Although before we have traveled some interesting visits around Porto, taking advantage of the fact that we arrived by car from Galicia.
Planning places of interest to see in Porto (with maps)
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, ideal for an affordable getaway for all budgets by proximity and budget, and it can also be used as a base to visit other cities in Northern Portugal also very picturesque.
And how do we organize it? As follows:
- Cities of Northern Portugal that can be visited from Porto: Guimaraes, Braga, Amarante, Barcelos, Viana do Castelo, Valença do Minho, (we leave Bragança, Chaves or those of the farthest northwest or those that go to Lisbon)
- Around Porto (just outside the historic circle): House of Music, Crystal Palace Gardens and beach towns (for those who go in summer) of Foz do Douro, Matosinhos,…
- Historic Zone: which can be seen in 1 day or divide it into 2 with more tranquility and which are the ones that everyone usually sees on their getaway, includes the high zone (Freedom Square, Rua Santa Catarina) and low zone (Ribeira)
- Vila Nova de Gaia: the area of the port wine cellars and which, although usually included in the essentials, is part of an independent population across the river
And how beautiful is it? The mouth of the Douro River, is a very special place, UNESCO World Heritage streets and charming neighborhoods, endow that bohemian city atmosphere that we like so muchOUR PLANNING:
DAY 1: Arrival Surroundings | Lower Port of Porto
DAY 2: Porto center | New Years Eve
DAY 3: Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia wineries
DAY 4: Excursion to Braga and Guimaraes (As we go with our own car, we return on 5).
Could Porto be seen on a 3-day trip? YES, leaving the surroundings and taking advantage of day one to see Vila Nova de Gaia and Lower Port of Porto (we leave Vila Nova de Gaia for 3 because it is January 1 and there is nothing open, so we take advantage of it to walk and getting up late last night)
What full-day excursion options can be made by returning to Porto if I don't have a car? Those who do not have a car can make 1-day excursions from Porto, mainly theAveiro and Costa Nova excursion, excursion to Braga and Guimaraes, a vineyards and wineries tour, excursion to Fatima and Coimbra ora cruise on the Douro crossing the river between Porto and Pinhão and returning by train
Today we are going to focus on the surroundings of Porto (House of Music and Gardens of the Crystal Palace) and the lower area of Ribeira within the historic area (route map in detail below)
With everything ready, it's around 8'00 in the morning when we leave by car with itinerary to Porto from A Coruña ...
… A journey of around 3 hours with a stop for that morning breakfast (11.55 EUR) and many tolls (almost 27 EUR). And those who come by plane?EASY TRANSFER FOR THE MOST ORGANIZED:
Although we always give you all the information to organize transfers on your own, if you have little time or prefer something easy, you have the following option NO LANGUAGE PROBLEM and with VERY GOOD OPINIONS from other travelers. The transfer from Porto can be from airport to hotel (the driver will wait for you with a sign) or vice versa (or both). The price is per vehicle (NOT person)
Transfer Airport-Hotel in Porto
We are all? We are going to enjoy the city of Douro!
What to see in Porto around, before or after.
Yes alright to Foz do Douro it can be reached by tram 18 or in less than 15 minutes by taxi, it is possible to shine more in the summer season, when its beaches become more palatable and its nearby restaurants allow you to eat the best fresh fish in the breeze of the Atlantic air. Another point we will leave for this station is Matosinhos that breathes a similar atmosphere
So we have headed straight to the House music (It also has a Metro stop), the other Porto that sometimes is not seen, a brief stop in an avant-garde icon that now may not tell us as much as it will tell us with the contrast of a city full of medieval buildings, baroque examples or constructions of the 19th century
Although it may not seem so, this place is a concert hall designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, which accommodates the National Orchestra of Porto, Baroque Orchestra and Remix Ensemble. In front and at this time of year, the roundabout is full of Christmas atmosphere, attractions and even a skating rink.
Is it worth moving to see it? For us, since it is a reference in Porto to what can be the building of the Opera in Sydney or theOperahuset in Oslo, saving distances, of course.
Very close, just 10 minutes away by car (by public transport you can get there by bus 200, 201, 207, 302, 303, 501, 601, ZM), there is one that many define as "big surprises" of the city, the gardens of the Crystal Palace (schedule from 10 to 18)
The big question is ... and the Crystal Palace? It really does not exist. In 1865, the English architect Thomas Dillen Jones, raised his projection of the Crystal Palace in London on which it was based, but now has been replaced by the "Pink Mota Pavilion", an enclosure for fairs held at the city.
