by Ana arzaf | Published on August 11, 2017


Here is interesting little factoid about Porto, the city is nickname Invicta and it’s portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon.

A Vital Atlantic port located in Northern Portugal on the Douro river estuary and follows the river into the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately a 320km drive from Lisbon.

No problem getting around the city, as most local people spoke english and are very helpful. The free tours on offer are not to be missed if you want to know more about the city. We particularly find the story about the “heart of the King” very interesting told by the tour guide. Other highlights include visiting places like the famous Majestic Café where some say J.K.Rowling was inspired by.

Now let’s checkout the beauty of Porto in our three day itinerary below.

Day One

Arrival @ Vincci Hotel

We arrived in Porto on a sunny morning in December 2015. Yes, you read that right: “sunny morning”. You are thinking why is that such a big deal? Well compare to where we were coming from in UK that is a big deal, you be lucky to get a glimpse of the sun even in summer, but hey I digress.

Prince Henry statue presiding the garden

Our Arrival @ Vincci Hotel did not disappoint. The venue, location, service and room were worth of more than 4 stars as advertised. We didn’t sign up for the all“breakfast included” as Porto is quite affordable for eating outdoors and we were very excited to try all the local cuisine.

We find Porto to be reasonably cheap and your euro can really go far here: Example, you can get coffee and a pastry for less than €2.00! Just word of caution, the size of the coffee is not the massive “grande latte” you might be used to but more a “flat white”. We recommend you try the “natas” which basically is the local portuguese dessert.

With breakfast done, off we went to explore the city. Be aware of the tram! It’s on most of the main street and will appear from nowhere when you least expect it.

Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique

Without even realising it, we arrived at the Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique (Henry’s Garden), named after Prince Henry the Navigator statue, in the centre of the gardens.A XIX century market “Mercado Ferreira Borges” and the Stock exchange building surround the gardens.

Ana posing at the gardens in front of Ferreira Borges market
Andrew overlooking the Garden of Prince Henry
A beatiful garden to enjoy on a quiet morning

Rua das Flores

Well deserve quick coffee break in one of the “cafeterias” in Rua Das Flores (Flower’s Street). The name comes from the Bishop’s garden located here which has plenty of flowers adorned everywhere you look. The street was commissioned in the XVI century and you will be sure to find colourful doors, restaurants, cafeterias and shops here.

Andrew taking rest enjoying his coffee
always looking for the colourful shot

Clerigos Tower

At the end of Rua Das Flores, you can see the old train station and just 2 minutes away, you can also spot Clerigos Tower. You can buy your ticket on arrival and it is more than worth it. The 360 view of Porto is spectacular. If you’ve been to Venice, the view is as spectacular as the one you enjoy from St Mark’s Bell Tower. The Clerics Tower is part of a bigger architectural complex formed by the Clerics Church and the Museum.

panoramic view for the clerics tower
best view of porto ever

The baroque tower was built by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni at the request of the Brotherhood of Clerics. It consists of 225 steps and over 75m height. It is open until 11 pm and offers and spectacular panoramic of Porto from the top. We were visiting during day times but it may be interesting to also see Porto at night depending on your preference of course.

Rio douro and gaia view from the clerics tower
this is what you get to see 225 steps later

Romantic and Artistic City Free Tour

Time for well deserve rest and a lunch as we still had a 3-hour walking tour ahead.

We chose Pancho Tours on both days and two different walking tours.

portuguese poets

We met up the tour guide at Avenida dos Aliados (Allies’ Avenue) at the heart of Porto. Where we congregate with other travellers waiting to be guided through the town of porto and it hidden secrets gems. We chose the Romantic and Artistic City Free Tour to start exploring the city.

Graffitis you can find in porto

The Allies’ Avenue is the main boulevard of the city for shopping and social life. At the end of the avenue you have the Town Hall, an impressive building made of marble and granite. On the other side of the Avenue, you find the Liberty Square (Praca da Libertade) with a statue of King Pedro IV of Portugal and I of Brazil riding a horse – Time for little history lesson folks, at this point, we have to tell you the story of the heart of the king. Have you heard about it? Truly interesting, a bit macabre you could say. The heart’s King is actually a real thing; it has been guarded on “Nuestra Señora da Lapa” church under 5 KEYS.

The keys are kept by the Council Hall. The box where the heart is kept is only open on exceptional occasions. King Pedro had a profound relationship with Porto and he left a deep mark on their people which related him to the restore of liberty in Portugal. His heart is a symbol of freedom and it has been kept in this church since 1836.

