Porto is such a picturesque city, I think one of the best ways to create a guide to the city is through photos. We already have a few posts on Porto (including this one about the best photo spots!), but I still had so many photos I wanted to share, I gathered them up and put them all in this post. If you need a little more convincing, or some visual inspiration on where to explore, follow this path of photos of Porto, Portugal.
Porto City Center
Porto may be Portugal’s second city, but there’s no shortage history, tasty food, or interesting architecture. Some of Porto’s most beautiful buildings line the buzzing Avenida dos Aliados, which serves as the geographical, political and financial center of Porto. The ornate beaux-arts buildings reminded me of a grander time when the port wine trade was booming and Porto held a bigger role on the world stage.
Stop at one of the cafes to watch the morning rush of locals (known as“tripeiros,” which translates to tripe eaters) heading off to work. After all, the saying goes, “Porto works, Braga Prays, Coimbra studies, and Lisbon gets the money.”
After you’ve worked your way around Avenida dos Aliados, head a few blocks in either direction for some of Porto’s most picturesque spots, including the azulejos-clad Capela das Almas (Chapel of Souls), the São Bento train station (often touted as the most beautiful train station in the world), the Church Santo Ildefonso (another blue-and white tiled beauty), and Livraria Lello (a bookstore that is amazing both inside and out).
Porto’s Ribeira District
The epicenter of Porto’s historical city center is Ribeira Square, which means ‘riverside’ in Portuguese. After walking around the modern-day city center, follow the tiny streets and alleys that wind their way down the steep river bank, funneling you out to this riverwalk. Take time to enjoy the view of the river with lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants with open-air seating in the square, or go for a stroll and watch the rabelo boats glide by.
The Douro River and its Beautiful Bridges
There are six bridges that span this stretch of the Douro River, connecting the city of Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. If the wrought-iron framework of the double-decker Dom Luís I Bridge from the photos below look somewhat familiar, especially if you’ve been to Paris recently, it’s because the wrought-iron design is Gustave Eiffel’s handiwork. If you walk across the lower level on a hot summer day, you’ll probably see crazy kids using it as a springboard for backflips into the Douro (hoping to get a couple of euros). Head across the top to and walk a few minutes up to Miradouro da Serra do Pilar for one of the best views of Porto and the perfect spot to watch the sun set behind the Douro River.
Crossing over to Villa Nova de Gaia
There is a saying in Porto that goes, “the only good thing in Vila Nova de Gaia is the view towards Porto.” (Don’t shoot the messenger. They said it, not me.) While there are definitely more redeeming qualities about Gaia, including the historic port wine cellars you can tour, the views of Porto from Gaia just keep getting the higher you climb.