Before I finally done my trip in Porto, Portugal, I was spending few days to research about what should I see and do in Porto. To repay all the people who already helped me during my plan for the trip (by blogging or suggest me places), I wanted to write about my experience when I was wandering alone around the city for around 3 full days.
The first step I did on my first day exploring was to go to Central Tourist Information Office which is located in 25, Rua Clube dos Fenianos, Porto. There is also another 3 tourist office located in different area, but this one is closer to the place where I was staying in Porto. If you go to this tourist office, you will be able to visit easily another sightseeing places nearby the office.
In the tourist office, I got a Walker Porto Card for 2 days for 10 Euro. I prefered to take the Walker Card because I wasn’t so sure about the transportation system in Porto. It’s always difficult and take times to understand a transport system in a country that we just visited. Even they also have a Porto Card which including transportation pass, 11 free museums and some discount pass. The Walker Card has the same benefits, only without transportation pass.
Check more about the card here.
From my personal experience, the 11 free museums that they offered wasn’t so fascinating for me. But maybe with the discount we will get in some other places outside of the “free ones” with Porto Card, then makes the card worth it, rather than we pay each place with it’s normal rate.
However, I was pretty glad that I think for me personally, the benefits I got by using the card might be more than 10 Euro.
Even in the tourist office we will get a free city map, but I always use maps.me for an offline map, to make sure I won’t get lost – well, however, I always got lost sometimes or took longer way than it should be, a part of traveling, heh?
But seriously, tried to figuring out about the road, the address and the route wasn’t so easy as I thought. Normally a night before, I tried to google where to go and the route – it looked seem so easy and quick, until I did it in a real life. 30 minutes in Google map can be 1 – 1.5 hours in reality. Plus if we stopped a lot to take pictures. So bear in mind, if you travel alone, you can make an itinerary but be flexible with it. You can put a 10 places to visit but in reality you only can find 4-5 places, that’s ok. Everyday when I was in Porto, I tried my best to visit as much as I can, but because I walked all the time, normally I went “home” already too tired and my legs almost numb. Glad that my friend, normally cooked the dinner for us – hahaa, I am a very spoiled guest 😛
Where did I go?
Now, when I am writing this article and looking back through all the pictures that I made during the trip, it is making me think that I spent too much time in Church! Not because I am a religious person but I was just full with curiousity. Another reason because inside of the church mostly calmer, cold (compared outside) and I can sit for a while if I was too tired, hehehe. Also some churches are free. Ones which aren’t free normally they have something more to see, not just chapels, for example when I went to Catedral and Igreja do Carmo.
Anyhow, this is my highlight things to do in Porto. I feel now I haven’t seen a lot of Porto, I don’t mind to come back again in the future to see more of it, hah! Also I am missing the atmosphere in Cais da Ribeira. Walking there when sunset came down was so lovely, also listening to the street musician who played cheerful or classical music just made my mind wandering and daydreaming. Hmmm, yes, sometimes I can be that romantic with myself, haha.
Porto Cathedral and Cloister
To enter the Porto Cathedral (Catedral in map) is free. It is located in Batalha area and looks a bit like fortress from the outside. This was my first place I visited in Porto. I already amazed with the Baroque style of the architecture, the high ceilings and gold painted chapels, including the romantic color they use for the top. I also kind of screaming happily when I saw the blue tiles which painted some of the stories from the Bible. Oh yes, I heard a lot about this colorful azulejos (tiles) style of Portuguese, one of the reason why I wanted to visit the country.
After explore the church, I suggest you to see the Cloister as well. It was 2 Euro with Porto Card (normal price is 3 Euro) and you can enter it through a door on the right side. It was really worth to visit, a very beautiful and old building even there is some major renovation inside of the building, but if you go up, you will see a beautiful square that actually used to be a place to hanged criminals of Porto. Ummm, yes, that is creepy. But actually I was there and quite spent time alone long time, and it was strangely beautiful. Sometimes, you were sitting, standing or walking in the area that actually having so much stories from decades ago.
With Porto Card, I saved 1 euro.
Palácio da Bolsa
Address : R. de Ferreira Borges, 4050-253 Porto
This is another interesting place I visited in Porto. It’s actually now the headquarters of Porto’s Commercial Association and it used to be a Stock Exchange Palace. You will only allowed to enter the place by join a guided tour which is already scheduled and need to book in advance.