Worth mentioning that famous poets’ statues can be found in Porto as the one in memory of A. Garrett

We continued our tour on Santa Catarina Street : there are shops and restaurants everywhere, but there is one thing worth to checking out: The Majestic Cafe, a landmark on its own. Rated as the sixth most beautiful café in the world, you can imagine a coffee being that pricey, but you should check it out if you are a coffee lover with a sweet tooth (Ana would recommend the “Traditional Portuguese Sweet Symphony”).

Lovely graffiti cat

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may already know that J.K.Rowling lived in Porto for a few years. Some say that she started drafting “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the Majestic Café.

Interesting little factoid: The Porto student’s uniform is surprisingly similar to the Hogwarts uniform.

Also the Fonte dos Leões (Lions’ Fountain) inspired House Gryffindor. Coincidences don’t end here: it is believed that the portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s name gave Rowling the idea for… of course, Salazar Slytherin’s name!

And of course the cherry on top was the artistic tour was the artistic streets, we were taken to those hidden places where you can enjoy urban art, finishing the tour by the Corcoaria Garden!

we are still not sure what this represents
Corcoaria garden
the kiss

Day Two

Historical and Enchanted Porto Tour (English)

To be honest we were so tired from the previous day that we nearly missed the morning Historical and Enchanted Porto Tour (English).

We meet with our tour guide and group at the Avenida dos Aliados on this occasion. This tour is more focussed on history than arts although it touches upon artistic aspects of Porto so it’s worth it.

learning the history behind the roads of Porto

We were taken to another place where you can enjoy a stunning view: Miradouro da Vitória, possibly the best free viewpoint in Porto. You can see the other side of the city, Gaia – highly recommended if you are a wine lover.

Best free view of Porto
Andrew on the amazing viewpoint of Vitoria
Ana at the Victoria viewpoint
reflection of the problem to obtain a license to renew old buildings

You will also pass by Clerigos Tower on this tour but if you want to enter, you will come another time

Stopping for so long to take pictures that we nearly lost the tour group
Ana wandering on the roads of Porto

After the Miradouro da Vitória, we went to Sao Bento Train Station, a XIX century railway station beautiful adorned with white & blue tiles. the most famous one, the “azulejo” where Egas Moniz presents himself to Alfonso VII of Castille, by Egas Moniz”

We were lucky the weather was good to be december as this made the walk through the Ribeira (Riverside) much more enjoyable.

the white and blue tiles of the 19th century railway station
Ana overseeing the ribeira
Andre overlooking the other side of the river
beautiful boats on the Golden river
beautiful sun reflection on the golden river
Riverside view from the top bridge
colourful buildings on our way to the cathedral
Massive wall graffiti

We finish our city in the Cathedral, one of the oldest buildings of the city. A Roman Catholic church guarded by two squared shape towers gives the Cathedral an appearance of fortress.

Roman catholic style church
a view from the streets of Porto from a viewpoint by the cathedral

After a long tour that lasted nearly 4 hours, Gaia was our next stop on the other side of the Douro river, for a deserved lunch. Here are the main two reasons as to why you can´t miss Gaia:

  • The views of Porto are the best. In my opinion, better than any viewpoint, it is just perfect.
  • Wine – nothing else to add.


Gaia is where the famous Porto wine is stored and aged. Andrew quite enjoyed Porto wine. I am a firm fan of red wine, however, I have to admit that I really liked the “Green wine” – try it if you have the chance.

Andrew by rio douro
moon and stars in Porto

Dinner @ Traca

We met up with few friends for Dinner @ Traca that were also visiting Porto. It is a tapas style restaurant, quite popular amongst locals. It is the best way to try different dishes when you are abroad! We were looking for a local place to eat cod (bacalhao) but no luck, no worry our next stop was Madeira.

Day Three

Livraria Lello

We had such an intense two days that we wanted to chill a little bit, take it easy and enjoy our last day wandering around the city, taking our time to admire our favourite places.

the place where the magic beings

That is why we spend part of the morning visiting Livraria Lello. The most beautiful bookshop in my life! Entrance is not free of charge but it is affordable and truly beautiful inside, and yes, it also influenced by J.K. Rowling to describe the grand staircase of Hogwarts. Be aware that it closes on sunday and it only opens until 1pm on saturday.

#1book4my trip_never stop reading
ALT andrew and the wizard hogwarts atmosphere
commercial streets of Porto to buy clothes and souvenirs

Shopping and relaxing afternoon

We spend the rest of the day shopping & enjoying our last “nata”. A Shopping and relaxing afternoon was exactly what we needed before our next stop in Madeira (Link to Madeira post)!


Thanks For Reading.

If you find this post helpful, tip to share or have question let me know in the comment below.


– Ana


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