Once considered the edge of the known world in the Middle Ages, the industrious town of Porto clung to the side of Portugal, looking out across the endless Atlantic Ocean, before adventurers risked it all to head toward the new world.
The cliché that Lisbon shows off and Porto just works is a well-worn metaphor that fails to fully do justice to the latter one's real charms. With images of a past way of life hidden down in every bustling alley, Porto is a place determined to hold on to its own and distinct identity.
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European Emergency Number: 112
Jornal de Noticias – Porto based newspaper
Shops are usually open from Mon-Fri from 10am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm. On Saturdays, most shops close down at 1pm. Shopping centres tend to be open from 10am to 11pm or even until midnight all week.
Central Tourist Information Office
25, Rua Clube dos Fenianos, Porto
+351 223 393 472
June 21st-September 21st: Daily 9am-8pm
September 22nd-June 20th: Daily 9am-7pm
Time has seemingly failed to touch some of the hidden corners of Porto, with many of its typical winding alleys full of shops and restaurants looking like a scene straight out of a medieval history book. The city is so soaked in the past that the historic area of Ribeira has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Considering the backdrop of wrought-iron balconies full of flowers, the daily washing and an array of fresh white and blue ‘azulejos’ tiles, you will have the perfect city for aimless wandering. However, the city does have a few key landmarks that are worth a visit, including the elaborately decorated Palacio da Bolsa (=the Stock Exchange Palace), the medieval Cathedral and Clérigos Tower.
The other big draw for tourists is the tour of the Porto wine cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia on the other side of the Douro River.
The surrounding suburbs of the city are also compelling: Matosinhos offers great seafood eateries and small beaches stretching down the coastline. Amarante invites to a particular colourful shape. Foz do Douro is known as the wealthier area, with nightclubs and restaurants just 5 kilometres northwest of Porto.
In Porto there is so much to see and do, and its beautiful surroundings are particularly spectacular. Make sure to visit the port wine caves, different markets and many museums.
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The people of Porto managed to acquire the name ‘tripeiros’ or ‘tripe eaters‘, as they shipped out all their fine cuts of meat in order to feed their armies and traders abroad, conquering across the seas back in the 15th century. However, today there is a lot more on the Portuguese menus than just leftover offal of lower quality, and much port wine to wash it down with.
Being on the coast, seafood restaurants are both ubiquitous and delicious. The city also has a good array of Brazilian inspired restaurants, reflecting its former colonial links with the South American country – Brazilian barbecues are a carnivore’s heaven!
There are many pleasant cafés in Porto where you can get a refreshing drink or coffee. Snack-wise, most cafés will serve you a ‘francesinha,’ which is a cholesterol-full delicacy made from meat, bread and cheese finished off with some spicy sauce.
In central Porto, the liveliest place to head for is Ribeira, the vibrant historic heart of the city, which is also a popular students' haunt. For a flavour of traditional Portugal, go to a Fado bar where you can hear a form of Portuguese blues with melancholic artists singing of lost loves and regrets.
The distinction between bar and nightclub is slightly blurred, as most bars stay open until the early morning hours. However, if you want to dance the hours away, Porto has a lot to offer, from traditional ‘Fado’ evenings to dance clubs in converted warehouses.
Porto’s main shopping street is the pedestrianised Rua de Santa Catarina in the city centre, including international brands as well as the large Centro Comercial Via Caterina shopping centre. However, the small streets off the main streets are also worth a visit, brimming with independent shops selling fresh bread, cheese or cakes, interspersed with bookstores and traditional shoe stores.
Porto’s open-air markets are also worth a visit, for getting a taste of daily Portuguese life. To pick up local delicacies such as chocolate and sugar almonds, the Arcadia patisserie on Rua do Almada, 63 is worth a try, as well as A Perola do Bolhao on Rua Formosa, 279.
Gold jewellery is another speciality of Portugal, a reflection of its colonial past and its conquests of gold-rich lands of South America. Recommended jewellers are David Rosas on Avenida de Boavista, and Elysee Joias on Praca Mouzinho de Albuquerque. Pedro A Baptista, in addition, is known for its collection of antique and modern jewellery.
Passport / Visa
Portugal can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.
Best Time to Visit
Porto provides mild weather throughout the whole year, although especially the winter months can be be dominated by heavier rain – do not forget the typical coastal weather that can change quite fast. For experiencing the typical Portuguese life, however, the best time to visit might be in summer, as the open air markets will be crowded and festivals such as Serralves em Festa and Festa de São João will attract many visitors, Portuguese as well as many tourists.
The Porto Airport is called Aeroporto Francisco Sa Carneiro and is situated 11 kilometres north of the city. To reach the airport you can use the lightrail. It departs every 30 minutes:
From here you can also take buses number 601, 602, 604 and 3M into the city centre:
There are also shuttle buses and taxis available at the airport:
+351 22 5353350
Address: Porto Airport, Porto
Phone: +351 229 432 400
Porto has a good bus and tram network with routes serving all the key tourist spots; it is operated by STCP. The city also has a Metro system that is still clean and efficient. A metro ticket can be bought at the station and in other sale spots.
You can buy tourist cards that allow you to get around Porto on all means of transportation: daily tickets and a 3-day tickets.
More Information: www.metrodoporto.pt
Taxis in Porto are very convenient and also great for airport transfer.
+351 22 507 64 00
+351 225 073 900
To find a post office in Porto, look for the red sign saying CTT. Letter boxes are also red.
Praça General Humberto Delgado, Porto
+351 223 400 202
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-21pm. Sat 9am-6pm
Parmacies are normally open from 9am-1pm and from 3pm-7pm. All areas have one shop open all night or on Sunday. A white cross on a green background marks out the pharmacies.
Farmácia Sá da Bandeira:
R. de Sá da Bandeira 236/54, Porto
+351 22 207 4040
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8:30am-7:30pm
Country Code: +351
Area Code: 022
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