10 Reasons to Visit Porto
While you’re still deciding which city to visit over your next adventure, chances are that your focus will be placed on the attractions and landmarks you’ve always dreamed of seeing. Yet, keep in mind there are many other aspects to consider - some more important than others depending on your taste - but it is ultimately the combination of different factors that will make you either love or hate a destination. And since we are so proud our hometown was considered Best European Destination 2017, we decided to write a post with our reasons to why Porto is, definitely, the best!
Here are our top 10 reasons to visit Porto:
#10 - PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND ACCESSIBILITY
This is one of those things that might go unnoticed if you don’t travel often. You see, after taking a metro trip in Budapest, for instance, and feeling like you went back in time, you’ll learn to appreciate a more modern public transportation network. Porto’s transportation system is rather modern, especially our metro system which was inaugurated in 2002 and keeps getting updated with new vehicles, stops and lines every couple of years. Along with a vast network of city buses it is very easy to explore the city, although you can walk pretty much anywhere if all you want to see is the downtown. Besides, we have one of the best airports in Europe according to Sleeping in Airports!
#9 - WEATHER
Ok we know Porto is not the Algarve, but even though the temperatures might not be as high in the North, the sun still shines most of the days. After all, Portugal is one of the European countries with more sunny hours per year! Also, considering our average temperatures in deep winter are close to 10 degrees Celsius, when compared to other European cities such as Prague or Berlin it is pretty clear that Porto’s weather is quite pleasant. Still, it is not without surprise we come to find tourists strolling through the city wearing nothing but a t-shirt when we are still wearing our winter coats!
#8 - PRICES
Even though we recognize Porto’s prices are inflated in most touristy areas (as it happens with every single city in the world) we have to admit local prices are great when you compare it to the likes of Barcelona or London, not to mention the Scandinavian countries! You get to have sunny days and cheap prices?? It seems too good to be truth!
#7 - SERVICE
And here you have another bonus: not only is the city affordable when compared to other European cities, but you will also be paying for a better quality product. Portugal is renowned for the outstanding service its hotels and restaurants provide (at least in most cases), and a quick search on Booking and Tripadvisor will show you the ridiculous amount of hotels and restaurants with great reviews at your disposal that won’t completely ruin your budget. Good luck finding that in Paris!
#6 - PORT WINE
This was a no-brainer right? Of course Port Wine had to make the list! Even if you’re not the greatest wine-lover, tasting this delicacy is mandatory when in Porto. I mean, would you go to Italy and not try pizza or lasagna? Plus, you can tour one of the countless cellars located in the city centre to learn more about one of the most appreciated wines in the planet, or take a scenic river-cruise through the Douro Valley and see the vineyards. Give it a try!
#5 - FOOD
This seems to be something all Southern European countries share: we love to eat and we have great food! All around, you’ll find great gastronomy in Portugal regardless of the city you’re visiting, but Porto not only offers you something tasty, but also something different. Here, there are definitely some dishes you MUST try if you consider yourself a foodie. Besides the iconic Francesinha (foreigners call it a delicious heart attack between two slices of bread) and the risky Tripas à Moda do Porto (pork tripe, yummy), if you fancy your fish you’ll have to visit the city with the best offer in the North of Portugal: Matosinhos.
Of course these particular dishes are considered traditional, but you can find restaurants to everyone’s liking. Also, nowadays every restaurant has a vegetarian option and you can find more and more alternative restaurants by the day. This goes to show how the city has grown and taken advantage of tourism as a platform of development, becoming a much more diverse place in the process. Gastronomy wise, Porto’s diversity is overwhelming and we are sure that you’ll find something that suits you! This is not a city that will have you missing your mama’s cooking.
#4 - SAFETY
As Europe is seemingly getting more and more dangerous, safety is today a relevant topic in the process of choosing one’s next destination, especially if you’re planning to take children and other loved ones along with you. According to the Global Peace Index 2017, Portugal is the third safest country in the world, which in turn makes Porto an incredibly safe city to visit!
#3 - ATMOSPHERE
Oh… Porto’s atmosphere! This is one of those topics we can’t express through words. You have to be here to feel it. It’s the music, the laughter, the children swimming in the Douro and the colors of the riverside. The boats and the smiles of strangers. The tourists walking through hidden narrow streets that run between decrepit houses where many locals have lived for several generations. Although Porto’s downtown is now a thriving area, we remember it as a no-go zone when we were kids. It was a place filled with houses in ruins where humbler families lived door-to-door with prostitutes, drug-addicts and all sorts of criminals. The insecurity is long gone (it’s one of the safest places in Porto now) but the area retains its bohemian authenticity. It’s a combination of progress and decline that somehow manages to work.
#2 - CAIS DA RIBEIRA
Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Colosseum. Great world-famous monuments you immediately associate to the European cities where they were built, and the ultimate ambassadors of Paris, London and Rome. Even though Porto doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower of its own to use as trademark, we do have a magical place that we believe will stay with you long after your return home. The Cais da Ribeira is a beautiful river quay filled with colourful houses and the city’s typical postcard picture. Connected to Cais de Gaia by the stunning D. Luis I Bridge, this is the place you will deeply miss or, as we say in Portugal, the place that will leave you with saudades.
#1 - PEOPLE
This may sound like we are being biased since we live here. Still, do your research and you’ll find out Porto’s locals are among the nicest people you will ever find! In other cities it is considered nice when a local points out in the map the direction you are looking for. But in Porto? People will offer to escort you to the exact place to make sure you get there safe and sound without getting lost. And they might offer you something to eat on the way! Part of Porto’s magic relies on its people, always smiling and singing and always ready to welcome someone from abroad.
What are you waiting for to pay us a visit? Porto is an amazing destination and finally travellers are ready to discover it! Have you ever been to Porto? What other reasons make it a must-visit city? Let us know on the comments below!