I’ve been staying in the fabulous city of Porto for the last 3 weeks, and I’m here to recommend the best area to stay in Porto. Baixa and Ribeira are the most popular tourist areas. However, the can be busy and expensive so if you are looking for a quieter option then consider Bonfim or Vila Nova de Gaia (on the other side of the river Douro).
Baixa spans from the Avenida dos Aliados (Allies Avenue) to the Praça da Liberdade (Liberty Square) on one end to the other. The So Bento Railway Station, with its tiled entry hall, the Church of Misericordia, with its beautiful baroque façade, and the Church dos Clérigos, with its majestic tower, which offers some of the most stunning views of the city from 75 metres above, are all worth seeing. A trip down the Street of Flowers will lead you to the stores and workshops of the local goldsmiths if you have a passion for gold. The Dom Luis I Bridge, and the reinstated tram network are two further tourist attractions. River cruises and guided visits to several Port Houses and storage facilities are provided. In the maze of densely packed streets, there are numerous premium designer retailers, shopping malls, cafes, coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants. Avoid staying on or near Gallery Street near to Clerigos tower – this is the party street and you will never get any sleep, especially on Friday and Saturday nights!
The area’s history stretches back to the 14th century, and growing volumes of trade were off-loaded at the Ribeira quayside for distribution across the city in the following years. The wide, attractive, paved promenade now provides lots of outdoor seating for tourists to rest their tired feet while taking in the pleasant views of the Port Houses across the river. Cafes, bars, restaurants, and tourist shops line the waterfront at the back of the promenade, while tall multi-story colourful houses rise the hill alongside the small, twisting streets. The Praça da Ribeira (Ribeira Square) is the heart of this charming mediaeval quarter, as well as the focal point for nightlife.
Bonfim, a hipster enclave in the city’s southeast, is located there. It is like Ribeira in that it is adjacent to the city’s historic core and is primarily populated by locals. Bonfim, in addition to its proximity to the city centre, has a lot to offer in its own right, with gorgeous churches and parks, the stunning Fontainhas viewpoint, and even the Cemetery Of Prado Do Repouso, the city’s oldest cemetery, to name a few attractions. Green spots such as the Parque de Nova Sintra, which has spectacular river views, and the Jardim das Virtudes, which is flanked by some of Porto’s greatest restaurants, are also available.
The area is popular with students and travellers, and it offers a variety of amenities for that audience, including hipster coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants, as well as art galleries. It also carries with it the reduced pricing that are common in student communities, both in shops and restaurants, as well as in the region’s housing prices. So, if you want to stay near the city’s heart but are on a budget, or simply love the culture and vibrancy of the student lifestyle, this is a place worth checking out.
Vila Nova De Gaia
A supper in Porto would not be complete without a glass or two of Portugal’s world-famous port wine paired with a selection of local cheeses, regardless of where you are. You may take it a step further if you stay in Vila Nova de Gaia, or Gaia as it is known locally. Since the 17th century, Gaia has been the centre for ageing, blending, and bottling port wine. If you’re travelling with children, hop on a bus or tram and you’ll be in the Santo Inácio Zoo in 10 minutes, where you can see over 300 species. If all of the sightseeing becomes too much, relax in one of the many magnificent gardens along the way, such as the Jardim do Morro, or stop for a quick lunch on the terrace of one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Avenida da Boavista
This large highway is lined with modern office buildings, high-end hotels, restaurants, clubs, shopping complexes, and entertainment venues. Designer labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Hugo Boss, and Versace, as well as luxury jewellery and footwear businesses, can be found in upscale shopping malls. There are plenty of bars, cafes, and coffee shops strewn along its length, so you’ll never be short on places to stop for a quick bite to eat. Look up the Bull and Bear on the avenue if you’re looking for a restaurant for that evening dinner; they specialise in marinated sea bass. Alternatively, if you prefer red meat, the Capa Negra II is a typical Portuguese dish. If you’re considering staying on the Avenida da Boavista during your visit to Porto, the entire length of the road is lined with hotels that cater to a wide range of budgets and needs.