This blog post was updated on September 12, 2014.


Porto, Portugal (Image:


What to see and do in Porto, Portugal


Being one of the oldest European cities, Porto is not only a World Heritage Site, but also the second largest city in Portugal. Its history dates back several centuries as an outpost of the Roman Empire. The city is internationally famous for port wine; named for Porto and for its impressive European architecture and international cultural hotspots.

Praça da Ribeira: Every district in the city of Porto has its own flavor and interesting things to do. The soul of the city rests in Ribeira, which is made up of medieval streets, narrow alleyways and a riverfront square named Praça da Ribeira. This area is lively all year round, especially on celebration days where fireworks are displayed over the water. The square is also significant because of the birth of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1394 at the Casa do Infante (House of the Prince.) From this strip, make sure to look across the river at the picturesque Cais de Gaia riverfront where Port Wine houses greet you accordingly.

Centro Português de Fotografia: Developed by the Ministry of Culture, the Portuguese Center of Photography has existed as a public service to display fine photography. It has a mission to promote and exemplify artistic works. The building itself dates back to the 18th century when it was then a detention center with dungeons and prison rooms.

Clerigos Tower (Torre dos Clerigos): For a look at the city from the bird's eye view, find your way to the Clergios Tower. It was once the tallest structure in Portugal and was once used as a guide for ships when coming into the city. The baroque landmark was an Italian design which is a lovely site for tourists going for the aerial view after climbing 240 steps.

Port Wine Tour: Going to Porto without trying port wine is considered a sin to locals and tourists that visit this fine city. Since the 1960's, the port wineries have opened their doors to become one of the city's most popular attractions. Some offer free guided tours and tastings; great for wine connoisseur who want to learn the wine making and storage process, as well as the varieties of wines in the city. Some of the well known facilities are Sandeman, Taylor's and Graham's Port.

Mercado do Bolhão: Cities with lively markets seem so inviting for local shopping for goods and souvenirs and luckily, Mercado do Bolhão is the place for this in Porto. The sight of colorful vegetables, candies and other items is a nice place to visit for an off the beaten track adventure. Vendors sell everything from vegetables, flowers to household goods. The market dates back to 1839 when the City Council wanted to centralize the city's markets.

Palacio da Bolsa: If you're looking for a building that will take your breath away and leave you in awe, the Palacio da Bolsa will do more than this. This Stock Exchange Palace is a historical building dating to the 19th century and once was a part of a nearby Convent. Built in Neoclassical style, both the exterior and interior design are noteworthy. The central courtyard features a huge dome with glass panels; almost identical to a church. Locals say it was built to impressive European investors at the time. Today, it is used as a grand reception room where important state figures and international visitors are entertained in Porto.

She Changes (Sculpture): Often, historical cities are known for old world design and can find a struggle to incorporate modern designs. Successfully, designer Janet Echelman created "She Changes"; dedicated to the city of Porto in 2005. The modern design represents the sea-faring and industrial heritage. The unique design is worth seeing if you need a change of pace from historical European design.

Livraria Lello: With a tongue twisting name, who would think that this bookstore would be one of the finest sellers in Europe? In business since 1881, this must see bookshop has an amazing exterior and filled with a grand selection of books. It features a "staircase to heaven" with wooden panels and columns. Make sure to look above at the bright stained glass fixtures which illuminate this grand bookstore.

Museu Romantico: Unfortunately, this is not a museum dedicated to romance, love or Valentine's Day. Luckily, the building itself is still worth visiting. It refers to the romantic era; this 19th century mansion reflects the bourgeoisie of its time. It is surrounded by green vegetation’s in the Crystal Palace gardens. It was once home to famous Kings and was acquired by the city who dedicated the museum in their memory as a remembrance of their contribution to cultural, political and economical aspects to the city of Porto.

Estadio do Dragao: If you've got football (soccer) fever, or enjoy sports in general, a visit to Dragon Stadium is a must for any fanatic. Home to the local team FC Porto, the impressive stadium represents not only the team, but is used as a multifunctional site for a variety of events. It was built ecologically in an excellent location which has a direct connection to the airport and metro line system. Guided tours are held for visitors with a presentation of the facility and even cocktails served in one of the many rooms. One can even rent the lawn for a football match between friends.  

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