Porto to A Coruña

A visit to the points of interest of Porto including UNESCO historic center, Dom Luis I Bridge and Maria Pia Bridge, Monastery of Serra do Pilar, Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello), Porto Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa), Sao Bento railway station, Porto Cathedral, Port at Vila Nova de Gaia, Carmo and Carmelitas churches, Porto Sign before taking the bus to A Coruña, Spain

What to see and photograph in Porto

The historic city of Porto is a UNESCO world heritage city.  Porto is also the home of port.  Notable points of interest in Porto are;

  • UNESCO historic center
  • Dom Luis I Bridge and Maria Pia Bridge
  • Monastery of Serra do Pilar
  • Porto City Hall
  • Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello)
  • Porto Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa)
  • Sao Bento railway station
  • Porto Cathedral
  • Port at Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Carmo and Carmelitas churches
  • Porto Sign

Hotels in Porto are great value.  You can walk around the whole city so can stay wherever has the best offer.

Porto UNESCO historic center

Porto UNESCO Historic City and colorful houses

The historic center of Porto is a UNESCO heritage site.  If you want a true Portuguese experience then Porto will deliver.  You’ll find colorful houses and narrow Portuguese tiled streets.  There are several buildings covered in the famous blue Portuguese tiles known as azulejos.  The locals are surprizingly friendly towards foreigners for such a big city.

Foodies will love Porto with the tables outside on the streets.  These restaurants can also make a good place to enjoy a cold local beer such as Super Bock or Sagres.  As you are in Porto you may enjoy a glass of the worlds best port as you watch the world go by.

Dom Luis I Bridge and Maria Pia Bridge

Dom Luis I Bridge and Maria Pia Bridge, Porto Portugal

The historic center of Porto is connected to Vila Nova de Gaia by several bridges.  These bridges are crossing is the river Douro.  The most famous bridge in Porto is the double decker bridge of Dom Luis I.  Originally this bridge was going to be a single decker crossing designed by the famous Gustave Eiffel.  The population of Porto was growing quickly when the bridge was being planned in the late 19th century.  Due to the growing population they chose a double decker bridge designed by Theophile Seyrig who learnt his trade from Mr Eiffel.

There is a Gustave Eiffel bridge you can visit in Porto.  Two bridges to the east of the Dom Luis I bridge is the Maria Pia bridge (above left).  The bridge is no longer in use but is of interest as it was designed by Mr Eiffel.

Monastery of Serra do Pilar

The monastery dates back to the 16th century.  The church and its cloisters are laid out in a circular design which is unique to Portugal (above).  If you walk from the historic town on the top deck of the Dom Luis I bridge you’ll have wonderful views of the monastery.  You see good views of it from the other side of the banks of the Douro river too.

The views of the city, river and bridges are incredible from the monastery.

Porto City Hall

Porto City Hall / Town Hall

Completed in 1957, the Porto City Hall is a relatively young building.  It’s located in the center of the historic city on a huge promenade.  You see many hotels and high streets shops in this area.  There are huge classic Portuguese buildings lining each side of the street.

You can get a wonderful reflection shot of the City Hall using the pond in front of it.

Sao Bento railway station

Sao Bento railway station, Porto

Sao Bento train station is located in the center of the historic city.  It’s located in between Porto Cathedral and the Town Hall.  Even if you’re not arriving or leaving Porto by train it’s worth checking out the interior.  The walls are decorated with the Portuguese tiles (azulejos).  There are no barriers so you can explore as much of the station as you wish.  It’s a wonderful location for your Instagram shots.

Porto Stock Exchange Palace (Palacio da Bolsa)

Porto Stock Market Palace (Palacio da Bolsa)

The Porto stock exchange palace was built during the 19th century.  It was built to increase the prosperity of Porto during that time.  You can visit the interior and it is said that it was inspired by the famous Alhambra in Granada, Spain.  Today the palace holds conferences and exhibitions.

Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello)

Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello) Porto

The Lello Bookstore is the most beautiful book store in the world.  I would completely agree with this statement if there were not hundreds of people visiting the place.  To enter you must buy a €5 gift voucher to spend in store.  Once you have bought the gift voucher you then join the huge line waiting to go inside.  If you look at pictures on Instagram of the interior it is a truly stunning book shop.  But will your pictures be as stunning when the book shop is full of tourists?  I doubt it.  The whole process of buying a coupon, lining up, waiting and going inside seems to be a huge tourist trap.  If you did pass and there was no-one lining up with few people inside then I have no doubt that it would be a worthwhile experience.

Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto)

Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto)

Porto Cathedral is one of the oldest structures in the city.  The architecture is a mixture of Baroque and Roman.  On the square in front of the cathedral you get some good views of the colorful houses of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

From the cathedral it’s a steep walk through colorful narrow streets to the banks of the river Douro.

Carmo and Carmelitas Churches

Carmo and Carmelitas Churches, Porto

The Carmo and Carmelitas churches are stunning on the exterior with their typical Portuguese tiles (azulejos).  You’ll see a lot of Instagram poses being made in front of the azulejos.

Another church in Porto that photographs well is the Church of Sao Francisco.  This photographs amazingly from the interior.

Porto Sign at Crystal Palace

Porto Sign, Crystal Palace, Porto

No visit to Porto is complete without getting a photo in front of the Porto sign.  When I was in Porto the sign was in the gardens of Crystal Palace.  The sign does move though as it has been in front of the town hall before.

Port tasting at Vila Nova de Gaia

Sandeman Port at Vila Nova de Gaia

Along the banks of the Douro river on the Vila Nova de Gaia side there are lots of port bars.  You can visit the caves of the major Porto port companies.  On a cave tour you’ll learn about the ageing process of port.

I decided to sit in the outside bar of Sandeman and learn about port by drinking it.  If you order a few different glasses and tell the waiter you want to learn about port he’ll be happy to help you best learn.  If you’re not a port fan they also serve ice cold sangria.  The view from the Sandeman bar is the Douro river and colorful houses of Porto.  Would you prefer to be enjoying a glass of port or waiting in line to visit the over crowded Lello Bookstore?

Photography and Instagram worthy locations in Porto

Tram on the streets of Porto

It’s best to explore Porto on foot.  I’d definitely recommend visiting all the points of interest I’ve listed.  As you are walking between the points of interest you’ll see so many Instagrammable, colorful and classic Portuguese subjects.  If I could recommend one city which sums up Portugal it would definitely be Porto.

How to get from Porto to A Coruña by bus

The bus from Porto to A Coruña, Spain takes around 6 hours.  This is on a very convenient direct bus which you can book online.  It would make sense to stop at Santiago de Compostela on the way.  The reason I didn’t stop there is because I am saving this destination for when I walk the Camino de Santiago in the future.

A Coruña to Santander by bus

2018-04-11T17:24:31+00:00October 21st, 2017|Portugal, Western Europe|25 Comments


  1. Lisa October 21, 2017 at 9:43 pm - Reply

    Porto and the north of Portugal in general is one of my favourite places in Southern Europe. Sao Bento station is incredible and I totally agree about the bookshop; so crowded, and I think JK rowling wrote there too?? A stunning city with very friendly people!

  2. Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women October 22, 2017 at 1:14 am - Reply

    This looks like such a lovely place to visit and I love that you can pretty much explore it all on foot. I love the buildings and the colorful way they are decorated/painted. The inside shot you took of the railway station is just amazing…such a beautiful interior. A shame about the popularity of the bookstore to the extent that it is essentially too crowded to get good photos, although the rest of the city really does seem to make up for it.

  3. Abhinav Singh October 23, 2017 at 6:10 am - Reply

    Porto is so lovely. Have seen many of those blue Portuguese tiles in Goa, India. (There was Portuguese rule in Goa) Those colorful houses give this city a strong character. This is picture postcard perfect.

  4. Brooke Herron October 23, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

    wow that is a long bus ride! I’ve driven from Porto to Santiago de Compostela and taken a train from Porto to Vigo but not to A Coruna- what a cool trip though. I love these sights, colors and views of Porto definitely such a charming little city. And so much cheaper than Lisbon which makes it a big winner when traveling on a budget

  5. FS Page October 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I love visiting historical places and ancient towns. Porto sounds fun to me. It is beautiful with so much offer. Double decker bridge and story behind it is very interesting. I am bookmarking your post for my future visit to Porto. Thanks for sharing

  6. Bee October 23, 2017 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Porto looks so beautiful, I have seen a few other posts on the town, and they all looks so bright and colourful. it looks like a great place for exploring and a relaxing getaway!

  7. Ivy October 23, 2017 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    Porto looks gorgeous! You’ve captured it so well in your photos. I’d OBVIOUSLY rather be drinking than standing in line, hah! I’d order both a glass of port and some sangria 😉

  8. Tom @ Abroad American October 24, 2017 at 6:16 am - Reply

    I’ve been meaning to get to Portugal for so long! Porto is actually on my list of places to possibly go to with my girlfriend for New Years celebrations this year. It seems like such a beautiful coastal city, and of course with GREAT food, and wine ;), to boot!

