Culture buffs will be in their element in the gorgeous city of Porto. While it’s mostly famous for its art, cuisine and history, it is also a dream destination for anyone with an avid interest in architecture. Fusing innovative modern additions with the traditional, but no less impressive buildings, Porto’s architectural assets are bold and beautiful.
I have outlined my favourite architectural highlights below. This is not an exhaustive list, but a good place to start when exploring the wonders of Porto.
There are not many bookshops in the world that look like this one. Iconic in every way, this construction was built by Xavier Esteves in 1906 to reflect his love of literature. Combining eclectic styles that are based on Art Nouveau, the interior boasts several busts of Portuguese artists, such as José Lello and António Lello, who also opened the shop. Once a hangout for the intellectuals of the day, it is still a place that draws modern writers.
The stunning crimson staircase and incredible ceiling are not to be missed here. The neo-Gothic stained glass, wood-carved handrails and magical winding corridors at this wonderful bookshop are said to have been the inspiration for the Hogwarts School in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Arguably one of the most remarkable buildings in the city, this palace is definitely up there when it comes to the wealthiest. Bolsa is the Portuguese word for the stock market, and this palace was once the headquarters of the city’s Chamber of Commerce.
Construction took place over nearly 40 years, resulting in the architecture being an amalgamation of styles. Housing a huge number of sculptures and paintings that are on public display, the palace is most famous for its Arabian Room, which is covered in its entirety with plaster and gold.
Top Tip: For fees and opening times, take a look at the main website.
Once the prime meeting place of the city’s elite, this café went through a period of neglect before it was reopened in 1994. Today it oozes 1920s glamour and I am always totally seduced by the romance that is associated with its wonderful history.
Although it’s slightly expensive, the atmosphere and sheer beauty in this place truly makes it worth every penny.
Top Tip: Go and read your holiday book on the terrace while enjoying a glass of port wine and you’ll surely be enveloped by all that this café has to offer.
Torre dos Clérigos
A classic when it comes to architecture, the genuine Baroque Church (Church of Clérigos), designed by Nicolau Nasoni, dates from the mid-eighteenth century. The architect is buried in the chapel, as was his request, with its impressive gateway measuring the same height as the stairway. The architectural highlight here is the granite tower that stands proud on the western side of the church. Seen from all over the city, the 75-metre structure is elegant, graceful, distinctive and decorative, culminating in a striking clock house.
Beautiful features of the church include:
- The front of the church with its intricate finishing.
- The interior’s single nave designed and constructed in granite and marble and finished in baroque carvings.
- The principle chapel that houses an interceding altarpiece by Manuel Porto.
Top Tip: Climb to the top via the staircase for stunning views of the Porto skyline.
Where to Stay
Alvares Cabral Guest House – By far the best option in my opinion is this delightful accommodation in the União de Freguesias do Centro district of Porto. The perfect fusion of modern chic and Portuguese style, the rooms are bright, airy and well furnished. Free toiletries are a real bonus, especially if you need to save space in your suitcase, and there are hairdryers in the rooms too.
The leafy garden and peaceful terrace area offer welcome respite after a long day sightseeing and the added extras (such as the free washing machine and the complementary breakfast) are only superseded by the friendly employees, who are always on hand to offer advice and help you make the most of your stay.
Ideally located, close to many of the sites I have described above, this hotel is a gem of place to base yourself when visiting Porto.
How to Get There
Getting to Porto from the UK is simple. With a journey time of just over two hours there is barely time to enjoy your refreshments before you land at Porto Airport (OPO), and with plenty of flights departing every week, there’s plenty of flexibility in terms of dates and times.
On landing, I can highly recommend taking a pre-booked transfer to the city of Porto with Shuttle Direct. After a personal ‘meet and greet’ in arrivals you can look forward to a short 30-minute drive to your accommodation. This professional and reliable service offers the perfect way to get your holiday off to the best start.
Pre-book in the UK and let your onward travel take care of itself.
- UK to OPO Flight Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- OPO to Porto Distance: 16 kilometres
- Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: 29 minutes
About Shuttle Direct
Here at Shuttle Direct, we are proud to be regarded as one of the leading transfer companies in Europe and North Africa. Our reliability, professionalism and excellent customer-focussed service are the foundation of our exemplary reputation. Pre-book in the UK and let us take care of your onward travel and get your future holidays off to a great start.