Our Porto Top Picks
Pestana have just opened a 5-star hotel in the historic A Brasileira Café in downtown Porto. The building is over 115 years old and has 89 bedrooms, a restaurant, a vertical garden and will be reopening the café serving coffee and tea, pastries and an all-day menu. Its central location is ideal for exploring the historic centre and the popular Ribeira with its lively cafes and restaurants.
To celebrate the latest addition, we thought we’d tell you about some of our personal highlights of Porto.
No visit to Porto is complete without a visit to its famous wine cellars. With a variety of brands including Sandemans, Porto Cruz and Graham’s, you have plenty to choose from. Tours with tastings typically start from 12€ per person.
Open Top Bus Tours
A tourist staple in any city, these buses help newcomers get their bearings and learn some interesting facts about the various areas. The Porto open top buses are particularly good value with some packages including short boat trips along the Douro, and tours that take you across to Vila Nova de Gaia and up to the Matosinhos beaches. A tour over to Vila Nova de Gaia offers the perfect opportunity to take marvellous photos of Porto’s famous terracotta-roofed landscape.
Portugal often gets overlooked when it comes to the world’s most famous coffee drinkers, but let’s not forget that the Portuguese explorers were some of the first involved in the trade. Porto has two historical coffee houses, the A Brasileira which is over 115 years old and claims to be the first place to serve coffee in a cup; it is now home to the Pestana A Brasileira hotel. The other famous café is the Majestic Café, a functioning café with grand Art Deco interiors. The Majestic dates back to 1921 and was a hotspot for artists, writers, intellectuals and politicians who met for coffee and absinthe and to discuss the news of the day.
Although these cafés are historically important, we’re confident you’ll enjoy a delicious coffee and pastel de nata in most of Porto’s cafés.
Livraria Lello Bookshop
Any book lovers cannot afford to miss a visit to this beautiful bookshop which dates back to 1906. Its intricate façade, elegant winding staircase and dazzling stained glass roof are spellbinding so it’s no wonder the shop is rumoured to be one of J.K. Rowling’s inspirations when writing the Harry Potter series. Photography is prohibited so as not to disturb shoppers, but this is all the more reason to have a real wander around the bookshop and soak in the atmosphere and maybe pick up a book or postcard to remember your visit.
Mercado do Bolhão
This wrought-iron fresh produce market dates back to the 19th century and is the perfect place to pick up fresh cheese, olives, fish, bread and smoked meats. It’s best to visit on Friday and Saturday mornings where you can join the lively crowds and try some delicious samples.
Ponte de Dom Luís I & Cable Car
This impressive double-deck iron bridge is a distinctive part of Porto’s landscape connecting Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. A walk southbound across the top of the bridge offers unbeatable views of Porto and the Douro, and takes you to the Jardim do Morro where you can catch the cable car down to the port cellars; whereas the bottom of the bridge connects Porto’s lively Riviera and the Gaia riverfront restaurants and port cellars.
Hop on a bus or tram and explore Porto’s historic centre where you’ll find treasures like the Clérigos Church Tower, the tree-lined Praça da Liberdade Square and the stunning São Bento train station with its azulejos-coated entrance hall (azulejos are the famous Portugese blue tiles). Wherever you go in Porto, you will stumble on some part of its rich history, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled as you stroll around this beautiful city.
Find out more about the Pestana A Brasileira.
For more ideas on how to incorporate a stop in Porto on your visit, call our friendly team on 0800 160 1013 or you can gain inspiration from our recommended routes.