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Eclectically beautiful. Architecturally stunning. Porto, Portugal is one of the cutest little cities I’ve ever seen.Cute parks dot the hills, overlooking the city. Cobblestone roads pour into the historic downtown. It inspired parts of JK Rowling’s Hogwarts, and has everything I love in a city: good views, good wine, and good people. Castle-esque cathedrals sprawl out at the top of the rolling city, with its winding pathways and tiled buildings, Porto is the perfect place for a weekend getaway or a wine holiday. There are so many things to do in Porto, Portugal…. and so many stunning things to see.
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What to do in Porto, Portugal
Porto is famous for its architecture and its wine. There’s no shortage of either in the area. Though you might want to pre-book a walking tour (they are “free” though you should pay your volunteer guide at the end what you think the tour was worth) as they tend to fill up, there’s so many hidden corners in the labyrinth of Porto, it’s just as fun to hide and get lost inside the hilly neighborhoods.
Free Walking Tours in Porto
Porto has undergone a lot of regenerative upkeep as of late. Due to a change in the beaurocrative nature of rentals and property, passed-down homes that are finally getting the care they had been lacking in previous decades. Having been revamped and restored, Porto is now one of the most colorful and cheerful looking cities I think I’ve had the opportunity to explore.
Known as the city of 6 bridges, there’s some serious beaut’s about. Don’t miss out on the hand-painted murals inside the local train station! Probably the best way to get about has to be the numerous free walking tours available, though you can book a bus trip around, or go by bike:
- Free Walking Tours in Porto:
- Bus Option:
- Bike Option:
Wine Tastings in Porto
The wineries are famous for a type of wine invented in Portugal, but adopted and spread by the English: port wine. This sweet delicacy is much stronger than its other red brethren, but all varieties can be found in Porto wine tastings.
By far my favorite feature of Porto, there is surely no shortage of wine-tasting options. In fact, they are so prevalent, practically anything you pay for offers a ticket for a free tasting. For example, if you choose to get a cable car back to the upper viewpoint of the city, a tasting is included with your ticket.
I used this article in reference to pinpoint which cellars claimed to be the best!
Other Must Sees in Porto
1.) Bridge Tour: Known as the city of 6 bridges, you must at least view the architectural delights, provided good weather is in order. I had the best time tip-toeing out late at night to see the city from the middle of one of the bridges all lit up. It was simply gorgeous! (Even with the creamy layer of fog that veiled the view)
2.) Livraria Lello: The library staircases that inspired J.K. Rowling herself. For 4 Euro, you can peruse the bookstore and its magical staircases that inspired the Hogwarts’ version. I’ve never seen such a curvy corridor!
3.) Free Art!At the Sao Bento Railway station, you can view centuries-old hand-painted tiled mosaics.
At the Sao Bento Railway station, you can view centuries-old hand-painted tiled mosaics.
4.) Ride the Downtown Tram: Take a step back in time as you ride down cobblestone paths through the historic downtown center. The cute little tram cars are a little rickety, but worth the trip!
5.) Porto Cathedral Tour: Give your eyes a feast and enjoy the hilltop cathedral named after the city. It’s quite the hike up, so you might as well enjoy all the gothic art within after a quick loop around the outside.
6.) Tiled Cathedral: Located adjacent to the mosaic’ed rail station, the tiled cathedral is (in my opinion) prettier than it’s architectural sister.
7.) Take the Cable Car to/from the Ribeira: Probably one of my favorite activities in Porto, the tram ride
Where to Stay
I had a wonderful (albeit chilly) time staying at a few great hostels in the area. Here are a few of my favorite accomodations, and some Eco-friendly places you definitely should check out.
Eco-friendly Options in Porto
Boavista Eco-Luxury House (offers vegan brekkie options!)
Super cute eco apartment, but I’ve found it’s regularly booked up
Gallery Eco Hostel: This hostel looks like a luxury hotel, complete with art gallery, but offers the opportunity to volunteer in the area. They practice active sustainable tourism, meaning that their facilities are green, and they promote other organic, sustainable local brands…like um, wine 🙂