The Bolhão district is the beating heart of Porto with plenty of shopping areas, squares, churches, interesting places to eat (including the famous Café Majestic), architectural wonders (both new and old) and monuments to satisfy the need of any visitor. The Rua de Santa Catarina is a partially pedestrianised street where you can find most of the city's leading retailers and several attractive boutiques, including the Via Catarina shopping centre. Here too, you'll find many hotels, hostels and holiday apartments for those who wish to stay within the thick of things. The Bolhão metro station will plonk you right in the centre of the street, opposite the attractive Capela das Almas church.
Often referred to as the Chapel of Santa Catarina, the 18th-century church of Capela das Almas had its exterior clad in blue and white azulejo tiles in 1929. It is the work of the painter and ceramist Eduardo Leite, featuring scenes that depict the death of St. Francis of Assisi, the Saint in the presence of Pope Honorious III, also the martyrdom of Santa Catarina on Monte Sinai. The work was done in the classic style of the 18th century that suits the architecture perfectly. It's worth a quick step inside to admire the 19th century stained glass windows designed by Amandio Silva and the main altar's panel by Joaquim Rafael depicting the Lord's ascension. | Bolhão.
Monday - Saturday: 07h30 - 13h00/15h30 - 19h00, Sunday: 07h30 - 13h00/18h00 - 19h00
Rua de Santa Catarina 428, 4000-444, Porto, Portugal. | 41° 08' 59.8" N | 08° 36' 20.4" W
+351 222 005 765 | Website
If you find yourself in the area, it's well worth visiting this exciting and vibrant market. As you enter, your senses are bombarded by the wide gamut of colours, sounds and aromas. Established way back in 1850 the market stands on two levels where fishmongers, butchers, greengrocers, florists and many others display their wares.
On the Rua Formosa is the famous delicatessen A Pérola do Bolhão with its art-nouveau exterior lined with tiles with references to the spice route. Founded in 1917 by António Rodrigues Reis, the inside is crammed with sausages, cheeses, olives, tinned fish, wines, teas, regional biscuits, dried fruits and nuts.
It's worth mentioning the Rodonorte Coach Station which is located off a side street to the Rua de Santa Catarina. It's from here one would depart if going on a day trip to Amarante (€5.20, one hour) or Vila Real (€6.40, 1½ hours). Also available are direct routes further afield to Bragança, Coimbra, Fátima, Lisbon and Viseu | Rodonorte Website
Café Majestic's place in every tour book about Porto is well deserved. Since its opening on the 17th December 1921, it's been delighting its customers with its exquisite Art Nouveau decoration, designed by architect João Queiroz. Inside, the scent of leather upholstery and varnished wood is joined by the magnificent vision of the plaster-decorated ceiling and of the endless Flemish mirrors. The experience is an ensemble that marvels all senses. Add in the combination of marble and metal it becomes truly magnificent. At the back of the café, nature rules in the conservatory. It connects Santa Catarina street to Passos Manuel street. A visit and a step back in time are well worth it. Their selection of pastries and cakes are mouth waveringly tempting and well worth the extravagance. They also have a fine selection of tapas and mains if you wish to push the boat out further. | Old Tram #22
Monday – Saturday 09h30 – 00h00, Sunday: CLOSED
Rua Santa Catarina 112, 4000-442 Porto, Portugal
41º 08' 49.8" N | 08º 36' 23.8" W | +351 915 138 619
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This 19th-century church is located in the small turtle-shell paved square behind the City Hall and a stone's throw from the Trinidade metro station. Its austere classical façade, complete with bell tower, has a commanding presence looming over the square's 18th-century fountain. The church is the final resting place of its architect Carlos Amarante who sadly never saw the completion of his work. Construction was completed in the early 20th century by Jose Francisco. The interior is teeming with neoclassical gilded woodwork, marble carvings and sculptures. There's one large painting personifying the Baptism of Christ by José Marques da Silva. It formed part of the hospital of the Holy Order of Terceira Trindade (1755) that lends its name to the surrounding area – Trinidade. The Trinity Church now plays host to many concerts and recitals in light of its excellent acoustics. | Trindade | 201, 208, 501
Monday - Friday: 08h00 - 18h00, Saturday: 07h30 - 12h00/14h30 - 18h00, Sunday 09h00 - 13h00/16h00-19h00
Rua da Trindade 115, 4000-220 Porto, Portugal. | 41° 09' 04" N | 08° 36' 36" W
+351 222 075 989 | Website
The building itself was built in the early 20th century which has been respectfully refurbished to a modern standard. Ideally located amongst Porto's pedestrianised Rua de Santa Catarina, a stone's throw away from the infamous Café Majestic, the Bolhão metro station, São Bento railway station, Rodonorte coach station as well as being amongst the cultural centre for shopping and nightlife. Rooms are spacious, bright and well presented. Warm and welcoming staff await you.
