Destinations Portugal

Top 8 Places to See in Porto

A step back in time during a day visit to Porto in northern Portugal. With its wide central boulevard, old historical buildings, trams, azulejo adorned churches and the famed book store featured as Harry Potter’s library; it is a place full of charm!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Livraria Lello & Irmao Historic Book Store

This picturesque bookstore dates back to the late 19th century and is at the Rue de Carmelitas 144. Two local brothers bought it as an existing bookstore and by 1906 they had transformed the interior into what we see today. It has an exquisite interior with a central iconic red stairway that has featured in Harry Potter movies. Entrance tickets are bought a couple of doors away for a few euros per person. Backpacks and other bulky items can be stored in the secure lockers located close by the ticket counter. The bookstore is a popular place, so arriving early will give you a bit more elbow room!

 

Red spiral stairway
The famous red stairway of the Livraria Lello & Irmao Book Store

 

Books with head mouldings and a street view
Books with head mouldings plus a street view of the famous book store

 

Livraria Lello & Irmao Historic Book Store
Livraria Lello & Irmao Book Store

Clerigos Church and Cleric Tower

This Baroque styled church is a distinctive landmark visible from many parts of the city. Finished in 1750, it wasn’t until 1763 that the accompanying ‘Clerics Tower’, at a height of 75m, was rendered complete. Trams run right by both the church and the nearby businesses .

Church with bell tower and tram running on tracks outside the church
Clerigos Church with Clerics Tower

Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square)

This square, bounded by old 18th century buildings, was once the economic, political and social centre of Porto. It is a popular boulevard with plenty to see: Statues of King Peter IV riding a horse holding the constitution he fought to protect; Almedia Garrett, a great local figure of Portuguese Romanticism; the Porto City Hall; are all within a few minutes walk.

Long boulevard with ornate old buildings on either side
(Top) Liberty or Freedom Square with a statue of King Peter IV in the foreground (Bottom) Top of Liberty Square showcasing the town hall

 

Igreja do Carmo

This Baroque themed church, built in the mid 18th century for the Carmelite order, displays a side façade of a typical azulejo (blue and white tiles) styled scene depicting the foundation of the order. To feast your eyes on this church, head to the intersection of Rua de Carlos Alberto and Praca de Gomes Teixeira.

Fountain in the foreground and a blue / white tiled faced on a granite church in the background
Igreja do Carmo Church

Igreja de Santa Clara

This Catholic church is found on the Rua de Santa Clara and dates back to the 15th century. Now classified as a historic monument, it is under state care. In the church grounds stands a statue of Count Vimara Peres, the First Count of Portugal. Walking to the edge of the church grounds will give you some great views overlooking the river and the surrounding city dwellings.

Granite church and a figure on a horse outside the church
Igreja de Santa Clara Church and the tribute in the church grounds to the first Count of Portugal
View of the Duoro River and Porto surrounds from the church grounds
View of the Duoro River and Porto surrounds from the church grounds

Jardim da Cordoaria

This park, close by the Clerics Church, is located on Rua Doutor Antonio Sousa Macedo. It gives you the opportunity to get amongst a bit of greenery and is within a short walk of all the sights. In addition, from here  you can watch the vintage trams rattle by, and feed the birds. A great place to sit for a while and take in your surroundings.

Statue in a park with a view of the oncoming trams
Jardim da Cordoaria: statue in the park and a great view of the passing trams

Capela de Santa Catarina (Church of Souls)

With its 360 square metres and nearly 16,000 tiles, this small church on the Rua de Sanata Catarine, is an amazing example of azulejo or the decorative blue /white tiles. Re-tiled in 1929, the building depicts scenes of the life of St Francis of Assisi and St Catherine.

blue / white tiled azujelo styled church facades
Capela de Santa Catarina or Church of Souls with its azulejo facades

Igreja do Santo Ildefonso Church

This 18th century Baroque-styled granite church shows off its typical azulejo facades on the building and bell towers. It displays around 11,000 tiles which depicts the life of Saint Ildefonso. The church is just off the Praca da Batalha.

Church with its blue/ white styled azulejo tiled facades
Igreja do Santo Ildefonso Church with its azulejo styled facades

 

Porto is a charming town which resonates with a distinctive vibe of both the old and new worlds. It should make every traveller’s ‘visit list’, when planning a trip to Portugal.

Considering a visit to Portugal or have already visited? Do you have any recommendations on some ‘not to be missed’ places? We would love to hear back from you.

Lars

Author: Lars

Being an Australian boy brought up in the country, I learnt at an early age to enjoy the freedom and beauty of nature. Leaving Australia at the age of 20, although I didn’t know it then, would be the beginning of a life of adventure. So join me here on our travels and see the world through my eyes.

3 Comment

    1. Thanks Andrea, there are so many great places to visit in Portugal. With all your amazing saving tips on your blog, you might be visiting sooner rather than later! 🙂

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