Language: The official language of Porto is Portuguese, but English is widely spoken within the city in hotels and restaurants.
Transportation: Most of the main attractions within the city center can be reachable by foot. A metro is also available above and below ground. Taxis are also easy to find and fairly cheap.
Porto is one of those magical towns that immediately makes you feel comfortable. Although it’s the second largest city in Portugal (after Lisbon), Porto still manages to feel intimate and cozy. During your visit in Porto, be prepared to drink a lot of fortified wine, eat at a lot of quaint cafes, and soak in some of the most amazing coastal views in the world.
Where to Stay in Porto
1. The Ribeira
Located directly on the river, the Riberia is one of the city’s oldest districts. The Ribeira is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the waterfront is busy from the morning until the late night with tourists, street performers and shop vendors. This is where to stay in Porto if you want to have picture perfect views of the River Duoro each morning.
2. The Baixa
The Baixa is the epicenter of Porto’s business and tourism industry. Many of the top attractions and monuments in Porto are located within this neighborhood, which is still a short walk to the Ribeira riverfront. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, bars and pubs in this area, as it’s the main hub for Porto’s nightlife.
Budget: Hotel Porto Rico
Mid-Range: Hotel Aliados
Art lovers, hipsters and students rejoice – Cedofeita is the trend capital of Porto. Whether your sipping hand poured cappuccinos in a modern cafe, spending your day art gallery hopping, or listening to music in the park, you’re sure to find something unique in Cedofeita.
Budget: Lusitana Hotel
Mid-Range: Porta Azul
Luxury: Torel Avantgarde
What to Do in Porto
1. Port Tasting
No trip to Porto would be complete without tasting liquor actually named after the city. A short walk across the amazing Luis I Bridge stands Vila Nova de Gaia, the beating heart of the world’s Port industry. Home to dozens wine cellars and caves, you could easily spend an entire weekend wandering from tasting to tasting. Many of the tasting rooms are located next to each other on the water front, but some of the larger estates can be accessed up a hill (and trust me, the views make the walk worth it). Don’t miss tasting with the infamous Caves Sandeman and Caves Calem, or splurge on a luxury tasting and lunch with Graham’s Port.
2. Visit the Crystal Palace Gardens
On a nice sunny day, head to the Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardins do Palácio de Cristal) for some of the most stunning views in all of Porto. Walk through the main entrance and past the very retro Mota pavilion to experience lush trees, blooming flowers, and even friendly peacocks on your way to the lookout. If you’re looking to escape indoors, check out the Romantic Museum which is on the premise.
3. Admire the Tiles
Azulejo tiles adorn almost all buildings, restaurants and apartments in Porto, making a simple walk through the city extremely breathtaking and memorable. These beautiful ceramic tiles cover the facades of the buildings from the ground up, and come in a variety of vibrant colors, patterns and shapes. You absolutely cannot miss the Igreja Do Carmo for the perfect picture opportunity against the embellished, blue tiled wall.
4. Eat a Francesinha
I couldn’t have come up with this Portuguese sandwich in my wildest dreams. A true Porto national treasure, the Francesinha is a decadent sandwich that can be found throughout the city. The sandwich is made with cured ham, sausage, AND roast meat, then topped with melted cheese, and a mixture of tomato and beer sauce. Served with a fried egg and you have a meal that should probably be shared with your entire party. For the best Francesinhas in the city, check out Santiago F, and Bufete fase.