Porto is Portugal's second largest city and the capital of the Northern region, and a busy industrial and commercial centre. The city isn't very populous (about 240,000 inhabitants), but the Porto metropolitan area has some 2 million inhabitants in a 50-km radius, with cities like Vila Nova de Gaia, Vila do Conde, Póvoa de Varzim and Espinho.
The city is built at the high ground overlooking the Douro River estuary's northern side, and its historical center was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1996. It has been continuously inhabited since at least the 4th century BC.
Named by the Romans Portus Calle (the origin of the entire present country's name), the city is nowadays officially styled A muito nobre, sempre leal e invicta cidade do Porto (the very noble, always loyal, and undefeated city of The Harbor; the traditional English name "Oporto" is etymologically correct). This is usually shortened to "a Cidade Invicta" (the undefeated city) a title won because of Porto's unparalleled resistance against hostile troops during the 1820s. Residents of Porto are nicknamed the Tripeiros, or tripe eaters, since the Portuguese conquest of Ceuta in North Africa in 1415, when the city's inhabitants went without meat in order to provision the fleet (which left from Porto), and had to subsist on tripe soup, which developed into a gastronomical specialty of the city.
The city is quite varied architecturally, with medieval and modern buildings side by side. Porto's geography is hard on the feet, but pleasant to the eye. The city's grounds are extremely uneven; the Romans strategically built their fortified settlement into a cliff face that overlooks the river, where the present cathedral stands today. Stairs cut into the stone run up and down the cliff face and offer a laborious but rewarding walking tour. Across the Douro from Porto proper, at Vila Nova de Gaia, are the warehouses of notable Porto wine companies: Cálem, Ferreira, Fonseca, Sandeman, Kopke and others.
Citizens of Porto, while definitely Portuguese, hold themselves apart culturally from the rest of the country, as is expressed in the often heard phrase "o Porto é uma nação" (Porto is a nation). Outsiders often consider Porto to be more crass and mercantile than the rest of the country, and the inhabitants to be somewhat lacking in social graces. This is likely because the city's working and middle classes have historically been dominated by Portuguese bourgeoisie and English trading factions rather than the nobility. By and large, Os Portuenses, to use the correct term for the inhabitants, of course disagree, regarding themselves with some justification as a no nonsense people at the economic heart of the nation. As the saying goes, "Porto works, Braga prays, Coimbra studies, and Lisbon gets the money."
While the local attitude is friendly, to outsiders it is worth noting that locals can respond literally to questions, which may seem slightly off-putting to the uninitiated. An example of this would be to ask in a bar if they have a menu (for food) and to receive a straight 'no' as a response. It's after further questions that one can find out that the establishment doesn't sell food. Such a response is not considered rude, it is merely direct and literal.
If you speak in Spanish to a local, you will be largely understood, and as a rule they will freely converse with you, but from time to time, more so with the older generation, you may be politely reminded that you are in Portugal and the native language is Portuguese.
Porto has a semi-Mediterranean climate, although it's strongly affected by the Atlantic Ocean, which makes it cooler than other cities with this climate. Temperatures can rise as high as 40 °C in August during occasional heat waves. Winters are mild, rainy and humid, with occasional cold nights when temperatures can drop below 0 °C.
- 1 Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO IATA, also known as Aeroporto do Porto or Aeroporto de Pedras Rubras) (in Pedras Rubras, about 15 km from the city centre). Porto International Airport is the second-busiest in Portugal, posting a very high proportion of flights and passengers for a European non-capital city.
This is due to Porto's particular economic importance and growing touristic interest, coupled with northern passenger logistical demand to fly out of Porto directly, instead of going by rail to Lisbon to get on a flight. As a result, Porto Airport is now Portugal's secondary hub for intercontinental flights to Brazil, North America and many European destinations by the Portuguese flag carrier TAP Portugal. Other European airlines are increasingly offering flights to Porto from their main hubs. There is also a growing presence of low-fare carriers, most prominently Ryanair. Porto Airport has connections to all other major airports in Portugal, Madeira and Azores.
Ground transportation from Porto AirportEdit
The Metro line E connects the airport to the city centre, offering a fast and peaceful ride into the heart of the city, for €2.00 (Z4 ticket) + €0.60 for the rechargeable card. You can buy 24 hours pass for Metro and buses for €7.00 (Z4 - includes the airport). The metro runs from around 06:00-01:00 daily, roughly every 20-30 min. Please be sure to validate your trip by touching the ticket to the prominent yellow sensor devices, placed at intervals in the entrances and inside stations, before boarding a train. When doing so, a flashing green light and sound are emitted. The penalty for being caught without a validated trip is at least €100.
STCP buses 601, 602 and 604 (see STCP airport buses) also connect the airport with the city center. They operate between around 05:30 and 00:30, roughly every 25 min. STCP also operates a night bus line 3M (Av. Aliados - Airport) every 60min between 01:00 and 05:00.
Alternatively, you may fly to Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS IATA) and get to Porto by train from the Oriente station there, which is connected to the airport by metro and bus. The trains take between 2.5 and 3 hours to get from Lisbon to Porto and are very frequent (once or twice per hour).
The city is served by two major train stations - São Bento terminus station and Campanhã stop over station.
To São Bento stationEdit
2 São Bento station is right in the city center and only served by local trains (Urbanos) and selected Regional and Inter-regional services to Regua and Pocinho. Urbanos (commuter trains) travel in four directions out of São Bento - to Braga, Guimãres, Caíde and Aveiro, stopping at numerous destinations along the way.
