As I discovered on my very first visit to Porto, this is a city made for walking. You do though need a head for heights, sensible shoes for cobbles and lungs that are not afraid of hills! This full day walk could easily be broken down into two or three strolls if 7ish miles feels too long or you want to dawdle. Having said that though even the full length version allows for time to visit at least one of the sites and squeeze in quite a bit of shopping.
We began in Largo de São Domingos (pictured above) as this was where our apartment was located. However you could easily start in Jardim do Infante D’Henrique, named after Prince Henry the Navigator whose statue dominates the plaza. It is also here you will find the unmissable Palacio da Bolsa, the Instituto dos Vinhos Douro e do Porto and also the 19th century Mercado Ferreira Borges. All worth visiting, although the latter I have yet to visit myself!
From here we headed up Rua Ferreira Borges and the Escadas da Vitória so we could enjoy the view from Miradouro da Vitória. Two years ago there were plans to renovate this area but it stills feels abandoned and unloved.
Eventually heading away from the city views we headed up Rua de São Bento da Vitória towards Torres dos Clèrigos. A place to explore rather than walk as there are so many things to do here from the tower itself to the photography museum inside an old prison, a monastery, fabulous shops, and a park to relax in.
The park, Jardim da Cordoaria, is one of my favourite places in Porto because of the thirteen bronze laughing men. Every time I see them I smile; their joy is contagious. This wonderful piece of art was the last sculpture to be created by the Spanish sculptor, Juan Muñoz. He died suddenly in 2001, at the age of 48, the same year this was installed. So sad, but what a glorious last piece.
From here it is an easy stroll to Jardim do Palácio de Cristal.
The quickest way is down Rua Dom Manuel II but you could also head behind the law courts and enjoy the view from Passeio das Virtudes before heading down Rua De Azevedo De Albuquerque towards Rua da Restauração and then Rua Dom Manuel II. You may recall we did this back in 2017 except we were sidetracked by a fabulous lunch and gardens.
Assuming you haven’t been sidetracked you should by now be in Jardim do Palácio de Cristal. I had brought my friend here to show her the views, although she was more excited about seeing peacocks. It was a good job she was, since in our ramble to the park we hadn’t really noticed the sea mist come in. The blue skies had gone and views, well they were non existent! Extraordinary to think this was the same day.
Fortunately we could see the funny side, and more importantly a peacock was in full display for us.
By this point we were both ravenous and so nipped into the library cafe for some hot soup. Not only was it a bargain but it was delicious and filling. Perfect as we planned to spend exploring some of Porto’s shopping areas, starting first in Rua de Miguel Bombarda and Rua das Carmelitas.
After quite a few fabulous purchases (hence no photographs!) it was time to buy some cake and head back to the apartment for afternoon tea. First though we wanted to check out a Christmas market in Praça da Batalha, and I also wanted to squeeze in some sightseeing. So we criss-crossed our way to Praça da Batalha and the Cathedral. In hindsight we should have just continued the shopping explorations on Rua de Fernandes Tomás and Rua de Santa Caterina as they are both excellent shopping streets and the Christmas market wasn’t great. However if we had done that we would have never have experienced the extraordinary misty views from the Cathedral. What a finish to our city walk, quite different to Jo’s, and what a day of contrasting weather!