Voted 2017’s Best European Destination, Porto the second largest city in Portugal is historic yet trendy, cultured yet bohemian. We find out ten insider secrets of this undeniable charming city. By Prachi Joshi
Get lost in Ribeira’s maze of medieval alleys lined with ageing, pastel houses, and tiny tascas (taverns). Explore the shops on Rua das Flores, and then get a cup of coffee and people-watch on the Douro riverfront promenade as the Dom Luís I Bridge lights up at dusk.
The contemporary art museum showcases both Portuguese and international artists.The Modernist museum building designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Álvaro Siza Vieira blends seamlessly with the surrounding garden and parkland; don’t miss a visit to the Art Deco ‘Pink Villa’.
Often listed as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world, Livraria Lello’s most striking feature is its curving crimson staircase with a gilded design on the underside. The bookshop clocked more than one million visitors last year, and now has an entry fee of €5 (adjusted against purchase).
The Bolhão Market, dating back to 1850, is an unmissable experience. Come here for food stalls that serve fresh seafood, cheese, and local wines.
Majestic Café dates back to the 1920s and is beautifully done up in the Belle Époque style. Don’t miss the French toast drizzled with custard and dry fruits.
A VIDA PORTUGUESA
A Vida Portuguesa on the first floor of a 19th-century fabric store is a great place to pick up Portuguese souvenirs—locally made Brito soaps in vintage packaging, colourful Bordallo Pinheiro tableware, woven bags from the north of Portugal, and more.
Located in a 16th-century building on the Ribeira riverfront, Chez Lapin has been around for more than 70 years. This rustic restaurant offers traditional Portuguese dishes such as chorizo asado (sausage flambéed at the table), bacalhau (salted cod cooked in a variety of ways), and grilled sardines.
BAR GALERIA DE PARIS
One of the pioneering bars on the Porto nightclub scene, Galeria de Paris has a charming, albeit over-the-top, ambience with hundreds of vintage arte facts on display.But the drinks are potent and the atmosphere swinging, especially on the weekends.
In the historic Vila Nova de Gaia, Taylor’s newly refurbished 300-year-old cellar has an innovative museum space that takes you on an audio-visual tour of the history of port wine and its production.
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“Try the Francesinha, Porto’s most famous sandwich, sort of like the Croque Monsieur. It’s a layered sandwich with ham, sausage, and steak or roast meat, covered with melted cheese and a thick tomato-based sauce, served with fried egg and French fries. Café Santiago is more famous for the francesinha, but I recommend Restaurante A Regaleira. We do a version at our restaurants as well .” – Toni Saldago, Executive Chef, Pestana Palacio Do Freixo