Hitting the ground running to make the most of our 36 hours in Porto, it was only by pure luck that Renee and I found our accommodation without stress and only the use of a free map depicting the must-see sights in Porto which was handed to us at the metro station we arrived at from the airport and lacked street names.
But we lucked out when we met Nadia on reception at In Porto a good 6 hours before we were due to check in, who binned our map and set about circling where we should go during our trip to Porto on a much more thorough replacement map.
I found Porto to be a much hillier than I had anticipated, but also quieter and more relaxed, though clearly tourist heavy at the start of the European summer holidays.
Must see sites to see with 36 hours in Porto
Mercado do Bolhão
Our first stop was the nearby markets which are open Monday to Saturday.
The vendors speak very little or no English but make a real effort to talk to you anyway.
Downstairs there was everything from the famous Portuguese custard tarts and other pastries, to crafts and souvenir tiles and fresh flowers, fish and meat products.
Upstairs in the gallery area was mostly fruit and vegetables, no doubt where the locals generally shop, the tourists downstairs.
Chapel of Souls
After leaving the markets we happened upon the Chapel of Souls, an eighteenth century church on the corner of a pedestrian-only shopping street Nadia had told us to wander down.
It’s amazing, blue exterior tiles depict scenes from the lives of saints and there are some beautiful photos of the chapel on Instagram.
We walked down Rua de Santa Catarina and stopped at Cafe Majestic for a coffee. The cafe has a stunning facade and the interior features cherubs. It’s a popular tourist spot and we’d been warned it was pricey for food and we were better to eat elsewhere, but it was worth stopping in for a coffee.
The ‘Harry Potter Bookstore’
We didn’t go inside as the queue was out of control but The Lello Bookstore inspired the staircase in Harry Potter’s library at Hogwarts. J.K Rowling lived in Porto teaching English in the early 1990s and wrote the first two Harry Potter novels in this city.
In an age where bookstores are closing as people choose to buy books online or in Kindle format, I’m not convinced this one would still be in business without being able to sell tickets for entry.
São Bento Railway Station
For me the inside of the São Bento railway station was not as amazing as the outside of many of Porto’s churches but it was still worth checking out and marveling at en-route to the riverside.
Both sides of the river are authentic and busy – it’s certainly one of the must-see sights ib Porto. We stopped in at Taylors Port House for a required afternoon of port wine tasting.
A particularly friendly restaurateur told us that Nelson (not far geographically from Wellington but in the south island is the Antipodes of Porto so we were literally on the opposite side of the world to home.
As well as the famous trams, currently decked out in Jameson’s livery, you happen upon statues, street sculptures and tiled churches all over Porto.
Have you been? What did you think? Do you think 36 hours in Porto is enough? And what are your must-see sights in Porto?
Beautiful images! I’ve been to the Algarve last spring and absolutely loved it! I can’t wait to go back to Portugal next year. I definitely want to visit Lisbon and Porto!
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Those red tiled roofs and those blue and white tiles….aargh! I miss Portugal so much! Loved your photos too!
I visited Porto for a few days last October and utterly loved it, totally fell for the city. It’s just such a warm and welcoming and gorgeously pretty place and great food, as one would expect in Portugal! Yay to Porto!
An easy city to fall for for sure! Lovely people, plenty to eat, see and do. Portugal is just great isn’t it!
I loved Porto! My only regret is not spending more time there.
YES this is my regret too! I could have spent much more than three days.
Oh wow Porto looks amazing! I am planning a trip to Portugal, but was only going to stay in Lisbon, I have defiantly changed my mind now! Also, The Chapel of Souls is just amazing, such an incredible building. I love you photography as well 🙂
Definitely visit Porto as well Tash! There are tiled churches like the Chapel of Souls all over the city but it was certainly my favourite one. I’m currently writing up my Lisbon experiences so keep an eye out next week 🙂
I absolutely loved Porto and enjoyed it so much more than our time in Lisbon! There were so many things to see and do – loved the Livrario Lello, what a unique bookstore!
Glad you loved it too Flo! I would have visited sooner had I known about all the incredible things to see, do and eat there.