It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a written down blog story as opposed to a video type one. But here I am, reigniting my passion with writing. If you’ve been keeping up with my video posts, It’s been exactly six months since I came to Portugal. I have also gone to several different cities and had fell in love to every each of them. But today, I want to focus on the city where I currently call home, Porto. This city has definitely exceeded my expectations. Since the day I came here last November (2018), I have toured around this city enough that I have accumulated my favorite spots – and today, I want to share it all here in my blog. I will be sharing it in parts because there’s just too many things to share.
Let me begin this with the first 5 places not to miss in Porto. I want to start with the once that most travelers know about or so we call it the popular landmarks. These places are without a doubt in any travel website’s top recommendations and in every tourist’s to-see list. Then hopefully as I go deeper to knowing this city, I could get to share the hidden gems of Porto as well. So let’s begin!
♦ AVENIDA DOS ALIADOS
Considered as the city center, the municipal hall and the town’s square are situated perfectly right at the heart of Porto. Most practically, you can get here by metro or by the closest and biggest train station, Sao Bento, which is another sight not to miss. Surrounding the square are classic European architectures with hotels, shops and restaurants combined. Here is also where New Year’s countdown takes place which I took part in for the first time last year and it was crazy and amazing all at the same time (you can watch it on my holiday vlog).
Quick Tip! You really can’t go wrong with this place. It is vast enough to take beautiful pictures without random strangers spoiling your photo. I also think that this is the perfect place to start your journey discovering Porto. From here you can easily take your time wandering around the city’s random streets.
♦ SAO BENTO STATION
While this is basically a fully functioning and a busy central train station, Sao Bento has definitely captured the eyes and won the hearts of travelers and tourist coming in and out of this place. Its walls were covered in tiles with detailed artistic blue painting of Portugal’s long rich history, their culture and their voyages around the globe. It’s as if it’s telling you a story of a history that defined the country’s present. Also worth noting that the metro station and the train station are two very different places. If you come from other cities by train to Porto, then most likely you’ll see all what I was talking about at the entrance but, if you’re going around the city by metro, then you’ll notice that everything looks relatively new and automated.
Quick Tip! Since this is a central station, it could be a little difficult to take that perfect shot without other people being in your frame. But don’t worry, all the beauty that you’ll see are right up high from the ceilings and the walls, so take that perfect shot from a lower angle. Don’t forget to look close enough and appreciate the details of this masterpiece.
♦ TORRE DOS CLERIGOS
From Avenida Square, you can easily walk your way to Clerigos Cathedral and its iconic Torre Dos Clerigos. People will tell you that it has the best 360 degree view of the entire city and yes, it sure does! Climbing to the top is something people would do for a once in a lifetime experience –because let’s be honest to get there isn’t as easy as paying your way from the entrance. Also, the open area where you see the best view is pretty narrow that visitors will be all walking in a single line. But please don’t be discourage from all these because in our experience, the climb was pretty worth it. You can also see the inside of the cathedral and its gallery which are also a very interesting place to check in.
Quick Tip! Although your expectations are expected, the reality is that you have to allot an hour or two of your time queuing to the top (that highly depends on the season of course). So be sure to go and line there early and avoid climbing it in a hot weather especially during summer season because everyone will tell you that inside the tower can get extremely hot.
♦ LIVRARIA LELLO
The reason I’m including this is because it is without a doubt one of the most desired places to visit in Porto. Due to its undeniably unique interior, it has become one of the inspiration of the author J.K. Rowling to her Harry Potter novels. That influence is so huge that they specifically allocated an area in the bookstore (yes, surprise it is not a library but a bookstore) where shelves upon shelves of Harry Potter franchise are being displayed. Plus there are so many Harry Potter merchandise being sold in the extended area of the store that it almost felt like it was where the story of Harry Potter was born. The demand of being able to get inside here is so high that if you want to avoid being stuck in line, you have to be there an hour before. Even we just did so, the place got crowded immediately even before afternoon.
Quick Tip! Buying the ticket to get here is pretty tricky (surprise again even though that it’s a bookstore, you do have to pay for the entrance unless your buying from their books and other merchandise then your entrance fee will be refunded). The ticket store is at the basement of that extended building I mentioned earlier, If you’re facing Livraria Lello it is on the left corner where they sell all Harry Potter items. Don’t be that someone who lined in without buying the ticket first because we saw some people doing that and then they just ended up loosing their place in line.
♦ SE DO PORTO ( PORTO CATHEDRAL)
Portugal has a great deal of majestic cathedrals, much so that some of these churches are considered a tourist attraction. Whatever your religious belief in life may be, you can’t deny that it will leave you in awe of how incredible these places are. I’ve been to a couple of the most famous cathedrals in the country and I hope to share it to you in my other blog post. But for now, I want to talk about Porto Cathedral. It has a Gothic and baroque style architecture and known to be one of the city’s oldest site. Conveniently located just a walking distance from Sao Bento Station, this cathedral from afar looks so much like a castle rather than a church. It has a huge plaza-like area in front while over looking a part of the city. You can also go inside the cathedral and stroll around.
Quick Tip! This might be something you will hear in every tips when travelling but, try to go early in the morning. Although outside the church is pretty spacious, it can still get very crowded. Also, try behind the cathedral, there’s a mini park where you can sit on the grass and lounge.
So there you have it, my first top 5 places of not to miss in Porto! If you are located at the central city, you can easily finish touring these places in one day since they are all a walking distance from one another. The only two places that needs entrance fee here are the Livraria Lello and the Clerigos Tower if you chose to climb the top. For the next blog, I hope to share the next top 5 of my list because there sure are a lot!