To Campanhã stationEdit
The 3 Campanhã station is about 3 km east of São Bento on a high-speed line to Lisbon. The long-distance Alfa Pendular and Intercidades trains arrive at Campanhã and reach these destinations in the following amount of time, respectively:
- Coimbra to Porto - 59 min (AP) to 69 min (IC)
- Lisbon to Porto - 2 hr 46 min (AP) to 3 hr 9 min (IC)
- Faro to Porto - about 5 hr 45 min (selected AP services only)
From Lisbon, you can board the train at Santa Apolónia, Entrecampos or Oriente. Travelling to Porto from Oriente in the north of the city, and close to Lisbon's Portela airport (within a 10-minute metro ride directly connecting Oriente and Portela) saves 9 minutes from the travelling time. Domestic trains are very frequent and usually on time.
There is only one direct international train from Porto. It's the Celta train to Vigo, Spain. There are two daily trains that take about 2hr 15min to complete the journey stopping only at Nine (connection with Urban trains from Braga), Viana do Castelo and Valença. Other international trains (to Paris and Madrid) require a change in Coimbra-B station.
There are various Regional and Inter-regional to Régua, Pocinho, Coimbra and Valença (connection to indirect trains to Vigo besides the Celta services and calling at more stations). There is also a direct night train to Lisbon (there are no direct night trains from Lisbon, as this service is traditionally used by serviceman reporting in Lisbon).
If you have a train ticket to or from Campanhã, you can travel to or from São Bento on urban trains with that ticket at no extra cost. Trains between Campanhã and São Bento take about 5 min.
The city is served by five major highways: A1, which connects Porto to Lisbon, A29 which connects Porto to Aveiro, A3 connects Porto to Braga, A28 connects Porto to Viana do Castelo and the northern Portuguese border, and A4, which goes eastwards from the city towards Vila Real. The IC29 connects Porto to the neighboring city of Gondomar. The city is also served by 2 ring urban highways, the A41 (still incomplete) which is the outer ring, and VCI/IC23 or A20 which connects all the main places inside the city. The A20/VCI, A28, A29 and A41 are all free highways, but there are plans to install tolls in the latter three, sometime in the future.
Generally speaking, the traffic is usually chaotic and very intense, especially during rush hours.
There are many companies providing direct bus trips from major European countries and also for most of the northern cities of the country. Try Rodonorte for timetables. Rede Expressos is the main nationwide express bus service. Visit also Porto Bus Service and Renex.
An international bus operated by the Spanish company ALSA leaves Madrid at 23:00 and arrives in Porto Casa Da Musica at 06:00. It costs around €50 from Madrid and also stops at (among others) Ávila and Salamanca. The return trip leaves Porto at 20:30.
There is a cargo and recreational harbor called Leixões or porto de Leixões (port of Leixões) in the neighboring city of Matosinhos. Modest-sized cruise ships can dock just outside a drawbridge to the inner harbor. Beneath the south approach to the bridge is a station for the light rail system (see "By Metro" below) that goes to Oporto.
There is also a very small recreational harbor in the Douro river. As far as a major method of getting to the city, sea transport is not really a feasible means. However, you can go on scenic tour boats along the Douro river, based especially in the zona ribeirinha of Oporto but also on the Vila Nova de Gaia wharf, for one of the most scenic short riverine trips you'll ever make.
Porto, like most Portuguese cities, is a nightmare to drive in. Roads vary in conditions - from fully paved to cobbled lanes that can make even the most shortest of distance seem like a go-kart rally. With that said, keep in mind that the touristic parts of the city (the Ribeira and Baixa) are a never ending maze of narrow streets, short tempered drivers and snakelike alleys. Better to walk (despite the fact that it's very hilly). Also, drivers seem to have forgotten how to drive (apart from pushing the pedals) - therefore, they make their own rules of the road (however, this generally does not apply to young drivers). Be prepared to lose your patience several times whilst driving.
Porto Metro is an modern light rail/subway system, which was only constructed at the turn of the millennium and is still being expanded. It has several lines, that run across the center of Porto, and reach out to surrounding municipalities. It is quick, and probably the most efficient way to get around Porto. Some major areas of the city, however, are not that well served by the metro. Announcements in the metro are made only in Portuguese, though most ticket machines and directional signs are bilingual in Portuguese and English.
Tickets must be purchased beforehand. They can be bought at the machines in the station (if there are no tickets in the machine that day, take the metro to the next station and buy it there!) The ticket is stored on a card called Andante, and you can purchase as many rides (or travels) as you want. Andante is Porto's main ticket system and it is based on somewhat unusual zone system. The city centre is zone C1 and the airport is N10. To travel between places you need to know how many zones you need to cross. Within the same zone or up to another zone you buy Z2 ticket. Z3 for three zones and so on. The Andante card itself costs €0.60 and can be re-used/re-charged, so do not throw it away. You can also buy daily passes or Andante Tour tickets for 1 or 3 days, which may be more convenient.
There is also the option to buy a Porto Card for 24, 48, or 72 consecutive hours which, besides of providing unlimited access to public transportation, includes free access to several museums and further discounts.
