By the first time I went to Porto couple years ago with my fiancé. This June I visited this city again with my mum. The first impression of Portugal was nothing more than another love at the first sight! By the second time I only asserted myself in the love for this place. Narrow streets full of white and blue azulejos, delicious food and incredibly magical atmosphere of the city right out of Harry Potter movies. Anyway, there’s reason for that all, because J.K. Rowling lived in Porto back in the day teaching English in the local school. Porto became an important inspiration in the creation of the magical world. It is also here, in the popular Majestic Café, where the first words of the famous volume were written on the napkins. Are you wondering what to do and see in Porto? See the best attractions of the city!
The atmosphere of Porto is a bit different than in Lisbon. The north-west location of Portugal has its own impact. The imperious power of the ocean is much more noticeable here than in the Portuguese capital hidden in the bays.
Porto is simply beautiful! The old part of the city is located on the granite hill of Penaventosa gently sloping towards the shimmering surface of the Douro River. Thanks to this, the streets of the city alternately fall and climb up again, making the local landscapes extremely picturesque. The charm of the old town is clearly evidenced by including it in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Similarly to Lisbon, also in Porto, better get ready for a bit of climbing.
Join me for my next trip to Portugal!
Unlucky thirteen and what are the beginnings of wandering
Porto was the last stop in our Portuguese trip and it greeted us with rain.
We stayed in a small hotel Residencial Portuguesa, whose room at number 13, unfortunately, proved to be unlucky terribly smelling of mold! Thankfully, we managed to negotiate a conversion for another room and we could boldly embark on a tourist conquest of Porto.
We started our tour from Praça da Liberdade ending one of the main streets of Porto – Avenida dos Aliados. Square is surrounded by neoclassical buildings, there is also the town hall – Câmara Municipal do Porto – and a sculpture of a horse rider representing the King Pedro IV.
Thousand white-and-blue azulejos, place where the artwork is created and the home of souls
From square we moved along the Rua Formosa and turned left, walking straight onto the white-blue azulejos of Capela das Almas, or the Chapel of the Souls.
Capela das Almas is located on the most famous street of Porto – Rua Santa Catarina – winding meanders down from the church of Igreja Paroquial de Santo Ildefonso. Rua Santa Catarina is full of more and less exclusive shops, cafes and restaurants. The most famous of them is certainly Majectic Café. It was one of the favorite restaurants of writer J. K. Rowling and, as I mentioned above, it is the place where the first sentences of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were written. Be sure to come inside, because its interior maintained in the Art Nouveau style is really stunning! During our first December visit, we ate lunch at Majestic and took a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, in full season of June it is really crowded over there what effectively deters me from stepping inside.
Then we headed towards Praça da Batalha and turned into Madeira Street to the main station of Porto – São Bento. Be sure to look inside! The hall lined with thousands of classic white and blue azulejos depicting historic events is absolutely fabulous!
And right next to the station there is a small church Igreja de Santo António dos Congregados with a façade beautifully decorated white and blue azulejos.
How the Renaissance became the Baroque and Little Ode to Francesinha
Another important and beautiful point of our walk through the streets of Porto is Sé Catedral, also known as Sé do Porto. It is a magnificent baroque building with high walls that reminds me the times of the Portuguese conquistadors. Interestingly, originally the cathedral was built in the Renaissance style, and the Baroque style was given to it only during the reconstruction in the XVIII century.
It is worth taking a look inside it, as well as take a stroll around the surrounding square to admire the picturesque panorama of the red roofs of Porto.
From the cathedral, we headed down the charming street of Rua das Flores closed for traffic and full of lovely cafés and restaurants. Here, we stopped for lunch in a small pub, which name unfortunately I cannot remember now. We ordered the famous delicacy of Porto, a sandwich called francesinha, which turned out to be absolutely delicious! Well, basically it’s not really a sandwich, but rather four kinds of meat served on fries with fried egg, topped with a thick beer sauce. As it is with most of traditional delicacies, francesinha was created by poor seafarers putting on their plates everything they had. Either way, it’s absolutely great! While visiting in Porto, you must try it!
What has Gustave Eiffle to Porto, where to go for little alco-something and a great panorama
When the belly is full of delicious food, the world looks even more beautiful! Happily we are moving further towards the magnificent and original structure of the Ponte de Luis bridge. An interesting fact is that it was built by a company belonging to Gustav Eiffel, same one who designed the famous Parisian tower. Thus it is also maintained in a style similar style.
Going to the other side of Ponte de Luis, we will get to the paradise of wine lovers, namely Vila Nova de Gaia [CLICK]. We, however, leave this pleasure for the next day, and stop at the bridge for a moment to look down at the panorama of the city that spreads along the banks of the Douro River. Magnificent, isn’t it?
Finally, I have for you the night edition of Sé do Porto cathedral. Veeery magical spot!
Thanks for reading!