When I was there, they said to me the next guided tour in English was in another 1 hour, they suggested me to buy the ticket already, because it will be fully booked soon. I was glad that I listened to them, because when I come back, I can see from the screen that the guided tour I follow was already 100% full because they limit the number of guest to join the tour. Tour is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
With Porto Card, I got 50% discount which made me pay 4.5 Euro instead of 9 Euro. Good saving!
It was interesting when in the beginning of the trip the guide told us that the area where we stand is decorated with symbol of countries that corporate with Portugal that time as a symbol of peace. Also it was interesting to see the old classic symbol of the countries.
The highlight of the trip in this place when the guide brought us to a very luxurious hall created in Arabic style with some few kgs gold as part of the material, oh wow, you won’t believe that there is a place like this in a Catholic country back then, also because there is so many Arabic words written on the walls, to mention that God is the highest of all.
With Porto Card, I saved 4.5 Euro
Museu Nacional des Soares dos Reis
I went to this museum because of my friend’s recommendation and also because it is on the list of free museums I can visited by using the Porto Card, so yes, I put this place on my exploring list that day. The reason why my friend recommended this place to me, because of the prominent statue as part of their collection called ‘O Desterrado’, which means Exile. The statue was affected him a lot, he said, when he first saw the statue, time felt as it was stopped. Driven by curiosity, then I walked to the place.
I was lucky that time, because I almost can’t catch the opening hours. Normally the museum opens from 10am to 6pm, but when I arrived, it’s already 5.45 pm. I thought they will rejected me to enter the museum, instead they say only today the museum will opened until late, for around 10 pm! I was such a lucky bitch.
And what made me happier, because it was completely no tourist when I was there! Well, I found a group of people in one room, but then I avoid that place and go check another room which has lots of beautiful painting collections. I was able to walking from one painting to another, strolling over all those beauty, alone, without annoying sound from another tourist – or a feeling of rushing because most of tourist just like to rush from one piece to another – and it somehow made me do the same 😦
Then, I went to the ‘O Desterrado’ section. Oh my, my friend was right! The statue was sooo beautifully fine, until I took a while to observe and enjoyed it. He was sitting there, in the middle of the wall, surrounded by another beautiful statues – but honestly, the others were not so eye catching as him because they also made from dark stones. His expression is half of plain, half of bored, half of thinking, half of sad, but just a wonderful sad – yes, I don’t know how to explain it, because this guy is just look beautifully sad for me. And he also has a really romantic mixed with a gloomy atmosphere…
Well, I was glad he just a statue, otherwise
I will bring him home to Ubud – hahahaa.
However, as my friend told me and then now I am writing to you, this museum is really recommended. Apart of ‘O Desterrado’ there are plenty of beautiful arts which made me amazed to imagine how they created all of this in 100, 200 years ago… WHOA!
Free with Porto Card (Save 5 Euro)
Sao Bento Train Station
It was funny because I was trying to find this train station, and actually I already passed by on it for few times already without realising!
For example, on that hot afternoon, I was walking and walking, based on my offline maps.me to find this train station – and it just brought me to many different places, until I almost gave up (getting lost is my middle name – I am so misdirection most of the time).
Those things like that sometimes happened, right? When you do least expect something, it just popped up to your face. And voila, I found the train station in front of my eyes when I least expected it.
The first time I was there, it was full with tourist – maybe because it was a sunny and hot afternoon, so people wanted go to a building and being under the roof as well.
I came again for the second time in very late afternoon and it was less people. In fact, it was only few – can counted with fingers, who obviously tourist and admired the painting in this 20th century train station. I guess, the paintings talk about the history of Portugal – I have no idea of it, but it is sooo beautiful. What amazed me as well on how it’s still function as a normal train station. For local, they just walk passed by all this beautiful painting in a rush – especially when they wanted to catch the train, but for me, I can spend hours just to look up and admire the look of it.
Imagine, how many stories already witnessed by all this cold blue and white tiles walls. All those goodbyes, happiness rendezvous, or fears of embarking a new journey or lots of tears when saying farewell… Yes I fall in love with old places – they just have so many stories to be told – silently told – either beautiful or sad stories.
Free for public
I will write more about the places I went in Porto in different article because this one is already too long. But right now, I just struck with the fact how difficult is it to make one article! It took me few days just to make this article – to write, to edit pictures and resize then uploading, wiiii… I don’t understand back then, I was so actively writing a lot of articles. But for now, wait patiently for my next article ya 🙂
PS : Apologize for my blurry pictures – my phone and the inside lights, sometimes are not friend to each other 😛