If you plan on staying for more than three weeks, it is recommended you get the Andante Gold, Andante's monthly subscription. The card costs €6, and will allow unlimited travel with your chosen zones. The Andante Gold, like the Andante Blue can be used in all metro lines, the funicular and all buses. When you are buying the Andante Gold, you must have a picture of yourself (your passport photo will do. They can amplify the image from the passport to the card in seconds).
Your Andante must be validated before you enter the metro, bus or funicular. There are no barriers to stop you at the metro, but the Metro police enter the cars and check your Andante to make sure you have validated it, and are travelling within your zones.
STCP is the best way to move around if you don't want to waste money on taxis. It's the public bus operator in the region, and the only one operating inside city borders. Suburbs are served either by STCP or private companies. STCP buses are the largest eco-friendly fleet in Europe, modern, comfortable, and lines cover the entire city, as well as major suburbs. Buses colors are white and blue. Line numbers are a 3-digit code. First digit is assigned according to the destination zone (2-west porto, 3-north porto, 4-east porto, 5-matosinhos, 6-maia, 7-valongo, 8-gondomar, 9-vila nova de gaia). For example, line nr. 906 has its destination in vila nova de gaia (9). You can use two kind of tickets: Andante (see "Metro" above) or STCP own tickets (you can only use STCP's monthly subscription that costs €47 plus a card). You can also buy single tickets for €1.85. Andante tickets are recommended: you can also use them on metro and suburban trains, plus they're easier to buy and recharge on any metro station or newspaper seller with "payshop" symbol. Andante blue card costs €0.60 and can be charged with how many journeys you like.
Every bus stop has at least a timetable and lines served. There is also a code, so you can get an SMS showing minutes left to next arrivals updated in real time. The SMS cost €0,25. You can also download the Move-Me app that, if you have an internet connection, is free and does the same thing. The busiest ones have electronic displays (though most of them are not working and they're often unreliable) with timetables and city maps. Every bus inside has a display showing the name of next stop as well as its Andante zone (very occasionally the Andante zone is not mentioned however it isn't very relevant since it is probably the same zone as the last stop), so it's easy to keep track of them. The stop and the zone (if it's the first or last stop in it) are announced however this announcements are in Portuguese (Próxima Paragem - Next Stop and Fim de Zona - End of Zone).
Route 500 is probably the most scenic STCP route as it runs along the river and the ocean front. STCP also possesses a fleet of old trams three of which are still in operation, mainly for tourist purposes. Route 1 runs along the river from Ribeira to Foz, route 18 runs from the river towards the city centre and route 22 goes around the city centre. The single tram ticket costs €3 and a 24h ticket costs €8 for adults and €5 from Children up to 12 years old. While the Andante website claims the ticket is valid on the tram, this is not the case for the pay-as-you-go card.
Some other private companies run services namely to some suburbs however they are often unadvertised and Andante tickets might be of limited acceptance.
A fast way of getting around the city, although traffic congestion near the city center might be a problem. However, be expected to pay a high price for these services, especially compared to the other public transportation such as bus and subway. Uber offer their services in Porto providing both the standard 'UberX' service available in many cities, and a 'Green' option that guarantees you an electric car. Prices are the same for either service.
There are ferry boats that connect Porto to the neighboring city of Vila Nova de Gaia, although you can easily walk or travel by car, metro or bus to the other side. Also there are numerous tourist boats which travel up the Douro river, where you can get fantastic views of the green landscape the region has to offer.
Not exactly a public transportation, but its a wonderful way to see the city from above. Near the Douro there is a heliport with a helicopter available for people to use to get to know the city as a whole. Travelling accompanied will make the flight cheaper. Exit at Museu do Carro Elétrico stop in the 500 and ZM buses as well as the 1 and 18 trams (see By Bus above).
By Funicular dos GuindaisEdit
This is a cable railway system. Use this if you don't wish to walk up the steep streets of Porto. This system connects the 4 Ribeira to the 5 Batalha square, in the city centre (connection with some buses, the 22 tram, metro and trains, the last couple of ones from S. Bento).It also has a panoramic view of the River Douro. A single trip cost €2.50. Monthly Andante tickets (see Metro above) are also accepted; the pay-as-you-go ticket Andante card is not.
By Ascensor da RibeiraEdit
This panoramic elevator runs from the Largo da Lada, and is visible behind the buildings of the Ribeira, close to the Ponte D. Luís.
Porto is a mysterious city that reveals its charm to the visitor through time. Take your time, wander through the mazes and alleys of the city. Take in the old, bohemian spirit of the city. Hike through the Ribeira and Foz do Douro regions (the latter, at sunset). Porto may not be in every tourist's Iberian Peninsula itinerary, but it's well worth a visit if you want to see a city that has changed economically, but that has kept its old traditions.
If you want to visit several museums, consider the Porto Card which provides free access to several museums and further discounts, optionally also free public transport access.
- 1 Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace), Rua Ferreira Borges, 4050-253. It also contains the most impressive Arab room in the country. There is also a Port wine tasting room. It was built in the 19th century on the grounds of the destroyed old cloisters of the adjacent São Francisco church. €10 adults, €6.5 concessions.
- 2 Sé do Porto (Porto Cathedral), Terreiro da Sé, 4050-573. This Romanesque cathedral was originally completed in the 13th century. Later on Baroque alterations were made in the 17th and 18th century. The cathedral is located on top of a hill from where you also have great views over the city and the river. Free. Adjacent monastery €4.
