Travel Tuesdays With Quilt: A 36-Hour Virtual Visit to Porto
The land of food, fado, and festivals. The inspiration behind the Harry Potter series. An old-world city with modern-day comforts. Narrow cobbled streets and stately bridges. The place that gifted the world port wine. Allow us to transport you to the colorful coastal city of Porto!
Located along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto is one of Europe’s oldest cities. It is the second-largest city in Portugal and its historic center was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Port wine was named after Porto and it remains Portugal's most famous export.
In order to curate this week’s virtual travel itinerary, we studied Instagram posts of travelers in Porto. Our Culture AI detected the following dominant themes:
Solitude, Creativity, and Happiness were the top emotions detected in the posts, with Solitude faring significantly higher than all other emotions. Porto is a favorite destination among solo travelers as it is a safe, affordable, and friendly destination and the best way to experience the city is by walking – making it ideal for those traveling by themselves or looking to spend time with themselves.
With the help of our Culture AI, we curated a 36-hour itinerary for Porto, inspired by the New York Times’ 36 Hours travel series:
36 Hours in Porto
10 AM: Visit the Porto Cathedral Located in the historical city center, Porto Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church and one of Porto’s oldest monuments. It offers 360-degree panoramic views of the city and features beautiful blue azulejos (tiles) and Romanesque architecture.
1 PM: Wine and Dine
Devour a contemporary Portuguese meal at O Paparico - a Traveller’s Choice Michelin Star restaurant in Porto. The glowing reviews on TripAdvisor speak for themselves. Try the 8-course tasting menu with wine pairings to spend the afternoon on a delicious note!
3 PM: Visit Igreja do Carmo
Made of two buildings, one dating back to the 1600s and the other to the 1700s, Igreja do Carmo was originally built for the Carmelite order of the Roman Catholic Church. It has a classic façade with a bell tower, golden woodwork, and traditional blue azulejos (tiles) depicting the history of the Carmelite order. Don’t miss the 1-meter wide house between the two churches – it is one of the world's narrowest buildings.
5 PM: Stop by at Sao Bento Railway Station
A railway station may not be a place you think of visiting if you aren’t catching a train, but Sao Bento Railway Station has stunning blue tile walls, large windows, ceilings with beautiful calligraphy, and a large clock. The station is a charming place and is sure to leave you in awe, as it is unlike any other railway station you would have been to!
6 PM: Cais da Ribeira A riverfront promenade that runs along the Douro river from the Pestana Vintage Hotel to the Ponte Louis I bridge. It has tonnes of restaurants and shops and is a vibrant street in the evenings. Catch views of Porto’s colorful buildings stacked like bricks or grab a bite at one of the restaurants.
7 PM: Michelin Dinner Enjoy your final meal for the day at Euskalduna Studio - yet another Michelin star restaurant in Porto. An intimate restaurant with a Japanese-style marble counter, try the 12-course fixed meal for a memorable gastronomical experience that will stay with you long after you leave Porto.
9 PM: Late sunset Watch the sun go down from the Dom Luís I Bridge. The picturesque Porto skyline is visible from the bridge and when seen against the dreamy hues of the evening sky, the view is what postcards and stock images of Porto are made of!
9 AM: A Library of Dreams
The Livraria Lello & Irmão is every bibliophile’s paradise. An antique library in the center of Porto where you can pick up a book and enter a new world for a couple of hours. The stairs here are very similar to the ones in Harry Potter, and we reckon J.K. Rowling may have taken some inspiration from here!
11 AM: Torre dos Clérigos
Just meters away from the library is Torre dos Clérigos, one of Porto’s most iconic buildings (there are so many!!). With a clock tower and church, you can catch views of the entire city from here.
12 PM: Lunch with a view Grab lunch at The Yeatman - another stylish Michelin Star restaurant with stunning views of the Douro river. They have an exquisite wine collection and when paired with the right dishes, can do wonders to your mood as you take in the vibes of the coastal city. Their oyster and beef dishes especially come highly rated.
2 PM: Church Of São Francisco
Arguably one of Porto’s hidden gems, it is one of the most beautiful and magnificent churches you will ever see. Don’t miss the underground catacombs that are seldom accessible in other places.
4 PM: Visit the Forbidden Forest
Straight out of Harry Potter, the Gardens of Palácio De Cristal inspired the Forbidden Forest in the iconic book series. The Palácio De Cristal is an antique building surrounded by sprawling gardens with views of the Duoro river. You can visit the gardens free of charge and makes for a relaxing afternoon getaway.
6.15 PM: Tour, Taste, and Fado
Enjoy a definitive port experience at Calem Porto where you can get into the wine cellars, taste a variety of port wines, and enjoy a live fado show! You can also experience a guided interactive museum tour to learn more about the history of port wine production.
While there’s a lot more you can do and see in Porto if you have more time on your hands, one thing is clear — Porto isn’t just a city, it’s a mood!
How to get there
There are numerous non-stop flights to Porto from major cities in the UK and EU, including London, Paris, and Frankfurt. Travelers from the USA, Canada, Australia, etc. will need to take a connecting flight from one of these places to get to Porto. Porto is also well-connected by train from Lisbon, Faro, Coimbra, and Braga.
Places to stay
If you’re looking for a luxury stay, check out the Porto River ApartHotel and Porto Torel Palace in addition to the usual global hotel chains. The Passenger Hostel and Being Porto Hostel are great options for budget travelers.
When to go May to September is the best time to visit Porto as the days are warm with a cool breeze by the sea.