Porto is one of the most remarkable cities in Portugal, as well as the second country’s largest and most populated city. Moreover, the city of Porto gave the name not only to the whole country, but also to the famous fortified wine- port wine.
Perhaps, thanks to the geographical location of the city, (it stands in the north of the country, at the mouth of the Douro River) – the city still invariably retains its medieval originality and primordiality, which, undoubtedly attracts tourists from all over the world. In addition, it should be noted that in the historical heart of Porto, which is much smaller than in Lisbon, there is the Ribeira region, which is considered one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The most important historical landmark of Porto is the ancient Cathedral (XII century), located in the center of the city. The building is decorated with exquisite frescoes and stained glass windows, and its main value is the silver altar. Moreover, going to Porto, the home of Port wine, visit its distilleries, which are more than 40 there. Having an excursion to one of these distilleries, you can watch the process of making wines, as well as taste it. In addition, a special feature of the city is the leaning to mass celebrations and holidays. Procession, carnivals and costumed balls here are taking place constantly and for any reasons. Usually fireworks, musical performances and an abundance of treats accompany such national holidays. In order to visit them all, rent a car in Porto Airport and travel through the city with no rush. Here are 16 more tips about comfort travelling to Porto.
- If you want to explore the sights of Porto, one of the best ways to do it would be a journey along the Douro River. Excursion on a pleasure boat is suitable for those, who plan to stay in the city for only a couple of days.
- The well-known music performers often perform in the local restaurants and bars. A visit of a fashionable gastronomic institution can easily replace a visit to a concert hall.
- The best national restaurants could be found in the district of Cais da Ribeira. There are also quite inexpensive restaurants, which will surely appeal to thrifty tourists.
- For gifts and souvenirs, it is best to go shopping to Santa Catarina Street. Here you can find a lot of antique and souvenir shops. Among the variety of Porto souvenirs, the most popular, no doubt, is a bottle of real Portuguese port. In addition, it is worth paying attention to ceramics, figurines of roosters, products from cork-oak’s bark, shoes and textile.
- Travelers are advised to visit the city on national holiday days. During the celebration in Porto, there is a variety of cultural and entertainment events.
- In the city, a system of special cards is provided, giving the right to preferential travel in public transport and a discount when visiting different cultural institutions. City cards are freely sold to all interested people.
- You can find the press in a variety of languages in local newsstands, so, even away from home, the tourists can buy common newspapers and magazines.
- Porto is a safe and quiet city, and its inhabitants are always hospitable and friendly. However, despite this, tourists can face pocket thefts or some kinds of fraud. Therefore, during walks and excursions, in transport, in large stores and in markets, it is necessary to follow the precautionary rules and watch your personal belongings.
- It is best to exchange the currency in banks or in specialized “agência de cambios”, where the most favorable tariff are offered and a minimum commission is charged.
- The most convenient ATMs for the foreign tourists are Multibanco, which can be found near major state institutions and shopping centers. All the banks of the city work only on weekdays from 8:30 to 15:00.
- Visit the boutique next to Torre dos Clérigos bell tower in Porto and buy sardines in olive oil in a package with your birthday date in the interval between 1916-2017, with one interesting fact on the lid and a list of celebrities born this year! The cost of the jar is 5 euros, though it is not just sardines, but also an unusual souvenir! On the second floor of the shop in Porto – other different canned goods, jams, wines, “salt flowers” – the special type of salt, chocolate, tea and coffee – all made in Portugal.
- If you are going to Portugal between January and April, do not miss the opportunity to try lamprey, which is called ‘lampreia’ in Portuguese. This is a seasonal product and besides, not all restaurants serve dishes from this fish-leech. There are several most popular dishes: lampreia à bordalesa, arroz de lampreia, escabeche de lampreia. All three dishes are black due to the blood of the fish, but do not be intimidated by this fact- it is quite tasty. In Porto, lamprey is served, as a rule, in fish restaurants of Matosinhos town, for example, in O Gaveto, 5 Oceanos and A Grade. In addition to the already mentioned restaurants, lamprey can be tried everywhere, where there is a sign “Há lampreia”.
- If possible, fly to Porto airport- Aeroporto Sá Carneiro: the airport is much more compact than the Lisbon one, the arrival/departure are located on different floors with separate entrances from the street. Directly at the entrance/exit of the arrival floor is the metro station.
- Porto has storage rooms at both railway stations, Campanhã and S.Bento. They are divided into 3 types, according to the sizes:
A-small (433 mm * 810 mm * 340 mm)
B-medium (588 mm * 810 mm * 340 mm)
C-large (897 mm * 810 mm * 512 mm)
- Starting your trip to Porto, you can take a walk along Northern Portugal. On the other side of the river is the town of Vila Nova de Gaia, which was founded in 1253 by King Alfonso III. Its origin and history are associated with the export of port. Port wine gets its taste from brandy, which is added during the fermentation process to stop this process and to preserve the grape sweetness inherent in good wine. This is an exquisite, expensive wine, which is exported from Portugal all over the world.
- Internet access is available in almost all hotels, as well as in Internet cafes and post offices (Netpost service). In addition, the city has a large number of wireless Wi-Fi access points.