Porto in March might be a bit rainy and it won’t be all that warm. Average temperature is around 12C, with min of 8C and max of 16C, with an average of 12 rainy days in March. Nonetheless, you can still travel a bit around Porto and get to know the city.
Porto is a small city, where we both grew up and it’s very traditional. Expect narrow streets, people speaking loud on the street and a smile on everyone’s face (specially, if you try to speak portuguese).
Here is a sample 2 day tour of Porto.
Let’s start with historical Porto. Head down to Avenida dos Aliados. On top you have Porto city hall and at the bottom the Intercontinental hotel. The square was remade some years ago and people dont really like the “grey’ look of it now (it used to have small trees and flowers).. Across the plaza, there’s McDonalds which used to be a big traditional cafe (years ago).. Turn left if you facing Intercontinental, and head up to Rua de St. Catarina. Walk past Teatro Rivoli, Teatro S.Joao, Capela das Almas and have a coffee at Café Majestic. Also pop by Mercado do Bolhao. Lose yourself on those streets and then head back to the main square. At the bottom, on your right, there should a street that goes up. Endure the walk and arrive at Igreja dos Clerigos. Go up the narrow stairs and enjoy the view. There is a new shopping center just across it, they opened late 2013 and it was the first “Costa Caffee” in Porto, it was quite trendy. Loose yourself in the streets on the right and this is where the “action” happens at night. Streets will get crowded with young people and everyone is out on the street drinking and chatting. Eat an eclair at Leitaria Quinta do Paco and then head back down again. Maybe it’s lunchtime so grab a bite somewhere 🙂 (no particular recommendations for this area).
Time to head back down to Avenida dos Aliados and turn left. There is a big train station called Estaçāo de S. Bento there has some very nice blue tiles on the inside, that show the History of Portugal. Now go back to the main road and head down to Ribeira. When you are about to get to the river, on your right you will see Palácio da Bolsa. Go in and enjoy 🙂 Behind this building, there is a small church (Igreja de S. Francisco) all covered in golden leaf. Take a peak. Continue heading down to Ribeira and get to the river, walking past a big cube. Enjoy the sights and have a drink to chill down.
After you feel refreshed, time to keep walking and cross the bridge. Take the Funicular dos Guindais up and then walk across the bridge D.Luis I. When on the other side, you should see a church on your left. Go up and enjoy the view.
You should be pretty knackered by now. Take a taxi (or walk down) and have dinner while enjoying the views.
Start with a visit to Boavista roundabout. It’s a very big roundabout with a statue in the middle. The top of the statue has a lion (symbol of england) on top of an eagle (symbol of france/napolean) to commemorate the victory of portuguese troops (with the help of english troops) over french troops.
Head over to Palácio de Cristal for a stroll (it’s called Crystal Palace because the original building was built by the same person that designed the Eiffel Tower and it was all in glass).
Head back to the roundabout and visit Casa da Musica. It was supposed to complete in 2001 in time for the celebrations of Porto as the European Culture Capital. It was not ready in time though. It was designed by the dutch Architect Rem Koolhaas.
Head down Avenida da Boavista to Museu de Serralves (it’s free on sunday morning) and grab a buffet lunch (or you can always stop by somewhere else!). Halfway through you have the new Vodafone building, you will see your left as you go down, it’s quite funky.
Regarding Serralves, there are two parts: the old house and the new modern art museum. This used to be someone’s house (very rich family) so it has some nice gardens and it’s nice to go for a stroll.
You can start by the new art museum. It was designed by a very famous portuguese architect (he own the Pritzker prize – “nobel” of architecture). You can go upstairs and grab a quick breakfast and then head down for the exhibition. It’s a modern art museum and it’s not too big, so i’d say 1h maybe 2 tops should be enough. Then head out, and go to the “Villa” (pink house), that is Art Deco architecture. From there scroll to the garden (won the Henry Ford Prize) and enjoy.
Walk down to Foz, the “posh” area of Porto by the sea. It’s a bit of a walk but it’s always down so just enjoy 🙂 Take a stroll around the seaside, stop, have a snack and enjoy the sun. where the beach is.Grab a cup of coffee and a cake at Tavi or Praia dos Ingleses (the later one a bit more expensive).. the best croissant are in Doce Mar (if you ask any of these names to someone on the street, everyone will know where it is).. the more you walk from foz to the direction of the sea (instead of where the river is) you will find abig roundabout with a kind of “net” on it..its suppose to be a symbol for fishermen fishnets or an anemona (plant in the sea).. the beach after the roundabout is a usual place for surfers and where most of the surf schools are (i had surf lessons there).. there are also some nice bars on the beach there (Lais da Guia per example).
Time to eat fish. It’s a bit expensive (for portuguese standards) but it’s my favorite place for Fish. Head to Fernando. My recommendations: go for grilled fish for main with tomato rice. For starter, maybe some clams (Ameijoas à Bolhāo Pato) and some toasts with butter. For desert, not sure, go nuts!
What to eat
- Tripas a moda do Porto
- Grilled Fish
- Cod, all types of cod :p