Probably this isn’t the first website you’ve read to help decide what to visit in Porto. Chances are, you haven’t decided where to stay in your next holidays in Porto, either. If you haven’t found a place, let us point you in the direction of our Cozzy Homes.
Now that we got our “sponsor” out of the way, let us mention our top list of things we love in and around Porto. Of course there are many more, but these are the ones we think will make you feel the mystical and enchanted life of the city.
How to dive into the enchanted underground of Porto
Porto has something mystical that is difficult to describe and which varies according to the place, time of day and light. These top things we love in Porto are just the tip of the iceberg. We want you to discover the medieval heart of the city that inspired JK Rowling, when she lived and taught here. Without Porto, probably Harry Potter would never found the way to Hogwarts.
Cais da Ribeira
The Ribeira is the medieval riverfront neighbourhood, UNESCO World Heritage Site and Porto’s most iconic cityscape.
There are cafés and restaurants lined on after the other with relaxing and spectacular views, including sunsets over Porto’s bridges.
Of course there’s plenty of things to do, see, eat, etc, in Cais da Ribeira, and the riverside walk by itself is worth the trip. Moving a little to the inside, if you duck through the arcades you’ll find yourself in an intriguing maze of steep streets and stairways between the ancient houses.
But our favourite thing is to seat at a nice terrace café, order a glass of wine (or coffee if its before 12 AM) and stop. Just watch the river go by, imagining what “he” must have seen over the past 2000 years.
Just feel the noises, the smells and pay attention to how the colours change on the postcard-perfect row houses while the sun appears and disappears behind the clouds.
Clérigos – Rise Above the Rooftops
Clérigos tower is like the Empire State Building of the Portuguese 18th century. At the time it was the tallest building in the country and at the top you’ll be rewarded with a complete 360º city panorama. It’s a beautiful monument, with delicate carvings all the way up and a clock so high you need to take few steps back to be able to read it properly.
Of course, presently there is no comparison possible with the Empire State Building. Clérigos Tower is far superior, with a clean and magnificent view over the red-roofed houses and Douro river.
A triumph in Baroque construction for its height and exquisite stonework, Clérigos Tower is a symbol of Porto. The ticket is only 3€ and grants you access to the sixth-floor balcony as well as the Clérigos Church itself. If you’re lucky you can even listen to the polyphonic harmonies of the church choir.
Livraria Lello – Spark Your Imagination
Remember our Harry Potter reference at the beginning?
Right next door to Clérigos, you have to check in at this delightful bookstore on Rua das Carmelitas. It was considered one of the most beautiful in the world, by The Guardian and cooler by Time magazine .
Livraria Lello has an Art Nouveau design, with plenty Gothic traces in its murals and pinnacles on the facade. The central staircase is the major attraction. But the ceiling piping and stained glass skylight inside are also stunning.
There’s also an indirect celebrity endorsement: Legend has it that one of J.K. Rowling’s mains inspirations for the Harry Potter fantasy world was Porto’s.
JK Rowling was married to a Portuguese and lived in Porto during the 1990s, when she began to write “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”. Although she had never spoken openly about her time in Portugal, according to Time magazine, the staircase Rowling describes at Hogwarts is based on what we can find in the Livraria Lello. However, contrary to what some fans of the saga think, no scene was filmed there.
In recent years, the bookstore has become so overrun with tourists that there’s now a €2 entry fee, which is redeemable against any purchase in the store.
With a Art Nouveau façade of beautiful stonework and undulating motifs, this coffeehouse is a Porto gem.
Inside, you’ll find a vintage 1920s ambiance with the original carved wood chairs and marble-topped tables that fills Majestic its delightfully bohemian flavour. The walls reflect the Majestic spirit with the help of some huge Flemish mirrors while cherubs and lamplights cling to the plasterwork ceiling. This is one of Europe’s most historical cafés but besides the “majestic” architecture and interior design” the café is also known for its cakes and pastries selection, and conjures up specialties like French toast smothered in a creamy egg custard topped with dried fruit. Kids will love it here, especially when they realize that author J.K. Rowling worked on the draft of her first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while sipping coffee at a table near the entrance.
How to get to Porto
If you’re arriving directly by plane, the airport transfer means are highly reliable at Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport. But you can also count with our Cozzy Airport Transfer service.
Getting to Porto from Lisbon
Train will be the best way to travel from Lisbon to Porto. The tickets are between 20€ and 40€ and the trips is just a bit longer than 3 hours. In order to learn more about the railway routes between Porto and other national and international destinations, train schedules and ticket prices please visit Comboios de Portugal.
Remember that the weather in Porto is a bit different than in Lisbon , but you can still visit Porto all year round. However, there’s a special charm in April and May. After the winter rains there is lovely freshness and greenness to the city. Cafés and restaurants that line the River Douro and the outlying beaches are filled with life.
Porto is truly an enchanted city with a cosy medieval spirit still floating around. Porto people are filled with generosity and are emotive and expansive. If you’re looking for some magical times, forget the packed Euro Disney and visit us at Porto.
If you need any help or more information, drop us a line or send us an Whatsapp (+351 932 323 296).