- 3 Port Wine Institute, Rua Ferreira Borges 27, 4050-253, ☏ . Mon-Fri 11:00-19:00, Sat-Sun closed. A small exhibition about Port wine and its certification process. Samples of a small variety of Port wines can be bought. Guided tastings and tours to the laboratories can be arranged. Free.
- 4 City Hall, Avenida dos Aliados.
- 5 Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) (adjacent to Palácio da Bolsa). A Gothic church with later alterations of the interior decorations in Baroque style.
- 6 Mercado do Bolhão, Rua Formosa. Sun closed. A traditional market of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat.
- 7 Livraria Lello, Rua das Carmelitas (Near Praça dos Leões and the Universidade do Porto). It's an old bookshop with an amazing interior and spiral staircase. Voted as one of the most beautiful bookshops in Europe. To get in you have to buy a €5 voucher at the kiosk around the corner from the entrance, which can be used towards book purchases.
- 8 Torre dos Clérigos (Clerics' Tower), Rua São Filipe Nery, 4050-546, ☏ . Panoramic views from this baroque tower. 240 steps to the top. It is best to get there early since there is not a lot of space on the viewing platform. You might even have to wait for some time before you are allowed to climb up the stairs. €5 (includes entry to a small exhibition at the lower levels of the tower).
- 9 National Museum Soares dos Reis, Palácio dos Carrancas, Rua D. Manuel II, 4050-342. Museum displaying Portuguese art. Founded in 1833.
- 10 Centro Português de Fotografia (Portuguese Photography Museum), Edifício da Ex-Cadeia e Tribunal da Relação do Porto, Largo Amor de Perdição, 4050-008. Housed in a beautiful building in the centre of the city. Free.
- South city center
- 11 Ribeira (Riverfront). The part of the city near the river, which is also a good place to start visiting the World Heritage area; to the other side of the river you will see the Ribeira de Gaia, a similar area from the city of Vila Nova de Gaia (the two are only separated by the river) and where you could find the Port Wine Cellars.
- 12 Museum of Sacred Art and Archaeology of The Higher Seminary of Oporto, Largo Dr. Pedro Vitorino 2, 4050-468 (Located in the Church of St. Lawrence (known as the Cricket Church (Igreja Grilo) after the nickname of the religious order that took ownership in 1780). Beginning at the riverfront, head north on R de Mercadores and look for the Igreja Grilo signs directing you into the delightfully narrow streets that lead to the church. Best approached on foot.), ☏ .
- The 6 bridges connecting Porto to Gaia over the Douro river, many of them providing an excellent view to the river.
West of city centerEdit
- 13 Museu do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Museum), Rua de Monchique 45-52, 4050-394.
- 14 Pavilhão Rosa Mota. A multi purpose pavilion with nice gardens to rest, also known as "Palácio de Cristal".
- 15 Museu Romântico (nearby the Pavilhão Rosa Mota). A house where the king of Italy stayed while on exile.
- North-west of city center
- 16 Casa da Música (House of Music), Avenida da Boavista 604-610, 4149-071 (Take the metro lines A, B, C, E or F and get off at "Casa da Música"), ☏ (Box office), (tour enquiries). Designed by Rem Koolhaas and OMA. Guided tour available in English from 1 june - 30 september at 10:00, 11:00, 16:00 and 17:00 for €10/person (free for children under 12) which take about 1 hour. The rest of the year the guided tour is at 11:00 and 16:00.
- 17 Fundação de Serralves (Modern Art Museum), Rua D. João de Castro 210, 4150-417 (Take bus 201 (from 06:00-21:00) Sá da Bandeira -> Viso, bus 203 (from 06:00-21:00) Marquês -> Castelo do Queijo, bus 502 (from 06:00-01:00) Bolhão -> Matosinhos Mercado, or bus 504 (from 06:00-00:45) Boavista -> Norteshopping). A contemporary museum designed by the famous architect Álvaro Siza, with a huge garden/park and an Art Deco Villa. When visiting this foundation you can visit the exhibitions, relax at the park, have lunch at the restaurant, bar or tea house and explore the shops or the library. There is also a farm at the southern end of the park. €8.50 museum and park, €4 park only. 50% discount for 65+ and Porto card holders. Free on Sundays 10:00-13:00 for students and under 18.
Foz do DouroEdit
This is the area around the ocean front just north of the mouth of the Douro River. You can rent a bike and cycle along the riverfront and then the beach to that area.
- Douro river cruise. Take a cruise upriver (here is one operator)- the cost is about €10 and takes about 50 minutes, or you may also choose a day-long cruise for a higher price. Go at least as far as Pinhão - the landscape is absolutely stunning. If you choose to do this in the summer, don't forget your factor 50 sunscreen! Look for cruises based on the Vila Nova de Gaia wharf (the same side as the port wine caves), as some of them may offer discounts for cave tours or port wine purchases. €10.
- 1 Teatro Nacional São João (TNSJ), Praça da Batalha, 4000-102, ☏ (tour enquiries and reservations), toll-free: 800 108 675. Porto's main theatre and opera production company and venue. There are also guided tours (€5/person) for access to the stage, rehearsal room, dressing rooms and the technical area (if they are not used during the time of the tour).
Watch football (i.e., soccer). The city has two teams playing in Primeira Liga, the top tier of Portuguese football, FC Porto and Boavista:
- 2 FC Porto. Their home ground is Estádio do Dragão, capacity 50,000. It's 1 km north of the centre with its own metro station.
