So you need reasons to have your holidays in the beautiful city of Oporto, the so-called ‘Invicta’ city, in the northern region of Portugal? We hope to help you decide with the following 4 big reasons:
1. Thousands of tourists, many of them Spaniards, French, English, German and Dutch, visit Oporto and walk their streets, fill hotels, hostels, bars, restaurants and coffee shops. They can’t all be wrong;
2. In 2012 and in 2014, the Oporto city was voted best European Travel Destination ahead of cities like London, Paris and Madrid; Again, there must be a reason for it!
3. Oporto is increasingly “Cool”! The city has built trough the years the best modern facilities to ease any visit, with a good transportation system, and a diversity of entertaining, accommodation, food and leisure facilities.
4. You can’t do the following tour guide anywhere else:
Start your day by taking breakfast at ‘Café Majestic’ coffee shop or if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, the ‘Casa de Chá de Serralves’ tea house. You may then choose: either plunge immediately afterwards in the frenzy of the disputed ‘Rua de Santa Catarina’ street for some shopping or let yourself be carried away by nature and art appeal with a visit to the gardens of the ‘Museu de Serralves’ museum.
By the late morning you still have time to take a look at ‘Lello’ bookstore, walk down to the now transformed and attractive ‘Rua das Flores’ street of flowers, which flows into the ‘Largo de São Domingos’ as antechamber of the ‘Ribeira’ by the Douro river front.
You may enjoy visiting the stock exchange palace ‘Palácio da Bolsa’ and particularly the Arab Hall. Before buying tickets for a short tour in the Douro river, between the five bridges, it might be a good idea to take an aperitif in the beautiful terrace of the suspension bridge, right next to the lower deck of ‘D. Luís I’ bridge.
Don’t forget to visit the wine cellars of Porto, but leave it for the next day, because lunch time squeezes. If you cross to the other side of the river, you can go to the hotel restaurant ‘Yeatman’, with a priceless view over the river and the city that welcomes Iker Casillas (ex-goal keeper at Real Madrid FC and now playing for Porto FC), where you may enjoy the the menu designed by Ricardo Costa, a chief with a Michelin star.
If you do not want to cross the bridge, you may take a taxi to to the ‘Foz’ on the ‘Douro river mouth, the restaurant where also stars Pedro Lemos, famous for its tasting lunches. If the green of your eyes does not resists the call of the sea, there is an undeniable proposition: the tea house ‘Casa de Chá da Boa Nova’, one of the greatest works of architecture of Pritzker winner Álvaro Siza Vieira. The Chef Rui Paula is in charge of the kitchen.
After lunch you may actively rest with a light walk at the City Park, the largest urban park in the country and one of the few in the world to have a seafront. If you have kids this is a good place to take them, there will plenty of freedom and without dangers.
On leaving the park enters the avenue of ‘Boavista’, as for now the country’s largest, and you may culminate in the ‘Casa da Música’ house of music, a jewel of international architecture designed by another Pritzker Architecture prize winner, the Dutch Rem Koolhaas.
Also don’t forget to visit the ‘Estádio do Dragão’ (Dragon Stadium), another essential tour of the city. Then take time to explore the whole area from the Torre de Clérigos (tower), ‘Café Piolho’ (coffee shop), ‘Praça de Lisboa’ (Square), eat an “éclair” pastry in the ‘Leitaria Quinta do Paço’ (creamery) or, if you don’t want pastries, take a few more steps to the most secret and the most sought the city bar: the ‘Aduela’ at ‘Rua de Oliveira’ (street), opposite the theater ‘Carlos Alberto’, which serves delicious snacks. If it rains, you may visit the reborn galleries ‘Lumière’, where is located the only bookshop in the country entirely dedicated to poetry and theater, ‘Poetria’.
With the late afternoon coming close, it will not be a bad idea to take a seat in ‘Baixa da Champanheira’ in ‘Largo Monpilher’ terrace, and let yourself be carried away by the flavors of a good ‘sangria’ (wine and fruits drink). If you enjoy taking photographs, two or three key points are in order: cross the bridge ‘D. Luis I’ walk and let your eyes get lost in the charms of ‘Ribeira’ (by the river front) or ‘Gaia’ pier, climb to the renewed ‘Torre de Clérigos’ tower and peek the historic center. If you go down to detail, it has the fascinating stories told by tiles from the ‘Estação de São Bento’ train station or the ‘Capela das Almas’ (Chapel of Souls).
For dinner, the difficult is in choosing the space where to taste the ‘Francesinha’ (sandwich snack), elected this year one of the ten best sandwiches in the world by the British website “The Culture Trip”, as well as by the prestigious Spanish travel magazine “Condé Nest Traveller”.
Oporto is much more than a single day can permit and therefore this is just a sample. Which still can be enlivened with a last night in the area of the bars, especially in the streets of ‘Galeria de Paris’ and ‘Cândido dos Reis’. There are bars of ‘poncha’, gin, ‘sangrias’, and of course, wine. Many wines are rewarded, as is the ‘Chryseia’, the 2011 harvest, and the red ‘Quinta do Vale Meão’, both from Douro region and included in the “top 10” 2014 American magazine “Wine Spectator”. To after taste, one last suggestion: Port wine Dow’s 2011, considered the best in the world last year by the same magazine.
So by now you are the kink or queen of Oporto and maybe you fancy to sleep in a palace: the ‘ Palácio do Freixo’. Majestic, beautiful, prostrate along the Douro river. When you wake up it will be another day and you can further explore the charms of Oporto like the amazing golf courses it offers on the region, like the ‘Oporto Golf Club‘ or the ‘Golfe de Amarante‘.