oven with melted cheese, and topped with a sauce made with wine, beer, tomatoes and stock. Sounds filling? Wait until you try it. Not for the faint hearted, be sure to be very hungry before you take a bite.

Which restaurant should you choose though? The Lado B restaurant may look like a banal chain restaurant at first glance, but their Francesihnas are truly a local's favorite. Otherwise, Luso café has a variety of decent Francesihnas too. 

 

Address: R. de Passos Manuel 190, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal

Transportation: Metro D - Aliados

Opening hours: Monday - Thursday 11:00-23:45, Friday - Saturday 11:00 - 1:45 am, closed on Sunday rest

Tel: +351 22 201 4269

Website: ladobcafe.pt 

 

3. Lhau! Lhau! Maria 

Feeling like an expert in the culinary arts? Check out Lhau! Lhau! Maria! 's fresh take Portuguese cuisine. The 「bacalhau bake」 is one the most popular dishes here. This dish is a true delight with its crunchy cheese crust and hearty minced sea bass fillings. A must-try. 

 

Address : R. do Dr. Ricardo Jorge 67, 4050-514 Porto, Portugal

Transportation: Metro D - Aliados

Opening hours :  Monday to saturday 12:00-15:30, 19:00-23:00

Average Price : 20 € 

Tel: +351 22 205 7869

Website: lhaulhaumaria.com 

  

4. VOGUE CAFÉ

For the fashionable and chic, you might have found your place at VOGUE café Porto. You might even find some familiar faces on the framed magazine covers on the walls. After a few sips of Portuguese wine, you might even recognize yourself on the covers. 

 

Address: R. de Avis 10, 4050-075 Porto

Transportation: Metro D - Aliados

Opening hours: Monday - Sunday 11:00 - 1:00 am (Friday, Saturday night until 2:00 am)

Tel: +351 22 339 8550

Website: voguecafe.pt  

 

5. BASE BAR 

Located next to the University of Porto campus, this hidden gem of a bar is a popular spot for students. Try out the local draft beer and enjoy a lazy afternoon laying down on the grass.

 

Address: Passeio dos Clerigos, Rua das carmelitas 151, Base - Quisque Jardim, 4050-163

Transportation: Metro D - São Bento

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10:30 - 1:00 am (Friday, Saturday to 2:00 am)

Tel: +351 910 076 920

Website: baseporto.com 

 

O'BON PARIS' NOTE 

Porto is truly a place to be enjoyed thoroughly. Therefore, take your time and spend 5 days to 1 week in the city. It serves as a great hub for the Northern region of Portugal. Nearby popular attractions include Coimbra, Braga, Aveiro and the neighboring beaches which can be done in day-trips (Click here for our guide to Aveiro, the Venice of Portugal). If you uncover some travel secrets, feel free to tag #obonparis on instagram and share it with us! Besides, secrets are meant to be shared. 

 


Wrriten by Pierre IEONG & Lexi WANG

Photographed by Pierre IEONG