- 3 Boavista FC. They play at Estádio do Bessa, capacity 28,000. It's 2 km northwest of the centre, metro Francos.
Basic Portuguese language is very much appreciated. English, French, Galician, Catalan, Italian or Spanish may be spoken or understood at major hotels/resorts. For major tourist attractions such as river boat rides or Port Cellar tours, generally the chosen language for a given tour slot is granted on a first-come-first-served basis, if you want a tour to be guaranteed to be in your language, turn up early and request it.
- Fast Forward Language Institute (In the centre of town). Offers a variety of courses in Portuguese language and culture including 3 hour "Portuguese for survival", aimed at foreign visitors to the city.
Porto is a business, financial and manufacturing centre. Some hotels have conference rooms, some with internet.
The Porto University is the second largest in Portugal by student numbers and its biology, pathology and computer science research departments are top notch. The University's Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia cooperates with well established companies by providing assistance to new companies with business research and incubation support.
Almost all the shops are open every day, but are usually overcrowded during the weekends and rainy days.
What to buy?Edit
Port wine, of course. This is the right place for it, in the city of Gaia, on the south shore of the Douro River.
The Norte region is known for the passing down of quality craftsmanship traditions from generation to generation while adapting with the latest production and technological innovations. Many of the best Portuguese apparel, footwear, luxury goods and accessory industries are based in and around the city of Porto. Therefore, you will find many flagship stores and factory outlets in and around Porto. The Portuense people know craftsmanship and appreciate quality in whatever it might be, clothing, shoes and leather goods, cars, jewellery, furniture and so on. Brands are numerous and range from globally recognized, like Cavalinho, Charles, Claus Porto, Lanidor and Parfois, to stricly local ones providing for a unique selection on any budget. Many of the more affordable products may not be produced in Portugal, the attractive aesthetic value notwithstanding.
- 1 Centro Comercial Bombarda (CCB), Rua de Miguel Bombarda 285, ✉ email@example.com. M–F 11:00–19:00, Sa 11:00–20:00, Su closed. This is not the regular shopping mall. It's much smaller and with speciality stores related to art and fashion. Look for Portuguese design, organic cosmetics, or contemporary jewellery, and then head to the galleries down the street.
- 2 Aguas Furtadas, Rua do Almada 13, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking for unique objects or original Portuguese design? This is the place for it. From a minimalist Barcelos cockerel to colorful ceramics, you won't find many of these pieces anywhere else.
Take a stroll around the Mercado do Bolhão which has a food market and handicrafts stores, and Santa Catarina street (highly recommended, even if only to stroll), which is near Bolhão. Cedofeita street is also a busy shopping street, as well as Boavista.
For shopping, Porto and the suburbs have plenty of shopping centers, including Norte Shopping, Arrábida Shopping, Parque Nascente, Gaia Shopping and Mar Shopping (the biggest IKEA group shopping in Europe). Apart from these you also have less populated shops that are smaller but still great ( Shopping Cidade do Porto, Via Catarina, etc.).
- 3 ViaCatarina Shopping, Rua de Santa Catarina 312–350, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M–F 10:00–20:00, Sa Su & holidays 09:00–17:00. A medium-sized shopping centre nestled in a building block between Via Santa Catarina and Rua de Fernandes Tomas, utilizing the difference in elevation between them for spectacular results. Inside you will find a slightly mundane selection of chain stores and food court filled with local fast-food options.
- 4 Shopping Cidade do Porto, Rua Gonçalo Sampaio 350, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 06:30–22:30, Sa Su & holidays 08:00–22:30. An elegant shopping centre with upscale pretences and spacious atrium, but limited selection of stores compared to larger ones.
Porto has some of the finest restaurants in Portugal.
It is said that if you like to eat, you should go to Porto because it's a place where you eat well in terms of quality and amount (even Lisbon citizens say that in Porto is where they eat the best food). The best restaurants of the city are mainly in Matosinhos near the beach, and the Porto de Leixões seaport but watch out for pricing, more than a few ok establishments deem themselves worthy of high pricing just because of the decor or the "in crowd" is seen going there or a combination of both, they charge ridiculous prices for food not much better prepared or presented than elsewhere and many times, the dose is very small, so don't be shy to look around to get a sense of what is what. You can take the blue metro line A to get there which takes about 30 min. In the Ribeirinha part of Oporto, overlooking the Douro River and Vila Nova de Gaia, there's many well run very affordable small family run restaurants with a great vibe, friendly staff, great food and drink and sometimes, due to limited space, having to share tables with complete strangers, sometimes local people and sometimes not, making the whole experience very cosmopolitan and entertaining. Within the old city center, inexpensive to reasonable priced eating houses catering mostly for residents are also easily found for both lunch and dinner, these places welcome foreigners and many take special pride in hosting you. At these places, to enjoy a hearty well prepared meal, it's best practice to just follow the waiter suggestions as the menus are three course set Pratos do dia (Today's menu), normally a choice of two or three soups, main dishes including bread, wine of the house, dessert and a bica (espresso) in the end, all this for €7-10 per person. If you are hungry, a good strategy is to say how much you enjoyed the soup and politely ask if you can have a little more. That's why local patrons tend to have the soup last. If you truly enjoyed the meal, show your appreciation to the chef and staff, it always makes the people proud for being of service.
