Unusual Things to do in Porto. Unusual Sights TOP 13

What to do when we’ve visited all the standard go-to attractions and monuments in Porto? What to do when it rains or we’re not interested in sunbathing? Well, we decided to prepare a list of some ‘unconventional’ activities you can try.

Take a seat at the Douro riverside, in the Ribeira district

The Ribeira district is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. The area in which Prince Henry the Navigator was born is now on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. For people not interested in exploring the churches of the city, we recommend choosing some alternatives. There are many restaurants and cafes on the wharf, where we can enjoy the original Port wine and the view of the Dom Luis I bridge. The promenade by the Douro river is also a perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon walk.

Buy a book in Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello & Irmão in Porto is one of the oldest book stores in Portugal, and certainly one of the most magnificent ones in the world. The Neo-Manueline styled store, functioning since 1906, is worth visiting just for the incredible interior and the well known red staircase. The book store, being a mix of Art Nouveau and Neo Gothic styles, is not known just for the visuals, but also thanks to J.K. Rowling, who when writing the Harry Potter, would visit the bookstore for inspiration, when she was still working in Porto as a teacher.

Take a tram ride through the Passeio Alegre – Infante line (line 1)

Public transport in Porto can be an attraction in it of itself. There is a ropeway, a funicular and there are the tram lines. For anyone afraid of heights, who is unable or unwilling to try the Teleferico de Gaia ropeway, we recommend choosing the tram instead. In our opinion, the most interesting route in Porto is the line 1: Passeio Alegre – Infante. A tram ride along the Douro river, under the modern Ponte da Arrabida bridge is sure to leave a memorable impression. There’s also nothing stopping you from leaving the tram at any out of the 13 stops to explore the area.

See the cellars of the famous wine producers

Porto, or more specifically Vila Nova de Gaia, is very commonly associated with wine. So, we propose another alternative to the traditional way of exploring a city – visit the vineyards and cellars of the most famous wine producers. There’s an abundance of producers that gladly open their gates to potential visitors. Naturally, during such a visit, there’s the option for degustation. One of the most attractive vineyards are the Churchill’s Port, Real Companhia Velha, Caves Taylor’s or the popular Caves Offley. For the real wine lovers, there’s also the Espaco Porto Cruz restaurant.

See the city from a cable car

We’ve already covered the trams. Now, it’s time to take a look at the wider picture – the ropeway in Porto. Ever since April of 2011, Porto offers ropeway rides on its Teleferico de Gaia. The 562 m long line connects Gais de Gaia with Jardim do Morro. It takes a few minutes, and offers us an incredible view of the city, all from a widely rare perspective. A one-way ride costs 6 EUR.

Get on a boat on the Douro river

Porto is the place where one of the biggest rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro river, finally connects with the Atlantic Ocean. You don’t have to get on a ropeway to get an interesting view of Porto. Instead, get on a boat. You can travel through the river by both the traditional ‘Rabelo’ boats and the various other alternative watercrafts. There’s even an option to buy a longer journey for roughly 60 EUR. For the more picky (and rich), the option to rent a high standard yacht is always there, and it costs from 400 to 1600 EUR, depending on the programme and the duration you desire. A simple passage through the river will cost you slightly over a dozen EUR.

Buy groceries at the Mercado do Bolhao market

For people who want to feel like an everyday Portuguese person, there’s always the option to go shopping to the Mercado do Bolhao market – the most famous market in Porto. It’s a great place to stock up on fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, and to get a taste of the local specials or the famed wine. It’s a great opportunity to get to know Porto from a less tourist-sided perspective, and to perhaps acquire some souvenirs.

Eat a Francesinha

Francesinha is an unusual type of a Portuguese sandwich, which first appeared in Porto. The sandwich consists of bread, ham, linguica sausage, chipolata sausage and even more meat. All of that is then buried under a layer of melted cheese and tomato-beer sauce. Traditionally, it’s served with french fries. One of the most popular places that serve Francesinha in Porto are Cafe Barcarola, Lado B, Bufete Fase, O Afonso or Cafe Santiago. Thankfully, it’s not overly pricey either. In Barcarola, for instance, it costs around 8 EUR.

See the Teatro Nacional de São João Theatre

Arguably, the majority of tourists picking warm countries as their destinations tend to stick to beaches and wine degustations. And more power to them if that’s their jam, but some of us would rather explore the cultural side of the place. Porto is perfect for us too, with its Teatro Nacional São João. The magnificent building itself, from 1798, is a joy to explore, even if you’re not interested in the spectacles (most often because of the language barrier). Tickets for a guided tour (in English, French and Spanish) cost 6 EUR. Most of the tickets for spectacles go around 10 EUR.

Visit the Majestic Cafe or Cafe A Brasileira

Majestic Cafe in Porto was designed by Joao Queiroz, and opened in December 1921. By many, the Cafe at Rua Santa Catarina 112 is considered to be one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. The building gets especially charming in the evenings, when the front gets lit up with tens of lights. The inside of the cafe is also praise worthy, with an abundance of mirrors and various decors. Alas, Majestic Cafe is not the cheapest of cafes, with a simple latte costing around 6 EUR, and the famous Pastel de Nata going for 3 EUR. For fans of older cafes, a 1903’ Café A Brasileira in Porto may also interest you (not to be confused with Cafe Brasileira in Lisbon), and Cafe Guarany from 1933.

Go to a FC Porto match

FC Porto is one of the most famous clubs, not just in Portugal but in the whole Europe. It was for FC Porto, that Iker Casillas used to play for, up until recently. The club was established in 1893, and it runs a museum in Porto. It even allows you to explore the famous stadium, and with a bit of luck, you can even buy a ticket for a match. Ticket for the museum and the stadium costs 15 EUR.

See the city from the Torre dos Clerigos tower

The famous Clerigos tower is one of the best viewpoints around Porto. After getting through 240 steps, you’ll be greeted by an incredible view of the city. Certainly a good alternative to the ropeway, if you’re not a fan of heights. The tower is 75,6 metres tall and the ticket costs 5 EUR.

Admire the azulejos

The traditional azulejo tiles are one of the biggest symbols of Portugal. The ceramic tiles, most often in blue-white colours, adorn both the insides and the outsides of many monuments in Porto. On a list of the most beautiful examples of azulejo in Porto, we can include the Se Cathedral in Porto, the Porto-Sao Bento station or the outside of Igreja do Carmo church. There’s also the Soul Chapel (Capela das Almas) and the St. Ildefonso Church.

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