Porto as one of the best cultural destinations in the world

It’s really impressive to hear that Porto has been chosen as one of the best cultural destinations in the world by Tripadvisor users. This distinction is a testament to the city’s unique charm and rich cultural heritage, as well as its ability to provide memorable experiences for visitors.

The reference to the historic center of Ribeira, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlights one of the city’s many gems. The Church of São Francisco is undoubtedly an impressive landmark, known for its Gothic architecture and exuberant Baroque interiors.

In addition, the mention of wine tastings and historical tours reminds visitors that Porto is not only a visually stunning destination, but also a place for rich sensory experiences, especially related to the famous Port wine.

Tripadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards Best of the Best are a significant reference in the world of travel, as they reflect the opinions and experiences of travelers themselves. The fact that Porto is on this list, along with other world-renowned cultural cities, is a great honor and should attract even more visitors to the city.

If you wish, you can also take a look at our Tripadvisor page and our range of tours.

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One of the most beautiful stations in the world

São Bento Railway Station (Estação de São Bento) in Porto, Portugal, is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and a masterpiece of architecture. It was designed by the Portuguese architect José Marques da Silva and opened to the public in 1916. The station is not only a transportation hub but also a cultural and historical gem.

Key features of São Bento Station include:

  1. Azulejo Panels: The station is famous for its stunning azulejo panels, which are traditional Portuguese ceramic tiles. These intricate blue and white tiles depict historical and cultural scenes, including battles, landscapes, and daily life. The azulejo panels cover the station’s main hall and are a breathtaking example of this traditional art form. Painted by the Oporto’s artist, Jorge Colaço.

  2. Architecture: The architecture of São Bento Station is a blend of Beaux-Arts and French architectural styles. The station building itself is an elegant structure with a large clock at its center. The facade is adorned with neoclassical elements, creating a grand and timeless appearance.

  3. Historical Significance: The station is named after the Benedictine monastery (São Bento de Avé-Maria) that previously occupied the site. The monastery was demolished to make way for the railway station. The station’s historical connection to the monastery adds to its cultural significance.

  4. Central Location: São Bento Station is located in the heart of Porto, making it a central transportation hub for both locals and tourists. Its central location and architectural beauty make it a popular spot for visitors to admire and explore.

  5. Transportation Hub: Beyond its architectural and artistic significance, São Bento Station serves as a major transportation hub with connections to various destinations within Portugal. It is an essential part of Porto’s railway network.

Overall, São Bento Railway Station is not just a functional transportation facility but a cultural landmark that reflects the rich history and artistic traditions of Portugal. Visitors often stop by to marvel at the azulejo panels and experience the unique blend of architecture and artistry that defines this iconic station.

São Bento de Ave-Maria Convent
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The oldest coffee shop in town

“The Porta do Olival café is the oldest establishment of its kind still operating in Porto. It is known that it was already active in 1853, in the same place where it still is. It is, therefore, as if it were more than 160 years ago. In an advertisement, published in 1926 in the magazine “Terras de Portugal”, it is already referred to as the oldest café in the city of Oporto.

The name “Porta do Olival”, is related to the door that existed in the so-called medieval wall, a solid wall built with thick granite blocks, between 1336 and 1374, to defend the city.

The wall was 11 metres high and 3500 metres long. The gate “Olival”, one of the most important in the city, was defended by a tower, built in the shape of a fortress. It took its name from a long land of olive trees that, since ancient times, existed on the site where it was built.

It was at this door that, in the 15th century, the City Council installed a bell, called the “running bell”, which was rung at sunset so that the citizens of Porto would return to their homes. Pilgrims would pass through this door, who had a shining star of a sanctuary on the horizon, like Santiago de Compostela, for example.

It was also through this door that, in 1387, D. Filipa, the eldest daughter of the Duke Lencaster, entered Porto to marry the Portuguese king D. João I.””


Germano Silva, Porto historian

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The most beautiful street in the city

Between 1521 and 1525 took place the works for the opening of the street Santa Catarina das Flores, today known only as Rua das Flores.

Starting at Largo de São Domingos and ending in front of the current São Bento Station, this new artery served as a connection between Cais da Ribeira and Porta de Carros, which gave access to the suburbs beyond.

A pioneer in the urban history of the city, the street of Santa Catarina das Flores was the first in Porto to be subject to specific rules for the construction of housing structures, but not only, regulating a kind of panoramic pre-project of the facades implanted on both sides of the street.

The wide, rectilinear design allowed for the construction of taller, modern and luxurious palatial houses, which, once occupied by the city’s elite, created along this artery a new area of power and social status that rivalled the traditional power of the Sé.

Built soon after the end of the old prerogative that prevented noblemen from staying inside the city, this street naturally served as a new home for families of the newly arrived nobility, but also families of the Porto bourgeoisie, some newly settled, others transferred from the New Street, and also families linked to the urban aristocracy, citizens engaged in positions the administration of the city as well as royal officials.

Part of the area given over to the new street was occupied by vegetable gardens belonging to the cathedral and the bishop, and it is likely that this is the origin of the toponym “das flores”, which is still used today to designate a street that is both unique and characteristic of the city.

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Nasoni’s Bishop’s Palace

Although the history of the residences of the Bishops of Oporto near the cathedral is still little known, it is a fact that, at least since D. Hugo (1112/1114-1136), who was responsible for the definitive restoration of the diocese, a building with this function already existed. Over the centuries an architectural complex developed, of which various vestiges still exist, such as a late Romanesque frieze (13th century) to the right of the main door.

Between the 15th century and the end of the 17th century various works ordered by successive prelates can be documented. The decisive moment, however, came during the government of Friar João Rafael de Mendonça (17771-1793), to whom we owe, in substance, the palace that we can still visit today.

The construction of this Paço, for its architectural scale, conception and ornamental richness, provided the city of Oporto, for the first time, with the existence of a true palace, which we can consider as one of the most significant examples of the late baroque architecture in Portugal.

Designed by the Italian architect and painter Nicolau Nasoni, today it has several functions, from the bishop’s residence to the diocesan curia.

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A unique bookstore in city centre

The most beautiful Portuguese bookstore, probably one of the most beautiful in the world, can be found in our city, in the heart of the historic center.

On January 13, 1906, the Lello Bookstore building that we know today was inaugurated at 144 Rua das Carmelitas, in an atmosphere filled with important political figures, artistic figures, prominent bourgeoisie and merchants of the city, journalists, and great intellectuals of the time.

“In a country of illiterates, to erect such a beautiful temple to the divine cult of Emotion and Idea is a great act of benevolence, and one that, by its wide and fruitful results, will perdurably link the names of Lello & Irmão to national recognition.”

– Statement by Abel Botelho in the Livro d’Ouro, on January 13, 1906.


In 1869, Livraria Chardron is founded by Frenchman Ernesto Chardron.

In 1881, the publishing company of José Lello and his brother-in-law David Pereira opens.

In 1894, José Lello bought Livraria Chardron with his estate and catalog. Lello & Irmão was born, owned by José and António Lello.

In 1906, on January 13, 1906 the “Templo das Artes”, the new Lello bookshop building, designed by the Porto architect Xavier Esteves, was inaugurated.

For more information or if you wish to purchase a voucher for entry to the bookstore, visit the site: https://www.livrarialello.pt/

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