Expect hearty meals, and if you can, try "Tripas à moda do Porto", a tripe dish. Citizens of Porto are called tripeiros (tripe-eaters) on account of this dish. Traditional set menu restaurants, tend to serve the soup last but these days most waiters will ask what you want first and so on, but don't be surprised to see someone starting with desert and finish with the couvert! It's known to happen... Also try bacalhau - in any way it is cooked - there are hundreds of different dishes with salted codfish!
Don't forget the traditional grilled cheese sandwich called "Francesinha", which literally translated means little French lady. This city is just about the only place in the world where you can find it. However, in many other northern Portuguese cities you can find a low quality version of it. Essentially it is a toast with layers of meat inside (beef, pork meat, ham...). It is covered with cheese and a spicy sauce, with the option of including french fries on top. Most importantly, this dish must be accompanied by beer and not wine.
A good tip is taking the bus or subway to Matosinhos in July, there will be the fish festival. Freshly caught fish is being served the same day at barbecues lined up in the streets just a few blocks from the main beach. You choose a fish (only whole fish) and they prepare it on the streets for you - not a fancy restaurant, but together with the local people you are eating the best tasting fish you ever had! Try a dourada, it is delicious.
Porto is dotted with thousands of different bakeries (Pão Quente) and pastry shoppes (Pastelarias). Apart from serving delicious (and quite inexpensive) goods, they are also equipped with a side-cafe that serves all sorts of coffees (Pingo, Meia de Leite, etc.) and sandwiches (Tosta Mista-ham and cheese toastie). Unlike the other river side cafes in the city, these establishments do not have picturesque views of Porto (that's expensive, and in the end, you'd be the one paying for that bill). Instead, they attract tourists by offering good food at very cheap prices.
Most locals drink black coffee (espresso).
There is at least one fully vegetarian restaurant in Porto, Paladar da Alma (Rua de Santo Ildefonso 293/5), and some other restaurants which offer vegetarian dishes alongside non-vegetarian options, such as Capa Verde (Rua da Nossa Senhora de Fátima). Vegans may have to ask for dishes to be specially prepared for them, even in vegetarian restaurants.
- 1 Maus Habitos, Rua de Passos Manuel, 178 (at the 4th floor of an old parking garage opposite Oporto Coliseum). M-F 12:00-15:00. Vegetarian restaurant by day, youth culture clubhouse at night. Menu changes weekly and costs €9 (€7.50 excluding dessert).
- 2 Paladar da Alma, Rua de St Ildefonso 293/295. M-W 12:00-15:00, Th-Sa 12:00-15:00, 20:00-23:00. The vegetarian food is based on Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisines with influences from other parts of the world. The owner is also the cook.
- 3 Âncora d'Ouro (The Golden Anchor), Praça de Parada Leitão 45 (between the Cordoaria park and the Praça dos Leões). The third oldest cafe in Porto, it is commonly known as "O Piolho" (the Louse). The cafe looks out on the street facing a faculty of the Universidade do Porto, and had been a meeting place for students since the 19th century. Plaques donated by graduating medical classes from the early 20th century onward decorate the walls. During the fascist period (1926-1974) it was a regular meeting place of "undesirables" (according to the regimes point of view), and was accordingly under regular surveillance by the secret police. On one occasion it was raided by the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana) who have a post nearby, and they charged their horses into the cafe itself. It is uncertain if the place's current disorder results from this or more recent activities. Service is surly, the place isn't at all fancy, but it is usually stuffed to the gills with students. Its also quite cheap.
- 4 Casa Da Foz, Rua Padre Luís Cabral, 4150-461 Porto. Excellent Italian restaurant. Wide variety of dishes. Extremely small, so it's best to call ahead and reserve a table.
- 5 Varanda Da Barra, Rua Paulo Gama 470, 4150-589 Porto. Great restaurant that serves traditional Portuguese, Italian and "International" food. Nice riverside view.
- 6 Galeria de Paris Restaurante Bar, 56 Rua Galeria de Paris.
Porto is home to port wine of course, and there are many wineries around the city where port wine is brewed. Strictly speaking, port wine can only be called port wine if the grapes are grown in the Douro valley, and the wine is produced and bottled in Porto. Port wines come in many styles, with vintage port being the most expensive.
The main areas for bars are Praça de Ceuta to the north, through the station surrounds to Ribeira further south.
- 1 Solar Vinho do Porto, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Rua de Entre-Quintas 220. A villa with port samples and a great view of the Douro. Open M-Sa 14:00-00:00. This is the perfect place to sit in soft chairs or outside in the garden and enjoy a few glasses of the finest ports. You can also have cheese with your port.
Dance clubs here always start very (very) late, around 01:00-02:00, and end up from 06:00-07:30. You have nice choices to pick from. Most clubs are located in the Industrial region and in the upmarket Foz area.
- 2 Industria, Avenida do Brasil 843, Foz. "Local heroes and international superstars" - going since 1987. It's open until around 6AM.
- 3 Discoteca Via Rápida, R. Manuel Pinto de Azevedo 567, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Th–Sa 23:50–06:00. A popular disco in the Industrial Area. The nightclub opens Fridays and Saturdays and it's always crowded. The music heard are the latest dance hits and the crowd is 20ish.
- 4 Passos Manuel, R. de Passos Manuel 137, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A dance club/bar frequented by the arty crowd, with a varied but tasteful selection of music and a warm decór.
