Porto, the coastal city in the northwest of #Portugal, is cosy, relaxed and climatically ideal for the summer! Especially the old town, which was declared a #UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, is very attractive. The university town is known for its charming streets, its magnificent bridges and its picturesque river banks. In the medieval Ribeira quarter (riverbank) you will find narrow, cobblestone streets with shops and cafés. It is no surprise, however, that #Porto is mainly famous for its port wine.
Interestingly, port wine is neither produced nor stored in Porto. The famous dessert wine is mainly produced in the Douro Valley, which is just over 300 km away and is stored in #Gaia, a neighbouring town. Despite this, the name has remained, and Porto is still known for some of the most enjoyable wines on the market.
Porto is within walking distance of everything, so you shouldn't rely too heavily on public transport. However, you should wear comfortable shoes, the cobblestone streets and the many hills will definitely give you a good workout!
Best time to visit Porto
Overall, the climate in Porto is moderate and pleasant all year round. The best time to plan a weekend holiday in Porto is from May to September. During this time you have a very good chance of sunny skies, pleasant temperatures and little rain. The rainier period starts towards the end of September and lasts until April.
And then, of course, there is still the crowd factor. Tourism reaches its peak in July and August. From September on it gets emptier again, but you can still enjoy pleasant temperatures.
Sights in Porto
The Palácio da Bolsa (translated: stock exchange palace) has a long and varied history. The palace was built in the 19th century as a stock exchange to impress potential European investors. And it certainly succeeded in doing so. The building is absolutely breathtaking from the inside with its frescoes, chandeliers, plaster work and carvings. The stuccoed Salão Árabe is stunning, while the monumental courtyard of the Pátio das Nações is illuminated by an octagonal roof made of metal and glass.
The 18th century Torre dos Clérigos is the highest bell tower in Portugal. It was designed by Nicolau Nasoni in the Baroque style and classified as a national monument in 1910. For a small fee you can climb the 200 steps to the top and enjoy a privileged view over Porto, the Douro and Vila Nova de Gaia. But be warned: the steps are narrow and usually full of tourists.
The Livraria Lello bookshop in Porto is beautiful. In fact, it is considered one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world and is now classified as a National Monument. Due to its unique interior with Gothic, Art Deco and Art Nouveau elements, #LivrariaLello is one of the most popular and photogenic destinations in Porto. But the bookshop has not only achieved global fame because of its appearance.
It is known that J.K. Rowling lived in Porto and taught English there, and it is said that she visited this bookshop often. It is believed that the central staircase of the bookshop (which has become an Instagram sensation in its own right) was the inspiration for the Hogwarts spiral staircase.
The beautiful Igreja do Carmo, decorated with azulejo tiles, is located near the Livraria Lello and the Palacio da Bolsa. The church in baroque and rococo style was built in the 18th century and is a popular subject for photographers and instagrammer. The tiles on the side wall represent the foundation of the religious order of the Carmelites.
In fact, they are two churches, Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas, separated by a tiny, thin house - the narrowest house in Porto. The nuns lived and worked in the Igreja dos Carmelitas and the monks in the Igreja do Carmo.
There is nothing like a walk along the Cais de Ribeira. The riverside quarter of Porto is a medieval maze of narrow, winding alleys and pastel-coloured façades in faded splendour. And there are many trendy bars, cafés, shops, street performers and entertainers.
After you've had a drink or two on the Cais da Ribeira side of the river, head for Porto's next landmark, the Dom Luis I Bridge, which connects the Ribeira area with Porto Gaia on the opposite side.
From Cais da Ribeira, one can walk straight ahead on the lower part of the bridge. Or, if you are not afraid of heights, you can also cross the upper part of the bridge on foot and enjoy the spectacular view from above.
From the Miradouro Da Vitória you also have a great view of the city. From here you can see Vila Nova de Gaia, its wine cellars, the Dom Luis I bridge, the large glass dome of the Palacio da Bolsa, Sé Catedral, the Serra do Pilar Monastery--all in Porto and Gaia in one go!
Whether you're looking for #history, #art, #culture or food and wine experiences, Porto has it all, and plenty of it.