Not everything is wine in Porto; there is also life beyond the vineyards. Portugal is fado, is soccer, is beaches, is gastronomy, and much more. Being the second largest city in the country, Porto is culture, is art, is nature, is entertainment, and is architecture. And I’m not only referring to its elegant neighborhoods and stately villas, but also to the winding little side streets that give its old town a bohemian air. But Porto is much more than that: it is Harry Potter, Do Dragao, and Matosinhos. Here are some unbeatable plans:
Harry Potter’s Mark on Porto
If you are visiting Porto and you are fans of the Harry Potter saga, you’ll have to visit the Lello Bookshop. This is the library where the young magician spends his hours. It is huge with thousands upon thousands of books, and built in the Neo-Gothic style. Moreover, you’ll be able to have a coffee upstairs while you enjoy your reading. The explanation as to why the Lello Bookshop was chosen for the movie is that the book’s author, J.K. Rowling, lived in Porto for some time, and that’s where she got the inspiration for the bestseller. Keep in mind that cameras are not allowed in Harry Potter’s Library (out of respect for the bookshop’s clients, and to maintain the magical atmosphere). So I’d suggest you keep your eyes peeled. One can feel the magic in the air but, as you can imagine, books don’t fly here, the students have no wands, and they don’t know how to cast spells.
Do Dragao Stadium
The Do Dragao soccer stadium is the hometurf of FC Porto, and it’s a mere 4 km away from the old town. If you are Real Madrid fans, know that this is the new home of goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The tour of the stadium, which is open 7 days a week, except for Monday mornings, includes stops at the presidential box, at the changing rooms, and at the press room. The tour takes about 45 minutes.
Matosinhos Sul Beach
This is the beach that is closest to Porto, and it can be reached by subway (line 3). The fine sand of this beach invites one to lie down, but its waters are so cold that only the boldest will dare go any further than knee-deep. The geographical characteristics of the area make it very windy (and especially so in the wintertime). However, this makes it a true mecca for those practicing water sports like windsurfing or kitesurfing. But if you’d rather keep dry that’s okay too. It boasts a long promenade full of restaurants and entertainment areas, so you’ll never be bored.
Douro River Cruise
Sailing along the Douro and crossing its 6 bridges is priceless. And it’s something that can only be done in Porto. There are many boats that make the trip on a daily basis, and at different times, so it isn’t crucial to book long in advance. The duration of the trip is approximately 3 hours, and it’s a comprehensive tour. From the ship, you’ll see the many colors of the facades of the buildings facing the river, Porto’s skyline, and some of its main monuments, like the Clerics Tower. In short, a different view of the city that can be topped off with a romantic dinner on the shore, where you’ll find dozens of restaurants serving fresh seafood. I, for one, can’t think of a better way to end the day.