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Much light has been shed recently over Portugal’s second largest city, and, with programs like TAP Portugal’s Stopover Program, visiting Porto has never been easier. Charmingly traditional and aesthetically delightful, visitors may find themselves bombarded with the kind of unique opportunities that foster the need for travel. For some, a month may not be enough time to enjoy all this city has to offer, while 48 hours is plenty to see its main attractions; its viewpoints, architecture, and cuisine.
Begin with a stroll down Porto’s most popular destination: the Ribeira. It is one of the most picturesque parts of the city, lined with colorful, mismatched houses on one side and the Douro River on the other. Walking along the river is a great way to visit Porto’s other main attractions: its bridges.
In Portugal, no morning is complete without a cup of coffee, so stop in a café mid-walk. A typical Portuguese breakfast consists of coffee (with or without milk) and a toast or croissant with butter, cheese, ham, and/or honey and jam. There are many cafés along the river, but walking a block or two into the historical center will lead to some of the oldest and more traditional shops in the city. Majestic café, Café do Cais, and Piolho Café are a few historical cafés.
Dining out is a must in Porto, and Culture Trip agrees, but take some time for a picnic with a view. Why not buy traditional treats from A Perola do Bolhao, a historic grocery store dating back to 1917, and people-watch in a nearby park?
Walk over to the Avenida dos Aliados for an architectural treat that reflects Porto’s financial growth. The banks, hotels, and cafés project grandeur that’s quite unique within the city, making Aliados (its shortened nickname) an excellent starting point to begin taking in Porto’s architectural smorgasbord. Start at the northern end of the avenue and experience the 19th century Trindade Church (Igreja da Santíssima Trindade), the granite and marble City Hall and the nearby bell tower. Stroll southward towards the bronze Almeida Garrett Monument (Monumento a Garrett), which serves as a remembrance to one of the country’s great poets. Continue walking south, occasionally pausing to snap pictures, and in a short time reach São Bento Station. This iconic train station offers one of the most mesmerizing representations of azulejo artwork.
Experience traditional Portuguese cuisine for dinner. Finding a restaurant is as easy as closing your eyes and pointing, but following word of mouth from the locals is the best way to choose. Tripas à moda do Porto is the local dish and one that pairs well with a glass of local wine, Vinho Verde.
After breakfast, switch up classical architecture with contemporary art and head to the Serralves Museum. It’s Portugal’s most important institution for contemporary art, showcasing the country’s exhibits in addition to work from international artists. The Serralves estate, where the museum is located, is a wondrous landmark with extensive gardens and the dramatically elegant home of the estate’s Foundation.
Twenty-four hours is more than enough time to go without biting into a francesinha, so make that the focus of your next stop. Many restaurants claim to house the best francesinhas in Porto, and Capa Negra is one of them.
Continue a tour of Porto’s contemporary art by popping in and out of the many galleries. Wrap up the two-day experience with a stop at the Crystal Palace, where the gardens and interior museums together display a blend of modern and antique scenes. End the entire trip with a glass of Port wine and reflect back on the memories made.