However, these gardens are a true wonder, from their different thematic environments of the botanical garden to a lake, several fountains, and a modern public library, all of romantic architecture opened in 1860 (it has already rained)
But without a doubt, if you deserve to come to this point of Porto for something, it is for its excellent panoramic view and views, some of the best in the city
This area is called Miragaia (the area that "looks at Gaia" -the city on the other side of the river-). Although it is located near La Ribeira where we will go in the afternoon, in ancient times it was outside the wall for what we consider "surroundings", being an area of sailors and merchants at that time
This is the other Porto, many times the least visited, but it is time to enter the most historic area because we can already check-in at the hotel Moov Hotel Porto Centro, one of the most recommended by travelers and is in an unbeatable location.
Outside the hotel, an old renovated movie theater, the price appears clearly attached to the main window ...! 42 EUR per night! not even the nearby Ibis (49 EUR next door)
A route to see the lower area of the historic Porto
We have left the car in a parking lot near the hotel, although it has a small garage, and after leaving the suitcase we have gone to eat at a nearby place. There are two that stand out for others around Batalha Square, the Aurora, a restaurant that they talk great with menus for € 8 with dishes such as mushroom cream, pork loin with chestnut puree or golden brown with wild rice. The second is Café Santiago. Can you guess which one we have chosen?
It turns out that right next to the hotel are those named as best francesinhas in 2007, 2011, 2014 and this year throughout the city.GASTRONOMY OF PORTO: Café Santiago, Famous for having the best prize at Francesinha 2015
And what is the francesinha? It is a typical dish of the Portuguese cuisine that has its cradle in Porto and that consists of a calorie bomb formed by a slice of bread stuffed with various types of sausages and meat, coated with slices of gratin cheese and bathed in a spicy sauce made based on beer and tomato and finished with fried egg (accompanied with potatoes). And of price? 9.5 EUR
Thus, we have not missed the opportunity to eat cheap and high-calorie for 21.60 EUR both, with beer and water
After a coffee and tea (2.05 EUR) and with the batteries charged (and with a little memory for 4.60 EUR) we have set off towards the Palace of the Oporto Stock Exchange in what was going to be a route similar to this (the map It is based on the one of planetware.com which we like the most)
But there was a stop on the road that we were not going to ignore, theSao Bento Station (0), considered by many a true jewel to see in Porto in an essential way. And no, it's not to catch the train!
This terminal is built on the remains of the old convent of San Bento del Ave María and is a neoclassical building with impressive showcases on its facades, curious clocks and details that are well worth a visit
But art is inside, the famous 20,000 tiles in which important chapters of the history of Portugal are portrayed
For art lovers, the work is by the painter Jorge Colaçao and it is very worthwhile
He Palace of the Porto Stock Exchange (1) It takes us from the avant-garde scenes of the morning in the surroundings that we see in Porto, to a neoclassical building headquarters of the Commercial Association of Porto and declared a National Monument built from 1842 to 1891 on the ruins of a Franciscan convent destroyed in a fire
It allows guided tours (30 minutes), from 9 to 12'30 and from 14'00 to 17'30 in winter (12 EUR both) that allow you to observe some treasures, such as the "Arab room" (does not allow photos, only those of the entrance that we show you)
Right next door, letting you see the Plaza Infante D. Enrique in front, is the San Francisco Church (2) Payment for 3.5 EUR! (This is something that we do not support from the churches, it seems hypocrisy to us, although as an apology we can say that it is already more a museum than a church - it also allows photos-).
It is one of the few medieval buildings that are preserved throughout Porto, initially in the Gothic style with reforms in Baroque and where the mural of Our Lady of the Rose and the legacy of the merchants that, as a symbol of wealth, covered in bread of bread stand out. Gold carvings as in this case, but more than 300 kilos of gold. !An atrocity!
As lovers of the esoteric, we have seen that the entrance included access to two more enclosures, a kind of museum and some catacombs and there we have gone
The atmosphere that breathes as you go down the stairs, without being that of other places we have visited, if you give a little "repelús" for those more sensitive. Even one of the rooms reveals some remains
We continue our walk of what to see in Oporto, almost facing the Infant House (3), where Enrique el Navegante was born and who have told us that it is absolutely expendable, so we have not entered
Where we have stopped, as it began to rain already with force and already going back up the street Mouzinho Silveira, it is in a gallery of collectors that we loved. His name was something like "O Galo" but among some vessel of less value are pieces of true collecting that will make the "delights" of some
Today's little tour takes us to theChurch of San Lourenzo dos Grilos (4), much simpler, free (eye, closes at 17'00 in winter) and without as much excess as the rest we will see these days and that began in the sixteenth century and finally ended in the seventeenth century. It also has a small museum but with few interesting pieces.
