How to Spend a Long Weekend in Porto
Porto is one of those wonderful gems whereby you don’t fully understand its beauty until you are smack bang in the middle of it. I had heard a lot about this city of bridges and recently had the opportunity to experience it for myself.
Porto is at the height of a city rejuvenation. A former merchant port, Porto is now a thriving hub of food, wine and culture. If you only have a weekend in this must-visit city - and you probably only need two or three days to see the best of it - use this guide to discover the top five things you need to see and do when visiting the home of cork and port wine.
Sandeman, Porto - Image: Elyse Langenegger
Sandeman, PortoImage: Elyse Langenegger
Port Wine Cellar Tour and Tasting
This might seem like a given in Porto, however, if you're asking yourself 'what should I not miss in Porto?', then I'd say that it's essential you book onto a tour of a port wine cellar. There are a number of them in Porto and the port they create will vary depending on the grapes used and the location in which they were grown.
We chose to take a tour of the Sandeman Port Cellar and we were not disappointed. Sandeman is the oldest port distributor in the city and is known for its creative advertising and approach to making port.
The tour is approximately 45 minutes long and covers the entire creation process and distribution. You’ll get the opportunity to ask questions and learn all about the process of wine making (fun fact: a bottle of Sandeman Port from 1924 sells for approximately £1550).
After the tour, you will then have the opportunity to taste between 2-3 port wines. I recommend doing this tour in the afternoon and spending as much time doing the tasting to get the full experience.
Sao Bento Station - Image: Elyse Langenegger
Sao Bento StationImage: Elyse Langenegger
Sao Bento Station
So, what is Porto famous for? Arguably one of its top sites is Sao Bento Station. Dressed in renaissance blue tiles, this functional train station is a must see for anyone visiting this city. Sao Bento is a landmark within Porto.
Take a walk over to Praça Almeida Garrett and step inside this station. The four walls are covered in over 20,000 stunning azulejo tiles that depict historical moments throughout Porto’s history.
Yeatman Bar, Porto - Image: Elyse Langenegger
Yeatman Bar, PortoImage: Elyse Langenegger
Drink at a Rooftop Terrace Bar
As is the case with almost any country in Europe, there are a number of quaint terrace bars, both on the Porto side (north of the river) and Gaia (south of the river). Both sides reflect a unique perspective of Porto life and culture. From the Porto side you can look back at Gaia, the port wine cellars and Mosterio da Serra do Pilar (a former convent).
From the Gaia side, you are able to see the whole Porto side, including the colourful facades of Cais da Ribeira and the burgeoning activity happening down on the waterfront. Personally, I’d recommend enjoying the views from this side, as you can simply sit back and take in vistas of the whole of Porto.
My top bar recommendations would be the Yeatman Bar in Gaia, known for its picture-perfect views of Porto town. On the Porto side, my recommendation would be the O Muro Antigo Restaurante, located on a halfway down the Cais da Ribeira on the upper level.
Dom Luis I Bridge, Porto - Image: Elyse Langenegger
Dom Luis I Bridge, PortoImage: Elyse Langenegger
Walk Across the Dom Luis I Bridge
Porto is best known as a city of bridges. It has seven bridges spread out within the city limits however there is one in particular that is worth the trek. The Dom Luis I Bridge is located between the Pilares da Antiga Ponte Pênsil (Pillars of the Old Suspension Bridge) and the Mosterio da Serra do Pilar.
I highly recommend walking across the bridge, both from the top tier (linking to Mosterio da Serra do Pilar) and from the bottom tier (leading to the port wine cellars). Each level will give you a unique and picturesque view down the Duoro River.
Side note - this is how you will gain access to those incredible terrace bars as mentioned above.
Francesinha - Image: Elyse Langenegger
FrancesinhaImage: Elyse Langenegger
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