Portugal’s second largest city is surely not one to be missed. Dotted with historical buildings as far back as the 300’s BC and new modern designs, the city of Porto has something for everyone. Nestled by the Duero River, it’s one of the best regions for wine in the Iberian Peninsula and it’s famous for it’s Port. Other than wine, you can indulge (like one time because this sandwich probably has your entire weeks worth of cholesterol) in the famous sandwich called Francesinha with different kinds of meat, a few slices of cheese, and thick slices of bread all smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. Here in Porto you also get to enjoy bacalhau which is Portugal’s version of a salt cod dish (and it’s incredible). This was my favorite city out of the two that I visited in Portugal and I can’t wait to show you why.
This city was founded in about 300 BC by the Celtics and conquered by the Romans, Moors, until the reconquest in 868. You can see many historical architectural highlights like the Porto Cathedral which was built in the early 1100’s, the remains of 15th century walls, the stunning Avenida dos Aliados, and much more.
I had only a day to explore Porto but it’s a pretty small city so one day was definitely doable. First I did a walking tour with a local guide which I highly suggest you do! I did a Porto Walking Tour where we walked around the main parts of the city. We saw the famous cathedral and the other churches, the old fishing quarter, the Clerigos Tower, had Francesinhas, and saw the Ponte de Maria bridge built by the co-arquitect of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
As I said earlier Porto is famous for it’s port wine. It’s made in a region east of the city and it’s exported from this city. We got lucky enough to have a wine tasting at one of the distillers within the city. According to intowine.com, “Port is a fortified wine from the remote vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley. Here, in the Douro Valley, time has almost stood still. You will not find the latest wine making techniques and fancy equipment. Instead, you will find a wine industry much the way it was over a hundred years ago. Yet, in spite of it, or because of it, vintage Port is one of the world’s greatest wines.” (http://www.intowine.com/port.html?page=0,0) It’s very sweet and pairs well with deserts. I actually wasn’t a huge fan because I don’t like sweet drinks but if you’re in this area of Portugal you should definitely try it.
Don’t forget to check out the inside of the train station. Porto is also famous for it’s painted tiles and the walls of the station are covered with them. You can also find these famous tiles on the cathedral of Porto.
The absolute best view of the city in my opinion is on the south side of the river. You see the colorful houses, the cathedral on the top of the hill, and the riverfront. It’s truly one of the most romantic cities that I’ve ever been to and it should definitely be on your list of places to go if you find yourself in Portugal.
Have you ever been to Porto? Let me know in the comments below.