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10 things to like about Porto

Recent trip to Porto reminded me of all the things I like about it. First stop, as usual,

1. Bolos de Berlim at Leitaria Da Quinta do Paço


These are so terrifyingly good that it makes me shake like a junkie just looking at the pictures.


2. Rua Da Galeria de Paris

While in Vitória make a detour for this street full of art nouveau charm and the restaurante/bar Galeria de Paris. Also some cool shops and Made in Portugal.


3. Alvaro Siza’s Serralves Foundation Museum Contemporary Art

Great art gallery in stunning Siza building, surrounded by a sculpture studded gardens and the Casa de Serralves, another museum with a Jaques Tati air.


4. Palácio da Bolsa

A truly remarkable bit of neo-classical mish-mash architecture, take the tour so you don’t miss the Salão Arabe. I also adore the bar of the Telegrafo restaurant, with its gorgeous purple/blue velvet furniture against blue tiling. Luscious. Great for a dessert and a glass of expensive port.


5. Les Cafes Grandes

The Majestic (although ever so touristy) and the Brasileira are gems and will fix you up with a decent coffee too.


6. Abadia.

Our favourite restaurant in Porto. Classic, yum.


7. Estadio do Parque do Palácio do Cristal.

Just love the space ship. No idea if it´s still a functioning stadium. Please advise.


8. While on funky modern architecture, I love the airport.

9. São Bento train station.

Knockout tiles, suitably old fashioned layout. The way all train stations should be.


10. Espinho.

No, not in Porto, but your first stop south. The thunderous roar of the Atlantic and the restaurant BaiaSol (on the seafront) which has twice saved my life with its prawn omelete. Oh yeah.


Oh yes there’s plenty more to like about Porto. The Eiffel Bridge. Casa da Musica. Ikea. Let me know your favourites.

If you´re looking for something in Porto, check out this cool blog. Very cool. http://oportocool.wordpress.com/


  1. ana October 12, 2010 10:18 am Reply

    Porto is my favourite city in the whole world. I hopefully will be coming there in December, I have not been to some of these places and will be ticking them off my list this time. I love how you get Portugal.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 2:06 am

    emminha! Minha professorinha brasileira called me that! Beijos Ana.

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  2. matt October 12, 2010 11:48 am Reply

    This leaves me wanting to visit Porto and all of Portugal. As usual great story and photos, Emma !

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    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 2:04 am

    some of the se pics are from my very first visit there – actually the first place I landed in Portugal about 3 or something years ago. So I see the pics now, as I saw them through the viewfinder then… so probably they are all emotional choices rather than photographic ones. The one of the coffee on the table at majestic is still one of my all time favs of portugal… but really probably because it caught a feeling or a moment, rather than being a great shot (which actually I probably wouldnt know… I just know what I like). Know what I mean?

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    matt   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 7:14 am

    @Emma, Yes I know exactly what you mean. Being in touch with your own feelings deep down and emotions of the day I think put you in sync with any everyday surroundings. Being able to use them as fuel for creativity is a great expression. And, yes Emma, they are great great photos!

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  3. Richard October 12, 2010 12:04 pm Reply

    Hey Emma!
    Wow i sure share your pain with those Bolas! 🙂
    They taste superb!
    What an awesome city and a definite must see that`s for sure
    Keep up the great work! Very inspirational

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 2:00 am

    thanks richie x

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    Diogo Vasconcellos e Sá   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 2:19 am

    @Richard, you should come to Lisboa and taste those “Bolas de Berlim” here or the famous “Pastéis de Belém”…

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    Richard   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    @Diogo Vasconcellos e Sá, Ola Diogo!
    Yes i have been there many times when i was staying in Cascais. They make the best Pastel de Natas in the world! Yeah great part of the world and i definitely have to get back over there next year. Stay in touch Diogo! Ate Logo Richard

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  4. pamela October 12, 2010 2:08 pm Reply

    Hi Emma

    We have just spent 10 days in Porto as well as taking day trips by train to some of the places nearby, including Guimaraes and Braga. We then travelled south on a tour, stopping to see some of the great Portuguese sites (and sights) along the way. Your blogs were invaluable preparation before we left – especially one on how to order the right coffee!

    These photos are making me nostalgic already (although I think number 4 may be of the villa in Serralves park, not the Bolsa). Speaking of the Bolsa, we stayed in great self catering apartment overlooking it and the old Mercado building nearby. I’d be glad to recommend to anyone who’s interested in that sort of accommodation rather than a hotel. It was very comfortable and well kitted out, apart from being in a fantastic location for sightseeing.


    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 2:00 am

    That’s great Pamela, sound slike a fab trip, and nice tip on the place to stay… x

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  5. Melanie October 12, 2010 3:13 pm Reply

    I loved the Majestic Cafe when I was there as well as the Livraria Lello….absolutely beautiful.

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    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 1:59 am

    yeah, the majestic, is as it says, and I can´t help but go there every time.

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  6. Papgena October 12, 2010 8:19 pm Reply

    the stadium it’s not working, sadly, its been going a debate to turn it down and make another but that will destroy some part of the gardens, wich are gorgeous, hope you had visit them (especially o roseiral) and the view to rio Douro it’s absolutely fantastic. You must visit o museu romântico, is a neighbour of palacio de cristal, you should visit a livraria Lello and a torre dos clérigos (the view…). You can go to the bar do hotel d. henrique and have another view of the city or to restaurante portucale (in a 14th floor, na rua da alegria), amazing view!
    There is a igreja de s. francisco (near palacio da bolsa), and the old building of Customs and the old prison in praça da cordoaria.
    And you should go to miragaia (in gaia) just to look to porto’s side!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 1:58 am

    excellent tips, pa-pa-pa, some I´ve tried, some yet to discover… must get to the livraria lello everyone loves! Thanks v much.

