Day 3: Market Area, City Center & Gardens
On the third and last of our 3 days in Porto, we’ll wrap up our visit to the city’s major landmarks and visit a few cool shops before an afternoon snooze in the park.
Breakfast in Rua de Santa Catarina
Head north to the Bolhão district on Rua de Santa Catarina – one of the city’s major shopping streets. The street’s morning vibe helps you wake up with people coming and going and the air filled with the aroma of roasted chestnuts.
For breakfast in a classic setting, head to Cafe Majestic – the city’s iconic tearoom, where waiters are finely dressed and the walls painted gold. For a more down-to-earth experience, head to Confeitaria do Bolhao and expect a similar taste to yesterday’s awesome breakfast.
Before continuing the walk up Rua de Santa Catarina, check out A Pérola do Bolhão and Comer e Chorar Por Mais – two specialty shops selling fine selections of meat, cheese, jams, port wine and lots more.
At the intersection of Santa Catarina with Rua de Fernandes Tomas – pause to admire the unmissable Capela das Almas. This beautiful church is covered with azulejos (blue ceramic tiles) and is a real work of art in the middle of the street.
Mercado do Bolhão
Porto’s main market is a fun place to stroll through and buy some fruit and snacks for later in the day. The market consists of two floors with the fruits and vegetables largely concentrated on the top floor. What I especially liked about this market is the people and the tools they use (super ancient-looking scales). It clearly shows they’ve been here for decades and who knows what will become of the market when they pass.
Down on the bottom floor, you’ll find a good selection of gourmet shops selling meat, dried fruit, cheese and canned pickles as well as a few flower shops, fruit stalls, and souvenirs.
There’s an excellent “worker-style” restaurant down here – Cafeteria Pintainho – which you might want to circle back to when you’re hungry (inquire about opening times). The small restaurant specializes in fish and seafood which are bought at the market. For about 10€ you can enjoy a really big lunch plate. Over the years, hundreds of diners from around the world have left a recommendation in their mother tongue on a piece of paper displayed on the walls.
From the market, head in the direction of the Clerigos district. A good route to take is via Rua de Fernandes Tomás where you’ll find additional fine food shops on both sides. We found the price of port wine to be much cheaper in these shops than their price in the port houses themselves. Casa Natal on #833 and nearby and Casa Lourenco (at the intersection with Rua do Bonjardim) are two of the shops we especially enjoyed.
You’ll eventually reach the grand boulevard of Avenida dos Aliados. Walk down to Praca da Liberdade and take note of the gorgeous classical buildings around you. At the Liberdade Square, check out the Porto town hall with its 70-meter bell tower and the bronze statue of King Pedro IV riding a horse. The cafes around Praca da Liberdade pose a good opportunity to fill up on some caffeine.
Torre dos Clerigos
The interior of the 18th-century baroque church will not knock you off the ground but its 76-meter tower is well worth the climb. By now, you’ll have surely seen the tower on a number of occasions so it’s only fitting to climb the spiral staircase and enjoy the 360-degree views from the top (2€).
In the small plaza just in front of the church, check out Casa Oriental – another cool food and wine shop that’s worth checking out.
“Harry Potter” Bookstore
From the tower, head to Rua de Galeria de Paris – where we had drinks last night. By day, it’s worth checking out its trendy hipster shops and cafes. However, the area’s crown jewel is the Livraria Lello on Rua das Carmelitas.
This 19th-century book store is the oldest in Portugal. Admire its neo-gothic exterior and step inside to where the real magic lies. This particular shop inspired a number of scenes from the Harry Potter book series (J.K. Rowling often visited when living in Porto), with walls lined up with an impressive selection of books stacked on wooden shelves. The book store’s signature feature is its butterfly staircase which leads to the second-floor cafe. Photography is absolutely prohibited inside the store so, once again, I had to sneak a fast one…
If you fancy some more classic Portuguese architecture, take the short stroll to Igreja do Carmo – yet another impressive cathedral whose facade is beautifully decorated with ceramic tiles. These azulejos were actually hand painted – a true work of art!
Jardim do Palácio de Cristal
Our last stop for the day was the Crystal Palace Garden and to get there, we walked passed the lovely Praca de Carlos Alberto onto the major shopping street of Rua de Cedofeita, before turning on Rua de Miguel Bombarda all the way to the gardens.
The gardens are a great place to kill a few hours, soak up the sun, and enjoy the “stuff” you either bought at the market or the specialty shops along the way. But don’t get too lazy, as the hilltop garden overlooks the Ribeira on one end and the mouth of the River Douro on the other. There are also a number of lovely walking paths and ponds – quite the romantic place for couples.
Departure from Porto
This day’s itinerary wraps up in the late afternoon, so you can either enjoy the rest of the day in Porto or depart to your next stop.
I hope you’ve found this 3 days in Porto sample itinerary useful for planning your own adventure! Are you including Lisbon or other parts of Portugal in your travel plan? Sample itineraries and an in-depth guide to Portugal’s capital are all waiting for you in the Portugal Travel Guide collection. If you wish to extend your visit and spend 4 days in Porto, rent a car and spend the day exploring Arouca Geopark.
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