A visit to Europe is definitely a fascinating experience, but some of the cities can be very fast-paced. Many areas in Portugal are like this because they get their share of tourists. Fortunately, the town of Porto offers a welcome, laid-back respite to some of the larger cities and still has plenty of things to see and do. Here are ten attractions that will make you book some flights to Porto post haste:
1. Dom Luis’ I Bridge
This is an iconic arching iron bridge that straddles the Douro River and connects the city of Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia. The bridge is especially renowned because it was actually designed by a protege’ of Gustave Eiffel, the main designer of the famous tower in Paris. The bridge has two levels and many first-time visitors marvel over it because the bridge is considered to be a true architectural masterpiece. Several hotels in Porto are in close proximity.
2. Se’ Do Porto (Porto Cathedral)
This Cathedral was built in the 12th and 13th century and features a mix of Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic architectural styles. It has distinguished itself as the largest monument in the town and has a beautiful stained glass window on the inside. The interior also features centuries old sculptures and has great views of the city as an added bonus. Once again, you can book several hotels in Porto that are close to this landmark.
3. Jardins do Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace Gardens)
This park has great flower varieties and extremely green shrubbery. The park is named for the Crystal Palace which once stood in the gardens. Unfortunately, the Palace was torn down in 1956 and a sports pavilion was rebuilt in its place. Visitors usually enjoy the flower varieties and the great city views of the gardens well over and above anything the pavilion could possibly have to offer.
4. Port Wine Tastings and Tours
Porto Portugal boasts a number of different wine cellars located throughout the city, including Ferreira, which was built in 1751. The great thing about it is that there is literally a wine cellar for every preference, including Sandeman Porto Cellars, which is also located along the Douro River.
5. Estação de São Bento (São Bento Railway Station)
This train station was built on the former site of a Benedictine Monastery and boasts a great deal of history and artwork. The railway station also includes great architecture and some beautifully painted tiles.
6. Mercado do Bolhão (Bolhão Market)
Those who love shopping will be absolutely thrilled with this market dating back to the 1850’s. The scents of fruit, bread and cheeses will be an inviting aroma as tourists browse at the marketplace house behind a wonderful neoclassical facade.
Porto’s location along the coast of Porto Portugal means that it is host to many different beaches. You can dip your feet into the Atlantic Ocean and kill a lot of time as you lay on a towel and watch the surf crash back and forth.
8. Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis)
The Church of Saint Francis seems rather ordinary from the outside, but when you step inside you will immediately be greeted with an array of ancient gold throughout the interior.
9. Livraria Lello & Irmão (Lello Bookstore)
This Portuguese bookstore is consistently rated as not only one of the most historic but also one of the most beautiful. Ornate carvings greet the eyes as one peruses the books.
10. Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace)
The Stock Exchange palace is renowned for an ornate design even in its Royal Arabian Hall. It once housed the city’s stock exchange, hence the palace’s name.
There you have it. Those are but a few of the great surprises that await the many visitors and why flights to Porto are so popular. There truly is a little something for everyone!