Before embarking upon a detailed blog post about my visit to Porto, I thought I would do a concise list first. Wherever my travels take me, I always look for the same thing. Places that look like they were frozen in time, anything unique and out of the ordinary, anything magical and beautiful. And let me tell you, there are many magical places in Porto.

unique building in porto

Majestic Cafe

Rua de Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto

We’re starting the list off with a place on which you know I will write a separate blog post. One of the most magical places in Porto, the Majestic Cafe is like something out of a time-traveling machine. With its original upholstery, mirrors, and chandeliers, you’ll forget which century it is. Initially opened as a private club in 1921, it opened its doors to the public two years later. My only advice for this place is to visit it the second it opens. Within an hour, it’ll be full and later on in the day, you’ll see a line of people waiting to get in. So head there early in order to try to capture the magic of bygone times in Portugal!

Livraria Lello

Rua das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto

One of the most magical places in Porto is its most popular attraction. The Livraria Lello is the reason why you will always see a line of people in Rua das Carmelitas. You can purchase a ticket voucher on their website that you can then exchange as a discount on any book you buy there. However, I must point out that the long line of people waiting to get in, all have these vouchers. If crowds don’t bother you too much, I would say it’s still worth visiting.

magical places in porto, livraria lello bookstore

It’s a bookstore like no other and I was happy to find a book by my favorite Portuguese writer, José Saramago to take back home as a souvenir. Books are my favorite kinds of souvenirs because I can always revisit them, remembering the places I once visited. This wonderful bookstore is often mentioned in the same sentence as Harry Potter and it’s not hard to see why. Apparently, during the two years the author spent in Porto, she drew inspiration for Hogwarts from this breathtaking place.

Igrejo do Carmo

Rua do Carmo, 4050-164 Porto

The famous Blue Church, Igrejo do Carmo is one of the most popular Instagrammable spots in Porto. If you’ve ever seen a photo from Porto on Instagram, chances are that it was from this spot. The distinctive wall lined with blue tiles, known as azulejos, makes for a beautiful background. From afar, this Baroque church looks like the biggest church ever. Upon further inspection, you can see that a narrow house connects it to a twin church. The neighboring Igrejo dos Carmelitas is the older one between the two churches. However, it’s Igrejo do Carmo getting all the attention due to the white and blue wall. It’s also possible to purchase a ticket and visit the church, sacristy, library, and catacombs.

Capela das Almas

Rua de Santa Catarina 428, 4000-124 Porto

Another building covered in blue and white tiles, Capela das Almas is an absolute delight. We often passed by this Baroque chapel on our way back to our accommodation. I can’t imagine a prettier sight than this one as a part of my daily walk. Whether at night or early in the morning, my eye kept being drawn to that vibrant blue. 16,000 azulejo tiles depict Saint Francis and Saint Catherine, completely covering the front and side facade. Certainly one of the most magical places in Porto, you must visit this chapel!

Museum of the Central Hospital of Porto

Rua Prof. Vicente José de Carvalho 37, 4050-011 Porto

A tiny museum that you could easily miss, this was one of my favorite spots in Porto. The Museum of the Central Hospital of Porto is exactly what its name says. After the former hospital pharmacy closed in 2013, they decided to keep it as it was. You can admire the beautiful pharmacy cabinets and watch a short movie about its history. While it only consists of two small rooms, this museum is definitely worth visiting.

magical places in porto, museum of the central hospital of porto

Sao Bento train station

Praça de Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto

The famous Sao Bento station is one of the most beautiful examples of azulejo tiles in Porto. The renowned blue tiles adorn the walls of the railway station, depicting historical events and forms of transport used in Portugal. What’s more, the rivers Douro and Minho are written down on opposite sides of the ceiling. In one stunning train station, the story of Portugal is told in 20,000 tile images. It’s a splendid example of azulejo art and a must-see for everyone visiting Porto!

magical places in porto, sao bento train station

Clerigos tower

Rua de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto

The best viewpoint in Porto is at the top of Clerigos tower. This 75m tall bell tower of the Clerigos church offers marvelous views of the city. To this day, the tower is the tallest building in the historic center of Porto! The visit takes you around the church before a total of 225 steps lead you to the top. Even on a cloudy day, we delighted upon the city, recognizing parts of it we had already visited. During the high season, you can climb up the tower at night! Be sure to check the details beforehand but on most days, the tower stays open until 11 PM. I certainly wouldn’t mind this unique experience one day when I revisit Porto during the warmer months!

Largo da Pena Ventosa

This colorful little square is hidden within the hilly narrow streets of the Sé quarter. The oldest neighborhood of Porto is an intricate labyrinth of staircases, tall houses, and sheets hanging on clotheslines. While there are many charming corners, this one must be the most beautiful of all. Largo da Pena Ventosa is a quaint square with a tiny café. You’ll find yourself wanting to while the hours away by watching the world go by from the terrace. The surrounding scenery of colorful buildings is so picturesque. I must admit that this was one of my favorite magical places in Porto!

Historical trams

Taking a ride in one of the historical trams is a must when visiting Porto. You’ll find three tram lines running through the city. Conveniently enough, one of them led to the place we were planning to visit. The second you step inside, it’s like you’ve traveled back in time. Vintage leather seats, wooden interior, and pulling on the bell cord when you need to get off. Our short ride was brilliant and I would recommend it to everyone!

Farolim de Felgueiras

Jardim do Passeio Alegre, Porto

Our vintage tram took us to the neighborhood of Foz, where we spent a few hours by the water. Dating back to the 19th century, the Felgueiras lighthouse is a gorgeous place. How could one pass the opportunity to witness the Atlantic Ocean? I was glad for a bit of wind because there’s nothing I love more than waves crashing against the rocks. As you can deduce from my photos, the path leading to the lighthouse is closed to the public for obvious reasons. The waves easily reach the heights of the lighthouse, even on a day when the weather is fair. We walked alongside the beach, took some photos, and gazed at the ocean in front of us. On the whole, it was a lovely and relaxing escape from the city.

Pergola da Foz

Avenida do Brasil 694, 4150-378 Porto

Not far from the Felgueiras lighthouse, you will find the enchanting Pergola da Foz. The pergola dates back to the 1930s and makes for a romantic promenade. It’s not very long but it’s a charming addition to the seafront. i can only imagine how beautiful the sunset must be from this location!

A Pérola do Bolhao

Rua Formosa 279, 4000-252 Porto

This traditional grocery store is one of the many beautiful facades in Porto. A Pérola do Bolhao was founded in 19117 and still sells local and homemade products. In truth, this is your best option for unique Portuguese souvenirs. With a big selection of cheese, dry meat, jams, oils, and Port wine there’s something for everyone. The store’s imposing Art Nouveau facade covered in tiles is a showstopper even when you’re just strolling down the street.

McDonald’s on Avenida dos Aliados

Praça da Liberdade 126, 4000-322 Porto

Often declared the most beautiful McDonald’s in the world, you have to stop here. I couldn’t care less about the brand and have never tried their food but I had to indulge my curiosity. A prime example of Art Deco architecture, the interior sure is impressive. Crystal chandeliers, original stained glass, and relief friezes make this place stand out. Regardless of what you think about McDonald’s, I would recommend dropping by here. If for nothing else than to marvel at the historical interior. In my opinion, the most beautiful McDonald’s is in a small town in Serbia but this one in Porto is definitely worth visiting!

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