Porto, a World Heritage Site
Porto is a beautiful coastal city in Portugal, the second-largest metropolis after Lisbon. It is one of the oldest European centre, and the old town was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
The historic neighborhood of Oporto also offers some wonderful baroque churches and Beaux-Arts buildings.
The town of Porto received its name and fame from its Port wine. Several local port wine cellars offer visitors a wonderful array of true Port wine to sample. In addition to the Port wine, there are many things to explore in Porto. The old town offers visitors exquisite authentic local cuisine, a vibrant night life, festivals, churches, and traditions. There is something for everyone!
One of the best sightseeing options is the hop-on hop-off bus tour. This tour allows you to go at your own pace and see the city’s historic attractions and castles, beaches and port. The double-decker bus offers you the option to sit downstairs or upstairs offering travelers an open-top view. These tours also offer several options, such as a river cruise, wine tasting and more.
So, let’s go and visit Porto!
Ribeira, the old town
Ribeira was built on the hills overlooking the Douro River, and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There is a maze of narrow medieval alleys that meander down to the Douro River. Once at the river, there are views of the spectacular Ponte de Dom Luís I (see more below). Across the river you can see the port-wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. A variety of sights can be seen down by the River, and you can enjoy wonderful shops and restaurants serving local cuisine. The atmosphere at the River is bustling with people, many of whom are tourists. But, don’t let that discourage you from enjoying your visit and taking in the ambiance.
The Porto Cathedral
The Porto Cathedral is a very large Roman Catholic church located in the historical centre of the city of Porto. It is one of the oldest monuments in Porto. Look for the outdoor terrace space which offers some spectacular views of Porto and the Douro River.
The 14th-century São Francisco church
The Church is one of the most prominent Gothic monuments in Porto. Be sure not to miss the interior for its amazing Baroque decor.
Local port wine cellars
Ponte de Dom Luís I
The impressive, double-decker bridge of Ponte de Dom Luís I stretches across the Douro River from Porto to Villa Nova de Gaia. The bridge was designed by Téophile Seyrig, a student of Gustave Eiffel.
The bridge was built and finished in 1886. At that time, it was the longest single-span bridge in the world at 564 feet, and it supported 3,045 tons of steel in weight.
The lower deck of the bridge is for cars and the upper deck is for the metro and also pedestrians. The bridge is best viewed from the river in a traditional wooden rabelo.
Fort of São Francisco do Queijo
Also known as the Castle of the Cheese, this castle is situated between the neighborhood of Foz do Douro and the city of Matosinhos.
The name was derived from the bedrock which was cheese shaped. The castle was built during the wars of Portuguese restoration of independence from Spain (1640-1688) to protect Porto from any attacks coming from the north. The attacks never happened.
The castle is a little distance from Porto, but the sea views from the castle are a nice reward. Inside the castle there is a little cafe, museum, and store.
This is a MUST-DO!!! Enjoy the Portuguese folklore while you listen to love songs and enjoy the local cuisine.