Porto is a city about 300 km north of Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. It also gave its name to Port Wine as Portuguese fortified wine are produced in Douro Valley.
It is a beautiful UNESCO city with the finest architectures which took my breath away with every step I walked. I visited Porto in January which means it was the rainy season. The rain injected an air of magic and romance making me fall in love with the city instantly.
Whether you are thinking to spend more time exploring the city or having a quick stopover, here are the top 5 things I would recommend to do in Porto.
1) Livrario Lello bookshop
This is the bookshop that inspired JK Rowling when she was teaching English in Porto for 2 years. This is where she shaped and developed ideas for the Harry Potter series.
But whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, Livrario Lello is magical. It is a two storey bookshop with a cozy and exquisite interior. The iconic staircase takes the centre-staged adding to the elegance of the shop. It must have been Instagrammed more than a thousand time.
Apart from books in Portuguese, there are also books in other languages too.
Nested on the second floor is a small little cafe where one can read a book while sipping on a cup of coffee. Who knows, you can draw some inspirations from the bookshop too!
Tourists are required to pay 3 Euros to enter the bookshop. However, 3 Euros will be deducted from your purchase if you buy any books from the store. With that, you can spend as much time as you want to browse through the books and perfect your shots.
Plus, what can be a better way to bring home a gift from Porto for yourself or friends? With the wide selection of classics, you would be able to find something you like.
2) Atlantic Ocean
I always think to be able to get close to the Ocean beats getting close to the Sea because Oceans are way cooler. It is one of the best place to be in Porto. Sit on a bench and immerse into the MOMENT as you listen to the majestic waves crashing ashore. Sound of waves are therapeutic and staring into the horizon is humbling to know how little we humans are.
I could easily spend hours sitting by the coast staring into the ocean if not for the cold winter rain and the chilling strong wind made me fingers numbed. Let’s put it this way, I am not made for weather that is too cold.
The best time to be there is during sunset where you can make beautiful sunset photos. Unfortunately, my luck ran out with the rain and clouds but you may get lucky on a good day!
3) Wine tasting and winery tour
Confession time. The primary reason I decided to make a stop in Porto was that I fell in love with port wine. I was first introduced to them in Australia, Perth when I was doing a winery tour. Knowing that port wine originates from Porto, of course, I have to pay a visit to one of the wineries.
Port wine a flavourful dessert wine with a high percentage of alcohol where the grapes are taken from vineyards in Douro region and brought to the wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia where they were being fermented. The process will be interrupted at some point of the fermentation when aguardente will be added to the barrel of wine to increase the alcohol content, giving it extra flavour too.
I booked a tour online with Real Compahia Velha winery, the oldest wine company in Porto. It was founded by the King of Portugal in 1756. I had an insightful tour through the ageing cellar and ended the tour with wine tasting. It is definitely worth a visit. The tour can be booked through here
4) Having a Francesinha
Although francesinha is not considered a traditional food of Porto it is still the food I would highly recommend to eat in Porto.
It is a sandwich consists of sausage, ham, cold meat and beef steak drenched in melted cheese and gravy that is overload with richness.
Wrote a piece on Francesinha and you can find it here.
5) Street Art
Graffiti is part of the art culture that you can see all around Porto today. Graffiti have not always been that welcoming until they were legalised in 2014. Since then, the street art scene has become more vibrant and you can find art in almost every corner. Some are huge while some are small and quirky. Definitely can’t miss spotting them!
Now, go explore Porto and I hope you would love the city as much as I do.
Have you visited the city and what is your favourite thing to do in Porto?