Rua de Santa Catarina 575, 4000-453 Porto, Portugal.
41º 09' 04.5" N | 08º 36' 19.2" W
Located in an old listed and atmospheric building, the two-star Hotel Jardim Viana do Castelo provides picturesque views over the river Lima, the city centre or the mountains. The staff offer their guests an equally authentic friendly welcome, so typical of the region. Each room combines traditional features with modern facilities. They all open out on to private balconies with iron railings. Breakfast is served each morning in the homely and friendly dining hall.
Praca da Liberdade, 25, União de Freguesias do Centro, 4000-322 Porto, Portugal.
41º 08' 45.6" N | 08º 36' 41.6'' W
Overlooking the Avenida dos Aliados the hotel is ideally located and in the thick of the action. The building itself is historic. Rooms vary in size and fitted with satellite TV, air conditioning and wifi, although occasionally the decor looks a little tired. That said, this hotel is a great budget option as the prices are very reasonable for its location. Downstairs there's the Guarany restaurant, an excellent spot to spend an evening if feet are sore. Live music is played on a rotating schedule comprising mostly of Fado singers.
Avenida dos Aliados, 85/89, União de Freguesias do Centro, 4000-066 Porto, Portugal.
41º 08' 52.3" N | 08º 36' 42.1'' W
Up a side street close to São Bento railway station lies this popular restaurant whose sole focus is fresh local ingredients with great service. The staff are linguistically talented, they're able to give their customers the warmest welcome in eight languages! Choose tapas or wholes meals off the à la carte or choose one of their prix fixe lunch options. With a wide choice of dishes and wines at reasonable prices and excellent quality, it's small wonder then why this cosy restaurant is so popular. Booking is recommended.
Tuesday – Thursday & Sunday: 12h00 – 00h00, Friday & Saturday: 12h00 – 02h00, Monday: CLOSED
Rua da Madeira, 222, Porto 4000-330, Portugal
41º 08' 45.5" N | 08º 36' 36.0" W
+351 912 881 272
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Fine cuisine at reasonable prices. The restaurant is light and clean – the staff are courteous and friendly. Serving regional food with an international twist, the food arrives presented nicely and does taste as good as it looks! The extensive prix fixe lunch option is good value whilst also on the menu you can find a large choice of appetisers.
Wednesday - Monday: 19h00 - 23h00, Thursday - Sunday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23h00
Rua St. Ildefonso 118 -120, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal.
41º 08' 47.3" N | 08º 36' 17.0" W
+351 222 032 455
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A nice bakery and café, good for breakfast, brunch and a coffee shop. A cosy little hideaway where you’re sure to get a tasty meal for a very reasonable price. Sheer heaven if you have a sweet tooth.
Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 - 18h00, Monday: CLOSED
Rua do Almada 13, Porto 4050-036, Portugal
41º 08' 53.5" N | 08º 36' 43.8" W
+351 221 123 618
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Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport Porto is 17.5km (10.9 miles) North of the Baixa District. Website
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Metro do Porto. Downtown Porto is well served by the Metro, at it's heart is Trindade a hub for all Metro lines and mainline railway. Website
STCP (Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto) is the company who run the bus and what's left of the tram service in and around Porto. Website