What deserves a mandatory stop calmly is theCathedral or La Sé de Oporto (5), built on the remains of the former convent of San Bento del Ave María
The Cathedral itself is undergoing renovations inside, but what is a treasure is inside…
... and houses more than 20,000 tiles that reflect important chapters in the history of Portugal. ! Your cloister! (6 EUR)
Its construction at this point was no accident. Its defensive character and that the most important religious building in Porto enjoyed from the top a beautiful view of the Douro riverbank and the old town from the Batalha neighborhood, next to the walls, was a premeditated decision.
In the styles of the building we already get lost. We could get the "cults" but we are not going to fool anyone with the architectural conglomerate it represents. Most of the cathedral is baroque and that is quick to distinguish, but the structure of the facade and the body are Romanesque, the cloister and the chapel of St. John the Evangelist are Gothic and we would not even dare to assure if there are more details than They escape us.
The reality is that the Cathedral itself is nothing of the other world with what we have seen there, but it is worth visiting the cloister, from the 14th century, where the tiles are located.
What is really special is the environment that the blanket, where the stairs take us through an ancient city where each corner tells you a story, with different houses and facades to which more picturesque and where the life that has existed for centuries is preserved
Ribeira, a must see in Porto (the most beautiful area?)
The night begins to fall on Porto (it gets dark at 17:30 at this time of year) but the tranquility of the streets, now darker and more mysterious, does not reveal the hustle and bustle we are approaching. Before we have moved to the hotel, since the rain had pierced Isaac's boots, but now it has stopped completely.
He Medieval neighborhood of Barredo, where stairways and alleys are the main claim before reaching Ribeira, is part of that historic center classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The prize is big. If there is an area to see in Porto it is an area located on the banks of the Douro River and the oldest neighborhood of Porto with the light falling and the Ponte Dom Luis I, on two levels, where you get a magnificent view also, in the background
Is Ribeira (6), a lively area that revolves around the pier of Cais de Ribeira bordered by old houses similar to those we have previously left in the neighborhood of Barredo and that next to the partial vision that we had this morning of Miragaia just fit the puzzle of the route we have designed today.
Fenced all three by the so-called Fernandinas walls, it is in Ribeira where we can breathe more that traditional atmosphere and possibly the most picturesque of the whole city, with dozens of rabelos (traditional boats) moored at this time, old multi-colored houses or docks that They smell like fishing.
If there is a reference area also to taste typical Portuguese dishes with the best views of the Luis I Bridge and Vila Nova da Gaia with its illuminated wineries (where we will go in a couple of days), it is Ribeira.Famous dining options? To Marina, Filha de Mãe Preta, Avó Maria, Mercearia, Adega S. Nicolau, ... Our choice?
The Chez Lapin, a recommendation made by a reader and that looks great on the outsidePORTO GASTRONOMY:Chez Lapin, famous typically Portuguese restaurant with dishes such as cod, lamb, roasted octopus or cataplana
¿Cataplana? It is a typical Portuguese seafood dish, more popular on the Algarve coast but spread throughout the country, whose name takes it from the special kitchen utensil in the form of a casserole in which it is served. But we have tried the mussels with a spicy sauce that they make here, to share
Second, the famous baked octopus that was !! GOODIIIIIIIISIMO !! and a plate perfectly arrives for 2.
Beyond food, Chez Lapin stands out because during the twentieth century it served as a stable for the horses that transported the goods of the river boats. In fact its decoration is achieved based on objects brought from all parts of the world. At Christmas, even more beautiful. And of price? We are in the most expensive area of Porto and yet it has seemed a good value for money because we have dined for 35.19 EUR
As we left very early today in A Coruña, we will not go to bed too late and we will go up using the Funicular Dos Guindais (7) which allows you to reach the upper part of Porto from here, comfortably and in 3 minutes for 2 EUR per person (and at this time we are tired, we pay gladly) and dating from 1891 (although it was renovated in 1994), although we have taken advantage before to take a short walk through the lower part of the Dom Luis I Bridge
From here the views of Ribeira are, if possible, even more nostalgic, giving this area on the banks of the Duero a very special charm
Vila Nova de Gaia, on the other side, also looks with special charm, highlighting the wineries above everything else
Undoubtedly, Porto is that beautiful city that you had all told us before coming and even on winter days it looks great. Tomorrow we will visit its highest downtown area where emblematic buildings and historic coffee shops they will be a good preliminary for the liveliest new year's eve. To sleep!
Isaac and Paula, from Porto (Portugal)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 126.39 EUR and GIFTS: 4.60 EUR