How to Spend One Day in Porto Portugal
The perfect contrast to the global sister city of Lisbon, it’s most definitely worth spending at least one day in Porto. Why? Because it offers a more laidback experience.
At the mouth of the Douro River, Porto welcomes world travellers with cobblestone streets, baroque architecture, and six iconic stately bridges. Which have become nearly as famous as the eponymous wine that helped the city rise to prominence in the 17th century.
Nestled against the hillside on the coast of the Atlantic ocean, the city is colourful and authentic. Porto is perfect for city explorers. And has luxurious amenities for the discerning traveler… without the stuffiness of some competing European destinations.
Portugal is undergoing a resurgence. Yet Porto is lagging behind Lisbon in terms of holiday travellers. This lag in popularity makes Porto an ideal destination for avid trendsetting travellers who enjoy historic sightseeing — without wading through crowds of people.
Porto is for the type of traveller who wants to relax in a beautiful wine and spa hotel. Which offers impeccable services and luxurious amenities. But is priced like an undiscovered gem.
The Bridges of Porto
No trip to Porto begins until you marvel at one of the Porto bridges.
The Dom Luis I Bridge is a must-see. It’s a beautiful arched bridge, that was designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel… known all over the world for the Parisian tower that bears his name.
This iconic bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, over the Douro River. At the time of its completion, this bridge was the largest iron arch in the world. Pedestrians, cars, and mass transit all utilise this artistic bridge. But no matter how you cross it, any visit to the Dom Luis I Bridge would not be complete without visiting the Port wineries on the other side, in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Port wine, the city’s most notable export, can be sampled throughout the coastal town. Tours of the oldest wineries in the region includes tastings of the fortified port wine. Which has been continually produced since the 1700s, at many of the family-owned wineries. If you’re more interested in the history or the production and trade of port wine, the Port Wine Museum might be the better choice for you.
What to do in Porto Portugal
For travellers uninterested in port wine, this is also a great location to embark on a Douro River boat cruise. From single-day excursions to week-long (or longer) luxury cruises… there’s options for everyone.
Travellers hoping for a more metropolitan experience should visit Avenida dos Aliados. Also known as the ‘Avenue of the Allies’. Named from an alliance between Portugal and England during the 1500s. But today it’s home to boutiques, hotels, and restaurants. Visitors will marvel at the stunning architecture. Where thet can be entertained by street performers, artists, and festivals in the city.
After visiting the bustling centre of Porto, a visit to the 200-acre park known as Parque da Cidade do Porto, or Porto City Park may be in order. The park is home to over 6 miles of hiking and biking trails. And is Portugal’s most extensive in the northern part of the country. The park also offers a privately run aquarium, Sea Life Porto. Which is home to thousands of aquatic animals. Overall, Porto City Park provides many things to do and see for all visitors. From exploring the lakes, to relaxing on the beach while looking out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Is the Mercado do Bolhão closed?
After visiting the vast park, many visitors want to visit the Mercado do Bolhão. Unfortunately, with the restoration of the Mercado do Bolhão still ongoing, visiting the open-air market in its typical storied location is not currently possible.
The temporary site is still within view of the original. But lacks the history and charm. Of course, you can still support local artisans and enjoy the smells of fresh fruits and produce. Or buy some fresh bread and local cheese to enjoy with your port wine. Still, we have great anticipation for the eventual return of the market to the 2-story, neoclassical facade where it’s lived since 1914.
Ending the day at the Cais da Ribeira
Near to the Dom Luis I Bridge, Cais de Ribeira provides unmatched views of the neatly-stacked pastel homes on the hillside facing the water. Unfortunately, this is the one place in Porto that is often overrun with tourists. Both during the day and at night. However, you can still watch the sunset from a restaurant terrace with a glass of port in hand, while enjoying the view of the water and the bridge.
The Charm of the Douro Valley
With so much to experience, one day in Porto doesn’t feel like enough time. You could easily spend 7-10 days here, and still not see all that this fantastic city has to offer. But if you’re limited on time, check out this breathtaking hotel in the Douro Valley to recuperate and ready yourself for your next travel adventure.