There’s a reason why I chose this colour for my blog about Porto. This city was all about the blue…from the blue sky, to the blue tiles, to the blue of the water. I had heard that Porto was pretty, but it was far lovelier than I expected. Most people will arrive to Porto by train and the Sao Bento Station does not disappoint! Built in the early 1900’s the interior is covered in beautiful azulejos…the painted ceramic tiles that dominate so many of the buildings in Porto.
The historic centre of Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and all the main sites are located within this walkable area. A great place to begin exploring Porto is the Clerigos Church where the Torre dos Clerigos gives you a commanding view of the city and all it’s pretty red roofs. You can also see the Douro River as well as the Porto Cathedral.
Don’t let the number of stairs deter you….the climb is worth it! After you’ve been to the top visit the baroque-styled church, built in the mid-18th century, and admire the domed ceiling inside.
Walking a bit out of the main centre you will find Igreja do Carmo…a church covered in those pretty azulejos. The perfect place for a photo op!
Close to the Carmo Church is the Livraria Lello. This bookstore was made famous by J.K. Rowling, who apparently was inspired by the interior and used this inspiration for Hogwart’s School in the Harry Potter series. Although it was a must-see for us when in Porto…it was a bit of a let-down. The crowds in this small bookstore took away some of its charm, and although it is gorgeous inside, it was mostly obscured by the number of people. If you do want to visit here, I would say go early in the morning before it gets so busy!
Make sure that wherever you find yourself in Porto you make time for some pastries…and there’s a lot to choose from!
Another great photo opportunity is the Porto sign located in front of the City Hall…and of course more blue colouring!
My favourite part of Porto was just wandering around the city. Yes we got a bit lost a couple of times, but discovering trolley cars…
and more tiled churches made it all worthwhile!
The Porto Cathedral is definitely a stunning place both inside and out and worth a visit! Built on the highest point in Porto it commands quite the view over the city, which as the sun goes down just adds to the magic of this place.
The cathedral was started in the 12th century, and after many additions and renovations it was completed in the 18th century. This explains why the cathedral has so many different architectural styles to it. An exterior with Romanesque-qualities…
…Baroque style architecture at the main altar…
…and Gothic-styled cloisters built in the 1300’s. The blue tiles, depicting scenes from the Bible, were added in the 1700’s.
We stayed in the Ribeira district of Porto and I would highly recommend this area to find accommodation. The cobble-stone streets, many bars and restaurants, and colourful buildings make for a perfect location.
After meandering around Porto during the day, find time to enjoy an evening in the Praca de Ribeira square, down by the Douro River. You can watch the lights slowly appear on the buildings across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia….and with the sun setting and views like this, it’s the perfect way to end a day in Porto!
For more about this area check out my Douro Valley Tour post as well…click here...it’s a tour not to be missed.