    The bookstore, which I never heard of, is definitely quite beautiful but I am SO with you on the little attractions like this one getting overrun by tourists. It’s unfortunate that their popularity ruins the actual charm and wonder of these places. Still might take an Instagram in front of it though…! Thanks for sharing, I shared this with my girlfriend to see what she thinks of going to Porto for New Years 🙂 cheers!

  9. Mel Butler October 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    I just love Porto Portugal is such a pretty place and the food and wine are yummy too. I like the fact you have tips on where to take photos, I wished I had read something like this before I went as I would have found it useful especially like the Lello Bookstore, I love bookstores and if this is the most beautiful one then I would of wanted to see this for myself 🙂

  10. Christie Sultemeier October 26, 2017 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Really helpful guide! I’ve been wanting to go to Porto as I missed it last time I was in the area. I love how colorful it looks in the first photo! Colorful is my favorite 🙂

  11. Rachelle October 26, 2017 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Wow, that Lello bookstore looks absolutely amazing. I can totally understand why there would be such a long line to get in. And even though it is a pain that they’re even making you purchase a voucher to spend, I can understand that from a business perspective. I guess this is where being the early bird would definitely be a bonus!

  12. Michael October 27, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Our friends have actually just got back from Porto and are raving about it! The bookstore is amazing, you can see why its so popular.The fact that its cheaper than Lisbon is a bonus too. Thanks for sharing – we are definitely saving this for our trip soon 🙂

  13. Lolo October 27, 2017 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Visiting that bookstore is one tourist trap I would gladly pay and wait to get into! I’ve wanted to see it forever before I even knew JKR was inspired to write HP there!

  14. Oursweetadventures October 28, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

    I had no idea Port is crafted here. I guess I could have assumed that since it is in the name. The city looks beautiful,especially with the blue tile all,over. I like that cities are making their own signs like I Amsterdam and Porto.

  15. Bob October 28, 2017 at 6:06 am - Reply

    I’m very interested in the Gustave Eiffel connection. I would love to see the bridge he designed for myself and even stand on it.

  16. Ami October 29, 2017 at 12:58 am - Reply

    This is a charming city and with tons to do of my interest. I sure would love to see Mr. Eiffel’s bridges 🙂 and then of course, a tour of the UNESCO heritage sites and centre. Porto wine tasting would also be high on my list. Well done with the quick snippets of the place. The pictures are lovely though I am curious – did you use a goPro or a wide angle lens for it?

  17. Jojo October 29, 2017 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    I love the colorful houses of the UNESCO historic center. I would take so many photos and what a unique looking town hall structure. The port tasting on sounds like a fun experience too!

  18. Kate October 30, 2017 at 3:19 am - Reply

    I’m really stuck between visiting Lisbon and Porto. It seems like Porto has more of an authentic vibe. I’m particularly interested in finding the azulejos and the book store your mentioned. Although I’m not sure I’d pay to enter THEN wait in lie just to get in. I suppose you could bring a glass of wine to accompany the wait 😉

    • James Smith October 30, 2017 at 5:54 am - Reply

      yes, or a glass of port!

  19. Sandy N Vyjay October 30, 2017 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Porto is a charming city. The fact that it is a UNESCO world heritage site, only adds to the allure. I found it really fascinating to note that a bridge here has been designed by Gustave Eiffel. Also, there is another one designed by his protege. Would love to see these bridges some day.

  20. Tatum Skipper October 30, 2017 at 11:54 am - Reply

    I was recently where some flights will allow you to take a 5 day layover for free in Lisbon so that would be the perfect opportunity to travel to Porto! I love this historicness and that you can see the whole city on foot! I always need to burn off some calories from all the amazing food. Wine tasting would be top on my list!

  21. Carmen Baguio October 31, 2017 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    I like your alternative to visiting the bookstore. Drinking and learning about port sounds like a great plan to me!

  22. Shruti Sutwala November 1, 2017 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Totally fell in love with Porto on my visit last year! Loved the old world as well as easy going charm of the city… thanks for refreshing my memory of the trip!

  23. David November 2, 2017 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Love Porto, such a cool city. You’ve definitely covered a lot of the best spots in the city.

  24. Tracy November 2, 2017 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Porto is high on my bucket list! Have yet to visit Portugal but will be heading to Porto when we do!

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