Earlier this year I found myself with some Emirates Skywards points due to expire. I didn’t have enough points to redeem for any long haul flights but I learned that you can use Skywards points to book flights with easyJet, and this is how I ended up booking a city break to Porto. I loved Lisbon when I visited a couple of years ago so I was keen to explore more of the country.
I had a lot of things I wanted to see during my 48 hours in Porto, here’s what I go up to:
After I’d checked in to my hotel my first stop was Clerigos Church. The inside of the church is worth a look, however my main reason for visiting was to climb the bell tower for some panoramic views over the city. It’s well worth the €3 and the stairs when you are greeted with these views at the top.
Palácio da Bolsa
The Palácio da Bolsa looks very much like a royal palace but it is actually the old stock exchange building and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I didn’t realise this before I arrived but you can only visit the palace by guided tour. I had to buy my ticket and come back a bit later when the tour was starting but it was worth the wait! The Arab Room is the highlight of the tour, I don’t think my photos do it justice but it is stunning in person.
Church of São Francisco
Just behind the Palácio da Bolsa is the Church of São Francisco. It looks just like a regular Gothic church on the outside but the inside was unlike any church I have visited before (and I’ve been to quite a few). The walls are covered with intricately carved wooden decorations coated in several hundred kilos of gold leaf. You aren’t supposed to take photos inside but everyone seemed to be doing it anyway as there was nobody inside the church enforcing the rule. I look a couple of sneaky shots, I would have loved to taken more but it felt a bit disrespectful.
I promise I did more than just visit churches during my time in Porto! Porto Cathedral may not be quite as impressive as the São Francisco Church but it is one of the city’s oldest historical monuments. The views from the terrace outside also help to make the uphill walk worthwhile.
São Bento railway station
This is easily one of the most beautiful train stations I’ve ever seen! The elaborate tile work that lines the walls tells the story of Portugal. If you can, try and time your visit outside of the rush hour otherwise you will have crowds of people obscuring your view of the tiles.
Dom Luís I Bridge
The views of the River Douro and the Old Town from the top deck of this bridge are unrivalled. It was an ideal spot to watch the sunset from.
Port Tasting at Graham’s Lodge
A visit to Porto wouldn’t be complete without a port tasting! There are over 50 port companies to choose from in Vila Nova de Gaia, just over the other side of the River Douro, but the one that I saw recommended the most was Graham’s. I’m not a big wine drinker and I’d never sampled port before but I really enjoyed the tour of the cellars and the tasting at the end. You also get a pretty good view over Porto from the lodge.
J. K. Rowling spent a lot of time at this cafe when she was living in Porto, working on the first Harry Potter novel. If that wasn’t reason enough to visit, you’ll want to come just to see the grand interior.
Have you been to Porto? Did you enjoy this beautiful city as much as I did?