- 5 Maus Hábitos, Rua Passos Manuel 178, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 12:00–22:30, Sa 10:00–13:00, Su closed. A very alternative bar, right in the center of the city, in front of Coliseu.
- 6 Plano B, R. de Cândido dos Reis 30. Near Torre dos Clérigos, is a popular art gallery and bar installed on Porto's historic center.
- 7 Clube Mau Mau, Rua do Outeiro 4, ☏ . In the Foz region, it is a popular nightclub with varying musical styles, from house to pop to R&B.
There are some LGBT clubs and bars in Porto. Late night scene.
Bars & pubsEdit
- 8 Ryan's Irish Pub, Rua do Infante D. Henrique 18, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. In the Ribeira, nice cozy atmosphere and friendly bar staff. Always a good place to start.
- 9 Prioridade Bar, R. da Lada 76–78. In the Ribeira region, this bar is one of the cheapest in the area. It's probably the only decent place in the whole of the Ribeira region (and probably, in the city) where you can get a large beer for only a few euros. They also serve spirits and cocktails, at very cheap prices as well. If you are planning a night out, have a few drinks at this bar before clubbing, since the price of drinks in the clubs can be outrageously high and you may find yourself with no taxi fare money to return to your home, hotel, hostel, etc. It's quite tricky to find, since it's tucked away in a rather isolated (but quite nice) place; it's near the D. Luis I bridge. Ask the locals, they'll know where it is.
- Ribeira region This area is full of bars and pubs where you can have a pleasant time with an incredible view, before going to the bigger clubs around the city. Most bars are relatively close to each other, and in some there is no entrance fee. Usually most of these bars close from 03:00-04:00, after which the area becomes deserted. Be sure to go either home or to a club after, because when this area becomes deserted you may feel a bit insecure.
There's residential homes all around the city. There's also a lot of 3-star hotels with very affordable prices. In the entire city there's only one camping site (Prelada), but it's a bit far from the center. There aren't many family houses to rent in Porto, so they'll be difficult to find.
- 1 Alma Porto Hostel, Rua do Bonfim, 305B (By metro exit at Campo 24 de Agosto station to Rua do Bonfim. Go up Rua do Bonfim and find us at 305B. By train exit at Campanhã station, go up Rua Pinto Bessa until the church. Turn left onto Rua do Bonfim and find us at 305B.), ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Small and chill hostel with smooth colours, lounge areas and relaxed atmosphere in a house built in the 19th century where you can also appreciate the hand made works in the high ceilings, the typical Portuguese tiles, and the beautiful camellias in the garden.
- 2 The White Box House, Rua de Santa Catarina, 575, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. A typical Oporto house built in the early 20th century, completely renewed in order to combine the comfort of the present with the charm of the past, providing the atmosphere for a perfect stay.
- 3 Wine Hostel, Campo dos Martires da Patria, 52, ☏ . Very centrally located. Clean rooms with ensuite showers. Very close to the train station, but may be difficult to find, so check a map before arriving. €19.
- 4 Gallery Hostel Porto, Rua Miguel Bombarda, nº222 (in area of Oporto), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free breakfast, free walking tour, free nightlife tour. Thematic dinners, Porto wine tastings, Gallery exhibitions. Carefully decorated rooms, multilingual and professional team. €20-22 dorm room with private bathrooms, €50 double rooms.
- 5 Porto Spot Hostel, Rua Gonçalo Cristóvão nº 12 (5 minutes walk from Bolhao Metro stations). Comfortable, clean hostel with wi-fi, dvd and playstation room, reading room, a well equipped kitchen and a bar downstairs. Great light and showers. Could give Traveller's House in Lisboa a run for its money. €14-18 dorm room with shared bathroom, private rooms around €20 (Mar 2011).
- 6 Oporto Sky Hostel, Rua da Lapa, 33 (One minute walking from Lapa's subway station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Very comfortable hostel with a very welcoming and helpful manager, Luzia. Shared and private rooms. Free computers and wi-fi. A few minutes from the city centre and just off Boavista, which leads to the coast. Hosts speaks perfect English and Spanish. Prices starting at €14 pp with breakfast included.
- 7 Pousada de Juventude do Porto (HI Porto), Rua de Paulo da Gama 551. Located outside of the city centre, with several buses passing just by, open 24 hours and a terrific view over the river.
- 8 Hospedaria 31 de Janeiro, Rua 31 Janeiro 193. Incredibly cheap (€15 for a double) but dirty and dodgy.
- 9 Hotel Ibis Porto São João, Rua Dr. Plácido Costa (inside Galeria Comercial do Campus São João), ☏ .
- 10 Residencia Pedra Antiga, Rua de Santa Catarina, 830, ☏ . Cheap, clean and friendly. Bathroom ensuite. Free WiFi. Hosts speak no English though French and Spanish work besides Portuguese. Starting at €13.75 pp.
- 11 Hotel Miradouro, Rua de Alegria, 598, ☏ . Unique and interesting. 1960s decor all over, amazing views of Porto and the Douro valley, famous panoramic restaurant on the 13th floor where you can enjoy your breakfast while seeing miles and miles of the Porto region below you. Free parking. Bathroom ensuite. Receptionists are very friendly and professional and speak English. The area it lies in is a bit run down, but definitely not as bad as many other areas of the city. From €26.
