Recently, I was invited to give a talk at a philosophy workshop co-located with one of the conferences on interdisciplinary science in Porto. I spent close to two weeks in town. While I was mostly focused on work, I did have a chance to dip out and explore the city. Here's my thoughts after walking around town. Here's a list of some of the places that stood out:
My Favourite Places to Visit in Porto:
Serralves is a contemporary art museum and one of the best galleries I've ever visited. The curation is fantastic; it gives visitors enough context to understand what the artist and the gallery are trying to communicate, without hand-holding the guests. Even if you're not a fan of modern art, Serralves is worth visiting: there's something for everyone.
The gardens surrounding the gallery are lush, and marked with several installations. In the center of the gardens is a fantastic example of art deco architecture: a house with a fountain leading from a cliff up to the main house.
Centro Portugues de Fotografia isn't a place highlighted by travel guides. It's close to all the tourist hot-spots, but receives much less attention.
It's worth a visit.
The centre for photography is a free museum located in a repurposed prison dating back to 1582. They didn't change much. The inner courtyard is a small square with iron bars for windows. The entrance to many exhibits is through heavy doors and bars.
Not all of the exhibits were worth writing home about, but several were exceptional. locating the gallery in a historic jailhouse gives it quirky charm. On the whole, it's a well curated gem close to where most people will be anyways. What's to lose by stopping by?
The Waterfront in Porto is a great place to wander and explore the city. There's an abundance of colourful buildings and neat narrow streets to explore. If you're willing to step off the tourist track, good, cheap food is abundant.
There's a number of wine houses along the shore of the river: a great place to grab a drink while watching the sun set flanked by Porto's iconic bridges.
A great way to get to the waterfront is to walk behind the Center for Photography to a look-out point of the river. From there, you can take steps that carve into the side of the hill down narrow streets that are decorated with the traditional ceramic tiles found in porto and a smattering of street art.
My Favourite Cafes in Porto
Epoca Porto is a great place for brunch. I had indescribably great eggs on sodabread toast. What was in them? I don't know.
early is a little cafe that seems to be built into an old bank. If you look into the back room, there's an old vault door that's mirrored on the inside. Dylan and I grabbed a bunch of plates to share as nibblies. Their roast cauliflower is the best I've had.
My Favourite Restaurants in Porto
O Calcua is a nice little place close to the centre of town. A group of us went here after the conference I attended, and it was memorably tasty---served family style.
O Comercial is a treasure hidden away in Palacio da Bolsa: a historic stock exchange in the center of town. There's only a handful of tables, so it's a quiet little getaway.
Taylor's Port is the oldest port firm, but it's not worth the trek. If you're interested in boozy drinks, chances are you're probably familiar with winery tours, or have at some point wandered through a distillery. The joy of these tours is getting to see where your favourite libations are made: getting to walk through the process.
You'd think that port--a fortified wine--would be the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, it's little more than a walking tour through one of the historic storehouses. Save yourself the time and drink port at any number of other places in town.
Livraria Lello is a breathtakingly beautiful bookstore. If you are at all interested in visiting, make sure you're one of the first 20 people through the door at the beginning of the day. At any other point in time, it is unbearably packed. It can take two or three minutes to descend the stairs as you weave through all the visitors taking selfies.
While the craftsmanship is excellent, it's near impossible to enjoy when peering through the crowds. It hardly seems safe; I can't imagine how deadly a fire would be with the way they pack tourists in.