Of the many things to do in Porto, one of the best is to walk the streets and admire the beauty of this lovely City. Porto is a feast for the eyes. If you like design, architecture and street art, then Porto is a wonderful destination to visit. From Ajulejo tiles to intricate doorknobs, exploring the art and design overflowing on Porto streets has to be one of the top things to do in Porto, Portugal.
We have fallen in love with Porto. Well, to be honest, we have fallen hard. Portugal’s second largest city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another fabulous World Heritage Site you should add to your travel list. There are plenty of Porto attractions to consume your time and energy on your visit to Porto. This article won’t cover them all but is focused on what think are some of the beautiful things and places to see in Porto.
Top Things to See in Porto, Portugal
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The striking Azulejo tiles are one of the first things that you notice when walking around Porto. These eye-catching glazed ceramic tiles are works of art and unique and are everywhere in Porto. Azulejo’s have been dated to at least the 13th Century when the Moors invaded Portugal and Spain. ‘Azulejo’ stems from the Arabic word for ‘small polished stone’.
The most prominent types of azulejos Porto has to offer are the blue and white tiles found on many of the large-scale older buildings including the Porto Cathedral and Capela des Almas.
You will find Azulejo on traditional and modern buildings alike. These Portuguese tiles are one of the top Portugal tourist attractions.
São Bento Station
São Bento Railway Station in Porto, a 20th Century Porto train station, is a beautiful demonstration of Azulejo’s in a public building. Numbering over 20,000 azulejos tiles or Moorish tiles, the walls depict the history of Portugal. Painted by Jorge Coaço, the São Bento Station is astounding and well worth a visit. Sao Bento Station is one of the top places to visit in Porto.
Sometimes the most striking things can be those which are small or underfoot. If you get the chance, walk around and check out the variety of door knockers in Porto. It sounds very ‘ho-hum’ but the incredible detail and artistry that has been applied to something that is used every day is quite beautiful.
Equally, the paving underfoot demonstrates the value of having beautifully designed things – even it is just a pavement.
Dom Luis I Bridge
Spanning the Douro River, the Dom Luis I Bridge is an iconic landmark in Porto. Walking across this double decker bridge will give you a birds eye view of Cais de Riberia and the Port Houses of Vila Nova de Gaia on the opposite bank. This bridge was built between 1881 and 1886. If you are afraid of heights it may be best to catch a tram across the bridge rather than walking across.
Cais de Riberia
The beautiful promenade along the River Douro is the centrepiece of Cais de Riberia. Alongside the promenade, you will find medieval streets and alleyways. Instantly recognisable from Porto postcards, Cais de Riberia is the perfect place to watch the sunset, take in an afternoon aperitif and watch the boats moving up and down the River. You will be able to contemplate the range of Port houses across the river, and decide which ones you will visit first!
The Igreja De Santo Ildefonso
The 18th Century Igreja De Santo Ildefonso, or the Church of Saint Ildefonso is an imposing Portugal landmark on the Porto skyline. This church was completed in 1739, with a facade of azulejo tiles added in 1932, making the tiles ‘newer’ than those at the São Bento Railway Station.
Porto is home to some of the best Street Art, with breathtaking works of art spread across the city. From the large scale of DRAW’s work AN.FI.TRI.ÃO. greeting people as they cross the Dom Luis I Bridge from Villa Nova de Gaia, to smaller works tucked into various corners of the city, you could spend a lot of time exploring this unique side of Porto.
So much to See
There really is so much to see and do in Porto. We think one of the nicest things to do is to just take the time to observe what is around you, look up and discover artfully designed buildings, peer into hallways and discover gorgeous tiles or seek out street art. Whatever you choose to do, just walking around Porto is a rewarding experience. Have you discovered some other beauties in Porto we haven’t mentioned here, let us know and we’ll add them!