- 12 Porto Lounge Hostel, Rua do Almada, nº 317 (next to Av. dos Aliados, in downtown), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Wifi, breakfast included, lockers, bar and common area. €14-20 dorm room with private bathrooms, €40-50 double rooms.
- 13 Porto Royal Bridges Hotel, Rua de Sá da Bandeira, 53, ☏ .
- 14 Hotel Belver Beta Porto, Rua do Amial, 601, ✉ email@example.com.
- 15 Mercure Porto Centro Hotel, Praça da Batalha 116 (São Bento station approx. 400 m; Bolhão metro 500 m; Guindais funicular 300 m), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Modern 4-star hotel with large rooms overlooking the railway station (those with limited mobility may prefer to arrive by taxi or metro). Rooms have kettles, and price includes reliable wireless Internet access. Good views.
- 16 Vila Galé Porto, Av. Fernão Magalhães, nº 7 4300-190, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. In the centre of Portugal’s “Invincible City”; Rua de Santa Catarina is a few metres away from the hotel. Online booking.
- 17 Hotel Malaposta, Rua da Conceição, nº80, 4050-214, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Four floor hotel with contemporary décor located at Oporto’s historic and shopping area. Online booking.
- 18 Pestana Porto, Praça da Ribeira, nº 1, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 19 inPatio Guest House, Pátio de São Salvador nr. 22, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 20 HF Ipanema Park Hotel, Rua de Serralves 124, ☏ .
- 21 Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa, R. do Ten. Valadim 146, ☏ .
- 22 Porto Palácio Hotel, Av. da Boavista 1269, toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 23 Hotel Infante Sagres, Praça D. Filipa de Lencastre 62, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 24 Tiara Park Atlantic Porto, Av. da Boavista, 1466 (1.6km from Franco station by car), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Luxury hotel with 232 guest-rooms with a highly decorated interior. Located in the city's centre.
On Alfa Pendular (AP) trains, 3G WiFi is available throughout as well as most Intercidades (IC) trains. CP (Portugal railways) is in the process of installing WiFi in all national trains, including the commuter service Urbanos trains.
Some long-distance bus services have started to offer 3G as well. Please check when booking a ticket. Many public places these days, like a café, restaurant or hotel also offer WiFi but you need to check within, while other establishments advertise the availability of free WiFi.
The Porto Airport used to offer free WiFi some time ago. Mobile service provider kiosks, exist within the airport ground floor lobby area.
Be aware that there may be pickpockets in heavily crowded areas and on public buses and trains; however, pickpocketing is not common in Porto. Travelling by bus or metro is generally safe and one of the best ways to go from a place to another.
Porto is generally a safe place to be if you take normal precautions like walking in well-illuminated streets at night. One part of Porto, near the Tourist Information Office between the cathedral and the steps to the small church, often has drunk people that could possibly be trouble. There's no reason for alarm because many of them are inoffensive, but it is best to use some caution, as you would elsewhere.
If you take the main road from the bus station to the cathedral and tourist information center, walk back to the bus station after you're done and then walk from there to the other sites. Avoid the shortcut from the tourist information center downstairs because near there have been many incidents there.
Call 112 if you have an emergency.
The Porto city region is in an ideal position to set up base and explore nearby areas like Vila do Conde, Viana do Castelo, the Costa da Prata, Braga, Guimarães, the Douro river valley and Trás-os-Montes. Railways and buses offer affordable transportation, otherwise, car rental can be a better proposition if one wants to have freedom of movement, but if on a tight budget, try to avoid toll roads whenever possible but register as a Via Verde utilizador. It's easily done at any Loja do Cidadão (just ask a local the whereabouts of the nearest one), costs about €15 and you get a few free tolls worth almost the initial outlay, while subsequent usage payments can be done at ATM machines 24/7, thus saving lots of time going around looking for a post office to pay timeously the outstanding tolls. Late payment incurs penalties.
- Vila Nova de Gaia — lies across the Douro River from Porto.
- During the summer, try one of the many quality beaches near Porto, in the southern part of Gaia . Gaia has plenty of beaches with blue flags (Miramar, Aguda, Granja), a certification of the quality of the beach.
- For satisfying your party mood visit some in the neighboring cities of Matosinhos, Vila do Conde, Maia, Penafiel, Amarante, Povoa de Varzim (beach and casino).
- Visit the net target array in Matosinhos. Local legend has it that this is where the Greek Minotaur fell from Avarine, a cloud formation some 17 miles above Greece, with the golden fleece. This led to the formation of the modern day Porto in circa 1970.
- On the south, within easy reach is the Costa da Prata (Silver Coast) beginning at the resort city of Espinho with its beaches and casino, reaching all the way to Aveiro and Mira.
- Minho region — Go on a day trip to this region. Guimarães, Viana do Castelo, Braga, Caminha, Valença, Ponte de Lima and Arcos de Valdevez, for instance, all have something to offer, and the region is very beautiful. Taste the "Vinho Verde", freely translated as "Green Wine" - this is mostly a low alcoholic grade, young and fresh kind of wine, that you won't find anywhere else.
- Peneda-Gerês National Park — Go on a day trip to this park. The wildlife and nature in this park are really worth a visit, and the scenery is magnificent.
|Routes through Porto|
|merges with ←||N S||→ Santa Maria da Feira → Coimbra → Lisbon|
|Vigo ← Braga ← Vila Nova de Famalicão ←||N S||→ merges with|