Dance enthusiast Marta Macedo was born and raised in Porto and came to realize just how much she loved her city while she was studying abroad. “People may live their lives trying to figure out where their home is,” she says. “Being away made me realize that Porto truly is home for me.” After traveling the world and gaining her degree, Marta returned to her beloved port city and started sharing her hometown pride on Spotted by Locals. Here are a few of her favorite things about Portugal’s second largest city.
Porto Is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Miradouro da Vitória, because the walk to get there gives you a true feel of Porto and when you reach your destination, the view is so breathtaking that there’s no way you won’t fall in love.
Summer is the best time to visit my city because it looks brighter and happier and you can walk everywhere. While Porto is poetically melancholic in the winter, I still think the sunshine makes for a better experience.
You can see my city best from Gaia, across the Douro River.
A Vida Portuguesa is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
In the past, notable people like cello prodigy Guilhermina Suggia, protofeminist poet Florbela Espanca, and inspiring writer Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (girl power, yeah!) have called my city home.
My city’s best museum is Serralves because in addition to featuring contemporary art exhibits, the architecture of the building is a work of art in itself and the gardens look like something out of a dream. It’s the perfect setting for a lovely afternoon.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that you can easily walk from one place to the next. But be prepared to climb some steep hills, especially if you’re downtown.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is either downtown or by the sea in Foz.
My city really knows how to celebrate Festa São João (Saint John the Baptist Festival), held every year on the night of June 23, because there’s nothing like it the world. It’s a very democratic party where people from all backgrounds come together to celebrate. You have to experience it to understand it.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they are really loud and swear a lot.
For a fancy night out, I’d go for sushi dinner and drinks downtown.
My city is known for Porto wine and its football (soccer) club, Futebol Clube do Porto, but it’s really a cultural melting pot of old and new, traditional and cutting-edge, rustic and polished. It’s a beautiful mix.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Viral Agenda.
My city’s biggest sports event is anything futebol-related. Whether they support the largest local club or root for someone else, football is a religion for people around here. You can watch a game at Dragão stadium, the primary one in the city.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I may go for a picnic in one of the city’s many gardens. If you fancy the city center, Jardim das Oliveiras is a great option.
To escape the crowds, I avoid shopping malls on Sundays like the plague. And though Rua de Santa Catarina, one of the city’s most popular shopping streets, is crowded, at least it’s outdoors.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Morgan Freeman because it’s old and wise and its charm draws you in.
The dish that represents my city best is the Francesinha sandwich, and Porto wine is my city’s signature drink, though the locals have a soft spot for beer, especially our very own Super Bock. I recommend sampling the Francesinha at Café Santiago and Porto wine at Caves Ferreira. As for Super Bock? Well, that’s everywhere!
Teatro Nacional São João is my favorite building in town because though it may fall under the radar, it embodies Porto’s main characteristics: It’s beautiful yet not overpowering, perfectly proportioned, not overwhelmingly large, and just grand enough to make a statement. Also, I love theaters in general and this is the prettiest one in the city.
The most random thing about my city is that there are seagulls everywhere, even in the city center, far from the sea. Beware.
Getting lost and making friends for life while trying to find your way could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should enjoy a nice cup of tea on the beautiful terrace at Rota do Chá.
In the summer you should be able to enjoy the sunshine and go to the beach; Praia da Memória is probably my favorite one.
In the fall you should stroll the leaf-covered paths of Palácio de Cristal and discover the hidden spots while enjoying amazing views of the city.
In the winter you should take a break from shopping and sightseeing by stopping by the Traveller Caffé for a nice cup of hot chocolate.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss roller-skating or bicycling along Avenida Brasil.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Lua,” by Porto native Pedro Abrunhosa. It’s a bit cliché and slightly tacky, but it’s a very personal and meaningful choice.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because Porto makes you feel like you belong. It’s small enough to be comfortable, yet big enough to be interesting. And it’s irresistibly charming.