Porto Lookbook: O Porto! A City of Fantasy

Porto is Portugal’s second largest city, embedded alongside the River Douro and the Atlantic Ocean on the northwestern coast of the country.

featured Porto Lookbook

Porto historically served as the commercial port of the Romans and launched the exploratory maritime voyages of the Portuguese, where the Liberal Revolution started in 1820. It’s also where J.K. Rowling continued the manuscript of “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” The city has been molded by numerous cultures including Celtic, Moorish and English, and countless architectural styles such as Baroque, Neoclassicism and Romanticism; it’s also the city that stole my heart during the two captivating days I spent there.

I remember a few years ago, a friend told me that Porto is the prettiest city that he has ever seen and I always yearned to see it for myself. And what do you know? My friend was absolutely right. Porto is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen, as there’s nothing quite like the untouched, old-fashioned aesthetic of this historic port town. Hanging around this city feels like going back in time, or to another world.

Starting from one of the large central streets, Avenida dos Aliados, I was greeted with the grand, majestic architecture of the buildings surrounding the Praca de Liberdade, including the Cámara Municipal do Porto. The magic really happened between the small side streets and alleyways, past the Praca and along Avenida Dom Afonso Henriques near Rua Cativo. The facades of antiquated buildings are of different colors, many are washed out and some are exquisitely tiled. There are quite a few buildings that are run-down and boarded up, which is most likely an unfortunate consequence of the economic crisis, a fact that I felt was important to keep in mind despite enjoying the old, vintage aesthetic.

View of Porto from atop
Photo by Nadia Cho

I walked along Rua Clérigos and continued west while seeing all the many beautiful cathedrals, churches, shops and plazas along the way. Once you arrive at the Palacio de Cristal, the main attraction is not the Palacio itself but the garden behind it. Walking past the initial pond and down the stone steps into secret gardens is like being whisked away into a romantic fairy tale. Once I caught sight of the River Douro for the first time from a hedge garden, it took my breath away and for a moment I forgot where in the world I was. As you keep walking down the hill, the gardens get prettier, the river bends between the rooftops on both sides and the view gets harder to look away from.

While the gardens overlooking the river from the hilltop are romantic, the feel as you approach and walk on the actual bank of the river gets a bit more adventurous and exciting. Looking around at the colorful houses lining the Cais da Ribeira and the small boats loaded with barrels of wine, I imagined sailors and pirates sailing in from the river as well as swordsmen and nobles walking down the pier. If that isn’t enough, all you have to do is walk across the arching metallic bridge of Ponte de Luis I in order to arrive at the promised land of port wine caves where the glasses of sweet, delectable port for 2 euros a pop will make you never want to leave. Tip: if you want to buy a bottle, or five, buy it at a liquor store outside rather than in the caves as they’re sold for much cheaper for the same brands.

Simply walking around, preferably in an upwards direction, will bring you to multiple lookouts of the city from all angles—I recommend the one on Passeio Virtudes. Porto is a fantastical city that sparked my imagination and elicited my inner romantic. It is a place that kindles inspiration and awe, and the perfect place to go to momentarily escape reality.

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Nadia Cho

Communications Associate

As the empowered female behind the blog: International Women of Mystery, Nadia reps Team JST traveling the world in search of exclusive features on hidden gems and cool hotspots. You can find her exploring metropolitan cities or lounging on tropical beaches.

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