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    Papgena   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    @Emma, after sent the comment I noticed that I did a mistake, Miragaia is on porto’s side (literally seeing Gaia) on the other side is Cais de Gaia, sorry.
    I also forgot to mentioned Arcadia’s chocolats in rua do almada (www.arcadia.pt) and Sincelo’s icecreams in rua de de ceuta.

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  7. Jane McBennett October 12, 2010 10:00 pm Reply

    Hi Emma

    My favourite place in Porto is the Livaria Lello – reminds me of Hogwarts and surely what a bookshop should be.


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  8. Maria Silva October 12, 2010 10:09 pm Reply

    Hi Emma, Thanks again for your lovely blog about Porto ! It’s indeed a great, friendly place, only coming second to ‘my’ Lisbon !!! Loved those “Boas de Berlim”, I wish I could taste one right now… As for the prawn omelete, yes, it’s very yummy and my husband makes a mean one at that!! Have fun 🙂

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  9. VisitPortugal October 13, 2010 3:48 am Reply

    Hi Emma, thanks for the great tips and fantastic photos 🙂
    Just shared your post @ our Fan Page http://www.facebook.com/Visitportugal
    and on Twitter http://twitter.com/visitportugal
    Please do join us there 😉

    [Reply to comment]


  10. Chris October 13, 2010 4:05 am Reply

    Great post Emma. I live in Porto and absolutely love the city. It has lots of very special places and things to do, some of which you’ve shown us here.

    But… I have just one complaint. 😛 I adore Bolas be Berlim and on your advice went to Leitaria Da Quinta do Paço to try theirs….and they were AWFUL! Stale, dry, hard pastry and the filling was bland and overly creamy (not eggy and sweet like it should be). I was so shocked! I understand that maybe I was just unlucky and had some that really weren’t fresh but I’m so surprised and disappointed that they would even serve them when they had clearly been sitting there for days. In fact, they were so bad that we couldn’t eat them… 🙁 Which is a pity as it’s a nice cafe. A place you should try for bolas and pastries in general is a little cafe in Gaia, in the building I used to live in called “Barca D’Ouro”. It’s on “Rua do Jardim” near GaiaShopping… a little out of the way but completely worth it. That’s where I had my first bola de berlim and, so far, haven’t had one that beat it!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 13th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    I can’t believe it! Certainly the cream is actually cream instead of doce de ovos, so that’s a matter of preference – but stale and dry???? Oh my lord that is a crime! A SIN OF THE MOST SERIOUS KIND! Anywhere in portugal but even more so at this particular place of worship! I am shocked and appalled and hope they are reading this! DON’T SELL YESTERDAY’S! (at my local the counter person says shakes her head very discreetly if I order something of yesterday’s. Things that make you love a country)

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  11. Paulo J. Mendes October 13, 2010 4:13 am Reply

    Hi, Emma,
    A trip in the delightful old trams across the riverside and in the “baixa”, the central area, is definitely a must, as well as a visit to the tramway museum…
    Hope you can come back to Porto soon :))

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  12. pilar October 14, 2010 8:44 pm Reply

    Querida Emma,
    sou do Porto e vivo em Sydney! Que saudades da minha terrinha… Love your description; you have to go to Miguel Bombarda too for the art galleries and a very “alternative” shopping centre. Keep on posting… By the way, coffee in Australia is fantastic too (different but amazing!)

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  13. oportocool October 22, 2010 7:40 am Reply

    Olá Emma,

    I loved your choices about Porto. I really enjoy to know what other people like about the city, giving me a way to know them a little and to see different perspectives of the same places or things to do. Cool!

    Até logo 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: October 25th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks Paulo!

    [Reply to comment]


  14. Andreia November 17, 2010 10:59 am Reply

    As a Portuguese girl from Porto living in Canada I am happy to have stumbled upon your blog. It is so interesting to read about my country through someone else’s eyes. Loved it!

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  15. Johanna Bradley September 21, 2012 10:59 pm Reply

    Hi Emma!

    I’m there in less than a week! Can hardly wait. Only got 6days and 2 of those are at Regua so time will be precious.

    Can you tell me please whereabouts Brasileira is? I hear about Majestic all the time, Brasileira not so much. And is Abadia expensive? It looks gorgeous. Oh, I’m so excited! Many thanks.

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  16. Valerie Da-Silva Curtiss November 1, 2012 2:50 pm Reply

    We also visited the Palacio da Bolsa, ate at the Restaurant there, their Salmon in puff pastry was out of this world, visited Museu Romantica, the gardens of the Crystal Palace, my friends called the stadium “The mushroom”, and lamented the tearing down of the original crystal palace. We ate tea at Crystal Park, and our friends were all in awe when I ordered what they called the ‘gut bomb” The francescinha! We also toured the museu, Soares dos Reis. The bookshop Lello is awesome, and I bought a Portuguese cookbook there! They also display art on the walls there. It is the second most famous bookshop in the WORLD! I LOVE LOVE LOVE PORTO AND PORTUGAL! I need to find a “Porto One” here who can carry my heart back to Portugal!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: November 19th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I would have loved to see the crystal palace too!

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    Valerie Da-Silva Curtiss   Reply: November 19th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @Emma, Yes, my love, but I need a Portuguese senor to fall in love with!!! Either that or win the darn lottery! I love your site, sorry you had to go back to work in the real world just to get muito dinheiro to finish the project!!! Love your sense of humor, did see the Househunter’s Internation as it played last week here, and can see that they play with time on that show! The ONE is so handsome is he English? I am English descended from Portuguese great grandmother!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: November 23rd, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    You are completely correct about The One. Handsome. English. Tall. Grrrr.

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